Menue phone
all research fellows

Dr. Daniel Kinitz

Areas of interest

  • intellectual history of Islam in transition from pre-modern to modern era
  • Islamic political thought (Sunna and Shia)
  • discourse analysis combined with social systems theory
  • digital humanities: text pattern analysis, XSLT, TEI-XML, SQL/database technologies, Python

The Pan-Islamic journal al-Manār (1898–1940) and the shift of Islamic semantics towards modernity

The journal al-Manār represented one of the most important periodicals within the Islamicate world in the first half of the 20th century. Edited by Muḥammad Rašīd Riḍā (1865–1935), the journal covered the shifts and upheavals within Muslim societies, at the same time publicly constructing the social meaning of the new phenomena. This included the abolition of the Islamic caliphate (1924) as well as the subsequent attempts by political and civil actors to reorganise the Islamicate world. Being one of the first major Arab periodicals, al-Manār itself represents an institutional shift towards a modern public sphere, and shows how new social and religious topics and their forms of representation could be experimented with.
One can assume that al-Manār, by representing a forum of public communication, adapted itself and its readers to the social transformations by re-inventing Islamic concepts, at the same time drawing boundaries between religion and non-religion. Due to its geographically wide distribution, al-Manār therefore forms an object of study, providing indications to general developments within Islamic thought. While al-Manār has been examined in several respects, there seem to be no studies that exploit the opportunities of the digital humanities. With the help of techniques from computational linguistics and text mining, the texts can be filtered and keywords, term frequencies and co-occurrences can subsequently be derived. The use of XML mark-ups and database technologies means that the results can also be examined in relation to other elements (persons/authors, dates, regions etc.).
Preliminary findings suggest that some concepts, with which contemporary Islamic thought reflected the difference between Islam and non-Islam, played no role at the beginning of the 20th century – most notably the concept al-ʿalmānīya (secularism/secularity). The embeddedness of terms and concepts coupled with religion and non-religion can provide information not only about how Islam was relocated within an emerging public sphere, but can also serve to challenge the concept of religion shaped by its European and Christian origins.


2018 - present

Project Manager and Researcher, Project "Bibliotheca Arabica – Neue Geschichte der arabischen Literatur", Saxon Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Leipzig

2016 - 2018

Senior researcher, HCAS „Multiple Secularities – Beyond the West, Beyond Modernities“, Leipzig University (Germany)

2015 - 2016

Research Associate, research project “Niklas Luhmann – Theorie als Passion. Wissenschaftliche Erschließung und Edition des Nachlasses“, Bielefeld University (Germany)

2014 - 2015

Lecturer, Institute of Islamic Studies, FU Berlin (Germany)

2013 - 2014

Research coordinator, database project “The Digital Bab al-Yemen”, FU Berlin


PhD (Dr. phil.), Arabic and Islamic Studies, Leipzig University (Germany)

2009 - 2010

Lecturer, Institute of Oriental Studies, Leipzig University


Team & local project coordinator, “Acenese Manuscript Project”, Leipzig University/Banda Aceh (Germany/Indonesia)

2004 - 2008

Research Assistant, Institute of Oriental Studies, Leipzig University

2005 - 2006

Chief Assistant, al-Azhar University, Cairo


Team leader online information project on Islamic groups, Leipzig University


Assistant lecturer, Sanaa University (Yemen)

1997 - 2004

Arabic studies, Leipzig University, Kuwait University, Damascus University (Germany, Kuwait, Syria)

Relevant Publications

  • Kinitz, Daniel. Die andere Seite des Islam: Säkularismus-Diskurs und
    muslimische Intellektuelle im modernen Ägypten
    . Berlin: de Gruyter, 2016.
  • Kinitz, Daniel. “Deviance as a Phenomenon of Secularity: Islam and Deviants in Twentieth-century Egypt – A Search for Sociological Explanations,” in Comparative Secularities: Religion and Modernity in Five World Regions. Edited by Marian Burchardt, Monika Wohlrab-Sahr, and Matthias Middell, 95–117. Berlin, New York: de Gruyter, 2015.