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Islamic Authority and Centres of Knowledge Production in Europe

In: Journal of Muslims in Europe
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Masooda Bano Professor of Development Studies, Oxford Department of International Development, University of Oxford Oxford UK

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Abstract

The centrality of the Qurʾan and Hadith (reports describing the words, actions, or habits of the Prophet Muhammad) in Islamic teachings has resulted in a rich tradition of textual scholarship. Scholars trained in the major Islamic sciences at the leading centres of Islamic learning command a high degree of influence over how Muslims understand their faith. Yet the authority exercised by Islamic scholars is not only contingent on their demonstration of loyalty to the text but also depends on their ability to relate Islamic teaching to social reality. This article shows how the changing socio-economic profile and attitudes of second- and third-generation Muslim immigrants are marking a gradual shift away from textual literalism within Islamic centres of learning in Europe: scholars demonstrating an ability to relate Islam to European reality are gaining visible traction among young European Muslims.

1 Introduction

While research on Islamic authority has in recent years highlighted the growing influence of platforms based on the internet, television and social media in conditioning young Muslims’ understanding of Islam,1 in reality even today, ulama (Islamic scholars) trained in traditional centres of Islamic learning representing major Islamic intellectual and legal traditions exercise a high degree of control over how ordinary Muslims understand their religion. This is also the case within Muslim communities in Europe: mosques staffed by madrasa-trained imams, who have historically been invited from Muslim-majority countries, have remained central to the transmission of Islamic knowledge in Europe.2 The centrality of the Islamic texts in imparting Islamic knowledge, especially the conviction that the Qurʾan is the direct word of God, has led critics to view Islam as a rigid tradition; yet the possibility of drawing different interpretations from the same texts has always been at the core of the Islamic scholarly tradition.3 Not only do different Islamic intellectual and legal traditions allow for different methods of reasoning to relate Islamic law to changing reality: within the same tradition there are also at times powerful initiatives for revival or reform, triggered in response to changing social-political contexts.4 The ability to adapt to changing contexts is, in the view of the reformers, integral to the Islamic scholarly tradition,5 which permits explicit methodological tools for such purposes: ijtihad (the process of legal reasoning in which the jurist uses active reasoning in order to derive a ruling), qiyas (covers a variety of legal arguments, such as analogy and deductive reasoning), and ijmaʿ (consensus building). This article highlights the emergence of new Islamic scholarly platforms, as well as adaptations visible within more conservative Islamic scholarly traditions that have historically been influential among Muslim communities in Europe. It shows that the scholars who are emphasising the need to make Islamic rulings relate to modern reality and thus are calling for the indigenisation of Islam, as seen, for example, in their calls for ‘European’ or ‘Western Islam’, are becoming increasingly popular among young European Muslims. The growing popularity of these scholars and the institutions they are establishing is thus suggestive of a keenness among many young Muslims to actively engage with the European societies of which they are members. The article also demonstrates that knowledge of Islamic texts, while an essential prerequisite for exercising Islamic authority, is not alone sufficient to develop a following among a large number of the Muslims; the Islamic scholars and movements who gain traction within the public are always those who are able to demonstrate an ability to relate Islamic rulings to the contemporary social reality, be it socially conservative or liberal.6

This article has the following structure. Section 1 presents a brief review of the main Islamic scholarly traditions that have become embedded in European Muslim communities, which have grown steadily since the 1960s. Section 2 introduces centres of Islamic knowledge production and profiles of scholars who have a visible following among young European Muslims; some of these scholars are based in the USA but are equally popular among European Muslim youth. Section 3 reviews the specific methodological tools and methods of reasoning that these scholars are using to ensure that they remain loyal to the text, while enabling young Muslims to engage meaningfully with contemporary society. The conclusion highlights how the socio-economic and educational profiles of these scholars are quite distinct from those of the imams traditionally invited from Muslim-majority countries to staff mosques and madrasas in Europe; and it observes how this shift in the profile of the scholars is leading to much creativity and dynamism in contemporary Islamic knowledge production in Europe.

2 Old Institutions: Importing Islamic Knowledge from Muslim-Majority Countries

The present-day Muslim communities in Europe, including the UK, have grown steadily since the 1960s, when the first generation of Muslim immigrants arrived in these countries. Initially consisting of single men who had come as guest workers to meet the need for low-skilled labour in these countries, these communities grew steadily as more and more men were joined by their families. As the Muslim communities grew, they started to establish mosques and sponsored imams (Islamic scholars) from their home communities, who could lead the prayers and provide Islamic education for the children.7 This process of inviting imams from Muslim-majority countries ensured that the dominant Islamic scholarly traditions prevalent in the home countries became embedded within the Muslim communities in Europe. In particular, the four Islamic scholarly traditions influential in the Muslim world – the Azhari, which is based in Egypt, Diyanet from Turkey, Deoband from South Asia, and Saudi Salafism – became equally influential in Europe. The influence of a particular scholarly tradition in each European country developed in proportion to the ethnic composition of its Muslim-diaspora community. While Diyanet became influential in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands, with their large Turkish Muslim communities, the presence of Algerians and Moroccans in France led to mosques frequently being staffed by imams trained in Moroccan religious institutions or at al-Azhar University.8 The presence of a strong South Asian Muslim community in the UK, on the other hand, led to Deoband and its related Tableegi Jamaat becoming highly influential.9 In addition, the global assertion of Saudi Salafism since the 1970s led to the establishment of Salafi-oriented mosques and teaching institutes across the European Muslim communities.10 Although there are many other Islamic scholarly and preaching networks operating across Europe, these four remain the most dominant; between them they cover the full range of methodological positions, ranging from observing textual literalism to placing emphasis on relating to needs of the time.

Deoband and Saudi Salafism are associated with promoting textual literalism, which results in resistance to change and promotes social conservatism – a methodological approach that this article refers to as ‘Islam as a theology’; al-Azhar and Diyanet, on the other hand, represent Islamic scholarly traditions that absorbed Islamic philosophical and mystical currents and argue for interpreting text in the light of the changing context – a methodological approach to studying Islam that can be referred to as ‘Islam as a civilisation’. This civilisational approach engages not only with Islamic theological and legal debates but equally also with philosophy, intellectual mysticism and humanism. Thus, Islamic scholars known for their mystical or philosophical contributions, such as al-Ghazali (1058–1111), Ibn Rushd (1126–1198), and Ibn ʿArabi (1165–1240), feature prominently in this approach, as do Sufi poets such as Jalal al-Din Rumi (1207–1273). Methodologically, the civilisational approach argues for engaging with modern reality and adapting to changing contexts. It thus takes the theological and legal debates seriously but allows for a plurality of interpretations. The theological approach to Islam, on the other hand, is more narrowly focused on preserving textual literalism, is averse to engaging with philosophical approaches, and consequently ends up encouraging disengagement from modernity. This is seen, for example, in Deobandis’ aversion to watching TV and the use of photography, or the emergence of militant Islamic groups, such as al-Qaida and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which credit their reading of Islam to Salafi teachings.11

The civilisational approach thus refers to an outlook that allows Muslims a degree of flexibility (though within clear limits) to adapt to modern institutions and realities. The theological approach insists on preserving practices as they were understood to prevail in the seventh century at the time of the birth of Islam, irrespective of how the world around has changed since then. (It is thus not surprising that the scholarly traditions classified as theological in this article, such as Deoband and Salafism, have developed and thrived in contexts where the social norms were culturally highly conservative.) Both the theological and civilisational approaches claim to be guardians of authentic Islamic tradition; however, they vary in their modes of engagement with the texts, which leads to very different societal implications in all areas of social, economic and political activity. The textual rigidity marking the theological approach means that relating rulings to the changing social reality is discouraged as loyalty to a literalist reading of the text supersedes all considerations. It is thus understandable why we are seeing that in Europe today it is the civilisational approach that is becoming more appealing to young Muslims, with its focus on using the flexibility available within the Islamic scholarly tradition to relate the text to the social reality while retaining a strong focus on the richness of Islamic theological and legal debates. We are also seeing within the Deobandi and Saudi Salafi tradition the emergence of many young reformist scholars who are acknowledging the need for internal reform in order to compete effectively with the newly established Islamic scholarly centres that follow the Islamic civilisational approach, where scholars are encouraging young Muslims to think about locally contextualised ‘European Islam’.

3 New Institutions: Focusing on Producing ‘European’ or ‘Western’ Islam

Instead of having to derive their entire Islamic knowledge from mosque-based imams invited from Muslim-majority countries, the second- and third-generation Muslim youth in Europe are increasingly exposed to a rich network of Islamic scholarly initiatives, where scholars are arguing for interpreting Islamic texts in light of the realities of living in Europe.12 These scholars are emerging from scholarly platforms historically representative of the ‘Islam as a civilisation’ approach, as well as those who have a much narrower focus on teaching ‘Islam as a theology’. While working towards the same goal, scholars trained in these different traditions show a keenness to remain methodologically loyal to their parent tradition, and they thus adopt different methods of reasoning; three broad trends are noticeable.

3.1 Neo-Traditionalists

Neo-traditionalists are closest to the Azhari scholarly tradition, which can be argued to be the vanguard of ‘Islam as a civilisation’, and they are methodologically most adept at coping with change and diversity. This approach places emphasis on following the four Sunni madhhabs (schools of law); it nurtures tasawwuf (Islamic mysticism), and aims to cultivate adab (Islamic norms of behaviour) among its followers. The focus remains on inculcating a deep faith in God through the teaching of the ʿaqida (creed), cultivating a commitment to following Islamic ritual practices, and, most importantly, guiding students to experience both the philosophical and mystical aspects of tasawwuf. Thus, Rumi and Ibn ʿArabi, the former representing the more mystical aspects of Sufism and the latter linked to the most philosophical strands, are both important to this tradition, as is al-Ghazali. This approach aims to combine rationality, spirituality and the Islamic legal tradition.

The two scholars who are most visibly associated with this approach in the West, and highly popular among young Muslims in Europe, are Hamza Yusuf, who has established Zaytuna College, the first Islamic liberal arts college in the USA; and Tim Winter, the founder of Cambridge Muslim College (CMC). Zaytuna College is keen to ‘indigenize Islam in the West’.13 Similarly, CMC’s focus is on producing scholars of Islam who can relate Islamic teachings to the reality of being a British Muslim. It launched a four-year Islamic Studies programme in 2016, but its core teaching activity has been the one-year diploma programme for which it takes graduates from British Islamic seminaries (dar al-ulums), to offer them liberal arts training in order for the students to better understand the realities of contemporary British society, so that they can better serve their communities.14

Hamza Yusuf and Tim Winter are prominent converts to Islam who are recognised as leading Islamic scholars. Equally respectful of the Islamic and Christian traditions, they maintain that Islam can contribute to European society rather than merely reacting to it. The growing influence of these two scholars and of other converts linked to their institutional networks, shows a definitive role that white converts are playing in spreading the Islamic civilisation approach within Europe.15 However, such white converts are not per se leading to the spread of the civilisational approach, as many converts turn to Salafism, and endorse its textual and cultural rigidity – the socio-economic profile and religious orientation of these converts prior to their conversion thus appears to play an important part in determining which Islamic tradition they will follow. Those related to the civilisation approach usually come from educated and socially and economically stable families, have studied in good Western universities and often have strong theological training in Christianity prior to their conversion.16

3.2 Neo-Legalism

The second approach, most visibly associated with the work of Tariq Ramadan and scholars associated with the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) operating out of the USA, also aims to adapt Islam to European reality, but its methodology is more narrowly focused on law and ethics. This approach is not concerned with actually inculcating tasawwuf or adab among students; instead, the focus is on finding answers to contemporary challenges by bridging the gap between Islamic law, contemporary realities and modern sciences.17 Ramadan helped to establish the Centre for Islamic Legislation and Ethics (CILE), funded by the Qatar Foundation, which is supporting scholarship that can help to find real-life answers to the needs of Muslims in Europe, as well as those in Muslim-majority countries, in light of sharia. The Centre brings scholars of fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) together with scholars of the context to enable the two sides to discuss modern challenges in line with Islamic ethics. Some of the themes under research include gender, economics, medicine and bioethics, and the environment.

3.3 Neo-Conservatism

While the institutions representing the two approaches noted above have evolved primarily on their own, the third category relates to institutions that are an extension of Deoband and Saudi Salafism, Islamic scholarly traditions that have been defined in this article as teaching ‘Islam as a theology’, but the scholars leading them are keen to make their tradition relevant to modern challenges. Ebrahim College in London, established by graduates of Deobandi dar al-ulums in the UK, is aiming to promote scholarship that can provide a more socially embedded reading of Islamic texts, which will enable young Muslims to relate better to their British identity.18 Similarly, within the Saudi Salafi tradition, the work of Yasir Qadhi, who is based in the USA but is also very popular among young European Muslims, is noticeable for a similar focus on using methods of reasoning approved by the Salafi tradition to argue for relating one’s faith to one’s social reality. Trained in the Salafi tradition, Qadhi is today recognised as a leading authority in attempts to relate Islam to Western reality: his defence of same-sex marriage laws in Western countries, and his approach to liberal citizenship, justified by using Salafi methods of reasoning, are clearly the antithesis of traditional Salafi positions on these issues.19

One of the striking features of these initiatives is that they have all come to appreciate the importance of developing an Islamic discourse that is primarily formulated in response to the immediate social context. Hence, all these institutions are talking about developing a Western Islam, or a European Islam or a British Islam. This emphasis in itself reflects the importance that these platforms are placing on making Islamic discourse relate to the everyday reality of young people. None is arguing for abandoning what is broadly viewed as the core of Islamic fiqh, but all are in agreement that Islamic legal and scholarly tradition requires them to engage in reasoned debate to find answers that are consistent with the spirit of sharia and also optimal responses to the needs of the time. Here it is important to note that a number of dedicated imam training programmes are also emerging in Europe, as are university based Islamic theology programmes. These initiatives, however, do not qualify as having Islamic authority as defined in this article, as they are yet to demonstrate that they have a strong following within the Muslim public and they are often funded by European states, creating issues around trust.20

4 Relating Islam to Reality: Preferred Conceptual and Methodological Tools

A review of the writings, lectures and speeches of the above-profiled scholars shows that they are building their legitimacy in the eyes of young Muslims by demonstrating their command of the Islamic textual sources, as do traditional ulama and mosque imams, but they place equal emphasis on relating Islamic concepts and legal arguments to Western scholarly debates. There are three concepts from within the Islamic scholarly tradition that are particularly useful for these scholars’ mission to produce socially relevant Islamic reasoning for Western Muslims: fiqh al-waqiʿ (jurisprudence of reality), fiqh al-aqalliyyat (jurisprudence of minorities), and maqasid al-shariʿa (a methdology of Islamic legal interpretation that focuses on the ‘objectives’ of sharia, instead of specific legal dictates, as guiding principles).21 All three concepts help to demonstrate that modernity has brought about significant changes from the contexts in which traditional laws were originally developed, and that we need to understand the spirit of the law so that the letter of the law can be better applied to these changing circumstances.

Waqiʿ literally means ‘reality’, and in terms of Islamic legal theory it refers to the lived realities of Muslims in the contemporary context. The concept of waqiʿ requires an appreciation of how the modern context differs from the context in which the revelation was granted. It allows for the development of new hermeneutical categories and approaches that enable reform in Islamic law. The concept of waqiʿ has also been very influential in the development of fiqh al-aqalliyyat, the jurisprudence of minorities, which has allowed the adaptation of many Islamic principles to make it easier for Western Muslims to cope with the immediate context of their own lives.22 Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Bin Bayyah and Ali Gomma are among the leading scholars who have written major works on these concepts.23 These scholars’ justification of the above approach rests in the Islamic concept of maslaha (the common good), which requires that, unlike ritual practices (ʿibadat), transactions (muʿamalat) such as marriage, leasing and sales are meant to serve the utility and common interest (maslaha) of the Muslim community and thus are more amenable to change according to circumstances.24 Together, the concepts of waqiʿ and maslaha enable these scholars to remain committed to the textual sources while simultaneously arguing for reform. The concept of maqasid al-shariʿa, which emphasises focusing on principles of sharia, as opposed to being tied to specific legal rulings from the past,25 fits in naturally with these two concepts. The three concepts together thus form a very popular toolkit in the hands of scholars who are trying to provide a deeper conceptual framework for defending change within the Islamic legal tradition. It is thus not surprising that these are precisely the concepts that are being actively used by the scholars in the West who are arguing for adjusting Islam to Western reality.

The neo-traditionalists in particular refer to this body of fiqh scholarship when drawing on these concepts. These scholars themselves rarely engage in deep conceptual debates on definitions of fiqh al-waqiʿ or fiqh al-aqalliyyat; their focus instead consists of applying this reasoning to finding answers to contemporary issues in all spheres of life.26

The neo-legalists, represented by scholars such as Tariq Ramadan, also actively draw on the concept of maqasid al-shariʿa, but, unlike the neo-traditionalists, they do not actively draw on actual fiqh debates taking place among prominent fiqh scholars.27 This is due to a reservation shared among modernist scholars, who maintain that the Islamic legal tradition as preserved through madhhabs has been inept at adapting to the seismic transformations associated with modernity. In this view, the traditionalists’ adherence to madhhabs precludes sufficient use of reason.28 Scholars such as Ramadan argue that there is insufficient focus on ijtihad in traditional Islamic scholarship; they contend that scholars of Islamic texts need to engage with scholars in other sciences to ensure that the former can fully understand the complexity of the modern challenges before passing a legal ruling.29 As Ramadan notes, ‘the Text still remains the source, but reason, applied according to the rules of deduction and inference (qawāid al-istinbāt), enjoys significant latitude for interpretation and elaboration through the exercise of ijtihād’.30

The neo-traditionalists occupy a space between these two approaches. Instead of fully endorsing traditional scholarship or entirely dismissing it, neo-conservative scholars instead often select only a specific concept, rather than a particular genre of scholarship, from Islamic legal tradition, to help them to justify their position. Neo-conservatives, such as Yasir Qadhi, who adhere to the Salafi method of reasoning, which encourages direct engagement with the Qurʾan and Sunna instead of following the madhhabs, draw on specific Islamic concepts that help them to justify specific interpretations in light of the realities faced. Arguing that Muslims today are facing problems that have no solutions in the classical texts, Qadhi proposes that we need a type of scholarship that is in tune with the lived experience of the people.31 Fearful that failure to do so would lead Muslims to simply ignore scholars’ fatwas and live life as they see fit, he attempts to discuss Islamic moral and legal guidelines in a language that his university-educated Western Muslim followers can relate to. This is illustrated by the way he relates to the concept of ‘reasonable citizen’ in Western theory with a defence of respect for secular law.32 Likewise Shaykh Shams Ad Duha from Ebrahim College in London argues that reasonable pluralism is the best protection for Western Muslims who aspire to live by their beliefs.33 To justify tolerance for differences of opinion, Ad Duha draws on the Islamic concept of ikhtilaf (disagreement). The issue of ikhtilaf has a long history within Islamic thought, and Ad Duha’s usage of the term brings this history to the fore.34

Although using different methodological approaches, the efforts of scholars are collectively helping to reverse the division that emerged between Islamic and modern knowledge production during the colonial period in most Muslim societies. These scholars are keen to draw parallels between Islamic moral, legal and philosophical concepts and the Western academic tradition; they take the dominant Western realities and explain them from within an Islamic framework. They do so not necessarily by participating in complex fiqh debates, but by resolving the apparent intellectual tension between Islam and modern social reality. Being able to engage equally effectively with both the modern and Islamic modes of knowledge and thinking, these scholars are particularly effective in operationalising the Islamic moral and legal framework for young and socially integrated Muslims in the West who want to balance the demands of their faith with being active members of their societies. Further, all these scholars and institutions are actively using the internet, YouTube and other social media to spread their teachings. They are rivalled by other online Islamic platforms but it is rare for an online network to become highly influential without having a scholarly figure attached to it, who can demonstrate having received rigorous training in the Islamic sciences at one of the major Islamic knowledge platforms in a Muslim-majority country, such as those referred to in this article. The influence of online Islamic platforms, which are not part of these wider Islamic scholarly networks, thus appears to be somewhat exaggerated in Western academic debates.

5 Conclusion

By focusing on a new generation of Islamic scholars and new centres of Islamic knowledge production emerging in Europe and the West in general, this article has attempted to demonstrate how Islamic knowledge production in Europe is in a highly dynamic mode, and scholars promoting approaches to the study of text that allow relating to the European reality are becoming increasingly popular among second- and third-generation Muslims. Islam’s ability to relate to the reality of the local context is often identified as having played an important role in its initial spread across different regions, which ultimately came to support Muslim-majority populations.35 The Islamic emphasis on ijtihad in itself necessitates that scholars of the time undertake reasoned debate in light of core Islamic principles to ensure that, given the local realities, it is not too difficult for Muslims to follow their religion. Thus, the authority of the scholarly classes in Muslim societies has a strong relational dimension, whereby scholars are required to find a way to adapt the traditional rulings to the social reality. We are witnessing similar examples in Europe. The rise of second- and third-generation European Muslims, who are born and raised in Europe, has played a key role in creating a demand for the work of the scholars profiled in this article. Despite continued concerns about Islamophobia and the marginalisation of Muslims in formal-sector employment, a growing number of second- and third-generation Muslims are finding themselves in better socio-economic positions than their parents.36 Some are also acquiring education at university level and securing high-paying formal-sector employment. Further, by the very virtue of being educated in European schools and growing up in European neighbourhoods, second- and third-generation Muslims are more exposed to European values and culture than their parents’ generation. All these factors are creating demand for the new Islamic scholars and institutions who are confidently arguing about Islam’s ability to engage productively with the European reality.

What is important to note is that, in order to establish their Islamic authority, these scholars have invested heavily in acquiring specialist knowledge of traditional Islamic sciences.37 Most have studied with traditional scholars in Muslim-majority countries for extended periods of time. Their ability to demonstrate sound knowledge of these sciences is by all accounts critical to establishing their authority. Their main appeal to educated young Muslims, however, rests not in their attempts to write complex treatises on Islamic fiqh. Rather, their influence stems from their ability to combine specialised Islamic knowledge with their personal everyday experience of being modern-educated Western Muslims who are exposed to the same opportunities, temptations and challenges as their audience.38 Coming mainly from middle-income and educated families, these scholars have a very different socio-economic and educational profile (and consequently different experiences, tastes and sensibilities) from most of the traditionally trained ulama in the Muslim world. These scholars are keen to combine Islamic and Western knowledge to enable young Muslims to see the links between their everyday life choices and the Islamic legal and moral framework. It is this ability to bridge the gap between Islamic and modern forms of knowledge, rather than a necessarily very fine command of traditional fiqh debates, that is central to the growing appeal of the scholars profiled in this article, because this is precisely the ability that is lacking in many traditionally trained ulama and imams traditionally invited to staff European mosques.

It is, however, also very important to note that, in establishing their authority, these scholars have made it very clear that they are not trying to create a ‘modern’ or ‘enlightened’ Islam, designed to fit Western thinking. Instead, their reasoning and arguments illustrate that they are keen to stay true to Islamic legal dictates while also deploying the methodological creativity allowed in classical Islamic fiqh in order to keep abreast of contemporary realities. These scholars do not agree with abandoning or reforming aspects of Islamic fiqh that are seen to be inconsistent with Western modernity or liberal theory. Rather, their focus is on learning to respect the core of Islamic fiqh while being confident enough to reason and debate and find creative responses to questions that are either unresolved or require fresh reasoning in the light of the changed context. Thus, while many European politicians and media outlets continue to express serious concerns about the radicalisation of Muslims in Europe, it is important to recognise that many European Muslims are keen to integrate within their host societies while staying true to their faith.

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1

Bunt, Gary R., Hashtag Islam: How Cyber-Islamic Environments are Transforming Religious Authority (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2018).

2

Van Bruinessen, Martin, and Allievi, Stefano, eds. Producing Islamic Knowledge: Transmission and Dissemination in Western Europe (London: Routledge, 2010).

3

Hallaq, Wael B., Sharia: Theory, Practice, Transformations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009).

4

Zaman, Muhammad Qasim, Modern Islamic Thought in a Radical Age: Religious Authority and Internal Criticism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012).

5

Ramadan, Tariq, Radical Reform: Islamic Ethics and Liberation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009).

6

Historically, we see that the Islamic discourses and the scholars who gained traction at any given time in history are those whose intellectual reasoning related best to the socio-political and economic context in which Muslims found themselves at a given point in time. The emergence of conservative Islamic movements, such as Deoband in South Asia or Salafism in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as a response to colonial rule and growing Western hegemony respectively, is explained largely in these terms. Normally, we have seen that, when Muslim political authority is under pressure, socially conservative and literalist Islamic movements gain appeal as preservation of faith in such contexts itself becomes the priority; earlier Islamic empires associated with nurturing the Islamic Golden Age, on the other hand, tolerated a much more pluralistic intellectual culture. For a detailed discussion of these points, see Bano, Masooda, “Introduction”, in Modern Islamic Authority and Social Change, Vol. 1: Evolving Debates in Muslim Majority Countries, Masooda Bano (ed.) (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2018), pp. 1–54; and eadem, The Revival of Islamic Rationalism: Logic, Metaphysics and Mysticism in Modern Muslim Societies (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019).

7

Van Bruinessen and Allievi, Producing Islamic Knowledge.

8

Bano, “Introduction”, in Modern Islamic Authority and Social Change, Vol. 1.

9

Ibid.

10

Ibid.

11

For detailed discussion on this conceptualisation, see Bano, “Introduction”.

12

Bano, Masooda, ed. Modern Islamic Authority and Social Change, Vol. 2: Evolving Debates in the West (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2018).

13

Spannaus, Nathan, and Razavian, Christopher Pooya, “Zaytuna College and the construction of an American Muslim identity”, in Modern Islamic Authority and Social Change, Vol. 2: Evolving Debates in the West, Masooda Bano (ed.) (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2018), pp. 39–71.

14

Razavian, Christopher Pooya, “The neo-traditionalism of Tim Winter”, in Modern Islamic Authority and Social Change, Vol. 2: Evolving Debates in the West, Masooda Bano (ed.) (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2018), pp. 72–96.

15

Bano, Revival of Islamic Rationalism.

16

Ibid.

17

Spannaus, Nathan, “From ‘Islamization of knowledge’ to ‘American Islam’: The International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT)”, in Modern Islamic Authority and Social Change, Vol. 2: Evolving Debates in the West, Masooda Bano (ed.) (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2018), pp. 97–122.

18

Razavian, Christopher Pooya, and Spannaus, Nathan, “New Deobandi institutions in the West”, in Modern Islamic Authority and Social Change, Vol. 2: Evolving Debates in the West, Masooda Bano (ed.) (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2018), pp. 180–210.

19

Razavian, Christopher Pooya, “Yasir Qadhi and the development of reasonable Salafism”, in Modern Islamic Authority and Social Change, Vol. 2: Evolving Debates in the West, Masooda Bano (ed.) (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2018), pp. 155–79.

20

The literature on these initiatives is steadily growing, see: Shadid, Wasif A.R., and van Koningsveld, Pieter S., Intercultural Relations and Religious Authorities: Muslims in the European Union (Leuven: Peeters, 2002); Aslan, Ednan, and Windisch, Zsofia, The Training of Imams and Teachers for Islamic Education in Europe (Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2012); Hajji, Khalid, Hashas, Mohammed, Jaap de Ruiter, Jan, and Vinding, Niels Valdemar, eds. Imams in Western Europe: Developments, Transformations, and Institutional Challenges (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2018); Weisse, Wolfram, Ipgrave, Julia, Leirvik, Oddbjørn, and Tatari, Muna, eds. Pluralisation of Theologies at European Universities (Münster; New York: Buck, 2020).

21

See Bano, “Introduction”, in Modern Islamic Authority and Social Change, Vol. 1.

22

Razavian, Christopher Pooya, “Al-Azhar, wasaṭīyah, and the wāqiʿ”, in Modern Islamic Authority and Social Change, Vol. 1: Evolving Debates in Muslim Majority Countries, Masooda Bano (ed.) (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2018), pp. 102–26.

23

Ibid.

24

Ibid.

25

Spannaus, Nathan “Transformative Islamic reform: Tariq Ramadan and the Center for Islamic Legislation and Ethics (CILE)”, in Modern Islamic Authority and Social Change, Vol. 2: Evolving Debates in the West, Masooda Bano (ed.) (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2018), pp. 123–54.

26

Spannaus and Razavian, “Zaytuna College”; Razavian, “Neo-traditionalism of Tim Winter”.

27

Spannaus, “Transformative Islamic reform”.

28

Ibid.

29

Ibid.

30

Ramadan, Tariq, Western Muslims and the Future of Islam (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2004), pp. 28–29.

31

Razavian, “Yasir Qadhi”.

32

Ibid.

33

Razavian and Spannaus, “New Deobandi institutions”.

34

Ibid.

35

Hodgson, Marshall G.S. The Venture of Islam: Conscience and History in a World Civilization, Vol. 1: The Classical Age of Islam (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1977).

36

Bano, Masooda “Introduction”, in Modern Islamic Authority and Social Change, Vol. 2: Evolving Debates in the West, Masooda Bano (ed.) (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2018), pp. 1–38.

37

Bano, Revival of Islamic Rationalism.

38

Bano, “Introduction”, in Modern Islamic Authority and Social Change, Vol. 2.

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