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Dynamics of Islam in the Modern World scrutinizes and analyzes Islam in context. It posits Muslims not as independent and autonomous, but as relational and interactive agents of change and continuity who interplay with Islamic(ate) sources of self and society as well as with resources from other traditions. Representing multiple disciplinary approaches, the contributors to this volume discuss a broad range of issues, such as secularization, colonialism, globalization, radicalism, human rights, migration, hermeneutics, mysticism, religious normativity and pluralism, while paying special attention to three geographical settings of South Asia, the Middle East and Euro-America.
In: Dynamics of Islam in the Modern World

Abstract

This chapter deals with a reformed school of Unani Medicine that was founded in Lahore by the hakim and pharmacist Sabir Multani (d. 1972) and which can be seen as a response to the challenges of Western medicine and an example of medical pluralism in Pakistan. Multani gained many adherents, and a large number of the Pakistani hakims of today are followers of his theories and therapeutical approaches. His medical theory is based on a revision of the basic concepts of Humoral Medicine, bringing them into a triadic system of corresponding elements of the human body, including tissues and humors, psychic and emotional qualities, and relating them to an equally triadic concept of nature and the cosmos. Although building their system in expressed distance to Western medicine, Multani and his followers have made use of a wide range of biomedical concepts as well as diagnostic and therapeutic devices, thus integrating them into their own theory and practice. Their system equally includes a strong religious dimension, culminating in a triad of mystical haqiqa in partnership with tariqa and shariʿa. This apparently unique attempt at a synthesis of science and mystical religiosity can be seen as a revival of the Sufi dimension of the Indo-Persian and Islamic medical tradition in the Subcontinent, which is pursued with remarkable success in the context of contemporary Pakistan.

In: Dynamics of Islam in the Modern World

Abstract

This chapter examines the emergence of notions of tolerance and interfaith dialogue among Middle Eastern thinkers and organizations since the onset of the Islamic resurgence of the 1970s. It focuses on four principal religious players from the Middle East, coming from different countries and representing different types of agency: the Egyptian religious scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Turkish Gülen Movement, the Iranian philosopher Abdolkarim Soroush and Saudi-sponsored national and international dialogue organizations. The analysis shows that despite the values of freedom, justice, common citizenship and respect for human rights that they profess to promote, their teachings and initiatives are met with deep suspicion, defamation and outright persecution. These emanate from Western opponents who deny the sincerity of such endeavors, Muslim autocrats who regard them as plots to replace their governments with an Islamic state, and radical Islamists for whom they are mere agents of the infidel West. Part of the failure lies also in the protagonists themselves with their problematic credentials and the contradictions that mar their messages.

In: Dynamics of Islam in the Modern World

Abstract

Of the numerous Sufi lineages that have expanded their presence into the West beginning in the twentieth century, that of the Indian shaykh Azad Rasool (d. 2006) has until now largely eluded scholarly attention. One major channel by which his teachings continue today is through his US-based khalifa, Ahmed Abdur Rashid (b. 1942). By way of an analysis of the latter’s writings and lectures combined with participant observation and in-depth interviews, this chapter seeks to demonstrate how this American shaykh has strived to achieve a balance, preserving tradition while also making it applicable to the contemporary globalized context. It shows how his spiritual search as well as social activism resonated with and culminated in his fully embracing Sufism and Islam, resulting in the emergence of a distinctive reading and application of mystical Islam. This renewal of tradition is pluralistic and sees Islam as compatible with democracy and science, it seeks to make full use of advances in technology, and it emphasizes social responsibility and engagement. Through studying Abdur Rashid’s “Applied Sufism,” which holds that the transformation of individuals can lead to the transformation of the world, the chapter presents an example of the evolution of Islamic mysticism in the modern age.

In: Dynamics of Islam in the Modern World
In: Dynamics of Islam in the Modern World
Author: Mouez Khalfaoui

Abstract

It goes without saying that the subject of “Islam and human rights” has been debated intensively over the last fifty years. The most important questions have been and still remain: Are Islam and human rights compatible? How is Islam to be reformed to meet the norms of human rights? And why do Muslim states so often have numerous reservations on international human rights treaties and conventions? The answers to these questions depend on the perspectives and the context within which the debate on Islamic law and human rights takes place. In the Muslim world, contrasting positions range from conservative Muslims who argue that the norms of human rights already exist in Islam and that there is no need to commit to them in separate treaties, to those who argue that Muslims should get rid of Islamic norms and ratify and implement international human rights. This chapter sheds light on the subject from another point of view while taking into consideration the contemporary political and cultural changes that have influenced Muslim debates about human rights. Therefore, instead of a general Islamic doctrine, the chapter speaks of Islamic law (shariʿa), and instead of Islam, it speaks of Muslims.

In: Dynamics of Islam in the Modern World

Abstract

This chapter first briefly discusses the concept of the secularization of the social order and shows that it was not only in the Euro-American sphere that the secularization paradigm determined the normative order of the social field, but also in the Islamic world up to the 1950s and 1960s. Then between the 1960s and the 1990s, Islamic communities and parties succeeded in attaining hegemony in the public sphere and in the regulation of social orders. But this also transformed the Islamic tradition into a secular order. Unlike in the West, the secularized social order has been symbolically represented by a religious tradition since the 1960s. While the West saw this as a confirmation of the religious character of Islam, many Muslim commentators insisted that Islam was not at its core a religion, but rather a worldly order. But it would be wrong to conclude from the difference in the symbolic representation of secularization that there are essential differences in the social history of Western and Islamic modernity. Since the 1990s, a new post-secular condition has come up in the public sphere of many Muslim countries. It must be assumed that religious communities and churches have lost their normative regulatory power over not only the social field, but even over the religious field. The present chapter argues that this process also particularly affects the Islamic tradition.

In: Dynamics of Islam in the Modern World
Author: Reik Kirchhof

Abstract

The passing of time requires that continual decision-making on norms is an essential condition to constitute and to process social normative orders, including legal orders. The idea of a divine law, whose norms are constituted by God determining social normative order for evermore, conflicts with the nature of law. As time passes and thus social environment changes, actors have to decide on God’s decisions while at the same time those decisions contradict the idea of an immutable normative order, causing a reluctance of decision-making. As the genesis and development of Islamic law bears witness to the struggle to process divine law against time, the ramifications of this conflict have increased since the onset of modernity. Whereas scholars of usul al-fiqh and Islamic law usually take a jurists’ perspective, drawing on legal positivist theories, to explain the concept of shariʿa and its modern manifestations, this chapter takes a non-normative approach and explores, based on a sociological theory of normative orders and law, Islamic normativity beyond the realm of jurisprudence. This chapter argues that the main features of shariʿa and its contemporary social manifestations are the result of the unsolved conflict between the necessity and the desistence of decision-making in Islam.

In: Dynamics of Islam in the Modern World
In: Dynamics of Islam in the Modern World