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Introduction: The Pattern of Islamic Reform THROUGHOUT Muslim history religious reform movements have transformed not only belief but also political and social life. In modern times the movements, under the stimulus of European domination, have been endemic. Muslim states had earlier protected Muslim interests and had, ideally at least, set policy and provided patronage to foster religious learning and a Muslim way of life. As these states declined, many Muslims, troubled by the constraints put on the political expression of their faith as well as by the inevitable social and economic dislocations that ensued, drew on their own traditions for interpretations and patterns for action. Among the resulting movements the earliest is perhaps that of 'Abdu'I-Wahhab (1703-1792); the currently best known is that culminating in the Iranian revolution of 1979.1 There is no single convenient rubric under which to place these movements. The modern ones, depending on what has been seen as central, have been called movements of primary resistance; rebellion; social reform movements; peasant, working class, or nationalist movements; movements of religious syncretism or accommodation, modernization , or even reaction. Such categories are useful for comparative purposes, and point to important recurring patterns in origin and process of social behavior. Yet the movements defy our pigeonholes, and call for consideration in their own Islamic terms. However different their strategies and social settings, the movements share unities in both meaning and structure. 1. I am indebted to Ira Lapidus for a series of discussions that have contributed to this introduction, and I have been especially influenced by his paper, "The Islamic Religion and the Historical Experiences of Muslim Peoples: A Challenge for Contemporary Scholarship," presented to the Seventh Biennial Giorgio Levi Dellavida Conference at the University of California, Los Angeles, April 28, 1979. Hamid Algar and Edmund Burke will see evidence here of recent discussions; and Peter Brown, of his illuminating review article, "Understanding Islam," New York Review of Books, February 22, 1979, pp. 30-33. 3 Introduction To take the Islamic reform movements as a whole takes into account the perspective of the participants who themselves saw this unity. It subsumes movements that may or may not be violent; that may take place in any social milieu; that may happen in any period in history. What unites them is an acceptance of the period of the life of the Prophet and the first decades of Islam as providing the fundamental examples of behavior and belief; all seek self-consciously, by a wide variety of means, to relive that pristine time. A cluster of terms describes these movements, of which two particularly recur. One is tajdid, which suggests the process of renewal and specifically commitment to the way of the Prophet, who is the embodiment of revelation as conveyed in Islamic Law. A second isjihad, which points to the effort or the action required in conforming to the way of God. The term jihad transcends external form in favor of intention and goal, for in one usage, the "greaterjihad" (jihadi akbar), it denotes the inner struggle of individual moral discipline and commitment to Islam, whereas in a second usage, the "lesserjihad" (jihad-i asghar), it defines legitimate political and military action, the "holy war" known in the West. Certain patterns can be found in all these diverse movements , starting with the beliefs of their participants. They believe afresh that God is real, that the Prophet Muhammad is real, that the angels are real. They believe that God makes decisive interventions in time, above all in the perfect revelation of the Qur'an. They believe that life is very serious, for it is a testing ground for obedience to God. Heaven is real and Hell is real. They believe that they, and all men, are called to live in the world knowingly, ever watchful against the great danger of life, which is oblivion (ghaflat) of what one owes to God and what one owes to others. To do this they take the life of the Prophet as their model, believing that he unquestionably provides a pattern for revolution in his deep religious anger at the kind of society in which they themselves live: societies dominated by the callousness and pride of the unjustly rich who squander wealth and oppress the weak. The modern period of 4 Pattern of Reform colonial and neocolonial economic dependency, which has typically been seen to benefit Europeans and their collaborators , has thus proven fertile ground for renewal and revolt, for it recalls the...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781400856107
MARC Record
OCLC
889252131
Pages
387
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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