Why Is There a “Basmala” in This German Philosopher’s Famous Work?

A claim has been circulating for years that the German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), a figure who steered the Enlightenment movement, had a basmala written in Arabic on the cover page of his doctoral thesis of 1755. So what’s the point?

Indeed, on the cover of Kant’s doctoral thesis “BismillahirrahmanirrahimWas there a ‘word’? Was the university’s procedure appropriate? Even then, did Kant choose to use the basmala?

Even though these questions bother us The idea that Kant could be a secret Muslim It is also supported by many. According to some, such a news had no truth to it, while according to others, this phrase was a detail showing Kant’s sympathy for Islam. Let’s give direction to these claims together.

This issue first came to the fore in the 1980s and has had a huge impact.

In fact, although it is supposed in the doctoral thesis, this situation is different from what we thought, we will touch on this subject in a moment. The phrase Kant’s alleged basmala not only created a controversy, but also became the subject of academic studies. In particular, “Mr. Muhammad & His Life and Transformation in Western Perception” Hartmut Bobzinexamined this issue in depth and revealed it with its facts.

Looking at Kant’s work, there is indeed an Arabic basmala phrase, but not on the cover of his doctoral thesis!

Kant’s doctoral thesis diploma

However, contrary to what is known, it is not on the cover of his doctoral thesis, but today. He defended his doctoral thesis on display at the German Science Museum. announcing invitation. At that time, universities printed their doctoral theses in the printing press and invited the doctoral student to defend it.

The basmala in the invitation was not something special that Kant did of his own accord.

Theodor Hackspan’s doctoral dissertation, dated 1640.

The invitation was subject to the initiative of the dean of the faculty and the printing house that printed the aforementioned doctoral theses. Immanuel Kant completed his doctorate at the University of Königsberg in 1755. At the meeting he would announce that the title of doctor (gradum et insignia) would be awarded. This invitation to the meeting, which was printed, corresponded to a doctoral certificate at that time.

Although it is understood that the Basmala was written by hand, it is unclear whether it was written by Kant or by the publishers.


Actually, this is not a first or something new. Because basmala has been found in other diploma documents before. On the top page of the invitations of doctoral theses from ancient times, “in the name of god” or “by the grace of godThere were introductory phrases such as ”. Previously, this tradition existed among Muslims as well. The phrase “In the Name of God” was used at the entrance of the works of Muslim philosophers and thinkers. We can see that this tradition also exists in the West, but in different languages.

Johannes Bernhardus, the teacher of Immanuel Kant, used the basmala in the same way at the beginning of his book.

Basmalah in the book of Kant’s teacher, Johannes Bernhardus.

Although the exact reason why the basmala is included at the beginning of Kant’s invitation to defend his doctoral thesis is not known, we can only make inferences about this subject. Assoc. Dr. According to Asım Cüneyd Köksal, this basmala, It is due to the fact that in the 18th century, Islamic culture was still important to the West and the basmala was a fashion and decorative element in Europe.

According to some social media users This is the case with the leading artists and thinkers of the West. Islamic perception and respect reflects.

When we look at the subject from a different perspective, a different question comes to our mind: The tradition of starting the studies with a “religious phrase” is the tradition of King of Prussia II. Did it become a tradition after Friedrich?

II. Frederick

an enlightened despot II. Friedrich was also a “secret Muslim” was often spoken. His sympathy for Islam is also mentioned in many sources.

However, there is no source that gives an answer to our question. According to one study, it is not possible for this tradition to have started with Friedrich because it was just in the early 1700s. “Basmele” was included in the invitations of doctoral theses published in Erlangen. The aforementioned phrase (in Arabic letters) was used in the invitations of at least three different doctoral theses. Therefore, it is II. Nor is it possible that it started in the time of Friedrich. Because II. Friedrich took power in 1740 and died in 1786.

So, why was the basmala in Kant’s doctoral thesis invitation written in Arabic?

After considering all the possibilities it seems that the school, the deans, the printing houses, and the Enlightenment thought of the period had an influence. If a special meaning is attributed to the Arabic letters, then it is necessary to evaluate the Greek and Hebrew letters with the same meaning.

As a result, the claim that Kant has a basmala in his doctoral thesis does not reflect the truth, but theoretically, it does not contain false information. A tradition applied to invitations at that time coincided with Kant’s doctoral thesis. It is even seen that it was a tradition used in Germany at that time.


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