Islam and the English Enlightenment, 1670–1840 by Humberto Garcia

By Humberto Garcia

A corrective addendum to Edward Said’s Orientalism, this publication examines how sympathetic representations of Islam contributed considerably to Protestant Britain’s nationwide and imperial id within the eighteenth century.

Taking a old view, Humberto Garcia combines a rereading of eighteenth-century and Romantic-era British literature with unique learn on Anglo-Islamic kinfolk. He reveals that faraway from being thought of international through the era’s thinkers, Islamic republicanism performed a defining function in Radical Enlightenment debates, most importantly through the excellent Revolution, French Revolution, and different moments of acute constitutional problem, in addition to in nationwide and political debates approximately England and its out of the country empire. Garcia exhibits that writers corresponding to Edmund Burke, woman Mary Wortley Montagu, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Southey, and Percy and Mary Shelley not just have been motivated via overseas occasions within the Muslim global but additionally observed in that global and its background a attainable route to interrogate, contest, and redefine British ideas of liberty.

This deft exploration of the forgotten second in early sleek heritage whilst intercultural alternate among the Muslim global and Christian West used to be universal resituates English literary and highbrow historical past within the wider context of the worldwide eighteenth century. The direct problem it poses to the belief of an exclusionary Judeo-Christian Enlightenment serves as an immense revision to post-9/11 narratives a few historic conflict among Western democratic values and Islam.

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I argue that the Hungarian Revolution shaped subsequent responses to Islamic republicanism, a model of civic virtue that served as a counterweight to Catholic Europe. In chapter 2, I trace Stubbe’s post-1688 republican legacy to Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and her appropriation of radical Tory feminism. I demonstrate that Montagu’s The Turkish Embassy Letters (1763) adopts a subversive deist voice that defends Turkish women’s socioeconomic freedom under Islamic law. Montagu finds this law, as practiced in the Ottoman empire, preferable to Englishwomen’s Introduction 27 lack of property rights under the English common law of coverture.

The decision to avoid using the term Orientalism to describe Islamic republicanism requires some qualifications. First, my post-Orientalist historiography does not imply a political transcendence free from ideological complicity with the agents of empire. No discourse on the East can claim this kind of neutral- 22 Islam and the English Enlightenment, 1670–1840 ity. By heuristically adopting terms such as Mahometan Christianity, deist Islam, Arab-Islamic hermeticism, and Muslim Unitarianism to describe radical Protestant interpretations of Islam, I want to defamiliarize the political effects of our own secularist obsessions in categorizing the Islamic East as a distinct “religious” civilization.

Vanderhoef, Jr. ’ ”55 In other words, Hodgson’s anti-Eurocentric model of history entails a thorough repudiation of defining civilizations through their religious beliefs, thereby denying a diffusionist logic that ascribes Islam only to the Arabs, a “religious” people. Following Hodgson’s lead, Brown argues that Islam also belongs to the prophetic history of Western Europe. By offering a radical reorientation of the historical and geographical assumptions behind Islam’s place in the world, Brown undermines any Eurocentric prejudices that posit a fundamental difference between East and West.

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