Problematizing Islam: The Materialismusstreit in the late Ottoman context between Celal Nuri and Ahmed Hilmis (Filibeli)

Imeri, Enur (2020). Problematizing Islam: The Materialismusstreit in the late Ottoman context between Celal Nuri and Ahmed Hilmis (Filibeli). Asiatische Studien / Etudes asiatiques AS/EA, 74(1), pp. 1-34. de Gruyter 10.1515/asia-2020-0035

Full text not available from this repository. (Request a copy)

The so-called Materialismusstreit evolved in the second half of the 19th century as a new genre of popular literature and was carried out as a public debate mainly by German popularisers. In the Ottoman context, however, the reception of the Materialismusstreit demonstrates how a universalised perception of the West had already become the main frame of reference among secularly educated Ottoman intelligentsia in the course of late Ottoman modernity. This fact not only constitutively shaped their modern discourse on Islam. Moreover, it brought about at the same time fundamental semantic shifts in concepts holding a prominent role within the Islamicate epistemological tradition. Consequently, the entanglement between this abovementioned frame of reference and concepts inherited from a traditional knowledge order resulted in a conceptual rupture with the traditional epistemologies.
In an attempt to exemplify the argument, this paper builds on a less-known dispute on materialism between Celal Nuri and Ahmed Hilmi (Filibeli), and shows the transformation in their usage of epistemic concepts such as ʿilm, fenn, and dīn, as well as their reception of the Orientalist Islam discourse. Prior to the analysis of two core primary sources, the first part of this paper elaborates on the theoretical and methodological modalities of making fruitful the intellectual output of late Ottoman modernity for a globally entangled intellectual history.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Art and Cultural Studies > Institute for Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies

Graduate School:

Graduate School of the Humanities (GSH)

UniBE Contributor:

Imeri, Enur


100 Philosophy > 180 Ancient, medieval & eastern philosophy
100 Philosophy > 190 Modern western philosophy
200 Religion > 290 Other religions
400 Language > 490 Other languages
900 History > 990 History of other areas




de Gruyter




Enur Imeri

Date Deposited:

17 Feb 2021 07:41

Last Modified:

17 Feb 2021 07:41

Publisher DOI:



Actions (login required)

Edit item Edit item
Provide Feedback