Karl Gottlieb Pfander (1803–1865), spelt also as Carl Gottlieb Pfander orC.G. Pfander, was a Basel Mission missionary in Central Asia and Trans-Caucasus, and the Church Missionary Society polemicist to North-Western Provinces—later became Agra Province – present Agra in Uttar Pradesh – North India. He was known for converting Muslims to Christianity. He authored Mizan al-Haqq (The balance of truth), an apologetic, Remarks on the nature of Muhammedanism, and more. 

He seems to have read George Sale’s english translation of the Quran and used that as his basis for understanding Islam, thus, he also mis-translated mutawafeeka in 3:55 as death. His attack on Islam was published in the 1830’s.

He famously debated Ramatullah Karanvi in 1854. Sir William Muir and Imad ud Din were also there.
_____________________________________________________________________________________________Mizan al-Haqq (The balance of truth), an apologetic, Remarks on the nature of Muhammedanism

Mizanulhaq by Pfander
Quotes from Mizan al-Haqq (The balance of truth), in terms of the death of Eisa (as)

See Part-1, Chapter 3

“””One proof of this is that there is a difference of style in different parts of the Old Testament, thus showing that it is not the composition of one man, or indeed of one age. Then, again, there exist apparent though not real contradictions between different accounts of the same incident and other matters of no real spiritual importance. This proves that the Jews have made no attempt to change the text in order to get rid of apparent contradictions. The force of this argument will be understood from an illustration drawn from the Qur’an. In Surah 3 (Al ‘Imran), ver. 48, we are told that God said, “O Jesus, verily it is I that cause Thee to die and that take Thee up unto Myself”: and in Surah 4 (An Nisa), ver. 157, speaking of Jesus, we are told: “And there is none of the People of the Book but shall assuredly believe on Him before His death.” Some doubt whether the latter pronoun refers to Christ, but there is no doubt as to the mention of His death in Surah 19 (Maryam), ver. 34, where He is represented as saying: “And peace be upon Me the day I was born and the day I shall die, and the day I shall be raised alive.” Yet in Surah 4, ver. 156, it is denied that the Jews slew Him: “And they slew Him not, and they crucified Him not.” At first sight the reader would imagine that there was a contradiction here, some places asserting Christ’s death, another denying it. Yet the very fact of this apparent contradiction being found in the Qur’an is a proof that the Muslims have not corrupted the text, in spite of the reading قَبْلَ مَوْتِهِمْ (“before their death”), which Baizawi 9 records, for قَبْلَ مَوْتِهِ (“before His death”). So it is also with apparent contradictions in the Bible. Their very existence is a strong proof that no attempt to reconcile them by altering the text has been made.””””
Pfander vs. Rahmatullah debate

While in India, he engaged with Muslim religious leaders in a famous public debate at Agra on 10 and 11 April 1854 at the invitation of Islamic scholar Rahmatullah Kairanawi. Several hundred Muslims and Christians gathered in the school room of Agra’s Church Missionary Society to listen to a series of public debates between Pfander, a German CMS Protestant missionary, and Kairanawi, a Sunni theologian. Pfander supporters included British East Indian Company servants, who represented India’s colonial power and its protection of European missionaries; Pfander’s co-workers including Thomas Valpy French, who later became the first bishop of Lahore; local Christian converts from Islam, and representatives of the Anglican Church. Local Shi’ites and Sunni audiences; local Catholic missionaries, who disliked the work of Protestants, Muhammad Wazîr Khân, a physician in British-run medical hospital; and prolific Islamic writer and scholar Imad ud-din Lahiz were in the crowd on Kairanawi’s side.[2][3]

Although the debate had been slated to address the topics of the Quran as the word of God, the Trinity and the sending of Muhammad, the debate centered around a single point, the authenticity of Christian scriptures. Pfander, well versed in the traditional argument, defended the integrity of the New Testament and Old Testament, while Kairanawi insisted that the Christian scriptures had been abrogated using the apocryphal 16th century Gospel of Barnabas as his main source, which he thought was the only authentic Gospel.[9] After two days of debate, both claimed victory.

Pfander was not prepared against the arguments of Kairanwi and hence his position remained relatively weak.[10] This emboldened the Muslim debaters to contest in their future polemics.

The interest the debate aroused led a number of Muslims to read Pfander’s literature and consider the questions that had been discussed. Some, such as the leading Sufi scholars and theologians Imad ud-din Lahiz and Safdar Ali, both of whom attended the debate, proclaimed their conversion to Christianity.

Imad ud-din Lahiz, for example, who assisted Kairanawi in representing the Islamic side in the debate, was so impressed with Pfander and his detailed arguments in his Magnum opus Mizan Al Haqq (The Balance of Truth) that he noted upon his conversion to Christianity:

“We can now, I think, say that the controversy has virtually been complete … [that] the Christians have obtained a complete victory, while our opponents have been signally defeated.”[11]

William Muir, Secretary to the Government of the North West Provinces, described these debates between Pfander and Kairanawi in an article published by the “Calcutta Review,” along with recent history of Christian mission to Muslims. Having observed the debate by himself, he later labeled these articles as The Mohammedan Controversy in 1897.

Pfander’s chief legacy to posterity is undoubtedly his book Mizan ul-Haqq (The Balance of Truth), modelled on the style of Islamic theological works, and attempting to present the Christian gospel in a form understandable to Muslims. He offered reasons to believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, neither corrupted nor superseded, and argued that the Qur’an itself testifies to the reliability of the Christian scriptures and the supremacy of Christ. He attempted to prove from the Qur’an and other Islamic writings some alleged fallibilities in Islam and its prophet, noting a historic contrast between the violence of Islamic expansion and the peaceable spread of the early church. The Mizan ul-Haqq stimulated a number of carefully argued refutations from Islamic scholars, followed by further writings from Pfander himself. It marked an important new phase in Muslim-Christian relations, when profound theological issues were addressed for the first time by recognised scholars.

In his history of the CMS, Eugene Stock described Pfander as “the greatest of all missionaries to Mohammedans.” Temple Gairdner remarked that Pfander possessed the three great requisites for public controversy: absolute command of his subject, absolute command of the language, thought and manner of the people, and absolute command of himself. Samuel Zwemer defended his dogmatic and controversial methods, pointing out that Christ and his apostles engaged in similar public debate with individuals and crowds.

Links and Related Essay’s

Who is Reverend Imad-ud-Din?

In 1734, George Sale mis-translated mutawafeeka in 3:55 as death

  1.  Anderson, Gerald H. (1999). Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 532. ISBN 978-0-8028-4680-8.
  2. Jump up to:a b c d e f g h “Carl Pfander the catalyst: Pietism and mission” (PDF). Retrieved May 15, 2012Pfander Carl(Karl) Gottlieb, born 3 November 1803 at Waibllngen, Germany. After attending the local Lateinshcule, he started missionary training in Germany.
  3. Jump up to:a b c d e f g h i j k Powell, Avril Ann (1993). Muslims and Missionaries in Pre-Mutiny India. Routledge. pp. 132–. ISBN 978-0-7007-0210-7.
  4. Jump up to:a b c d e f g “PFANDER, pfān’der, KARL GOTTLIEB: Missionary to the Mohammedans”. Retrieved May 19, 2012He married first Sophia Reuss, a German, in Moscow, July 11, 1834, who died in childbed in Shusha, May 12, 1835; second, Emily Swinburne, an Englishwoman, in Calcutta, Jan. 19, 1841, who bore him three boys and three girls, and survived him fifteen years.
  5. Jump up to:a b c d e “The legacy of Karl Gottlieb Pfander. (missionary in the Muslim world)”. Questia Online Library. Retrieved May 21, 2012Karl Gottlieb Pfander has been described as the “foremost champion of his age” in the assault upon “the embattled forces of the False Prophet.” – In 1825, after completing his course, Pfander was ordained in Lutheran orders and stationed at Shusha, the provincial capital of Karabagh in Russian Armenia.
  6. Jump up to:a b c d “Carl [Karl] Gottlieb Pfander”. Retrieved May 24, 2012Dr. Pfander’s writings, which consist of three treatises: first, Mizan-ul-Haqq, or “Balance of Truth”; second, Miftah-ul-Asrar, or “Key of Mysteries”; and third, Tariq-ul-Hyat, or ” Way of Salvation.” They were originally written in Persian, but have also been published in Urdoo
  7. ^ Powell, A. A.; Muslims and Missionaries in Pre-mutiny India, 1993; Routledge, Pages 115–116, 128
  8. ^ Wolff, J.; Travels and Adventures of the Rev. Joseph Wolff, Cambridge University Press, 2012; Page 411
  9. Jump up to:a b Schirrmacher, Christine: Mit den Waffen des Gegners. Christlich-muslimische Kontroversen im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert, dargestellt am Beispiel der Auseinandersetzung um Karl Gottlieb Pfanders „Mizan al-haqq“ und Rahmatullah ibn Halil al-´Utmani al Karanawis „Izhar al-haqq“ und der Diskussion über das Barnabasevangelium. (Islamkundliche Untersuchungen; 162). Berlin, 1992.
  10. ^ Bennet, C. (1996). “The Legacy of Karl Gottlieb Pfander” (PDF).
  11. ^ Imad-ud-Din, “The Results of the Controversy in North India with Mohammedans,” Church Missionary Intelligencer (hereafter CMI) 10 (1875): 276
  12. ^ Stock, Eugene, The History of the Church Missionary Society (London, Church Missionary Society, 1899), p. 220
  13. Jump up to:a b “The Armenians. 1864–1866”. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved May 22, 2012But when copies of Dr. Pfander’s book were brought to Constantinople, which defended Christianity against Mohammedanism, and assailed the latter, it was detained at the custom-house; yet copies got abroad in some way, without foreign agency, and were sought by Mohammedans who were interested in the great question it discussed.
  14. ^ “Arabo-Turkish and Armeno-Turkish Versions”. Retrieved May 14, 2012In 1859 the C.M.S. sent to Constantinople the ablest of their Mohammedan missionaries, Dr. Karl Gottlieb Pfander and Koelle. Pfander (1803–1865)
  15. ^ Cox, Jeffrey (2002). Imperial Fault Lines:Christianity and Colonial Power in India, 1818–1940. Stanford University Press. pp. 59–60. ISBN 978-0-8047-4318-1.
  16. ^ Sir William MuirThe Mohammedan Controversy: Biographies of Mohammed, Sprenger on Tradition, The Indian Liturgy, and the Psalter, T. & T. Clark, 38 George Street, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1897, pp. 20.
  17. ^ “2002 Site Updates”. Retrieved May 16, 2012Carl [Karl] Gottlieb Pfander. This book discusses the doctrine of the deity of Christ and the Trinity. In English, the book is known as Miftah-ul-Asrar: The Key of Mysteries.
  18. ^ Pfander, Carl Gottlieb (1912). Taríqu’l-hyát: (The Path of Life)William St. Clair Tisdall. Christian literature society for India.
  19. ^ Pfander, Carl Gottlieb; William St. Clair Tisdall (1976). The Mizanu’l haqq:the Mohammedan controversythe University of Michigan. Indo-Asiatic Publishers.


  1.  Pomeau. Voltaire en son temps.
  2. ^ A SKETCH OF THE LIFE OF GEORGE SALE [from AlKoran 1891 version]
  3. ^ The Koran, commonly called the Alcoran of Mohammed: translated into English immediately from the original Arabic; with explanatory notes, taken from the most approved commentators, to which is prefixed a preliminary discourse
  4. Jump up to:a b Arnoud Vrolijk Sale, George ODNB, 28 May 2015
  5. Jump up to:a b c Alexander Bevilacqua: The Qur’an Translations of Marracci and Sale, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes
  6. ^ The Koran. Translated by George Sale, with explanatory notes and Sale’s preliminary discourse. With an Introduction by Sir Edward Denison Ross, C.I.E., Ph.D., etc. 8½ × 6, xvi 608 pp., 8 plates. London: F. Warne & Co., Ltd. (1922). Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain & Ireland, 54(2), 282-283. doi:10.1017/S0035869X00150397
  7. ^


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