Reading Darwin in Arabic, 1860-1950

9780226001302 In Reading Darwin in Arabic, Marwa Elshakry questions current ideas about Islam, science, and secularism by exploring the ways in which Darwin was read in Arabic from the late 1860s to the mid-twentieth century. Borrowing from translation and reading studies and weaving together the history of science with intellectual history, she explores Darwin’s global appeal from the perspective of several generations of Arabic readers and shows how Darwin’s writings helped alter the social and epistemological landscape of the Arab learned classes.

Providing a close textual, political, and institutional analysis of the tremendous interest in Darwin’s ideas and other works on evolution, Elshakry shows how, in an age of massive regional and international political upheaval, these readings were suffused with the anxieties of empire and civilizational decline. The politics of evolution infiltrated Arabic discussions of pedagogy, progress, and the very sense of history. They also led to a literary and conceptual transformation of notions of science and religion themselves. Darwin thus became a vehicle for discussing scriptural exegesis, the conditions of belief, and cosmological views more broadly. The book also acquaints readers with Muslim and Christian intellectuals, bureaucrats, and theologians, and concludes by exploring Darwin’s waning influence on public and intellectual life in the Arab world after World War I.

Reading Darwin in Arabic is an engaging and powerfully argued reconceptualization of the intellectual and political history of the Middle East.

Darwin censored by Turkish Government

Charles Darwin is porn – be careful! In November 2013 Turkey implemented an internet censorship system to keep out porn but at the same time it censored any mention of Darwin or evolution because, some argue, it is a failed theory.

The system has already attracted controversy: apparently it bans terms linked with the Kurdish separatist movement, and Reporters Without Borders has accused the Turkish government of “backdoor censorship”.

This is seriously concerning. Turkey is in many respects the most secular of Islamic countries, so it is sad and disturbing to see its government undermine science.

If the ‘Theory of Evolution’ is a failed theory then rather than censor any mention of it the evidence of it’s failure should be marshalled forth. When Muslims go to the West to study biology, medicine and genetics and they are faced with the ‘Theory of Evolution’ how will they respond if they have never heard of it?

Let us hope that other theories e.g. the Big Bang theory, Quantum theory, Atomic theory, theory of relativity and Einstein – the list is a long one, do not suffer the same fate! After all if the Divine Being is an absolute how can a theory of relativity be correct?

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