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Luther’s Qur’ān. Pro/claiming the Christian Reformation in Early Twentieth Century Cairo


Freie Universität Berlin
Fachbereich Geschichts- und Kulturwissenschaften
Seminar für Semitistik und Arabistik

Principal Investigator:

Feb 01, 2018
Contact Person:
Prof. Dr. Islam Dayeh

Project description

What lies behind the modern Muslim fascination with the Christian reformation? How did Martin Luther become a symbol of religious renewal for Egyptian reformers? What were the mechanisms of appropriating the Christian reformation in Muslim reform projects of the early twentieth century?
The project Luther’s Qur’ān offers a fresh perspective on Christian and Muslim religious reform discourses. Here the accent is not on what the sixteenth-century Martin Luther thought about Islam, but more on what modern Muslim intellectuals thought of what Luther did and the ways in which they sought to emulate him in the early twentieth century, a period of intense cultural and political encounters in the context of colonialism and the struggle for national self-determination. By revisiting these discourses in the cultural and religious politics of the 1920s and 30s, the project seeks to explore how the success of the Christian reformation became integral to local Egyptian reformist debates. For while Muslim theologians were proclaiming a reformed Islam modelled after the Christian reformation, they were also claiming the Christian reformation as authentically part of Islam. This project contributes to a better understanding of the entangled histories of modern religious reform.


The project is kindly funded by the VolkswagenStiftung's funding initiative "Original - isn't it?" New Options for the Humanities and Cultural Studies within the funding line "Komm! ins Offene...". The funding initiative was established in 2014. During the first call the initiative was well received. It resulted in 387 applications. 17 projects were funded. In the second call, 18 projects were funded, selected from a total of 213 applications.