Modern Islamic philosophy

Modern Islamic philosophy revives some of the trends of medieval Islamic philosophy, notably the tension between Mutazilite and Asharite view of ethics in science and law, and the duty of Muslims and role of Islam in the sociology of knowledge and in forming ethical codes and legal codes, especially the fiqh (or "jurisprudence") and rules of jihad (or "just war"). See list of Islamic terms in Arabic for a glossary of key terms used in Islam.

Key figures representing important trends include:

  • Sayed Abul Ala Mawdudi who revived Islamist thought in the 20th century, and argued that science was itself merely re-discovering that all matter and energy obeys laws, and that Kafir claims that humankind was free of obligation to comprehend and obey such laws, had to be resisted by Muslims. "Caliphate and Monarchy" was his most important work. He established the Jamaat-e-Islami in India. This and the Egyptian Ikhwan al Muslimin ("Muslim Brotherhood") were revivals of the tarika tradition and committed to religious, political, and intellectual reform of Islam. Nasser exploited the latter to gain power in 1952 but then turned against the Brotherhood, murdering and torturing many members. The leader Sayed Qutb was executed with five others in 1966.

  • Muhammad Iqbal sought an Islamic revival based on social justice ideals and emphasized traditional rules, e.g. against usury. He argued strongly that dogma, territorial nationalism and outright racism, all of which were profoundly rejected in early Islam and especially by Muhammad himself, were splitting Muslims into warring factions, encouraging materialism and nihilism. His thought was influential in the emergence of a movement for independence of Pakistan, in which his ideas are revered. Indirectly this strain of Islam also influenced Malcolm X and other figures who sought a global ethic through the Five Pillars of Islam. Some claim that the Four Pillars of the Green Party honor Iqbal and Islamic traditions.

  • Ismail al-Faruqi looked more closely at the ethics and sociology of knowledge, concluding that no scientific method or philosophy could exist that was wholly ignorant of a theory of conduct or the consequences a given path of inquiry and technology. His "Islamization of knowledge" program sought to converge early Muslim philosophy with modern sciences, resulting in, for example, Islamic economics and Islamic sociology.

  • Seyyed Hossein Nasr, a political ecologist, argues that khalifa in Islam is fundamentally compatible with ideals of the ecology movement and peace movement, more so than conventional interpretations of Islam. He argues for an ecology-based ecumenism that would seek unity amongst the faiths by concentrating on their common respect for life as a Creation, i.e. the Earth's biosphere, Gaia, or whatever name. Pope John Paul II has made similar suggestions that "mankind must be reconciled to the Creation," and there is a Parliament of World Religions seeking a "global ethic" on similar grounds.

  • Numerous attempts to reconcile Islamic sharia law with feminism and human rights norms of international law have been made, dating back to reform efforts in former Soviet Central Asia before 1920, when these regions enjoyed effective autonomy due to chaos in the Russian Civil War. More modern efforts in Indonesia, Afghanistan, Iran and the proposed state of Palestine have often emphasized the traditional role of women's control of the household finances. In Bangaladesh the Grameen Bank has been involved in micro-capital financing of small businesses run exclusively by women.

  • The predominant theological voice in Islam today is the Islamist movement, a radically puritanical fundamentalist form of Islam.

In general, the first two trends are more commonly understood in the Islamic World whereas the latter, later, trends, are more known in non-Muslim and Muslim-minority nations, or ones receiving substantial aid from developed nations. Some argue that this suggests that these trends are insincere and that alternations between fundamentalism and secular military dictators are somehow inherently part of the politics of the Arab World in particular. One response is that such trends were likewise observed in other regions, e.g. Latin America, with Communism as a form of fundamentalism, and that those regions often democratize once outside interference is limited.



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