Alumni Project

Diverse Voices of a New Enlightenment


To date, there is not a single German-language anthology on the debate about the Arab Enlightenment in the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century. One main topic of the Arab Enlightenment is the question of tolerance and intolerance. However, only the limited conception of ‘dhimmi’ (protected person) addresses the issue of tolerance. This project contributes to an extension of the existing discourse.

Conceptions of tolerance and intolerance

Through an anthology, it presents different agnostic, secular, juridical, and theological approaches to the conceptions of tolerance and intolerance. It illustrates how they compete with and influence each other. ‘Critical reflections by Adib Ishaq, Ameen Rihani, Farah Antun, Khalil Saadeh and Muhammad al-Tahir ibn Ashur on religious intolerance are hardly known in Europe and will surely add new perspectives in the debate on tolerance and intolerance’, says AGYA Alumnus Dr. Sarhan Dhouib. The critical engagement with various forms of intolerance by contemporary Arab philosophers like Nasif Nassar, Abdelwahab Bouhdiba, Mohamed Abed al-Jabri, and Sadiq Jalal al-Azm is also presented in this collection of texts. The annotated translation aims to broaden the understanding of scholarly works on the Near and Middle East beyond an islamocentric focus to include the much-needed perspectives of tolerance and intolerance in light of the entanglement of cultures. AGYA Alumnus Prof. Dr. Fayçal Djeffal states: 'Coming from the field of Technical Sciences, I joined the project with Sarhan mainly out of personal interest for the topic of tolerance in the Arab World and how it is perceived by other cultures.' Further on he continues:

Throughout the project, I not only learned a lot about this but also gained a deeper understanding of research and the importance of the humanities for society. I am looking forward to introducing the publication in the Algerian academic community. 

This two-volume anthology presents previously untranslated essays by twenty intellectuals dating from the second half of the 19th century to the present time, who view tolerance in various ways and who do not universally place negative connotations on its counterpart - intolerance. The commentaries analyze and explain the Arabic terms, conceptual differences, and strategies of justification. The first volume covering the period of 1875 – 1935, is expected to be published in spring 2023.

The project is a continuation of previous projects such as:

Book Cover 'Konzepte von Toleranz und Intoleranz in der Arabischen Welt'

De Gruyter

Disciplines Involved
Philosophy, Arabic and Islamic Studies, History
Cooperation Partners
University of Hildesheim, Germany
University of Bern, Germany
Project Title
Anthology „Voices of a New Enlightenment“
2020 - 2021
Funding Scheme
Alumni Project
Countries Involved
Germany, Lebanon, Tunisia, Algeria, Switzerland