The Strange Case of Dr. Bucaille: Notes for a Re-examination

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The present essay focuses on the figure of Maurice Bucaille and on his contribution to the discourse on Islam and science. Its purpose is twofold. First of all, it aims to provide the reader with a concise map of the ideas of the French author, reconstructing their core and their interrelations. Furthermore, it aims to question what I define as the apparent naivety of Bucaille's work, a reason why he can sometimes be too easily dismissed, by pinpointing a number of original features of his intellectual activity. My argument is that Bucaille deserves more attention for two good reasons: firstly, because of the influence that he de facto exerts on Muslim societies, secondly, because of some highly specific characteristics of his discourse. Such features not only distinguish his contribution from analogous ones, but also give rise to interpretative questions, which have as yet been either overlooked or unsatisfactorily addressed. Closely connected to this thesis is the idea that Bucaille's work constitutes a good starting point for a discussion amongst scholars of different disciplines and from different cultural backgrounds. The first section reconstructs Bucaille's life and works. The second section focuses on his method and ideas regarding science. The third section is devoted to Bucaille's conclusions following his study of the Bible and the Qur'an, and therefore deals more closely with the core of his ideas. The fourth section covers Bucaille's complementary criticism of the theory of evolution. In the fifth section I examine the possible reasons behind the scant scholarly attention concerning Bucaille. In the final section I propose an interpretative model of Bucaille's figure conceived as a system of concentric spheres and I raise, for each one of them, several questions, which have so far been, in my view, insufficiently investigated, thus setting an agenda for further scholarly work.


  • Stefano Bigliardi
Research areas and keywords

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  • Other Social Sciences
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)248-263
JournalMuslim World
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Publication categoryResearch