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Henri Lammens (1862-1937) was a prominent Belgian-born Jesuit and Orientalist.

Born in Ghent, Belgium of Catholic Flemish stock, Henri Lammens joined the Society of Jesus in Beirut at the age of fifteen, and settled permanently in Lebanon. During his first eight years there Lammens mastered the Arabic language, as well as Latin, and Greek. His first work of scholarship was a dictionary of Arabic usage (1889). He edited al-Bashir, the Jesuit newspaper of Beirut, and after much travelling, he began his career as an Orientalist at the School of Oriental Studies at the Jesuit College in 1907.

He published a series of studies on the Umayyads, and several on pre-Islamic Arabia: Etudes sur le regne du calife Omaiyade Mo'awia ler (1908), Le berceau de l'Islam; L'Arabie occidentale à la vielle de l'Hegire (1914). He contributed many articles to the first edition of the Encyclopaedia of Islam, as well as to various learned journals.

His contributions are considered highly influential among Western historians of Islam; and yet he has often been criticized for his skewed portrayal of many issues. It is universally acknowledged "that Lammens provided the study of the sira with a new basis; and none would underestimate his contributions on the history of the Umayyads."

Other Scholars' views of Henri Lammens

Franz Buhl remarks: «dessen Belesenheit und Scharfsinn man bewundern muss, der aber doch oft die Objektivität des unparteiischen Historiker vermissen lässt.» Des Leben Muhammeds, p. 367.

i.e. "One must admire his [Lammens'] erudition and acumen, which however do not often admit of the objectivity of an impartial historian."

Maxime Rodinson, a modern biographer of Muhammad, characterized Lammens as follows

He... possessed a remarkable ability to lay hold of those living qualities communicated by the ancient texts along with a literary talent which enabled him to convey these to his readers... In addition, he was filled with a holy contempt for Islam, for its 'delusive glory', and 'lascivious' prophet." [1]

A Library Journal reviewer wrote:

" who had 'a holy contempt for Islam.' Lammens himself refers to the Qur'an as an 'infinitely shabby journal.' [2]


  • Islam: Beliefs and Institutions
  • An online review of this book is available at:


Some of Lammens's studies are included in Quest for the Historical Muhammad, edited by Ibn Warraq.


  1. ^ "A Critical Survey of Modern Studies of Muhammad" p26
  2. ^ -Michael W. Ellis, Ellenville P.L., NY
  3. ^


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