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Ignaz Goldz­i­her On Islam & Christianity

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The Hun­gar­i­an Islam­ic Stud­ies schol­ar of Jew­ish descent Ignaz Goldz­i­her (1850 – 1921) is wide­ly rec­og­nized as the founder (along with only two or three oth­er schol­ars) of the sci­en­tif­ic study of Islam in Europe. Goldz­i­her undoubt­ed­ly has an enor­mous influ­ence in the field of Islam­ic stud­ies and prac­ti­cal­ly every­thing he wrote between rough­ly 1870 and 1920 is still stud­ied assid­u­ous­ly in uni­ver­si­ties through­out the world. Along with a tremen­dous­ly busy sched­ule com­pris­ing of lec­tur­ing and com­pos­ing schol­ar­ly works, Goldz­i­her also kept a rel­a­tive­ly per­son­al record of his reflec­tions, trav­el records and dai­ly records. This jour­nal was lat­er pub­lished in Ger­man as Tage­buch” ed. Alexan­der Scheiber (Lei­den : Brill, 1978).

The fol­low­ing extreme­ly inter­est­ing and authen­tic state­ments are tak­en from the men­tioned pages of this jour­nal, and pro­vide us with a remark­able insight into his real feel­ings about Islam, which he could not give vent to in the big­ot­ed Chris­t­ian Europe of those days and thus chose to keep among his pri­vate writings.

    Ich lebte mich denn auch wuhrend dieser Wochen so sehr in den mohammedanis­chen Geist ein, dass ich zulet­zt inner­lich ?berzeugt wurde, ich sei selb­st Mohammedan­er und klug her­aus­fand, dass dies die einzige Reli­gion sei, welche selb­st in ihrer dok­trin­ur-offiziellen Gestal­tung und For­mulirung philosophis­che Kpfe befriedi­gen knne. Mein Ide­al war es, das Juden­thum zu uhn­lich­er rationeller Stufe zu erheben. Der Islam, so lehrte mich meine Erfahrung, sei die einzige Reli­gion, in welch­er Aber­glaube und hei­d­nis­che Rudi­mente nicht durch den Ratio­nal­is­mus, son­dern durch die ortho­doxe Lehre verp­nt wer­den. (p. 59)

i.e., I tru­ly entered into the spir­it of Islam to such an extent that ulti­mate­ly I became inward­ly con­vinced that I myself was a Mus­lim, and judi­cious­ly dis­cov­ered that this was the only reli­gion which, even in its doc­tri­nal and offi­cial for­mu­la­tion, can sat­is­fy philo­soph­ic minds. My ide­al was to ele­vate Judaism to a sim­i­lar ratio­nal lev­el. Islam, so taught me my expe­ri­ence, is the only reli­gion, in which super­sti­tious and hea­then ingre­di­ents are not frowned upon by the ratio­nal­ism, but by the ortho­dox teachings.”

A lit­tle lat­er in the same essay, speak­ing about the Amer­i­can mis­sion­ary activ­i­ties in Syr­ia, Goldz­i­her says :

    In dieser abscheulichen Reli­gion, welche die elende Chris­ten­blutaffaire erson­nen, welche ihre besten auf die Folter­bank span­nen liess, will man die Beken­ner des einig einzi­gen Jeho­va anlock­en — in muhammedanis­chen Lun­dern. Es ist dies eine Frech­heit, deren nur die abscheulichte aller Reli­gio­nen, das Chris­ten­thum, fuhig ist. (p. 61).

i.e., In this hor­ri­ble reli­gion [i.e., Chris­tian­i­ty], which the mis­er­able Chris­t­ian blood affair invent­ed, which let its best strain on the tor­ture rack, one wants to allure the con­fes­sor of the unit­ed only Jeho­va — in Muhammedan coun­tries. It is such an inso­lence of which only Chris­tian­i­ty, the most abom­inable of all reli­gions, is capable.”Endmark

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