Ammeke Kateman

NISIS PhD candidate at the Faculty of Humanities, University of Amsterdam. Research Project: Defining Islam as a Modern Religion. Muħammad 'Abduh (1849-1905) and His Interlocutors. Keywords: Muḥammad 'Abduh (1849-1905) - Islamic modernism - Islamic reformism - Modernity/Tradition - Cultural interaction/translation. 

Defining Islam as a Modern Religion. Muħammad 'Abduh (1849-1905) and his Interlocutors

Muħammad 'Abduh's (1849-1905) late-nineteenth-century reinterpretation of Islam is an influential instance of rethinking what Islam was, is, or should be. In this research project, 'Abduh's redefinition of Islam in relation to his concept of 'religion' (Arabic: dîn, but also diyâna) is studied. Starting from the idea that the concept of 'religion' is historically specific, as Talal Asad and others have argued, this research seeks to understand 'Abduh's definition of Islam as a religion as a specific instance within the history of the concepts of 'religion' and 'Islam' in modern Islam. This history is intricately connected to the history of the concepts of 'religion', 'Christianity' and 'Islam' in European intellectual traditions, as Armando Salvatore and, more recently, Dietrich Jung have demonstrated convincingly. Using reworked definitions of modernity and insights within translation studies, this research focus upon both continuities and differences to interpret the intellectual and conceptual interaction between European and Arabo-Islamic histories of the concepts of 'religion', 'Islam' and 'Christianity' in Muħammad 'Abduh's redefinition of Islam as a religion.

Taking a methodological perspective from Reinhart Koselleck and Quentin Skinnner, this research analyses some exemplary texts of 'Abduh in their discursive context, in particular in relation to a selection of the many and diverse discussions and conversations in the journals, societies, books and schools where 'Abduh came into contact with his contemporaries. 'Abduh's Syrian Christian interlocutors receive my special attention due to their close contacts with European and American concepts of 'religion', 'Christianity' and 'Islam' through their missionary education.


Ammeke Kateman (1985) obtained a BA degree in Arabic Language and Culture as well as in History at the University of Amsterdam. Focusing on Muḥammad 'Abduh's thought and his intellectual context, she completed her MA degree in History (Research Master) with distinction at the same university in 2010. Supported by the Netherlands Inter-University School for Islamic Studies (NISIS), she conducts her PhD-research on 'Abduh under the supervision of Professor Gerard Wiegers and Dr Richard van Leeuwen (Religious Studies, University of Amsterdam). 

Email address:

Last Modified: 10-04-2015