Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (28 August 1749 – 22 March 1832) is world-famous German poet, novelist, playwright and natural philosopher. He is one of the greatest figures in Western literature after whom countless institutes and associations have been named all over Europe and North America, namely Goethe Institute.

Though born into a Christian family and raised as a follower of Church, von Goethe did not have a good opinion about his faith. He wrote: “There is much nonsense in the doctrines of the Church“. His beliefs about God were very close to Islamic belief of One Supreme Creator (Allah). He wrote:

“Jesus felt pure and calmly thought
Only the One God;
Who made himself to be a god
Offends his holy will.
And thus the right(ness) has to shine
What Mahomet also achieved;
Only by the term of the One
He mastered the whole world”

“Jesus f|hlte rein und dachte
Nur den Einen Gott im Stillen;
Wer ihn selbst zum Gotte machte
Krdnkte seinen heil’gen Willen.
Und so mu_ das Rechte scheinen
Was auch Mahomet gelungen;
Nur durch den Begriff des Einen
Hat er alle Welt bezwungen.”
(WA I, 6, 288 ff)

Goethe learned Arabic language after studying German translation of Holy Qur’an by J.V. Hammer. He wrote in his Divan:

“Whether the Koran is of eternity?
I don’t question that!…
That it is the book of books
I believe out of the muslim’s duty.”

“Ob der Koran von Ewigkeit sei?
Darnach frag’ ich nicht ! …
Da_ er das Buch der B|cher sei
Glaub’ ich aus Mosleminen Pflicht”

(WA I, 6, 203)

It seems Goethe was facinated by Islamic Sufism. Goethe bought original Arabic manuscripts of Rumi, Dschami, Hafis, Saadi, Attar, Qur’an-Tafsir, Du’as, an Arabic-Turkish dictionary, texts on matters like the freeing of slaves, buying and selling, interest, usury and Arabian scripts from Sultan Selim.

“Speaking of prophecies, I have to tell you that there are things happening these days, which they would not have allowed a prophet to say. Who would have been allowed some years ago to say that there would be held a mahommedan divine service and the Suras of Koran would be murmured in the auditorium of our protestant gymnasium and yet it happened and we attended the Bashkir service, saw their Mulla and welcomed their Prince in the theatre. Out of special favour I was presented with a bow and arrows which for eternal memory I will hang above my chimney as soon as God has decreed a lucky return for them,” Goethe wrote in a letter to Trebra in 1814.

Goethe on Islam and Christianity | Rehmat's World