William Montgomery Watt

Scottish historian and Orientalist (1909–2006)

William Montgomery Watt (14 March 190924 October 2006) was a Scottish historian, Orientalist, Anglican priest, and academic. From 1964 to 1979, he was Professor of Arabic and Islamic studies at the University of Edinburgh.

William Montgomery Watt

Quotes edit

  • In the early days of the Islamic empire the Christian inhabitants of Egypt and the Fertile Crescent were probably better off as dhimmis under Muslim Arab rulers than they had been under Byzantine Greeks.
  • I am not a Muslim in the usual sense, though I hope I am a “Muslim” as “one surrendered to God”; but I believe that embedded in the Qur’an and other expressions of the Islamic vision are vast stores of divine truth from which I and other occidentals have still much to learn.
  • Because Europe was reacting against Islam it belittled the influence of Saracens and exaggerated its dependence on its Greek and Roman heritage. So today an important task for us is to correct this false emphasis and to acknowledge fully our debt to the Arab and Islamic world.
    • The influence of Islam on medieval Europe, Edinburgh University Press, 1973, p. 84
  • Islam is now wrestling with Western thought as it once wrestled with Greek philosophy, and is as much in need as it was then of a 'revival of the religious sciences'. Deep study of al-Ghazālī may suggest to Muslims steps to be taken if they are to deal successfully with the contemporary situation. Christians, too, now that the world is in a cultural melting-pot, must be prepared to learn from Islam, and are unlikely to find a more sympathetic guide than al-Ghazālī.

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