Islamic Modernism

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For Liberal movements in Islam, see Liberal movements within Islam.
For the topic of Islam in the contemporary sociology of religion, see Islam and modernity.

Islamic Modernism is a movement that has been described as "the first Muslim ideological response"[1] attempting to reconcile Islamic faith with modern Western values such as nationalism, democracy, civil rights, rationality, equality and progress.[2] It featured a "critical reexamination of the classical conceptions and methods of jurisprudence" and a new approach to Islamic theology and Quranic exegesis (Tafsir).[1]

It was the first of several Islamic movements – including secularism, Islamism and Salafism – that emerged in the middle of the 19th century in reaction to the rapid changes of the time, especially the perceived onslaught of Western Civilization and colonialism on the Muslim world.[2] Founders include Muhammad Abduh, a Sheikh of Al-Azhar University for a brief period before his death in 1905, Jamal ad-Din al-Afghani, and Muhammad Rashid Rida (d. 1935).

The early Islamic Modernists (al-Afghani and Muhammad Abdu) used the term "salafiyya" to refer to their attempt at renovation of Islamic thought,[3] and this "salafiyya movement" is often known in the West as `Islamic modernism,`" although it is very different from what is currently called Salafism, which generally signifies "ideologies such as wahhabism".[3] (The origins of Salafism in the modernist "Salafi Movement" of Jamal al-Din al-Afghani and Muhammad Abduh is noted by some,[4] [5] [6] while others say Islamic Modernism only influenced contemporary Salafism.[7][8])

Modernism differs from secularism in that it insists on the importance of religious faith in public life, and from Salafism or Islamism in that it embraces contemporary European institutions, social processes and values.[2]

Overview[edit]

Egyptian Islamic jurist and Islamic modernist Muhammad Abduh
Egyptian Islamic jurist and scholar Mahmud Shaltut

Some trends in modern Islamic thought include:

  • The acknowledgement "with varying degrees of criticism or emulation", of the technological, scientific and legal achievements of the West, while at the same time objecting "to Western colonial exploitation of Muslim countries and the imposition of Western secular values" and aiming to develop a modern and dynamic understanding of science among Muslims that would strengthen the Muslim world and prevent further exploitation.[9]
  • Taking the four traditional sources of Islamic jurisprudence—the Quran, the reported deed and saying of Muhammad (hadith), consensus of the theologians (ijma) and juristic reasoning by analogy (qiyas) -- and reinterpreting the first two sources (the Quran and hadith) "to transform the last two [(ijma and qiyas)] in order to formulate a reformist project in light of the prevailing standards of scientific rationality and modern social theory."[1]
  • Employed ijtihad not to only in the traditional, narrow way to arrive at legal rulings in unprecedented cases (where Quran, hadith, and rulings of earlier jurists are silent) but for critical independent reasoning in all domains of thought, and perhaps even approving of its use by non-jurists.[10]
  • Restricting traditional Islamic law by limiting its basis to the Quran and authentic Sunnah, limiting the Sunna with radical Hadith criticism.[11]
  • A more or less radical (re)interpretation of the authoritative sources. This is particularly the case with the Quranic texts on polygyny, the hadd (penal) punishments, jihad, and treatment of unbelievers, which conflict with "modern" views.[12]
    • On the issue of jihad, modernists such as Muhammad Abduh and Rashid Rida, took a different line than "traditionalist-classicist" scholars, emphasizing that jihad was allowed only as defensive warfare to respond to aggression or "perfidy" against he Muslim community, and that the "normal and desired state" between Islamic and non-Islamic territories was one of "peaceful coexistence."[13][14] According to Mahmud Shaltut and other modernists, unbelief was not sufficient cause for declaring jihad.[14][15] The conversion to Islam by unbelievers in fear of death at the hands of jihadists (mujahideen) was unlikely to prove sincere or lasting.[14][16] Much preferable means of conversion was education.[14][17]
  • An apologetic which links aspects of the Islamic tradition with Western ideas and practices, and claims Western practices in question were originally derived from Islam.[citation needed] Modernist apologetic has however been severely criticized by many scholars as superficial, tendentious and even psychologically destructive, so much so that the term "apologetics" has almost become a term of abuse in the literature on modern Islam.[18]

History of Modernism[edit]

Commencing in the late nineteenth century and impacting the twentieth-century, Muhammed Abduh and Rashid Rida undertook a project to defend and modernize Islam to match Western institutions and social processes. Its most prominent intellectual founder, Muhammad Abduh (d. 1323/1905), was Sheikh of Al-Azhar University for a brief period before his death. This project superimposed the world of the nineteenth century on the extensive body of Islamic knowledge that had accumulated in a different milieu.[2] These efforts had little impact at first, however were catalysed with the demise of the Ottoman Caliphate in 1924 and promotion of secular liberalism – particularly with a new breed of writers being pushed to the fore including Egyptian Ali Abd al-Raziq’s publication attacking Islamic politics for the first time in Muslim history.[2] Subsequent secular writers including Farag Foda, al-Ashmawi, Muhamed Khalafallah, Taha Husayn, Husayn Amin, et. al., have argued in similar tones.[2]

Abduh was skeptical towards Hadith (or "Traditions"), i.e. towards the body of reports of the teachings, doings and sayings of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Particularly towards those Traditions that are reported through few chains of transmission, even if they are deemed rigorously authenticated in any of the six canonical books of Hadith (known as the Kutub al-Sittah). Furthermore, he advocated a reassessment of traditional assumptions even in Hadith studies, though he did not devise a systematic methodology before his death.[6]

Influence on Salafism[edit]

Jamal ad-Din al-Afghani, Abduh, and their later disciples such as Muhammad Rashid Rida (d.1354/1935) and, to a lesser extent, Mohammed al-Ghazali (d. 1410/1989) espoused some of the key Wahhabi ideals, particularly the endeavor to “return” to the Islamic understanding of the first Muslim generations (as-salaf) by reopening the doors of juristic deduction (ijtihad) that they saw as closed. In effect, such a new-fangled policy signified a complete break from the traditional chain of knowledge transfer and its respective methodology.[6] At the beginning of the twentieth century, the term "Salafiyya" was linked to islamic modernism whose proponents strove to reconcile their faith with the Enlightenment and modernity. Toward the end of the twentieth century, however, the Salafi movement became inexplicably antithetical to Islamic modernism. Its epicenter moved closer to Saudi Arabia and the term Salafiyya became virtually synonymous with Wahhabism.[19]

Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi Writes:

"Rashid Rida popularized the term 'Salafī' to describe a particular movement (i.e.,Islamic modernism) that he spearheaded. That movement sought to reject the ossification of the madhhabs , and rethink through the standard issues of fiqh and modernity, at times in very liberal ways. A young scholar by the name of Muhammad Nasiruddin al-Albani read an article by Rida, and then took this term and used it to describe another, completely different movement. Ironically, the movement that Rida spearheaded eventually became Modernist Islam and dropped the 'Salafī' label, and the legal methodology that al-Albānī championed – with a very minimal overlap with Rida's vision of Islam – retained the appellation Salafī'. Eventually, al-Albānī's label was adopted by the Najdī daʿwah as well, until it spread in all trends of the movement. Otherwise, before this century, the term 'Salafī' was not used as a common label and proper noun. Therefore, the term 'Salafī' has attached itself to an age-old school of theology, the Atharī school".[7]

According to Shaykh Nuh Ha Mim Keller, "The term'Salafi' was revived as a slogan and movement, among latter-day Muslims, by the followers of Muhammad Abduh". [20]

Islamic modernists[edit]

Althought, all of the below named figures are not from the above-mentioned movement but they are more or less modernist in thought or/and approach.

Contemporary use[edit]

Pakistan[edit]

According to at least one source, (Charles Kennedy) in Pakistan the range of views on the "appropriate role of Islam" in that country (as of 1992), contains "Islamic Modernists" at one end of the spectrum and "Islamic activists" at the other. "Islamic activists" support the expansion of "Islamic law and Islamic practices", "Islamic Modernists" are lukewarm to this expansion and "some may even advocate development along the secularist lines of the West."[25]

Criticism of Modernism[edit]

Criticism of Islamic modernism comes mainly from supporters of Islamism who argue modernist thought is little more than the fusion of Western Secularism with spiritual aspects of Islam.[citation needed]. Other critics have described the modernist positions on politics in Islam as ideological stances.[26]

One of the leading Islamist thinkers and Islamic revivalists, Abul A'la Maududi agreed with Islamic modernists that Islam contained nothing contrary to reason, and was superior in rational terms to all other religious systems. However he disagreed with them in their examination of the Quran and the Sunna using reason as the standard. Maududi, instead started from the proposition that `true reason is Islamic`, and accepted the Book and the Sunna, not reason, as the final authority. Modernists errored in examining rather than simply obeying the Quran and the Sunna. [27]

Critics argue politics is inherently embedded in Islam, a rejection of the secular principle, "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's". They claim that there is a consensus in Muslim political jurisprudence, philosophy and practice with regard to the Caliphate form of government with a clear structure comprising a Caliph, assistants (mu’awinoon), governors (wulaat), judges (qudaat) and administrators (mudeeroon).[28][29]

It is argued that Muslim jurists have tended to work with the governments of their times. Notable examples are Abu Yusuf, Mohammed Ibn al-Hasan, Shafi’i, Yahya bin Said, Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, Ismail bin Yasa, Ibn Tulun[disambiguation needed], Abu Zura, Abu Hasan al-Mawardi and Tabari.[30][31] Prominent theologians would counsel the Caliph in discharging his Islamic duties, often on the request of the incumbent Caliph. Many rulers provided patronage to scholars across all disciplines, the most famous being the Abassids who funded extensive translation programmes and the building of libraries.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • Watson, Peter (2001). The Modern Mind: An Intellectual History of the 20th Century. Harper Perennial. ISBN 0-06-008438-3. 
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Mansoor Moaddel. Islamic Modernism, Nationalism, and Fundamentalism: Episode and Discourse. University of Chicago Press. p. 2. Islamic modernism was the first Muslim ideological response to the Western cultural challenge. Started in India and Egypt in the second part of the 19th century ... reflected in the work of a group of like-minded Muslim scholars, featuring a critical reexamination of the classical conceptions and methods of jurisprudence and a formulation of a new approach to Islamic theology and Quranic exegesis. This new approach, which was nothing short of an outright rebellion against Islamic orthodoxy, displayed astonishing compatibility with the ideas of the Enlightenment. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World, Thompson Gale (2004)
  3. ^ a b Atzori, Daniel (August 31, 2012). "The rise of global Salafism". Retrieved 6 January 2015. Salafism is, therefore, a modern phenomenon, being the desire of contemporary Muslims to rediscover what they see as the pure, original and authentic Islam, ... However, there is a difference between two profoundly different trends which sought inspiration from the concept of salafiyya. Indeed, between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of 20th century, intellectuals such as Jamal Edin al-Afghani and Muhammad Abdu used salafiyya to mean a renovation of Islamic thought, with features that would today be described as rationalist, modernist and even progressive. This salafiyya movement is often known in the West as “Islamic modernism.‘ However, the term salafism is today generally employed to signify ideologies such as Wahhabism, the puritanical ideology of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 
  4. ^ oxford islamic studies online Salafi |Oxford University Press
  5. ^ Understanding the Origins of Wahhabism and Salafism| Terrorism Monitor| Volume 3 Issue: 14| July 15, 2005| By: Trevor Stanley
  6. ^ a b c The Modernist Approach to Hadith Studies By Noor al-Deen Atabek| onislam.net| 30 March 2005
  7. ^ a b On Salafi Islam | IV Conclusion| Dr. Yasir Qadhi April 22, 2014
  8. ^ The Salafi Movement In Global Context Theology Religion Essay (no autor given)
  9. ^ "Islamic Modernism and Islamic Revival". Oxford Islamic Studies Online. Retrieved 27 March 2014. 
  10. ^ Fitzpatrick, Coeli; Walker, Adam Hani (eds.). Muhammad in History, Thought, and Culture: An Encyclopedia of the Prophet of. p. 385. Retrieved 1 January 2015. 
  11. ^ Muhammad 'Abduh, for example, said a Muslim was obliged to accept only mutawatir hadith, and was free to reject others about which he had doubts - Risalat al-Tawhid, 17th Printing, Cairo: Maktabat al-Qahira, 1379/1960, pp. 201-3; English translation by K. Cragg and I. Masa'ad, The Theology of Unity London: Allen and Unwin, 1966, pp. 155-56. Ahmad Amin, in his popular series on Islamic cultural history, cautiously suggested that there were few if any mutawatir hadith (especially, Fajr al-Islam, 10th edition Cairo: Maktabat al-Nahda al-Misriyya, 1965, p. 218; see also G. H. A. Juynboll, The Authenticity of the Tradition Literature: Discussions in Modern Egypt (Leiden: Brill, 1969), and my Faith of a Modern Muslim Intellectual, p. 113.
  12. ^ See Quran 4:3 on polygyny, 5:38 on cutting off the hand of the thief, 24:2-5 on whipping for fornication (the provision for stoning for adultery is in the Hadith). On jihad and the treatment of unbelievers, the difficult passages for modernists are the so-called "verses of the sword," such as 9:5 on the Arab pagans and 9:29 on the people of the Book – Shepard, W E, op cit, 1987, p. 330
  13. ^ Peters, Rudolph (1996). Jihad in Classical and Modern Islam: A Reader. Princeton: Marcus Wiener. p. 6. 
  14. ^ a b c d DeLong-Bas, Natana J. (2004). Wahhabi Islam: From Revival and Reform to Global Jihad (First ed.). Oxford University Press, USA. pp. 235–7. ISBN 0-19-516991-3. 
  15. ^ Peters, Rudolph (1996). Jihad in Classical and Modern Islam: A Reader. Princeton: Marcus Wiener. p. 77. 
  16. ^ Peters, Rudolph (1996). Jihad in Classical and Modern Islam: A Reader. Princeton: Marcus Wiener. p. 64. 
  17. ^ Peters, Rudolph (1996). Jihad in Classical and Modern Islam: A Reader. Princeton: Marcus Wiener. p. 65. 
  18. ^ Smith's criticism of Farid Wajdi in Islam in “Modern History”, pp. 139-59, and Gibb's complaint about "the intellectual confusions and the paralyzing romanticism which cloud the minds of the modernists of today" - “Modern Trends in Islam”, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1947, pp. 105-6.
  19. ^ The past ten day Salafi led unrest in reaction to an anti-Islamic video spread through the Muslim world, here a look at who is behind it.| world news research |21 September 2012
  20. ^ Who or what is a Salafi? Is their approach valid?| ©Nuh Ha Mim Keller |www.masud.co.uk | 1995
  21. ^ a b c d e (French) Céline Zünd, Emmanuel Gehrig et Olivier Perrin, "Dans le Coran, sur 6300 versets, cinq contiennent un appel à tuer", Le Temps, Thursday 29 January 2015, pages 10-11.
  22. ^ a b c d Watson, The Modern Mind, 2001, p. 971.
  23. ^ Kurzman, Charles, ed. (2002). "The Emanciaption of Woman and the New Woman". Modernist Islam, 1840-1940: A Sourcebook. Oxford University Press. pp. 61–9. Retrieved 12 November 2014. 
  24. ^ Muhammad Ahmad Khalafallah, Oxford Islamic Studies On-line (page visited on 30 January 2015).
  25. ^ Kennedy, Charles (1996). Islamization of Laws and Economy, Case Studies on Pakistan. Institute of Policy Studies, The Islamic Foundation. p. 83. 
  26. ^ Shepard, E, “Islam and Ideology: Towards a Typology”, International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 19, No. 3, Aug 1987, Cambridge University Press, p. 307
  27. ^ Mortimer, Edward (1982). Faith and Power : the Politics of Islam. Vintage Books. p. 204. He agreed with them [Islamic Modernists] in holding that Islam required the exercise of reason by the community to understand God's decrees, in believing, therefore, that Islam contains nothing contrary to reason, and in being convinced that Islam as revealed in the Book and the Sunna is superior in purely rational terms to all other systems. But he thought they had gone wrong in allowing themselves to judge the Book and the Sunna by the standard of reason. They had busied themselves trying to demonstrate that `Islam is truly reasonable` instead of starting, as he did, from the proposition that `true reason is Islamic`. Therefore they were not sincerely accepting the Book and the Sunna as the final authority, because implicitly they were setting up human reason as a higher authority (the old error of the Mu'tazilites). In Maududi's view, once one has become a Muslim, reason no longer has any function of judgement. From then on its legitimate task is simply to spell out the implications of Islam's clear commands, the rationality of which requires no demonstration. 
  28. ^ Nabhani, T, "The Islamic Ruling System", al-Khilafah Publications
  29. ^ Mawardi, "Ahkaam al-Sultaniyyah"
  30. ^ Hallaq, W, “The Origins and Evolution of Islamic Law”, Cambridge University Press, 2005, pp.173-6, 182-7
  31. ^ Salahi, A, “Pioneers of Islamic Scholarship”, The Islamic Foundation, 2006, pp. 51-2