He is most notable for his books on the early history of Islam. He wrote in French. During his first eight years there Lammens mastered the Arabic language, as well as Latin, and Greek, and he studied philosophy at the Jesuit-run Saint Joseph University in Beirut. Between and he taught the Arabic language at the same university. His early published writings are on the subject of Arabic language. In he went to the Jesuit-run universities in Egypt at Cairo and Alexandria to do the same, and returned to Beirut in
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His father is an alcoholic who leaves his wife and their six other children during Lammens childhood. Despite his modest background, one of Lammens primary school teachers in Ghent notices his apparent brightness and gets him admitted to the Jesuit-run Apostolic School in Turnhout, a breeding ground for missionaries.
Lammens quickly lives up to the schools reputation. Just fifteen years old, he leaves for Lebanon in March , where he enters into the Societas Jesu on 23 July Following its resurrection in , this order was present in the region since Lammens spends as a pupil of the Jesuit College of Beirut and fulfils his noviciate in a convent north of Beirut during the next two years. During these years, Lammens acquires a profound knowledge of the Arabic language, which he subsequently goes on to teach at the Jesuit College between and These years see his first publications, mainly of a philological nature, the most prolific of which is a textbook for French students of Arabic After ending his teaching assignment he completes his Jesuit formation by studying theology in Beirut, Wales and Leuven and, finally, spending his last year of training in Vienna in Now a full Jesuit Father, he moves back to Beirut, where he fulfils various administrative tasks in the College.
During his final years of Jesuit training, Lammens exhibits an increasing scholarly activity. In , he publishes a study on the seventh-century Umayyad poet Al-Akhtal, his first feat as an historian of Islam. In the following years, however, his budding activity in the study of Islamic history is eclipsed by other scholarly endeavours. Between and Lammens, like many contemporary Orientalist scholars, undertakes numerous travels throughout Syria, Lebanon and Palestine. By scorning the internal politics and spiritual qualities of indigenous Churches, he supports the Unionist campaign.
Henri Lammens Explained