Islamic Modernism

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Islamic Modernism is a movement that has been described as "the first Muslim ideological response" [Note 1] attempting to reconcile Islamic faith with modern 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]

Nationalism is a political, social, and economic ideology and movement characterized by the promotion of the interests of a particular nation, especially with the aim of gaining and maintaining the nation's sovereignty (self-governance) over its homeland. Nationalism holds that each nation should govern itself, free from outside interference (self-determination), that a nation is a natural and ideal basis for a polity, and that the nation is the only rightful source of political power. It further aims to build and maintain a single national identity—based on shared social characteristics such as culture, language, religion, politics, and belief in a shared singular history—and to promote national unity or solidarity. Nationalism, therefore, seeks to preserve and foster a nation's traditional culture, and cultural revivals have been associated with nationalist movements. It also encourages pride in national achievements, and is closely linked to patriotism. Nationalism is often combined with other ideologies, such as conservatism or socialism for example.

Democracy system of government in which citizens vote directly in or elect representatives to form a governing body, sometimes called "rule of the majority"

Democracy is a system of government where the citizens exercise power by voting. In a direct democracy, the citizens as a whole form a governing body and vote directly on each issue. In a representative democracy the citizens elect representatives from among themselves. These representatives meet to form a governing body, such as a legislature. In a constitutional democracy the powers of the majority are exercised within the framework of a representative democracy, but the constitution limits the majority and protects the minority, usually through the enjoyment by all of certain individual rights, e.g. freedom of speech, or freedom of association.

Rationality is the quality or state of being rational – that is, being based on or agreeable to reason. Rationality implies the conformity of one's beliefs with one's reasons to believe, and of one's actions with one's reasons for action. "Rationality" has different specialized meanings in philosophy, economics, sociology, psychology, evolutionary biology, game theory and political science.

Contents

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).

Secularism, as defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is the "indifference to, or rejection or exclusion of, religion and religious considerations." In different contexts the word can refer to anticlericalism, atheism, desire to exclude religion from social activities or civic affairs, banishment of religious symbols from the public sphere, state neutrality toward religion, the separation of religion from state, or disestablishment.

Islamism set of ideologies holding that Islam should guide social and political as well as personal life

Islamism is a concept whose meaning has been debated in both public and academic contexts. The term can refer to diverse forms of social and political activism advocating that public and political life should be guided by Islamic principles or more specifically to movements which call for full implementation of sharia. It is commonly used interchangeably with the terms political Islam or Islamic fundamentalism. In academic usage, the term Islamism does not specify what vision of "Islamic order" or sharia are being advocated, or how their advocates intend to bring them about. In Western mass media it tends to refer to groups whose aim is to establish a sharia-based Islamic state, often with implication of violent tactics and human rights violations, and has acquired connotations of political extremism. In the Muslim world, the term has positive connotations among its proponents.

Colonialism Creation, and maintenance of colonies by people from another territory

Colonialism is the policy of a nation seeking to extend or retain its authority over other people or territories, generally with the aim of opening trade opportunities. The colonising country seeks to benefit from the colonised country or land mass. In the process, colonisers imposed their religion, economics, and medicinal practices on the natives. Some argue this was a positive move toward modernisation, while other scholars counter that this is an intrinsically Eurocentric rationalisation, given that modernisation is itself a concept introduced by Europeans. Colonialism is largely regarded as a relationship of domination of an indigenous majority by a minority of foreign invaders where the latter rule in pursuit of its interests.

The early Islamic Modernists (al-Afghani and Muhammad Abdu) used the term "salafiyya" [3] to refer to their attempt at renovation of Islamic thought, [4] and this "salafiyya movement" is often known in the West as "Islamic modernism," although it is very different from what is currently called the Salafi movement, which generally signifies "ideologies such as wahhabism". [Note 2] Since its inception, Modernism has suffered from co-option of its original reformism by both secularist rulers and by "the official ulama " whose "task it is to legitimise" rulers' actions in religious terms. [5]

Salafi movement Ultra-conservative reform movement within Sunni Islam

The Salafi movement, also called Salafist movement, Salafiya, and Salafism, is a reform branch or revivalist movement within Sunni Islam that developed in Egypt in the late 19th century as a response to Western European imperialism, with roots in the 18th-century Wahhabi movement that originated in the Najd region of modern-day Saudi Arabia. It advocated a return to the traditions of the salaf, the first three generations of Muslims, which include the generations of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad and his companions, their successors, and the successors of the successors.

Wahhabism Religious movement and branch of Sunni Islam

Wahhabism is an Islamic doctrine and religious movement founded by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab. It has been variously described as "ultraconservative", "austere", "fundamentalist", or "puritan(ical)"; as an Islamic "reform movement" to restore "pure monotheistic worship" (tawhid) by devotees; and as a "deviant sectarian movement", "vile sect" and a distortion of Islam by its detractors. The term Wahhabi(ism) is often used polemically and adherents commonly reject its use, preferring to be called Salafi or muwahhid. claiming to emphasize the principle of tawhid, for exclusivity on monotheism, dismissing other Muslims as practising shirk, (idolatry). It follows the theology of Ibn Taymiyyah and the Hanbali school of jurisprudence, although Hanbali leaders renounced Abd al-Wahhab's views.

Co-option has two common meanings. It may refer to the process of adding members to an elite group at the discretion of members of the body, usually to manage opposition and so maintain the stability of the group. Outsiders are ‘co-opted’ by being given a degree of power on the grounds of their élite status, specialist knowledge, or potential ability to threaten essential commitments or goals.

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] One expression of Islamic Modernism (expressed by Mahathir Mohammed) is that "only when Islam is interpreted so as to be relevant in a world which is different from what it was 1400 years ago, can Islam be regarded as a religion for all ages." [6]

Overview

Egyptian Islamic jurist and Islamic modernist Muhammad Abduh. Muhammad Abduh (trimmed).JPG
Egyptian Islamic jurist and Islamic modernist Muhammad Abduh.
Egyptian Islamic jurist and scholar Mahmud Shaltut. Mahmud Shaltut (trimmed).JPG
Egyptian Islamic jurist and scholar Mahmud Shaltut.
academic, poet, barrister, philosopher, and Islamic modernist Muhammad Iqbal. Iqbal.jpg
academic, poet, barrister, philosopher, and Islamic modernist Muhammad Iqbal.

Salafism and modernism

The origins of Salafism in the modernist "Salafi Movement" of Jamal al-Din al-Afghani and Muhammad Abduh are noted by many authors, [7] [8] [9] [10] although others say Islamic Modernism only influenced contemporary Salafism. [11] According to Quintan Wiktorowicz:

Muhammad Abduh Egyptian jurist

Muḥammad 'Abduh was an Egyptian Islamic jurist, religious scholar and liberal reformer, regarded as one of the key founding figures of Islamic Modernism, sometimes called Neo-Mu’tazilism after the medieval Islamic school of theology based on rationalism, Muʿtazila. He also wrote, among other things, "Treatise on the Oneness of God", and a commentary on the Qur'an.

There has been some confusion in recent years because both the Islamic modernists and the contemporary Salafis refer (referred) to themselves as al-salafiyya, leading some observers to erroneously conclude a common ideological lineage. The earlier salafiyya (modernists), however, were predominantly rationalist Asharis. [12]

Some trends in modern Islamic thought include:

History of Modernism

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 AH/1905 CE), 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. [33]

Influence on Muslim Brotherhood

The "early Salafiyya" (Modernists) influenced Islamist movements like Muslim Brotherhood [34] [35] and to some extent Jamaat-e-Islami. The MB is considered an intellectual descendant of Islamic modernism. [36] Its founder Hassan Al-Banna was influenced by Muhammad Abduh and Rashid Rida who attacked the taqlid of the official `ulama and insisted only the Quran and the best-attested ahadith should be sources of the Sharia. [37] [37] He was a dedicated reader of the writings of Rashid Rida and the magazine that Rida published, Al-Manar. [38] As Islamic Modernist beliefs were co-opted by secularist rulers and official `ulama, the Brotherhood moved in a traditionalist and conservative direction, "being the only available outlet for those whose religious and cultural sensibilities had been outraged by the impact of Westernisation". [39]

Muhammadiyah

The Indonesian Islamic organization Muhammadiyah was founded in 1912. Described as Islamic Modernist, [40] it emphasized the authority of the Qur'an and the Hadiths, opposing syncretism and taqlid to the ulema. However, as of 2006, it is said to have "veered sharply toward a more conservative brand of Islam" under the leadership of Din Syamsuddin the head of the Indonesian Ulema Council. [41]

Connection with the contemporary Salafism

Jamal ad-Din al-Afghani, Muhammad Abduh, Muhammad Rashid Rida and, to a lesser extent, Mohammed al-Ghazali took some ideals of Wahhabism, such as endeavor to “return” to the Islamic understanding of the first Muslim generations (Salaf) by reopening the doors of juristic deduction ( ijtihad ) that they saw as closed. [33] Some historians believe modernists used the term "Salafiyya" for their movement (although this is strongly disputed by at least one scholar – Henri Lauzière). [42] Toward the end of the twentieth century, however, the term "Salafi movement" became associated with the Wahhabism, and strongly antithetical to Islamic modernism [43] which is saw as forbidden innovation (bidah).

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. [11]

Shaykh Nuh Ha Mim Keller writes:

The term Salafi was revived as a slogan and movement, among latter-day Muslims, by the followers of Muhammad Abduh. [44]

Islamic modernists

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

Contemporary Modernists

Contemporary use

Pakistan

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." [53]

Criticism

Orthodox/traditionalists Muslims strongly opposed modernism as bidah and the most dangerous heresy of the day, for its association with Westernization and Western education. [54]

Supporters of Salafi movement considered modernists Neo-Mu'tazila, after the medieval Islamic school of theology based on rationalism, Mu'tazila. Critics argue that the 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. [55]

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 erred in examining rather than simply obeying the Quran and the Sunna. [Note 6]

Critics argue politics is inherently embedded in Islam, a rejection of the Christian and secular principle of "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). [57] [58] 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, Abu Zura, Abu Hasan al-Mawardi and Tabari. [59] [60] 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

Notes

  1. "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." [1]
  2. "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]
  3. 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. [19] 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.
  4. 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. [22]
  5. Smith's criticism of Farid Wajdi in Islam in Modern History [31] and Gibb's complaint about "the intellectual confusions and the paralyzing romanticism which cloud the minds of the modernists of today" [32]
  6. "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." [56]

Related Research Articles

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Sunni Islam denomination of Islam

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Islam is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion teaching that there is only one God (Allah) and that Muhammad is a messenger of God.

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Gibril Fouad Haddad is a Lebanese-born Islamic scholar, hadith expert (muhaddith), author, and translator of classical Islamic texts. He was featured in the inaugural list of 500 Most influential Muslims and has been called "one of the clearest voices of traditional Islam in the West", a "prominent orthodox Sunni" and a "staunch defender of the traditional Islamic schools of law." He holds ijazas from over 150 scholars across the Muslim world. He resides with his family in Brunei Darussalaam and was a visiting fellow (2013-2015) then senior assistant professor (2015-2018) at the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Center for Islamic Studies, University Brunei Darussalam. He is also a staunch critic of Wahhabism and Salafism.

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Modernism or modernist Islam, in the context of Muslim society in Indonesia, refers to a religious strand which puts emphasis on teachings purely derived from the Islamic religious scriptures, the Qur'an and Hadith. Modernism is often contrasted with traditionalism, which upholds ulama-based and syncretic vernacular traditions. Modernism is inspired by reformism in the late-19th to early 20th century based in the Middle East, such as Islamic modernism and Wahhabism. Throughout the history of contemporary Muslim Indonesia, modernism has spawned various religious organizations, from mass organization Muhammadiyah (1912), political party Masyumi Party (1943), to missionary organization Indonesian Islamic Dawah Council (1967).

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