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Books and Documents

Ijtihad, Rethinking Islam

The Exigency of Muslim Reform
Syed N Asad, New Age Islam

The Exigency of Muslim Reform
Syed N Asad, New Age Islam

The fundamental idea that will help Muslims is that the change is an inevitable part of life. Islam became a global religion because the way Prophet Muhammad taught its principles made his contemporaries into enlightened and empowered people. They became more just in their dealings with others, valued learning, welcomed strangers, discarded superstitions, removed ethnic and racial barriers, gave greater rights to oppressed classes such as women and slaves, their worship was direct and charismatic, and as a result of this dynamism their influence spread all over the known world. Reform means recognizing that the universal empowering teachings of Islam can be expressed successfully according to the maxims of every age....

It Is a Challenging Thing In This World To Be A Muslim Reformer
Nesrine Malik

But how does one stay on the right side of the fight—rightly denouncing abuses committed in the name of Islam, such as honour killings, female genital mutilation, or the death sentence for blasphemy and apostasy—without giving ground to those who want to make those abuses about a religion or a people in a defining, essentialist way? And how does one manage this without falling into the traps of apologia or cowardice? ...

 

These include the doctrine of Al-Wala’ Wal Bara’, blasphemy laws, Hudood laws and hate rhetoric. This will be a tall order as the task is further compounded by the ongoing issue of sectarianism and inter- and intra-religious conflict. While some of these challenges are unsettling due to geo-political reasons, some are not insurmountable and can be moderated through creative and contextual interpretations – as seen from the other efforts discussed in trying to develop moderate Islam....

Recontextualising, or Reforming the Problematic Tenets within Islamic Orthodoxy Needed to Save Indonesia from Islamism
Yahya Cholil Staquf

The recontextualisation and reform of Islamic orthodoxy is thus crucial to the welfare of Muslims and non-Muslims alike, for it constitutes the one indispensible prerequisite of any rational and humane solution to the multi-dimensional crisis that has plagued the Muslim world for over a century — which not only shows no sign of abating despite an ever-growing toll of human lives and misery, but rather, increasingly threatens to spill over and engulf humanity as a whole....

Many terrorists who typically graduated from secular institutions instead of Islamic seminaries formulated discourses entirely foreign to Islamic tradition. In other words, their discourses have no intellectual precedent in Islamic traditions. For instance, the idea that killing innocent people can be justified or that the aims of a state should include establishing an Islamic caliphate -- neither have any grounding in Islamic classical intellectual legacy....

One could well say that the sacred texts don’t mean; they are. They are us. Since our own being remains rather dimly available for scansion, how come sacred texts could become available? No wonder most of the Quran is Mutashabihat that resists meaning closure. In fact the very quest to interpret has to be ultimately given up. One finds salvation by consenting to becoming a Question that our being is....

 

Malaysia: Reclaim a Narrative of Islam That Is More Humanist, Egalitarian and Inclusive
Aizat Shamsuddin

Religious leaders from all faiths, Shariah judges and community leaders – also referred to as social influencers – must be exposed to democracy, political science, law and human rights to understand the state policies from multiple angels and not just from the religious perspective. And that the state's operations are complex and reformative according to our progression in the 21st century....

How Much of Islamic Tradition, As It Was At Its Genesis, Is Meant To Be Preserved
Mustafa Akyol

These are the Muslims who live in the high latitudes, where “dawn till dusk” can equal almost the entire 24-hour day. In Reykjavik, Iceland, for example, which is now home to nearly 1,000 Muslims, the sun will set at midnight, only to come back in about two hours. That means the fasting time will be as long as 22 hours, allowing for only one meal a day. No wonder this challenge has become a major point of discussion among Muslim scholars in the past few decades...

Muslim clerics at mosques from across France were quick to respond to the “manifesto,” warning that it could inflame relations between religious communities in the European nation.  Head of the Great Mosque of Bordeaux, Tareq Obrou, expressed outrage at the divisive letter, pointing out that “attributing anti-Semitism to Islam almost constitutes blasphemy, as two-thirds of the Qur'an’s prophets are Jewish". ...

 

Does Erdogan Intend To Open The Doors Of Ijtihad?
Seda Demiralp

While “reform” has been a taboo in traditional Sunni Islam, there used to be some room for change within the traditional school, through the concept of “Ijtihad” (reasoning). This mechanism allowed the uncertainty and confusion that emerged during the adaptation of Islamic teaching to law in the four centuries after the emergence of Islam to be addressed. But around the 10th century the majority of Islamic scholars concluded that no issues were left that needed further clarification and the doors of Ijtihad were essentially closed....

 

Redefining Islam for the 21st Century
Tehmina Kazi

This brings me to another unique feature of the critical Muslim movement: we are taking control of our own destiny, without allowing external forces to dictate the terms. For example, the recent "Happy Christmas 4ALL" Facebook campaign was an organic response to the frustration of seeing "Muslims ban Christmas" fabrications in the press. It turned into a celebration of the diverse ways in which people of all faiths and none mark the season. ....

 

Why Erdogan Called For Updating Islam
Mustafa Akyol

Here is the key point: These terrible views were shocking to Turkey’s secularists, almost all of whom are against Erdogan. But they were also shocking to most moderate religious conservatives, many of whom vote for Erdogan. This is the case, because as polls show, hard-core Islamists who would like to see a Sharia-based Turkey — one like Saudi Arabia, where sexes are segregated and adulterers are stoned — makes up a small minority in Turkey....

Al-Azhar Stands For Moderation of Thought
Mohammad Hashim Kamali

Many purist leaders called for changing “general principles” to the “rulings (Ahkam) of Islamic Shariah,” as they argued that general principles can refer to general values such as equality and justice in a way to avoid instituting Islamic substantive law. The Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) ruled that the state should only uphold rules that are considered apodictic with respect to both authenticity and meaning.....

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....

 
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