Islam and Modernity: Transformation of an Intellectual by Fazlur Rahman

By Fazlur Rahman

As Professor Fazlur Rahman indicates within the newest of a sequence of vital contributions to Islamic highbrow background, the attribute difficulties of the Muslim modernists—the variation to the wishes of the modern scenario of a holy publication which pulls its particular examples from the stipulations of the 7th century and earlier—are under no circumstances new. . . . In Professor Rahman's view the highbrow and accordingly the social improvement of Islam has been impeded and distorted by means of interrelated mistakes. the 1st used to be devoted through those that, in interpreting the Koran, didn't realize the diversities among basic rules and particular responses to 'concrete and specific historic situations.' . . . This very stress gave upward thrust to the second one significant blunders, that of the secularists. via educating and studying the Koran in this sort of manner as to confess of no swap or improvement, the dogmatists had created a state of affairs during which Muslim societies, confronted with the significant have to train their humans for all times within the smooth international, have been pressured to make a painful and self-defeating choice—either to desert Koranic Islam, or to show their backs at the glossy world.—Bernard Lewis, long island overview of Books"In this paintings, Professor Fazlur Rahman offers a certainly bold blueprint for the transformation of the highbrow culture of Islam: theology, ethics, philosophy and jurisprudence. Over the voices advocating a go back to Islam or the reestablishment of the Sharia, the advisor for motion, he astutely and soberly asks: What and which Islam? extra importantly, how does one get to 'normative' Islam? the writer counsels, and passionately demonstrates, that for Islam to be really what Muslims declare it to be—comprehensive in scope and efficacious for each age and place—Muslim students and educationists needs to reevaluate their technique and hermeneutics. In spelling out the mandatory and sound technique, he's instantly brave, critical and profound."—Wadi Z. Haddad, American-Arab Affairs

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From the thirteenth/fourteenth centuries onward there was an era of manuals, commentaries, and supercommentaries. That a great deal of ingenuity lies buried in these generally ponderous and repetitive works, and that in Iran there was much originality in philosophy, is indubitable, but in an overall review this literature is singularly unoriginal, pedantic, and superficial. Still, the most highly developed countries in terms of sophistication, if not originality, were Turkey and Egypt, mainly because the traditional education in these countries was highly organized and concentrated.

Commentary upon commentary was then essayed to interpret it, like al-Khayali's (d. 1457) commentary on al-Taftazani's commentary on al-Nasafi. Al-Khayali's work was so difficult that, after a series of unsuccessful commentaries upon him, the successful commentary was considered to be that of the sixteenth/seventeenth-century Indian scholar cAbd al-l;laklm (called al-Lahurl by later Arab authors). With the habit of writing commentaries for their own sake and the steady dwindling of original thought, the Muslim world witnessed the rise of a type of scholar who was truly encyclopedic in the scope of his learning but had little new to say on anything.

At about the same time (early seventeenth century), l:ladith receives its first major impulse, thanks to the writings of 'Abd al-l:laqq of Delhi, called "the Mul;taddith:' In the eighteenth century, the famous "Ni~ami" curriculum (Dars-i-Ni¢mi) was issued by Mulla Ni~am al-Din (d. al madrasa in Lucknow. This was a nine- or ten-year syllabus of middle to higher education including sixteen different subjects and eighty-three works in all. The subjects (as has since become the common practice in most madrasas) progressed in the following manner: Arabic grammar (twelve works); rhetoric (three); prosody (one); logic (ten); philosophy (four); Arabic literature-prose and poetry (seven); theology (five); history of Islam (three); medicineincluding the part "On Fevers" of Ibn Sina's Qanun (four); astronomy (two); geometry (one-twenty chapters of Euclid); art of disputation (one); law (eight); jurisprudence (six); law of inheritance (one); principles of I:Iadith (one); I:Iadith (ten); principles of Qur>an-interpretation (one); Qur•an---commentaries (four).

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