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Référence :

ARAM 25:1&2 (2013), p. 329-342, Oxford, Oriental Institute.



The historical debate on secularisation between F. Antun and M. Abduh.

Full title : ‘The historical debate on secularisation between F. Antun and M. Abduh. God’s absolutism and Islam’s irrationality as cornerstones of orientalist islamic-christian dispute during the Nahda’


In 1945, Hamilton A.R. Gibb delivered the Haskell Lectures at the University of Chicago, supporting a classical Orientalist attitude concerning, first of all, the Arab incapacity to throw off its intense feeling for the separateness and individuality of concrete events, and secondly, encouraging a degree of methodological generalization, arguing for the existence of a Muslim aversion directed towards the thought-processes of rationalism. This was a point of view which was deeply rooted within classical Orientalist authors, from Silvestre de Sacy, to Ernest Renan and Ignac Goldziher to David B. MacDonald. However, this analysis is not going to reconsider issues already widely covered by academic research, but will instead investigate the debates between Faraḥ Antun, and Muhammad ‘Abduh on Secularization, and the dispute on the specific topics related to the Kalam argument within the inter-religious context of the Nahḍa. In the Odyssey of F. Antun, A Syrian Christian’s quest on Secularism, Donald M. Reid reports Antun’s viewpoint that Islamic Theology was mainly rooted on two assertions: God’s omnipotence and the rejection of every secondary cause capable of limiting the creator’s power. Allah’s qadar discourages scientific and philosophical research because every worldly event is directly and uniquely related to God’s behaviour. Muhammad ‘Abduh’s refutation promoted a new- Mu‘tazilite and Philosophical analysis which was able to show how human reason, secondary causes and logic were, on the contrary, not rejected by Islām, but were deeply ingrained within Islamic and religious thought. The founder of al-Jami‘ah al-‘Uthmaniyah produced an attack not only geared towards an attack against Islam, but also against all Semitic religions, with the intention to highlight the opportunity to create a secular State in which Muslims and Christians could participate on a footing of complete equality. ‘Abduh’s position, although not so far away, was strictly connected to the need to have law based on relevant principles of equality that could be argued for through a reformist Islamic approach, because within Islam, state and religions could not be separated, but could be reformed together. This paper seeks to deepen the analysis concerning the Kalam cornerstones which were re-discovered to support ‘Abduh’s standpoint in this open debate, and also to examine an Orientalist Arab-Christian thought which, through Faraḥ Antun, would further encourage a confrontation within Arab society which is still unresolved today.

Titre original : “The historical debate on secularisation between F. Antun and M. Abduh. God’s absolutism and Islam’s irrationality as cornerstones of orientalist islamic-christian dispute during the Nahda”


En 1945, Hamilton A.R. Gibb a prononcé les conférences Haskell à l’Université de Chicago, soutenant une attitude orientaliste classique concernant, tout d’abord, l’incapacité arabe à se débarrasser de son sentiment intense pour la séparation et l’individualité des événements concrets, et deuxièmement, encourager un certain degré de généralisation méthodologique, arguant de l’existence d’une aversion musulmane dirigée vers les processus de pensée du rationalisme. C’était un point de vue qui était profondément enraciné dans les auteurs orientalistes classiques, de Silvestre de Sacy, à Ernest Renan et Ignac Goldziher à David B. MacDonald.

Cependant, cette analyse ne va pas reconsidérer les questions déjà largement couvertes par la recherche universitaire, mais va plutôt enquêter sur les débats entre Faraḥ Antun, et Muhammad ‘Abduh sur la sécularisation, et le différend sur les sujets spécifiques liés à l’argument Kalam dans le contexte interreligieux du Nahḍa. Dans l’Odyssée de F. Antun, A Syria’s quest on Secularism, Donald M. Reid rapporte le point de vue d’Antun selon lequel la théologie islamique était principalement fondée sur deux affirmations : la toute-puissance de Dieu et le rejet de toute cause secondaire capable de limiter le pouvoir du créateur. Le qadar d’Allah décourage la recherche scientifique et philosophique parce que chaque événement mondain est directement et uniquement lié au comportement de Dieu. La réfutation de Muhammad ‘Abduh a favorisé une nouvelle analyse mutazilite et philosophique qui a pu montrer comment la raison humaine, les causes secondaires et la logique étaient, au contraire, non rejetées par l’Islām, mais profondément enracinées dans la pensée religieuse islamique.

Le fondateur d’al-Jamia’ah al-‘Uthmaniyah a produit une attaque non seulement contre l’islam, mais aussi contre toutes les religions sémitiques, soulignant la possibilité de créer un État laïque où musulmans et chrétiens pourraient participer sur un pied d’égalité. La position d’Abduh, bien que pas si éloignée, était strictement liée à la nécessité d’avoir une loi basée sur des principes pertinents d’égalité qui pourraient être défendus par une approche islamique réformiste, parce qu’au sein de l’islam, l’État et les religions ne pouvaient pas être séparés, mais pourrait être réformés ensemble. Cette étude cherche à approfondir l’analyse concernant les pierres angulaires de Kalam qui ont été redécouvertes pour soutenir le point de vue de ‘Abduh dans ce débat ouvert, et aussi pour examiner une pensée arabo-chrétienne orientaliste qui, à travers Faraḥ Antun, encouragerait davantage une confrontation au sein de la société arabe qui n’est toujours pas résolue aujourd’hui.

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The historical debate on secularisation between F. Antun and M. Abduh.

Full title : 'The historical debate on secularisation between F. Antun and M. Abduh. God's absolutism and Islam's irrationality as cornerstones of orientalist islamic-christian dispute during the N...

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