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Books and Documents

Books and Documents

Hardly any Libyan literature has been translated from Arabic. Now, a former American diplomat to Libya has published a collection of Libyan short stories in English. The edition offers insights into a hitherto undiscovered literary landscape. By Susannah Tarbush 

 

Muslims themselves have written books in Arabic, Turkish and Persian that challenged Islam more than The Satanic Verses. Indeed, Islamic society has traditionally tolerated some blasphemy. To take three examples, the renowned poet, Abu Nuwas (who died about 813), specialized in writing about wine and pederasty, and boasted of writing about virtually everything that displeases God. EI2 1.144 Al-Mutannabi (915-55) wrote of “droplets sweeter on the lips than the declaration that God is one.”[4] Similarly, Abu’l-‘Ala al-Ma‘arri (973-1058) penned some very daring statements: Although your mouths hymn Allah One and Peerless,
Your hearts and souls from that ye owe Him shrink.
I swear your Torah gives no light to lead us,
If there ’tis found that wine is lawful drink.[5] Ironically, therefore, the charge that Muslims are acting “medieval” misses the point; in fact, they are not medieval enough. Modern books challenging Islam can be found for sale in the Middle East and other parts of the Muslim world,, and some of them have become best sellers.

Travel leads to knowledge, but if you suppress it, the product is poison secreted to preserve the stasis of ‘orthodox judgement’. There are ‘renegades’ like Sir Syed whose rihla of England produced a frank admission of low Muslim civilisation in India, spurring him on to a reformist modernism we today condemn as heresy, writes veteran Pakistani journalist Khaled Ahmed in his review of Journeys to the other Shore: Muslim and Western Travellers in Search of Knowledge; By Roxanne L Euben; Princeton University Press 2006; Pp313

 

A Golden Age by Tahmima Anam; London: John Murray ; 2007; 276 pp (hb).

It has been a mystery why the great novel of 1971 has never been written. ..Ffor 36 years there has been nothing we could point to and unhesitatingly claim was the definitive novel of 1971, the fictional equivalent of say, either, Jahanara Imam's Ekatturer Deengulo or Mayedul Islam's Muldhara. Until now, that is, says Khademul Islam.

 

The Qur’an is a book which emphasizes ‘deed’ rather than ‘idea’. There are, however, men to whom it is not possible organically to assimilate an alien universe by re-living, as a vital process, that special type of inner experience on which religious faith ultimately rests. Moreover, the modern man, by developing habits of concrete thought - habits which Islam itself fostered at least in the earlier stages of its cultural career - has rendered himself less capable of that experience which he further suspects because of its liability to illusion. The more genuine schools of Sufism have, no doubt, done good work in shaping and directing the evolution of religious experience in Islam; but their latter-day representatives, owing to their ignorance of the modern mind, have become absolutely incapable of receiving any fresh inspiration from modern thought and experience --  Dr Mohammad Iqbal in the Preface of The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam.

What is the character and general structure of the universe in which we live? Is there a permanent element in the constitution of this universe? How are we related to it? What place do we occupy in it, and what is the kind of conduct that befits the place we occupy? These questions are common to religion, philosophy, and higher poetry. But the kind of knowledge that poetic inspiration brings is essentially individual in its character; it is figurative, vague, and indefinite. Religion, in its more advanced forms, rises higher than poetry. It moves from individual to society. In its attitude towards the Ultimate Reality it is opposed to the limitations of man; it enlarges his claims and holds out the prospect of nothing less than a direct vision of Reality, writes Dr Mohammad Iqbal in Lecture 1 of The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam

Scholastic philosophy has put forward three arguments for the existence of God. These arguments, known as the Cosmological, the Teleological, and the Ontological, embody a real movement of thought in its quest after the Absolute. But regarded as logical proofs, I am afraid, they are open to serious criticism and further betray a rather superficial interpretation of experience, writes Dr Mohammad Iqbal in Lecture 2 of The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam.

 

We have seen that the judgement based upon religious experience fully satisfies the intellectual test. The more important regions of experience, examined with an eye on a synthetic view, reveal, as the ultimate ground of all experience, a rationally directed creative will which we have found reasons to describe as an ego. In order to emphasize the individuality of the Ultimate Ego the Qur’«n gives Him the proper name of Allah, and further defines Him as follows: ‘Say: Allah is One:
All things depend on Him;
He begetteth not, and He is not begotten;
And there is none like unto Him’ (112:1-4), writes Dr Mohammad Iqbal in Lecture 3 of The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam

THE Qur’«n in its simple, forceful manner emphasizes the individuality and uniqueness of man, and has, I think, a definite view of his destiny as a unity of life.1 It is in consequence of this view of man as a unique individuality which makes it impossible for one individual to bear the burden of another,2 and entitles him only to what is due to his own personal effort,3 that the Qur’«n is led to reject the idea of redemption. Three things are perfectly clear from the Qur’«n:

(i) That man is the chosen of God: ‘Afterwards his Lord chose him [Adam] for himself and turned towards, him, and guided him, (20:122).

(ii) That man, with all his faults, is meant to be the representative of God on earth,

says Dr Mohammad Iqbal in Lecture 4 of The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam

 

THE Qur’an in its simple, forceful manner emphasizes the individuality and uniqueness of man, and has, I think, a definite view of his destiny as a unity of life.1 It is in consequence of this view of man as a unique individuality which makes it impossible for one individual to bear the burden of another,2 and entitles him only to what is due to his own personal effort,3 that the Qur’an is led to reject the idea of redemption. Three things are perfectly clear from the Qur’an :

(i) That man is the chosen of God: ‘Afterwards his Lord chose him [Adam] for himself and turned towards, him, and guided him, (20:122).

(ii) That man, with all his faults, is meant to be the representative of God on earth, says Dr Mohammad Iqbal in Lecture 5 of The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam

 

 

As a cultural movement Islam rejects the old static view of the universe, and reaches a dynamic view. As an emotional system of unification it recognizes the worth of the individual as such, and rejects blood-relationship as a basis of human unity. Blood-relationship is earth-rootedness. The search for a purely psychological foundation of human unity becomes possible only with the perception that all human life is spiritual in its origin.1 Such a perception is creative of fresh loyalties without any ceremonial to keep them alive, and makes it possible for man to emancipate himself from the earth, says Dr Mohammad Iqbal in Lecture 6 of The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam.

 

Broadly speaking religious life may be divided into three periods. These may be described as the periods of ‘Faith’, ‘Thought’, and ‘Discovery.’ In the first period religious life appears as a form of discipline which the individual or a whole people must accept as an unconditional command without any rational understanding of the ultimate meaning and purpose of that command. This attitude may be of great consequence in the social and political history of a people, but is not of much consequence in so far as the individual’s inner growth and expansion are concerned. Perfect submission to discipline is followed by a rational understanding of the discipline and the ultimate source of its authority. In this period religious life seeks its foundation in a kind of metaphysics - a logically consistent view of the world with God as a part of that view. In the third period metaphysics is displaced by psychology, and religious life develops the ambition to come into direct contact with the Ultimate Reality. It is here that religion becomes a matter of personal assimilation of life and power; and the individual achieves a free personality, not by releasing himself from the fetters of the law, but by discovering the ultimate source of the law within the depths of his own consciousness, says Dr Mohammad Iqbal in Lecture 7 of The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam.

 

INDEX

The Reconstruction of Religious
Thought in Islam 

By

Dr. Muhammad Iqbal

 

Bibliography

The Reconstruction of Religious
Thought in Islam 

by

Dr. Muhammad Iqbal

 NOTES AND REFERENCES

The Reconstruction of Religious
Thought in Islam 

by

Dr. Muhammad Iqbal

 

Tarif Khalidi's new English edition of Islam's sacred book offers valuable perspectives, says well-known scholar and author Ziauddin Sardar in his review of the new translation of The Holy Quran. He goes on: We look for two things in any new translation of the Qur'an. How close does it get to communicating the meaning of the original, that inimitable oral text, the very sounds of which move men and women to tears and ecstasy? And does it offer something more: a new perspective, perhaps; or an innovative rendering?

There is an insistence on the quality of cosmopolitan character of literatures produced by different nations, a search for the common features. Without the hidden agenda of comparability to European, and more broadly to western, literatures the concept of world literature loses its ground, becoming a kind of commodity of the global era. The semi-Orientalist judging of other literatures is a heritage that the concept carries with it. The emergence of the Arabic novel during the nineteenth century was strongly influenced by the hierarchy of literary genres in the Arabic literary tradition. -- Fakhri Saleh

 

Sana Haroon has written an excellent book that will help us understand the killing fields of the Tribal Areas of Pakistan today. This month (April 2008) the local Al Qaeda warlord and alleged killer of Ms Benazir Bhutto, Baitullah Mehsud of Wana, convened a big conference of the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Aurakzai Agency near the tomb of Haji Turangzai to proclaim that his emirate had come to stay. He was himself not there for fear of being killed by an American drone but his deputy representing Bajaur was there as were warriors from all other tribal areas including Malakand in the NWFP, Book Review by Khaled Ahmed in the Daily Times.

 
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