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Books and Documents

Ijtihad, Rethinking Islam

Islam in the Modern Age
Yasser Latif Hamdani

Islam in the Modern Age
Yasser Latif Hamdani

Why are we so caught up in theological disputes and issues that are best left between a person and his or her God? Sure there can be guidance by religious teachers but must this result in Fatwas leading to violence and death? The Holy Quran says “there is no compulsion in religion” (Al Quran 2:256). A well known though widely disputed Hadith of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) says “My Companions are like the stars in the sky. You will find the truth no matter from whom among them you receive Hadiths.....

Al-Farabi reconciled the Prophet-Imam figure with the Philosopher, Ghazzali reconciled Sufism with orthodoxy of the day, Soharwardi reconciled Iranian-Zoroastrian and Islamic philosophies, Ibn Sina and Ibn Rushd reconciled science/philosophy and religion, Shah Waliullah reconciled two major Sufi schools and most importantly the paths of saints and the path of prophets, Iqbal reconciled the diverse portfolios of a philosopher, a theologian, a mystic and a poet in himself as did  many sages preceding him. These attempts may need refinement now and newer paths need to be charted in the face of ever evolving nature of challenges posed by sciences and philosophies....

 

What is clear is that the eradication of extremists and radicals who have hijacked Islam and the religious agenda in general, requires not only law-enforcement measures but the efforts of enlightened clerics supported by government reforms and, most importantly, the end of foreign occupation and domination of Muslim countries....

Turkish Scholars Aim To Modernise Islam's Hadith
Yigal Schleifer

The Hadith, which are not part of the Quran, the holy book of Islam, began as oral traditions that were only written down long after the prophet's death. Much of Islamic, or Sharia, law is derived from the Hadith. The meaning of many Hadiths has been lost and the cultural or geographical context of a text is forgotten...

 

Turkey’s Hadith Project: Turkey Presents Prophet's Sayings for the 21st Century

“We needed a new work with Islamic beliefs in the perspective of today’s culture.” The Hadiths record Mohammad’s words and acts during his life. Preachers and jurists use them to understand the Quran and support Muslim teachings and Fatwas (religious edicts) on all aspects of life, from prayer to education for women....

The Turkish Hadith Project - Part One: Revisiting Traditions and the Struggle within the Islamic World
Peter Riddell

Stereotyping the world of Islam is a fruitless task; such is its internal diversity. Nowadays sectarian conflict is tearing apart Muslim populations in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. While some Muslims pursue a vision of a forward-thinking, rationalist faith, others look backwards to what they see as a pristine age when Muhammad established the first Islamic community in Medina....

 

The Islamic World Doesn't Need a Reformation
Mustafa Akyol

If the Protestant Reformation teaches us anything, it is that the road from religious fracturing to religious tolerance is long and winding. The Muslim world is somewhere on that road at the moment, and more twists and turns probably await us in the decades to come. In the meantime, it would be a mistake to look at the darkest forces within the current crisis of Islam and to arrive at pessimistic conclusions about its supposedly immutable essence....

Digests of selected Hadiths are nothing new in Islam. Scholars have produced them for centuries to help Muslims learn about the Prophet’s sayings without having to navigate through the long and sometimes confusing classical compilations. What makes this one different is that it selects and explains the Hadiths from the perspective of today’s Turkey...

The list of prohibited things inserted by Revelation later is very short and their prohibition is almost universally recognized amongst civilized people. “Say, My Lord has forbidden only shameful deeds, be they open or secret, and sin, and unjustified greed, and the association with God of that for which He has sent down no authority, and the saying against God of what you don’t know” (Quran, 7.33).  Note if the word God may be replaced by the word Reality (Al-Haqq, used for God in the Quran) every religion (and even nonreligious humanistic cultures) agrees with this list....

For an Islamic Modernity
M J Akbar

Secularism is informed with the same spirit of harmonious co-existence but has adopted variables in different cultures at different times. The Holy Quran has defined it cogently: Lakum Deenokum Wail Yadeen. No religion promotes war for the sake of war; war is valid only as self-defence. Our Indian philosophy believes in the co-existence of all faiths rather than the elimination of faith....

“Originally, individuals were free to select and follow the school of Ijtihad they preferred. They could even combine it with preferred parts of the jurisprudence of other schools. As the State grew more powerful, such choices were increasingly taken out of the hands of individuals. Ultimately, the State took choice away from Muslim citizens altogether in many areas of the law by selecting the jurisprudence of one of the schools as the law of the land.” There have been not just Fuqaha but philosophers and Sufis and poets who have engaged with the problem of law in their own way, especially in debates on principles and objectives. Iqbal dismissed tendency of legalism (that Jesus, Sufis, poets fought against) thus “Teri Tarz-E-Ada Faqeehana Ho To Kya Kahyaey.”

 

The Cultural and Intellectual Decline Destroyed the Spirit of Enquiry
Shahid M Amin

The cultural and intellectual decline was even worse. Religious orthodoxy became dominant in Muslim societies. With the loss of political power, the traditional religious leaders were left with no influence in any sphere, except religion. They became increasingly dogmatic and strict in their control of religious life. Such orthodoxy destroyed the spirit of enquiry....

 

If We Can't Criticize Islam, We Can't Reform It
Kacem El Ghazzali

It has become crystal clear that Islam needs an Enlightenment. However, initiating the Enlightenment process is a near-impossible task, so what can be done? First, it's important to agree on some basic concepts. For example, it is not "Islamophobic" for someone to criticize everyday conservative Islam generally and Islamism in particular. On the contrary, criticism is a prerequisite for any lasting reformation within Islam....

Retracing Abraham’s footsteps
Aijaz Zaka Syed

The Muslims are busy killing their fellow believers while their brothers and sisters in distant lands like Myanmar are being hunted and killed like animals. The Rohingya genocide has been unfolding on the world community’s watch for some time. But you hear no angry denunciations and threats by world powers. The silence is deafening. Why should the world cry and care for the luckless Rohingya or other Muslims for that matter when the Ummah itself has lost its voice and is preoccupied with its own petty squabbles?

 

What now that the Haj is over
Tariq A. Al-Maeena

Islam has taken an unfair pasting in much of the non-Islamic media thanks to the vicious and depraved acts of a small number of thugs and terrorists posing as Muslims going about killing and blowing up people. This has to stop, and it should start with us.

Can Islam Be Reformed?
Ammar Anwer

There are so many sects and jurisprudence in Islam, each proposing a slightly different understanding of the doctrine despite the fact that Islam is a Unitarian religion: one God, one book and one Prophet. As it was possible for the Islamists, driven by the cause of Islamic revivalism, to propose a totalitarian understanding of Islam, it is also possible for progressive Muslims today, driven by their admiration for Western values, to propose a relatively liberal understanding of Islam....

’Today we are in need of modern ‘Ilm al Kalam’ by which we should refute the dogmas of modern Science or show that they are in conformity with the Islamic creeds.” According to him, whole physical universe including man is the work of God and religion is His word, so there can’t be any contradiction between the two. “The only touchstone of a real religion can be this: if it is in conformity with human nature or with nature in general, then it is true and real.”....

 

World's Largest Muslim Youth Organisation Calls for Re-Examination of Islamic Text
Amy Chew

“Civil discord, acts of terrorism, rebellion and outright warfare - all pursued in the name of Islam - will continue to plague Muslims and threaten humanity at large, until these issues are openly acknowledged and resolved,”...

Every liberal/secular voice is tacitly reduced as the voice of Jinnah and Muslim League. The sole emphasis is on redefining national consensus in Hindu cultural idioms and all parties except the diehard left seculars are playing along. We are witnessing a time when no political party is attempting to question the imagined consensus just to avoid the risk of being turned anti-Hindu. The resounding silence of so called secular parties on vigilante killings is a case point....

Indonesians Seek to Export a Modernized Vision of Islam
Joe Cochrane

The fighter’s bloodied shirt draws immediate attention — but so does a necklace dangling from the body: a Christian cross, worn by the independence martyr for the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation. The 2006 painting has become the symbol of a global initiative by the Indonesian youth wing of Nahdlatul Ulema.....

Islam between Extremes:  Ijtihad Was a Vibrant Legal Process until the End of the Tenth Century
Moin Qazi, New Age Islam

Ijtihad was a vibrant legal process until the end of the tenth century, by which point many doctrines were settled by jurists representing the various schools of law. Around this time, influential orthodox Sunni Ulema (Muslim clergy with several years of training) began to argue against the process of independent reasoning, claiming that it could distort Islam. .....

A Case for Moderating Islam
Moin Qazi, New Age Islam

A Case for Moderating Islam
Moin Qazi, New Age Islam

If Prophet Muhammad's life was revolutionary, its aftermath has seen a monological recital of Hadiths and inflexible analyses of Qur'anic verses, where historical context is taken up or ignored to suit the interpreter. Memories of early Islam have hardened into dogma, and many scholars have taken the Hadiths as tablets of stone. One of the greatest jolts to progressive thinking in Islam came from the colonial powers .The onslaught of this wave of Western wave of enlightenment and renaissance shattered the Islamic psyche.....

Moderation: The Capstone of Islam
Moin Qazi, New Age Islam

Moderation: The Capstone of Islam
Moin Qazi, New Age Islam

The theme of moderation in religious practice has been the leitmotif in Islamic literature from the very beginning, during the Prophet Muhammad's life in the early 7th century. In the Quran and the Prophetic traditions that amplify it, Muslim women and men are called upon to exercise moderation in all aspects of their religious life. "God desires ease for you, and desires not hardship," the Quran exhorts us, and Muhammad confirms: "Make things easy, do not make them difficult."….

True Social Cohesion Lies In a Reformed Islam
Michael Nazir-Ali

One urgent necessity is for Muslim politicians, community and religious leaders to articulate a clear counter narrative, not only to Jihadism but also to the more widespread and strident calls for greater “Islamisation” of communities and societies. It is not for a non-Muslim to say how they should do this but it seems quite possible for them to read their wider tradition, and the work of eminent Muslim reformers, in a way very different from the dominant narrative....

Muslim Scholars Must Go Back To the Teachings of the Prophet and Rethink Issues Related To Religious Pluralism Afresh
Waris Mazhari

Islam aims at enabling people to rise above narrow boundaries of colour and race and work together for welfare and justice and help each other. The Treaty of Medina is a brilliant illustration of this objective. After the Prophet’s demise, Muslim history went through many ups and downs. Yet, even then people of other faiths often enjoyed considerable religious freedom, although not everywhere and at all times. ...

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