Prophet of Reason: Science, Religion and the Origins of the Modern Middle East (Paperback)
  • Prophet of Reason: Science, Religion and the Origins of the Modern Middle East (Paperback)
zoom

Prophet of Reason: Science, Religion and the Origins of the Modern Middle East (Paperback)

(author)
£20.00
Paperback 368 Pages
Published: 02/05/2024
  • 10+ in stock

Usually dispatched within 2-3 working days

  • This item has been added to your basket

'An outstanding intellectual biography.' Eugene Rogan

In 1813, high in the Lebanese mountains, a thirteen-year-old boy watches a solar eclipse. Will it foretell a war, a plague, the death of a prince? Mikha’il Mishaqa’s lifelong search for truth starts here. Soon he’s reading Newtonian science and the radical ideas of Voltaire and Volney: he loses his religion, turning away from the Catholic Church. Thirty years later, as civil war rages in Syria, he finds a new faith – Evangelical Protestantism. His obstinate polemics scandalise his community. Then, in 1860, Mishaqa barely escapes death in the most notorious event in Damascus: a massacre of several thousand Christians. We are presented with a paradox: rational secularism and violent religious sectarianism grew up together.

By tracing Mishaqa’s life through this tumultuous era, when empires jostled for control, Peter Hill answers the question: What did people in the Middle East actually believe? It’s a world where one man could be a Jew, an Orthodox Christian and a Sunni Muslim in turn, and a German missionary might walk naked in the streets of Valletta.

Publisher: Oneworld Publications
ISBN: 9780861547364
Number of pages: 368
Dimensions: 234 x 153 x 27 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

'This accomplished study of religious change in 19th-century Syria… Hill includes illuminating excerpts from Mishaqa’s own religious tracts and the texts he was influenced by. Historians of the Middle East have plenty to gain from this.' Publishers Weekly

'A masterful and captivating book that rescues one of the greatest thinkers of nineteenth-century Syria from obscurity.  Mikha'il Mishaqa bursts from the pages as a three-dimensional character and a pioneer in the debates on secularism and religious freedom in the modern Arab world.  An outstanding intellectual biography.' Eugene Rogan, author of The Arabs

'In this gripping new exploration of religion, reason, and cultural transformation, Peter Hill brilliantly recreates the many lives and worlds of an Arab renaissance man. Combining meticulous research with original, nuanced insight and a novelist’s eye for detail, Hill brings to life the nineteenth-century Middle East in all its richness. In the process, he reminds us that modernity has many origins and takes many forms.' Andrew Arsan, author of Interlopers of Empire

'Deeply researched and engagingly written, Prophet of Reason gives us the turbulent life of a remarkable individual... Peter Hill’s sympathetic and beautifully contextualised study is at once a gripping biography and an intellectual history of how religious faith and doubt, legacies of rational thinking both local and far-flung, and human networks—contentious and affectionate—were fluid shapers of a history we too often view as set in stone.' Marilyn Booth, Khalid bin Abdullah Al Saud Professor for the Study of the Contemporary Arab World

'While most of the scholars writing about Syria in the nineteenth century speak about "sectarianism", they barely take the religious beliefs and the communitarian belonging of individual actors as seriously as Peter Hill does with this original and emphatic biography of Mikha'il Mishaqa. Through Hill's approach, the life of this well-known figure of Ottoman Syria appears as an extraordinary and exemplary testimony to the social and intellectual dynamics of the early Nahda.' Bernard Heyberger, author of Hindiyya, Mystic and Criminal, 1720-1798

'It has taken over 150 years for Mikha’il Mishaqa to find his historian, and it is Peter Hill.  Hill paints a riveting and transformative view of religion and its discontents in the nineteenth-century Ottoman Empire… This much-needed study breathes new life into the field, and it offers a compelling and human account of the life and times of an Ottoman thinker who has remained thus far elusive to scholars… This book will make readers think in completely new ways about Christianity, Islam and indeed the history of religion itself in the making of the modern Middle East.' John-Paul Ghobrial, author of The Whispers of Cities

'Prophet of Reason is an enthralling and impeccably researched account of the life of Mikha’il Mishaqa, a man at the centre of the shifting religious and political movements of nineteenth-century Levant.  Peter Hill has produced a milestone of a book, laying bare Mishaqa’s only too human journey from faith to doubt and back again, all the while showing how the beast of modernity in Ottoman Syria encompassed not just science and secularism but newly divisive religious identities.' Yorgos Dedes, author of The Ascensions of Felicity

You may also be interested in...

A History of God
Added to basket
£12.99
Paperback
The Confessions
Added to basket
£14.99
Hardback
Salonica, City of Ghosts
Added to basket
Christendom Destroyed
Added to basket
History of the Jews
Added to basket
£16.99
Paperback
A Nearly Infallible History of Christianity
Added to basket
The Devils of Loudun
Added to basket
Lost Enlightenment
Added to basket
The Golden Bough
Added to basket
Aquinas
Added to basket
£10.99
Paperback
Khadija
Added to basket
£5.99
Paperback
The Holy Blood And The Holy Grail
Added to basket
The Case for God
Added to basket
£12.99
Paperback
Silence
Added to basket
£10.99
Paperback

Please sign in to write a review

Your review has been submitted successfully.

env: aptum
branch: