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Author: Florian Zemmin

Abstract

The journal al-Manār, published from Cairo between 1898 and 1940, was the mouthpiece of Islamic modernism, that intellectual trend which articulated modernity from within the Islamic discursive tradition. Islam was thus used to distinguish between and at the same time connect both twins of the modern order, religion and society. The Prophet Muḥammad not only brought allegedly godly, timeless teachings most appropriate for modernity, but also himself took care of both religion and society. This chapter shows how the editor of al-Manār, Rashīd Riḍā, constructed the figure of the Prophet to represent an ideal religious and social reformer. This representation pursued two aims: the emotionally charged figure of the Prophet mediated the salience and practicability of abstract Islamic principles to a wider audience; and he served as a role model and lent authority to Riḍā, the self-styled reformist, himself. The reconstruction of prophets as social reformers was not peculiar to Islam, as the author illustrates by pointing to parallel endeavours by modern Jewish and Christian theologians and intellectuals. These parallels attest to the primacy of modernity in Riḍā’s appropriation of the Islamic tradition, and specifically in his construction of the Prophet Muḥammad.

Open Access
In: The Presence of the Prophet in Early Modern and Contemporary Islam
Author: Florian Zemmin

Zusammenfassung

The opening up of Islamic Studies for the humanities and social sciences, a process in which Reinhard Schulze played a leading role, is by now acknowledged as inevitable. The question, however, as to what constitutes Islamic Studies as a disipline remains on the table. Since a substantial conception of interdisciplinarity requires the previous constitution of disciplinary boundaries, this article suggests to define the Islamic discursive tradition as constitutive of Islamic Studies. Other disciplines are consulted to the extent that their theories, approaches or findings contribute to the understanding of a concrete articulation of Islam. In turn, Islamic Studies provides its knowledge of the Islamic discursive tradition whenever this helps to understand certain social, political, economic or other facts, and also to critique, modify, and enhance existing theories. I use the different manifestations of Salafism to exemplify this basic proposition. Salafism serves well as a case in point since its different proponents all claim their understanding of Islam to be the authentic one, even though in all the cases this understanding is a markedly modern construction. For their respective construction of Islam, salafis appropriate and construct elements of Islamic tradition to different extents; hence, the differing extent to which Islamic Studies and other disciplines can contribute to understanding the different salafi articulations of Islam.

In: Islam in der Moderne, Moderne im Islam
Author: Florian Zemmin

Zusammenfassung

The opening up of Islamic Studies for the humanities and social sciences, a process in which Reinhard Schulze played a leading role, is by now acknowledged as inevitable. The question, however, as to what constitutes Islamic Studies as a disipline remains on the table. Since a substantial conception of interdisciplinarity requires the previous constitution of disciplinary boundaries, this article suggests to define the Islamic discursive tradition as constitutive of Islamic Studies. Other disciplines are consulted to the extent that their theories, approaches or findings contribute to the understanding of a concrete articulation of Islam. In turn, Islamic Studies provides its knowledge of the Islamic discursive tradition whenever this helps to understand certain social, political, economic or other facts, and also to critique, modify, and enhance existing theories. I use the different manifestations of Salafism to exemplify this basic proposition. Salafism serves well as a case in point since its different proponents all claim their understanding of Islam to be the authentic one, even though in all the cases this understanding is a markedly modern construction. For their respective construction of Islam, salafis appropriate and construct elements of Islamic tradition to different extents; hence, the differing extent to which Islamic Studies and other disciplines can contribute to understanding the different salafi articulations of Islam.

In: Islam in der Moderne, Moderne im Islam
Author: Florian Zemmin

As the continuing relevance of religion to secular European societies garners increasing recognition, the question remains of which religious positions may assume a public role, with Islam at the center of many debates. This article complements the ongoing theoretical debate with a detailed case study analyzing the major works of Islamic scholar and public intellectual Tariq Ramadan. I show that in the last two decades Ramadan significantly modified his views on Islam and European societies. I argue that these adjustments were interdependent, and as such paradigmatically illustrate that the integration of Islamic positions into public discourse depends on shifts in the understanding of both concepts.

In: Journal of Religion in Europe
Author: Florian Zemmin

It is characteristic of modernity that people conceive of their social affairs as ordered in and by society. While the evolution of the idea of society is well-researched in Europe, it remains an open question how this idea evolved within the Islamic context. This article analyzes the contemporary Arabic term for society, mujtamaʿ, as it was used in the mouthpiece of Islamic modernism, the journal al-Manār (Cairo, 1898–1940). I show that “society” was already the dominant meaning of mujtamaʿ in the first issue of al-Manār. However, few of the authors tackle mujtamaʿ as a central concept of their texts; and the journal’s editor, Muḥammad Rashīd Riḍā, predominantly used mujtamaʿ to mean something other than society. These findings, combined with Riḍā’s interest in social questions, suggest that the idea of society was expressed from within the Islamic tradition in terms other than mujtamaʿ, most conspicuously umma.


In: Die Welt des Islams
In: Islam in der Moderne, Moderne im Islam