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Islam and the Colonial Experience. Themes in Islam and Modernity What is Modernity? Is it Western? Now Major Challenges are from the West – Political:

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Presentation on theme: "Islam and the Colonial Experience. Themes in Islam and Modernity What is Modernity? Is it Western? Now Major Challenges are from the West – Political:"— Presentation transcript:

1 Islam and the Colonial Experience

2 Themes in Islam and Modernity What is Modernity? Is it Western? Now Major Challenges are from the West – Political: why/how do unbelievers have control over us politically/militarily – Economic: why/how are they so much wealthier than us? – Scientific/Technical: why/how are they so much more advanced than us? – Social: to what extent do we have to meet the expectations of social modernity/progress?  How does the truth and greatness of Islam fit with Muslim failure to achieve parity with the West in these areas? ‘Awakening’, ‘Revival’, ‘Reform’= the idiom Islamic heritage vs. Islamic society

3 What is Modernity? ‘The Great Western Transmutation’: 1780-today – Economic: Industrial Revolution in England in the late 1700’s  massive capital amassed – Legal/Political: states emphasize ownership rights as foundation of international system  respect for ownership; state becomes vehicle for mercantile interests; democracy – Intellectual: scientific explanation, technicalization (“impersonal efficiency through technical precision”), rationalization  Positivism – Social: landed aristocracy loses control to industrial and mercantile bourgeoisie  Investment encouraged and protected  innovation prized, progress and enrichment expected  Modernity is inevitable (Ali Pasha agreed: “It is not humanly possible to put a stop to the forces of nationalism and socialism.”

4 Major Landmarks of West / Islam Relations Dutch dominant in Java  Brits 1764 British running Bengal and Bihar, collecting taxes Napoleon’s invasion of EgyptEgypt 1830: France annexes Algeria from Ottomans 1838 Treaty of Balta Liman, beginning of major European political/economic interference in Ottoman realm 1857 ‘Indian Mutiny’ crushed by BritishMutiny 1882 British suzerainty in EgyptEgypt 1872 De Reuters Concession – 1892 Tobacco Concessions: perceived selling of Iran to foreigners WWI  reason cannot give all answers 1945 Indonesia independent, 1957 “British Malaya” too Islamic Revolution in Iran

5 Common Themes of Colonial Experience Nation state: borders defined by colonial holdings and agreements, not strict cultural, ethnic or religious ties Controlling State: Islamist or not (ex. Turkey with waqfs and schools, Pakistan and national control of waqfs) Massive armies Empowered minorities Dependence idea: ex. Java as Dutch spice and coffee plantation - 56% of pop put to work on this Development Theme: secular or Islamist Transcendent ideas: pan Arabism, Islamism (but Ikhwan etc. also follow nation state model, UAR fails) Socialism, Capitalism and Communism

6 Knot of Politics, Society and Religion For many Muslim intellectuals (and the populace), there is no real ‘crisis’ until after the 1870’s – Al-Jabarti’s reaction to Napoleon’s invasion: contempt! – Tanzimat Period ( ): Ottoman reforms, instituting European schooling, government structure and legal system… from 1805 on in Egypt under Mehmet Ali Pasha – Rifa’at al-Tahtawi (d. 1873): Egyptian sent to Paris; unqualified admiration; Europeans learned from Muslims, now we must relearn our greatness 1875 Ottoman Bankruptcy, 1878 Massive defeat of Ottomans… Ottoman Empire is once again Muslim in population, Islam important political rallying point under Sultan Abd al-Hamid (r ). Concessions in Iran  same

7 How do we approach the Islamic Heritage? 1.Modernists: scholars like Fatima Mernissa, “activists” Irshad Manji, Ayaan Hirsi Ali… reject aspects of Islam that are incompatible with expectations of modernity with no apology. 2.Modernist Salafis: bypass the Late Sunni Tradition to go back to the original purity of Islam… which just happens to meet the expectations of modernity 3.Traditionalist Salafis: like Wahhabis, return to original sources of the Quran and Sunna but to heck with what modernity expects. 4.Late Sunni Traditionalists: the institutions of classical Islam, properly used, will lead us to the right path (even better than modernity!)

8 Jamal al-Din al-Afghani (d. 1897) Originally Iranian/Afghan, possibly Shiite, became Pan-Islamic activist, intellectual, and eventually political trouble-maker His goal was essentially political = Islamic unity against West, while learning from them and eventually matching them The Means = Revival of rationalism in Islam: Mu’tazilite and Islamic philosophical tradition –Anti-Fatalism –Anti-superstition (and thus Sufism)

9 Muhammad ‘Abduh (d. 1905) Azhar trained Egyptian, worked as journalist and editor in Cairo Supported revolt against British/Khedive government of Egypt in 1882 Studied with Afghani, then went to Paris and Beirut with him to publish their journal, al-Urwa al-wuthqa. Became Mufti of Egypt Modernist Salafi: anti-accretion in worship Maslaha = public interest, outweighs revealed text; reason outweighs revelation

10 Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani (d. 1999) Albanian immigrant to Syria Rejected father’s Hanafi school when he read issue of Abduh’s Manar magazine  Traditionalist Salafi Turned to Hadith as the only real means to understand the pure Islam of the early Muslim community Became one of the most influential Traditionalist Salafis and modern Hadith scholars

11 The Big Questions What is Modernity? Is it Western? Major Challenges from West – Political: why/how do unbelievers have control over us politically/militarily – Economical: why/how are they so much wealthier than us? – Scientific/Technical: why/how are they so much more advanced than us? – Social: why do we feel like we have to meet their expectations of social modernity/progress?  How does Truth and Greatness of Islam Fit with Muslim Failure to Achieve Parity with the West in these areas? Islamic heritage vs. Islamic society

12 Answer #1 The West has attained material success, but Islam possesses the keys to spiritual and moral success (ex. Ahmad Faris Shadyaq (d. 1887) Western society is corrupt at heart Western society is destined for moral and spiritual ruin Or… is Modernity is inherently wrong for mankind?(‘Perennialist’ Sufi school)

13 Answer #2 The West IS Real Islam: we need to learn Western sciences, political systems, worldview The Renaissance derived from Muslim learning… Tension: how can we adopt positive elements of Western culture without adopting negative ones?

14 Answer #3 Don’t be deceived by what you see, prosperity and technology have nothing to do with what God wants from us… focus on purifying your practice and belief Al-Hasan al-Banna and the Muslim Brotherhood Salafi/Wahhabi movement

15 Finding the Answers Find the West in Islamic Sources: Young Ottomans, Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, Muhammad ‘Abduh, Sayyid Ahmad Khan Spectrum of Criticism of Islamic Tradition: ex. do we reject hadith if they contradict reason or try to contextualize them? Following the Late Sunni Tradition is the key (can this be done in a vacuum?) Shaykh ‘Ali Jum’a, Muhammad al-Ghazali (d. 1996) Ignore the West, we cause our own problems on our own (taqlid, bid’a…) Traditionalist Salafis like al-Albani

16 Modern Political Islam – The Islamic State Islam vs. the West/Nationalism: Afghani, Shaqib Arslan (d. 1946) and the 1930 Berber ‘Dahir’ Law Fundamentalist Resistance to Local Regimes: Sayyid Qutb (d. 1966)Qutb Ayatollah Khomeini (d. 1989) The Goal = Islamic Law (why?) Islamic law means society has chosen Islam over Westernism/Western modernity… a just society Islamic law means the victory of native culture of foreign interference Islamic law is the necessary step to regaining greatness Marxist Islam?

17 Islamic Law in Modern Period Turkey: Shariah law totally abolished Egypt: 1955 Shariah courts abolished, but modified Shariah still governs family law Lawyer Abd al-Razzaq al-Sanhuri in 1947 says that Egyptian law is based on 1) customary law 2) principles of Shariah 3) natural law Using talfiq (picking and choosing) from different schools, “Shariah” rulings meeting expectations of Modernity are found (ex marriage for girls at 16) Saudi Arabia: Shariah law still applied in full


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