Reading Darwin in Arabic, 1860-1950
Reading Darwin in Arabic, 1860-1950
Publication supported by the Bevington Fund
“Thoroughly researched. . . . [A] densely argued and fascinating book [that] gives extensive coverage to such matters as missionary ambitions and strategies in the Middle East, Muhammad Abduh’s attempts to reform al-Azhar as a teaching institution, the rise of Pharaonism as a cultural movement, the growing sense of an Islamic civilization with a history, the eleventh-century Sufi al-Ghazali’s overweening presence in philosophical debates, and Arab interest in Atatürk’s reforms.”
Robert Irwin | Times Literary Supplement
"Rewarding. . . . Reading Darwin in Arabic is about more than its title suggests. It describes the intellectual ferment in Egypt as the country grappled both with Darwinism and colonial rule, and an Islamic liberalism shone briefly before being all but extinguished by the brutal ideologies of the twentieth century."
Christopher de Bellaigue | New York Review of Books
“Elshakry’s book is a remarkable feat of scholarship that builds on an impressive base of sources. . . . I believe Reading Darwin in Arabic will serve as a beacon of insight and inspiration for scholars of the Middle East and historians of modern science.”
Harun Küçük, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science | Science
"A fresh perspective on the reception of Darwinism. While the title of her book suggests a focus on the impact of Darwin’s Origins of Species on Arabic readers, it is, in fact, a work relevant to anyone interested in the reception of scientific ideas on a global scale. . . . A solid contribution to knowledge, and one that will remain a cornerstone of the intellectual history of the Arabic reading world."
Andrew Bednarski, Gonville and Caius College | Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
"Elshakry’s wonderfully rich book adds a great deal to our knowledge concerning the reception of modern science by Arab and Muslim intellectuals."
John Kelsay, Florida State University | Quarterly Review of Biology
"Even as Christian apologists combed scripture for Biblical refutations of Darwin, Islamic scholars as high up the intellectual ladder as Egypt’s grand mufti, Muhammad 'Abduh, 'had little difficulty reconciling modern principles of evolution with revelation,' Elshakry observes in this thorough study of the question of the compatibility of Darwin’s ideas with Islamic thinking."
Tom Verde | AramcoWorld
"With the limited scholarship focusing on science translation between the Global North and the Global South, Elshakry’s Reading Darwin in Arabic is a much welcome contribution to the existing literature on the globalization, translation and popularization of science, especially in colonial and postcolonial contexts. Reading Darwin is an invaluable resource for historians of science and intellectual historians of the Middle East. It is also a crucial contribution to science-and-religion studies."
Soha Bayoumi, Harvard University | Endeavour
"Elshakry has written a wonderful book on the interaction between the Islamic world and Western scientific thought in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This book should be of interest to anyone teaching about the impact of Darwinism, since it greatly extends the range of our information about how different cultures respond to evolutionary ideas."
Science and Education
“This pathbreaking book opens up a new world of understanding about the encounters of science in an era of imperial rivalries and nationalist ambitions. Following networks of travel, print, and translation across the Arabic-speaking world, Marwa Elshakry not only brings to life a vibrant intellectual culture too little known in the West but also illuminates contemporary global debates about tradition, faith, and evolutionary science.”
James A. Secord, University of Cambridge
“A tour de force, this book moves on a spectacular trajectory from Darwin’s original texts to their translation, interpretation, and contestation in zones that remain terra incognita to most scholars today. Elshakry shows for the first time how science-and-religion issues that still agitate Americans were first brought to Ottoman Syria and Egypt by Americans themselves—and, tellingly, she points up multiple ironies in the creative and often unexpected ways in which evolutionary ideas were appropriated by Muslims and Christians alike. To an age obsessed by ‘the clash of civilizations,’ Reading Darwin in Arabic will be revelatory.”
James Moore, coauthor of Darwin and Darwin’s Sacred Cause
“A novel and important contribution to our understanding of the globalization of science in the nineteenth century. Marwa Elshakry’s study will appeal not only to scholars of the modern intellectual and political history of the Middle East but also to an audience in the history of science, especially those working on imperial and colonial histories of science.”
Timothy Mitchell, author of Colonising Egypt
Table of Contents
ONE / The Gospel of Science
TWO / Evolution and the Eastern Question
THREE / Materialism and Its Critics
FOUR / Theologies of Nature
FIVE / Darwin and the Mufti
SIX / Evolutionary Socialism
SEVEN / Darwin in Translation