On wikipedia's entry on Isaac Newton it says:

In Newton's eyes, worshipping Christ as God was idolatry, to him the fundamental sin.

which is very similar to the Islamic attitude towards Jesus, exemplified in both the Qur'an and the Reports from Muhammad (pbuh) and his companions.

Whenever Ibn Umar [Companion of the Prophet Muhammad] was asked about marrying a Christian woman or a Jewess, he would say: "Allah has forbade the believers from marrying idolatrous women, and I do not know of a more severe Idolatry, than that a woman should say Jesus is her Lord although he is just one of Allah's slaves."
[ Sunnah.com Ref: Sahih Bukhari 5285 ]

and a cursory look at Newton's works proves he wrote extensively on religion.

But due to the large volume of work and the Latin language barrier I found it too difficult to verify for myself if Newton commented on Islam.

Did he?


1 Answer 1


The Wikipedia article on the religious beliefs of Isaac Newton states that most scholars believe that his personal beliefs were most closely aligned with non-trinitarian Arianism. A brief review of relevant literature indicates that while the matter is not settled with certainty, Wikipedia's characterization of the predominant interpretation among scholars is accurate. For example:

John Rogers, "Newton's Arian Epistemology and the Cosmogony of Paradise Lost", ELH, Vol. 86, No. 1, Spring 2019, pp. 77-106:

Heretics both, John Milton and Isaac Newton were, as most scholars now agree, Arians.

Thomas C. Pfizenmaier, "Was Isaac Newton an Arian?", Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 58, No. 1, January 1997, pp. 57-80:

From these additional manuscripts More reached the conclusion that Newton was not orthodox but an Arian. He proceeded to say that Newton was not only an Arian but, because of the manner in which he understood Jesus’ role as prophet, a Unitarian.

The view of Jesus attributed to Newton in the quote from the question is consistent with non-trinitarian Arianism. Historically, Arianism was one of the major non-orthodox (from a modern perspective) schools of thought in early Christianity, and it predates Islam by several centuries.

I have been unable to find statements by Newton on Islam, except for one instance of triple indirect hearsay reported in

J. Edleston, Correspondence of Sir Isaac Newton and Professor Cotes, London: John W. Parker, 1850

On p. lxxx we read that a Swedish professor by the name of Björnstahl visited a certain Mr. Fontein, an Anabaptist preacher, in Amsterdam in December of 1774, who related to him that he had visited England in 1738 and had heard several anecdotes about Newton from professors or fellows at Cambridge. Among other things he was told:

Newton habe geglaubt, dass Mahomed von Gott gesandt worden sey, um die Araber von der Finsternis zurück, und zum Glauben an einen Gott zu führen u.s.w. [...] die im Koran und Mahomeds Leben vorkommenden Fabel und Wunder habe dieser aufgeklärte Mann nicht geglaubt.

[My translation] " ... that Newton had believed that Muhammad had been sent by God to lead the Arabs back from darkness towards belief in one god etc. [...] the fables and miracles occurring in the Quran and Muhammad's life this enlightened man had not believed."

  • You can find some more info here.
    – justCal
    Jul 15, 2023 at 5:38

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