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9. Reform in the 19th-20th Century

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم وصلى الله على سيدنا محمد وعلى ءاله وصحبه أجمعين وسلّم

Title: Reform in the 19th – 20th Century

Author: Abdalhakim Andersson

Publication date: 30/03/2013

Presented by: Uthman Ibrahim-Morrison

Lecture IX: Reform in the 19th – 20th Century

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم وصلى الله على سيدنا محمد وعلى ءاله وصحبه أجمعين

Welcome to the Muslim History Programme of the MFAS. This is the ninth of 12 sessions which make up the Madhhabs of Islam module. Today’s lecture on 19th and 20th century Islamic reform has been prepared by our Director of Studies Abdalhakim Andersson who, unfortunately, is not available to be here in person. Therefore, it falls to me to present the lecture on his behalf. The lecture will last approximately 40 minutes during which time you should make a written note of any questions that may occur to you for clarification after the lecture.

1. Introduction

In the previous lecture, we discussed the early reform movements that appeared before the  cultural impact of European modernity in the Muslim lands. Today’s lecture will continue with the history of the second stage of modern reformism, mainly exemplified by the reform movements in Egypt towards the end of the 19th century. Before that, however, we will give a historical overview of the political, social and intellectual developments that led up to the formation of these movements.

According to a common view, the characteristic feature of the later reform movements was the struggle to adapt and accommodate the scholarly tradition to the increasing impact of European politics, economics and culture. This understanding is often expressed with reference to Ibn Khaldun’s theories in al-Muqaddima, in which he writes: 

“The vanquished always want to imitate the victor in his distinctive mark(s), his dress, his occupation, and all his other conditions and customs. […] Therefore, the vanquished can always be observed to assimilate themselves to the victor in the use and style of dress, mounts, and weapons, indeed, in everything.”1

It is true that the later reform projects are distinguished from the earlier ones by the prominent role of European culture, either as something to reject or something to reach a compromise with. Although this perspective explains this important aspect, it produces over-simplified categories and neglects the complex relations between the movements, institutions and ideologies involved, and the socio-political context. In order to do justice to the complex history of these movements, as well as Ibn Khaldun’s theories, the following lecture will set out to examine the following three areas: (1) the main issues of reform; (2) the socio-political context of the reform movements; and (3) the impact of the reforms in our time. In relation to these three topics, we will also look at questions such as the impact of modern technology, common ideological grounds between the movements and the ideas of traditional scholars who opposed the reforms. Examining these questions will also enable us to evaluate the outcomes of the various reform projects and their multiple offshoots, which shaped the main trends in the politics of Islamic identity from the beginning of the 20th century to the present day.

2. The main issues of reform

Unlike the previous movements, the mission of the later reformers went beyond the regionally bound attempts at changing socio-political circumstances by means of scholarship. The mission of the later reformers was universal, partly stimulated by its development as a response to the equally universal claims of European modernity. Although the reform movements of the 19th and 20th century were far from united, some of the main issues of their agenda concerned:

1. Modernisation of state institutions

2. Colonialism and the material threat of Europe

3. Cultural identity of Muslim societies

4. Social progress and the role religion

5. Stagnation in scholarship and scriptural re-interpretation

6. Modern education and its institutions

It is not to say that all reform thinkers dealt directly with these subjects, but that they were important in forming the scholarly and political discourse that many of the reformists engaged in. Moreover, their ideas and activities had great impact on the formation of modern politics, economics, education, technology and social customs in the Muslim lands. Before examining these six categories and their impact in detail, a historical overview of the cultural impact of European modernity and some of the responses will help us to put it into context.

3. The Tanzimat and the rise of nation-states

After Muhammad ‘Ali Pasha of Osmanli Egypt defeated the rising danger of the Wahhabis in a number of battles in the Arabian Peninsula, the Osmanlis managed to temporarily reassert caliphal authority over the region. With some degree of control over Arabia, focus was turned to Europe and its increasing material threat to the Muslim world. The reforms of the caliphate from the reign of Sultan Mahmud (1808-1839) onwards are described by Dallal as follows:

For the most part, eighteenth century reforms were precipitated by gradual, long term changes. However, in the second half of the nineteenth century, most reforms were in response to sudden social changes and ruptures. Shaped, as it were, by the encounter with Europe, nineteenth century reform was first triggered by the increasing material threat of expanding European powers, but gradually reflected an increasing awareness of the cultural and intellectual challenges brought about by this encounter. In most instances, the first such reforms reflected the desire of Ottoman political elites to reform the state and its institutions in order to contain the European threats to the Ottoman Empire. In the 1840s, new laws regulating commerce and land ownership were introduced in Istanbul and Cairo, and in 1857, the Ottoman, administrative Tanzimat reforms were primarily concerned with strengthening the institutions of the state. In this early phase, many Muslim thinkers viewed the institutional and legal reforms introduced by the Ottoman state with suspicion. One of the main reasons for this apprehension was that many of these reforms were capitulations by the Ottoman state surrendered under the pressure of European consuls and diplomats; furthermore, as a consequence of some of these reforms, Christians enjoyed a preferential treatment that was denied to the Muslim subjects of the empire.2

The Tanzimat thus led to wide-ranging changes in the political, economic, religious and social life of the caliphate, being, as it were, a product as well as a producer of reformist ideas among some of the scholars of the time. As we will examine later, many leading scholars of the time opposed these projects. At the same time, however, foreign support and modern communication technology enabled other voices to become channels for reform ideas in the Muslim lands. These ideas would, towards the beginning of the 20th century, have a great impact on all scholarly, social and political institutions in the heartlands of Islam, and would be played out, as it were, in the opposition between reform and tradition at the university of al-Azhar, and caliphate versus the nation-state in the Osmanli territories. 

The role of the modern nation-state and its practical as well as ideological importance for the reform projects cannot be underestimated. As many scholars have noted, among them Maksudoglu in his Osmanlı History and Institutions (2011), the spread of nationalism was one of the key factors in the disintegration of the Osmanlı dawla.3 One contributing factor in the enduring unity of the caliphate had been the preservation of local identities and ways of life among the inhabitants of the various regions, which created a harmony that sustained their allegiance to the caliph. Local identities and concerns thus facilitated the, more or less, global Muslim unity under the caliph. The idea of a homogenous Muslim way of life, corresponding in thought, practice and culture, appeared from within the modernist reform movements and contributed to the political disintegration of the caliphate. 

Accompanied by the rise of universalist ideologies and modern technology, nationalism emerged in the Muslim lands. While local peasants in the various regions held onto their local identities, new movements emerged, promoting ideas of nations and peoples, rather than religion, as the basis for governance and unity. In relation to the notion that the pre-modern reform movements were local in their claims whilst the modern reform movements were universal, nationalism would fall into the latter category. Nationalism is, essentially, a universalist doctrine based on the idea of humanity as naturally divided into distinct nations and that the only legitimate system of governance therefore, is centralised national government, quite removed from the pre-modern local identities co-existing under universal allegiance. As we know from the history of Germany and Italy, nationalism could be a factor of unification, but in the case of the Osmanlı caliphate, containing an enormous number of local communities, it had the opposite effect. Although it is too simplistic to blame European powers for using the doctrines of nationalism to cause the disintegration of the Osmanlı dawla, which some scholars have done in the past, that was undeniably the outcome of these ideas in the Osmanlı territories.

4. Institutions of the modern state

Perhaps the most important region for the second wave of reform was Egypt from the time of Muhammad ‘Ali Pasha (d. 1849) onwards. His project of building a strong nation-state by modernising its institutions had both intellectual and socio-political implications. The intention of the project was not to reform the scholarly transmission at al-Azhar University, but to build a parallel educational system, modelled after European universities. Similar modernising projects were carried out elsewhere in the Muslim world and the effects of these institutional reforms soon spread to all spheres of society.

In 1827, Muhammad Ali Pasha, at the time autonomous Osmanlı governor of Egypt, sent an official delegation of Egyptian students to study in France. Although this came in response to a French request, the purpose was to acquire practical knowledge for the modernisation of the Egyptian military and other state institutions. Among the students were Rafâ’i ar-Rafi’ at-Tahtâwi (d. 1873), who, upon his return five years later, became one of the first to articulate systematic ideas of reform in the context of the Islamic world and its encounter with Europe. In line with Muhammad ‘Ali Pasha’s project, the writings of at-Tahtâwi were not concerned with reforming religious thinking, but focused on the building of a modernised state with  institutions on the French model. 

Other examples of early reform thinkers who, by invoking Islam to various degrees, advocated ideas of organisational modernisation and reform were Khayr ad-Din at-Tûnisi (d. 1890) in Tunisia and Sayyid Ahmad Khan (d. 1898) in India, both of whom put greater emphasis on the connection between religious reform and socio-political reform. It was, however, in Egypt towards the late 19th century that the most influential advocates of Islamic reform appeared in the circle of Jamal ad-Din al-Afghani (d. 1897), Muhammad ‘Abduh (d. 1905) and later Rashid Ridâ (d. 1935). The growing influence of these reformers were also accompanied by another phenomenon that radically changed the Muslim world; the arrival of the new means of mass communication brought about by modern technology. 

5. Technology and journalism

Without going into great detail about the spread of journalism and modern communications technology in the Muslim world, we note that the transition from oral to written communication, outside of the scholarly circles, began in the 19th century. After centuries of opposition from political as well as scholarly authorities, mass produced printed messages gradually began to supplement, if not supplant, age old oral modes of communication. As a part of the modernising projects in Egypt, Muhammad ‘Ali Pasha acquired printing equipment and sent people to learn the craft of mass printing in Europe. In 1821, the influential Bulaq Press opened in Egypt, and elsewhere in the Muslim world governments established state presses. State publications as well as private newspapers and journals increased rapidly. Between 1876 and 1914, Egypt alone produced 849 newspapers and journals, including both state publications and private ones. Although most were of brief duration, the increasing number of regular publications attracted a growing audience.4

Despite the partly successful attempts of Sultan ’Abd al-Hamid II to regulate and control the development by strict supervision, political and technological forces made it unstoppable towards the turn of the century. A new platform for the spread of religious and political reform had been established, shaping both the ideological content and its effect on Muslim societies. Ami Ayalon writes: 

When printing became available, it was a small number of intellectuals who proceeded to use it, believing in its power to advance their society. But in order for the new device to have this kind of effect, a profound socio cultural change had to take place. To access printed items independently, people had to acquire reading skills and abandon old beliefs in favour of a new outlook. The change occurred slowly at first, but it was enhanced at the end of the nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth, to no small extent thanks to the advent of newspapers. […] The pressing demand for news and its ample availability in print combined to connect the public with the medium, a bond later to be extended to other kinds of printed items. It was also these new possibilities that drew more people to pronounce their views, which printing amplified with unprecedented efficacy.5

The reluctance of the ‘ulama gradually withered away as the new medium became viewed as a means of defending Islam against the challenges of the time. Ayalon continues: 

Perhaps the earliest certainly the most famous man to employ the press to such ends was Jamal al-Din al Afghani, the religious political activist who in the late 1870s encouraged his followers in Egypt to borrow the enemys weaponand turn it against that enemy unreservedly. Sometime later in Paris, Afghani published his own journal, Al ’Urwa Al Wuthqa (1884), with his colleague Muhammad ‘Abduh. Though lasting for several months only, it was an arch model of an Islamic campaign in print. Discussing the roots of Muslim weakness and urging religious revival, it reached readers throughout the Middle East and far beyond, striking their minds like an electric current. The next major publication of this kind was started in Egypt in the following decade by Muhammad ‘Abduh’s celebrated pupil, Muhammad Rashid Rida. For thirty seven years, Rida’s monthly Al Manar (1897) was an arena of lively discourse on questions of Islam and modernity, engaging believers from Marrakesh to Singapore. […] Islamic publication represented a rainbow: some papers were devoted to religious preaching, advocating Islamic purism or reformist ideas; others, more interested in anti imperialist struggle and nationalism, used the notion of Islamic unity as a battle cry. An example of this last kind was Al Mu’ayyad (Cairo, 1889) of Shaykh ‘Ali Yusuf, the devout al Azhar graduate who propagated an Islamic oriented Egyptian nationalism.6

Thus, the journalist medium itself transformed the relationship between writers and readers, while enabling a wider impact of the reform ideas, far beyond the borders of Egypt. The universalist character of the second wave of reform was not only shaped by the desire to defend the Muslim world against the global threat of European powers, but also by the intellectual environment and the technological framework in which it was articulated. 

6. Reformers in Egypt

While at-Tahtawi proposed his reform project on the basis of his knowledge of the structures of the modern French state and society, the men around ‘Abduh proposed their projects on the basis of their authority as religious scholars. The combination of religious scholarship and familiarity, or concern, with European modernity took the reform to a new level. They attracted a substantial following among a new generation of Muslims and the new mass press facilitated a world-wide influence. 

Unlike ‘Abduh and Rida, however, al-Afghani was not a scholar. He did not undertake any systematic reform of religious thought, but was primarily concerned with promoting Islamic solidarity against European colonialism. While his religious ideas appeared contradictory, his political objectives remained consistent; reviving the Muslim world by means of the political, technological and scientific instruments that seemed to underpin European supremacy. As Dallal notes, “the legacy of al-Afghani is his ability to mobilise a popular as well as elitist awareness of the need for political and religious revival, and to politicise Islam in the modern context of colonialism.”7

In Paris, al-Afghani and ‘Abduh began to spread their pan-Islamic ideas by publishing al-’Urwa al-Wuthqa, in which they addressed the Muslims collectively as a national entity, attempting to raise awareness about the nature of European colonialism and ways of fighting it. In his youth, ‘Abduh received a traditional religious education, but grew up in a society where religious institutions of learning were losing ground to new secular institutions. This became an important element in the development of his ideas for reform, as he presented colonialism as a product of the intellectual stagnation of the Muslim world, rather than its cause. Dallal describes his thinking after parting with al-Afghani in 1887 and becoming the Grand Mufti of Egypt as follows:  

Contrary to Afghani’s consistent stand and to the views he himself advocated in his early career, after his return to Egypt ’Abduh adopted an internalist approach to reform which diverted the focus of his activity from resistance to colonialism towards reforming the self, even if this were to be achieved with the aid of the British colonisers.8

He continues: 

Above all, however, the primary drive that animates much of ‘Abduhs reform project in the post-Afghani phase of his career is his systematic attempt to reconcile traditional and modern institutions; providing new interpretations of Islamic law and scriptures to give Islamic legitimacy to secular, European institutions introduced by the nation state. It is in the course of this undertaking that ‘Abduh invoked the principle of public interest (maslaha) as a source of legislation in Islam, and as a means to modernise Islamic thought and enable it to meet the challenges of modern life. One effect of this idea was to justify systematically all the new institutions of the modern state on the grounds that it is religiously incumbent on Muslims to borrow these institutions, since public interest is tantamount to law (al-maslaha shar’).9

This far-reaching reform project was later, with some modifications, continued by Rashid Rida and adopted by the numerous political parties who appeared in the newly founded nation states of the Muslim world. Initially, ‘Abduh’s ideas were spread in al-Manar, which continued to be published for about four decades. As its chief editor, Rashid Rida became the main compiler and interpreter of ‘Abduh’s ideas. Some changes nevertheless occurred after the death of ‘Abduh, when Rashid Rida began to express “increased concerns about the threat of colonialism to Muslim identity, a threat no longer limited to the military and political spheres, but one that extended to the cultural sphere as well.”10 Dallal writes: 

Initially, Rida put much of his hope in the revival of the power of the Ottoman caliphate as the primary defence against an expanding Europe. The ending of the caliphate, however, delivered a major blow to the hopes and aspirations of Rida and many of his Muslim contemporaries. And as a result of this disappointment and intensified sense of insecurity, the focus of Rida’s writings shifted from progressand intellectual reform to the preservation of the Islamic identity.11

Thus, these scholars laid the foundation for the later discourse of progress and reform in Muslim identity politics, which by the mid-20th century had become standard. To further examine the reform ideas of ‘Abduh and Rashid Rida, however, we need to look at the institution in which they worked and the scholarly debates in which they engaged.

7. Al-Azhar and the question of ijtihad

In the beginning of the 20th century, al-Azhar was the most influential university in the Muslim world. The issue that came to symbolise its struggles between conservatism and modernism was the question of ijtihad and its alleged revival. From the time of Muhammad ‘Ali Pasha’s leadership in the 1830s, politicians as well as religious scholars had begun to call for reform of al-Azhar, because of its local as well as global importance. As Gesink notes, this call for reform required, “the government to impose methods of administrative order learned from Europe, and for the scholars to teach modern sciences that would aid the cause of progress and allow Muslims to combat European subjugation.”12 She continues:

The reformers’ models of progress threatened the integrity of religious knowledge, the authority of the religious scholars (‘ulama) as interpreters of that knowledge, and the underpinnings of the Islamic legal system. The reform of religious education in Egypt therefore did not just happen. It was – and had to be – a negotiated product that both preserved key elements of the existing system of knowledge transmission and allowed reformers and their opponents to participate equally.13

Thus, the struggle became a negotiation between conservative scholars and modernist reformers, which resulted in al-Azhar’s ambivalent role between tradition and reform during the 20th century. Regardless of the outcomes of the debates, the negotiations produced the idea of stagnant Islamic law and a narrative which depicted conservative scholars as enemies of progress. Gesink observes:

An essential part of the battle took place in the field of legal methodology. The modernists promoted “revived” use of ijtihad, a method of legal reasoning that involved derivation of new legal principles or rulings from original sources. The conservatives promoted taqlid, or adherence to established precedent. A pervasive theme of the modernist campaign for  ijtihad was an assertion that ijtihad’s practice was believed to have ceased and that it needed to be revived. This was not wholly accurate; ijtihad was still being used in certain circumstances. However, conservative scholars such as Muhammad ‘Ilish countered by claiming that, indeed, ijtihad of the type modernists advocated had ceased, and its revived use would lead to moral confusion among the masses. This invented tradition of the cessation of ijtihad and a concomitant socio-legal stagnation was passed down via the modernist domination of journalism and contacts with Orientalists into Orientalist authoritative scholarship and into current understanding of Islamic law and society. […]  the campaign to revive ijtihad was actually a campaign to change its definition: from a legal method restricted to use by highly trained jurists to a principle of intellectual investigation. Taqlid was equated with intellectual laziness and social stagnation. This campaign encouraged laymen to proceed directly to the primary sacred texts of the religion. 14

She continues:

Assertions of ijtihad’s cessation had been used rhetorically throughout Islamic history, to bolster the authority of jurists. The modernists adopted this rhetoric, asserting throughout their campaign that contemporary scholars agreed the practice of ijtihad had ceased. Although scholars such as Rifa‘a al-Tahtawi insisted that ijtihad was alive, the repeated assertions convinced most people that it had indeed died. […] modernists gave ijtihad a social definition and enlarged its franchise by encouraging laymen to proceed directly to the primary sacred texts of their religion for guidance. Modernists believed, in a positivistic sense, that Muslims would uncover in those texts the true, objective meaning of Islam, which to them had been covered up by centuries of juristic explanation and obfuscation. Muhammad ‘Abduh never intended that ordinary people perform ijtihad for legal issues, only for matters of personal belief, but his arguments developed a life of their own in the popular press.15

The conservative scholars, on the other hand, perceived the modernist reformers as “agents of conceptual colonisation of the madrasa and the Islamic legal tradition, bent on destroying the position of the religious scholars as intermediaries between people and their sacred texts.”16 In their view, the result would be chaos and a further disintegration of Muslim unity in the face of the challenges from European imperialism. But the struggle between reform and tradition was more complicated. In fact, the conservative scholars did not “eschew reform or play a purely preservative role; they took an active role in modifying modernist ideas to make them culturally acceptable and eventually came – in history though not in memory – to craft the vision of modern Islam that animated the reform process.”17Although limited to Egypt and al-Azhar, these struggles represented the new directions of the 19th/20th century reform movements and the ideas that began to circulate in the Muslim world. As Gesink notes:

The participants in these debates were struggling to articulate that nation [Egypt] – its characteristics, its primary identities, its objectives, and its definitions of progress, stability, and community. In the process, they made indelible imprints on the contemporary form of Sunni Islam; they helped to define the present; they articulated an era.18

8. Impacts of reform

We will now turn to some of the effects of the struggles at al-Azhar. The first impact was the construction of an Islamic discourse of universal identities and the idea of Islam as one, uniform religion, whether it be symbolically for or against modernity. Dallal writes:

‘Abduh’s particular mode of reconciling tradition and modernity in the interest of the latter had one unanticipated result: in effect it expanded the functional domain of religion into areas which were not previously covered by Islamic law. Ironically, the initial purpose of ‘Abduh’s efforts was to find a way around the restrictions of the law; however, his insistence on providing Islamic legitimation for each and every institution of the modern, European nation state in effect produced a pervasive and all encompassing Islamic discourse that claims, without historical justification, to cover all aspects of life, the discourse of ‘Islam as a complete way of life’.19

This discourse, leaving little room for regional uniqueness, was formed by the scholars’ engagement in the wider discourse of modern, that is global, identity politics. It was by the same discourse and modes of thought that the second phase of Wahhabism began to articulate their negotiation of identity in the modern world. For instance, when comparing 20th century Egypt and Saudi Arabia, it is clear that, despite the apparent differences in state ideology, this universal ‘all encompassing Islamic discourse’ of being modern has legitimised the same nation-state institutions and the same secular order in society. 

Another effect was to enhance the splintering of the Muslim community, partly by inviting to engagement in the universal discourse of nation-state politics and partly by abolishing the traditional institutions of learning. Gesink writes:

The irony is clear: Modernists and conservatives struggled more than a century to enact or preserve methods of education each saw as best suited to prepare students to resist first government centralization and later imperialism. Nonetheless, in the process, both sides took steps that would ultimately weaken them. The modernists’ promotion of lay ijtihad further splintered the Sunni community. And both modernists and conservatives ultimately acquiesced in state control over madrasa education, setting the stage for state manipulation of religious institutions in the twentieth century.20

Moreover, the discourse of reviving ijtihad, beyond the institutions of the madhhabs, provides another link between the various post-madhhab movements. Gesink continues:  

Ijtihad is today understood by many as something anyone with a good understanding of Arabic and a copy of the Qur’an can do. That has led not only to the undermining of scholars’ authority but also to the proliferation of interpretations, including politically motivated ones used by groups like Hamas, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, and al-Qaida, interpretations that legitimate violence against authoritarian governments, against innocents, and even against other Muslims. It has also led to the widespread belief that any public figure, no matter what his training, may issue legitimate fatwas.21

Although few scholars, if any, would agree with the legitimacy of such fatwas, it is obvious that the work of these reform thinkers, ranging from Azhari scholars to Wahhabi preachers, assisted the abolition of the traditional institutions and the previously agreed-upon necessity of taqlid. Gesink continues:

Modernists Jamal al-Din al-Afghani and Muhammad ‘Abduh believed in a “true” Islam and thought ijtihad would also normalize belief. Furthermore, they thought education based on ijtihad would produce a better-informed citizen and a more unified community. Taken to its logical conclusion, the modernists’ vision of lay ijtihad constituted a democratization of religious knowledge that would motivate against arbitrary exercise of power.22

The same idea of one “true” Islam achieved by re-interpretation of the sources, beyond the institution of the madhhabs, is found among the different so-called Wahhabi or Salafi movements. Despite the attempt to democratise religious knowledge and prevent arbitrary exercise of power, the effects were, in many cases, the opposite, as the new order of the nation-states was established in the Muslim world. It is, however, important not to simplify the complex history of these reforms by depicting the victory of modern efficiency over traditional institutions of learning as a late stage of European colonialism, which suggests that it would be an ideal only accomplished by contact with the outside.  Gesink writes:

Rather, the reformers sought to take up what they found useful in European culture and blend it with authentically Islamic concepts and practices. They were cultural hybrids who spoke multivocally through an emerging Arabic press. Their arguments with their opponents among the ‘ulama were cultural negotiations, the outcome of which would be not only new forms of education, but a new nation. This nation would have a religious foundation in Islam, its citizens would be rooted to the foundation by their own independent readings of religious sources, communally unified and strengthened, and able to resist European encroachment on their values and independence. The conservatives’ contributions ensured that the religious foundation stayed tethered to its legitimizing sources through lines of person-to-person transmission, through human connections.23

That was the outcome of the negotiations at al-Azhar. Although the struggles of scholarly influence were articulated differently in other contexts, the impacts were remarkably similar in most of the nation-states that replaced regional communities under the global caliphate. 

9. Concluding remarks

These post-madhhab reform movements of the 20th century were the most influential attempts to negotiate a modern Muslim identity in the midst of nation-states as political order, secularism as social order, capitalism as economic order and universities as educational order. Dallal describes this second phase of Islamic reforms as follows:

In contrast to the openness and confidence of the intellectual projects of the thinkers of the eighteenth century, the twin legacies of Islamic reform at the beginning of the twentieth century were the idea of Islam as a complete way of life, and the defensive focus on the preservation of the cultural identity of Muslim societies. In the nineteenth century, Muslim reformers articulated a project of reforming the state and its institutions as a way to reform and revitalise their societies. The failure of this project and its multiple offshoots provided the context for shaping the main trends in the twentieth century Islamic politics of identity.24

That brings us to the end of today’s lecture. Next week’s lecture is entitled “Origins of the Schools of ’Aqida” and will be delivered by Shaykh ‘Ali Laraki. Recommended reading in relation to this lecture is Indira Falk Gesink’s Islamic Reformism and Conservatism (2009) For the next week’s lecture, we recommend you to have a look at The Cambridge Companion to Classical Islamic Theology (2008), which contains many useful articles about the early development of the sciences of ‘aqida, and Nuh Keller’s article “Kalam and Islam”, which is available online. Thank you for your attention.


Ayalon, Ami 2010. “The press and publishing” in The New Cambridge History of Islam, vol. 6. Muslims and Modernity Culture and Society since 1800. Edited by Robert W. Hefner. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 572-596.

Dallal, Ahmad S. 2010. “The origins and early development of Islamic reform” in The New Cambridge History of Islam, vol. 6. Muslims and Modernity Culture and Society since 1800. Edited by Robert W. Hefner. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 107-147.

Gesink, Inidira Falk 2009. Islamic Reformism and Conservatism: Al-Azhar and the Evolution of Modern Sunni Islam. London. I.B. Tauris.

Ibn Khaldun 1980. The Muqaddimah: An Introduction to History. Vol 1-3. Trans. Franz Rosenthal. New York: Princeton University.

1 Ibn Khaldun, al-Muqaddima, ch. II: 22.

2 Dallal 2010: 140.

3 Maksoduglu 2011: 422, Check source!

4 Ayalon 2010: 579.

5 Ayalon 2010: 283-4.

6 Ayalon 2010: 582.

7 Dallal 2010:144.

8 Dallal 2010:145.

9 Dallal 2010: 146.

10 Dallal 2010: 147.

11 Dallal 2010: 147.

12 Gesink 2009: 3. 

13 Gesink 2009: 3. 

14 Gesink 2009: 6-7.

15 Gesink 2009: 232-3.

16 Gesink 2009: 6.

17 Gesink 2009: 7.

18 Gesink 2009: 8.

19 Dallal 2010: 146

20 Gesink 2009:235.

21 Gesink 2009: 7.

22 Gesink 2009:234.

23 Gesink 2009:235-6.

24 Dallal 2010: 147.