Saturday, March 02, 2013

Islam Against the Reformers

Rarely am I stumped by obscure Luther references. This one was recently sent over to me.

The excerpt below comes from a 19th Century Islamic work, Izharul-Haq (Truth Revealed) by "the distinguished 19th century Indian scholar, Rahmatullah Kairanv." The preface explains this book was "internationally recognized as one of the most authoritative and objective studies of the Bible." The book contains many of the common attacks against Luther, but the following excerpt is one of the most obscure I've ever come across. It was originally written in Arabic, translated into Urdu, and then into English:

The Fallibility of Luther and Calvin
Perhaps we might be allowed at this juncture, for the interest of the readers, to reproduce two incidents directly related to Luther and Calvin, the founders of the Protestant faith. We quote this from the book entitled Mira’atus Sidq that was translated into Urdu by a Catholic scholar and priest Thomas Inglus and printed in 1857. He relates the following incidents on pages 105-107: 
“In 1543 Luther tried to cast out the devil from the son of Messina with a result similar to the Jews who once tried to cast out devil as is described by the Book of Acts in Chapter 19. Satan, in the same way attacked Luther and wounded him and his companions. Stiffels seeing that his spiritual leader, Luther was being choked and strangled by Satan, tried to run away but being in great terror was not able to open the latch of the door and had to break down the door with a hammer which was thrown to him from the outside by his servant through a ventilator.
Another incident is related of Calvin, the great leader of the Protestants, by another historian. Calvin once hired a man called Bromius and told him to lie down in front of the people and pretend to be dead. He arranged with him that when he heard Calvin say the words, ”Bromius, rise from the dead and be alive,” he should rise from the bed as though he had been dead and had just risen, having been miraculously brought to life. The wife of Bromius was also told to cry and lament over the body of her husband. Bromius and his wife acted accordingly and people, hearing her cries and lamentation, gathered there for her consolation. Calvin came and said to the weeping woman, ”Do not cry. I will raise him from the dead.” He began to recite some prayers and then holding the hand of Bromius, said, ”Rise in the name of God.” But his design of deceiving people in the name of God was not a success as Bromius really had died. God had avenged Calvin for his deception and iniquity. Bromius’ wife, seeing that her husband had died in reality started crying and blaming Calvin. 
Both these leaders were considered to be the greatest spiritual leaders of their time. If they can be blamed for such acts what remains to be said of the generality of the people.

This excerpt provides a number of clues, none of which led me to anything conclusive.

1. "We quote this from the book entitled Mira’atus Sidq that was translated into Urdu by a Catholic scholar and priest Thomas Inglus and printed in 1857." I spent a good deal of time trying to track down Mira’atus Sidq or Mira’atus Sidk  known also as "The Mirror of the Truth" or "The Mirror of Truth." I'm not sure if this book is pro-Islamic or anti-Islamic. It appears to be pro, as one Islamic website alludes to it being reprinted in 2001.

 2. I'm not certain who exactly wrote Mira’atus Sidq, since the only person mentioned, "Thomas Inglus" is noted as the translator. Some of the websites that use this same snippet say he was a "famous Catholic priest."  I found nothing significant on "Thomas Inglus" even using the different spelling "Inglis" and also searching "Father Inglus" and derivatives. If he simply translated a pro-Islamic work, perhaps he did so to familiarize people with Islamic argumentation. Luther himself, if I recall, was interested in obtaining translations of Islamic works, particularly the Koran. If Inglus produced an anti-Islamic work, perhaps the material on the Reformers was simply another argument for the papacy.

3. I have no idea who "the son of Messina" is.

4. "Stiffels" appears to be Luther's friend Michael Stifel (1486?–1567). It is possible that in 1543 Luther had contact with him, as Stiefel appears to have been in Saxony in 1543 as a pastor. LW states:
Stiefel, was an Augustinian friar from Esslingen who in 1522 openly supported Luther. For this he had to flee to Wittenberg; while there, a close personal friendship between him and Luther developed. Upon Luther’s recommendation Stifel became a preacher in Mansfeld, and then later on in Tollet (in Upper Austria). From 1528 he held several pastorates in Electoral Saxony. Forced to leave Saxony during the Smalcaldic War, Stifel found a new home in East Prussia. In 1554 he returned to Wittenberg, and at once became involved in a controversy with Melanchthon. From 1559 to the end of his life Stifel taught mathematics at the University of Jena. Stifel had strong leanings toward apocalyptic speculation, which he combined with keen interest in and solid knowledge of mathematics. Consequently he could not resist attempting to determine when the world would come to an end. In 1532 he published a booklet in which he established that the world would come to an end and that Christ would return in glory on October 19, 1532. The enthusiasm with which he defended his theories and conclusions repeatedly caused him trouble, and Luther had to help him out of more than one tight situation. Luther, M. (1999, c1972). Vol. 49: Luther's works, vol. 49 : Letters II (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald and H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works (49:140). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.
There are a significant number of apocryphal stories or folktales about Luther that grew and developed, and were eventually collected in the 1800's and early 1900's by German scholars. Most often these stories were pro-Luther (Luther seen with saint-like qualities). A great book on this is Popular Culture and Popular Movements in Reformation Germany by R.W. Scribner. Too bad I can't track him down  and ask him if he's come across this story, as he was fluent in the pertinent literature. There are a handful of references of Luther and his associate in regard to demonic possession  This would be the first time I've come across one in which The Reformers are seen as failing. For instance, in this link, note the same use of Acts 19 and the success of Johannes Bugenhagen against the Devil.

After spending quite awhile looking for anything on the Luther material, I spent about five minutes on the Calvin story and realized I was in for the same sort of trip to nowhere. The bottom line: if one comes upon a Muslim using these stories, they have the burden of proof. Anyone using such materials as an apologetic is responsible for proving the material is historically verifiable. I certainly realize that a story about casting out demons is of a supernatural nature, however, credible historical documents from the 16th Century are not.

Rarely have I been stumped by obscure Luther references. Perhaps the reason this one made the list is due to it being based on Reformation folklore that had developed by the 19th Century. Perhaps something was lost in translation as well. This blog has been daily attacked by spam from Muslims (or, for fairness, users with Muslim names). Perhaps one of them could defend the claims of Rahmatullah Kairanv in regard to these stories about Luther and Calvin rather than spam the blog.

No comments: