Thursday, December 13, 2018

Constructing a Religiously Ideal “Believer” and “Woman” in Islam-Conclusion

The concern of this study has been to explore how on the basis of different manahij, and the assumptions that inform them, the two contemporary Islamic schools of thought, NTS and progressive Muslims, conceptualise their respective versions of a religiously ideal  ‘Believer’ and ‘Muslim Woman’ concepts. A particular focus of the study was to highlight the crucial importance of the act of interpretation and its underlying methodological, epistemological and hermeneutical assumptions in the formulation of the NTS and progressive Muslims representation of these concepts. The broader context of the thesis was informed by the contemporary intra-Muslim debates on the issues of religious authenticity, legitimacy and the authority to speak for, and thus, define the very nature and future of Islam. In this context I pointed out that the existing scholarship suggested that, due to the forces of globalisation and modernisation which favour democratisation of religious knowledge and facilitate the fragmentation of religious authority, these debates have intensified with a number of actors who have emerged asserting their authority to authoritatively speak on behalf of Muslims and Islam. I also argued that this state of affairs left us with a perplexing phenomenon of ‘normative Islams’ which at times can be mutually exclusive on certain issues. The concepts of a ‘Believer’ and ‘Muslim Woman’, the focus of this study, are such two issues.

 In order to situate the intense and highly contested contemporary debates and discourses on the issue of the nature of the Islamic tradition and to show their essential continuity/discontinuity  with the experiences of the previous communities of interpretation, the first chapter  outlined the broad contours of the historical background behind the debates surrounding the status and the authenticity of the various sources of its legal authority with a particular emphasis on the madhhab and ahl-hadith based manahij. In particular I examined the various approaches to the question of the nature and the authenticity of Prophetic authority (Sunna) and its relationship with the hadith and Qur’an bodies of knowledge.
In the second chapter I situated the NTS community of interpretation  in relation to this historical context and argued that the NTS scholars can be considered as the contemporary incarnation of the pre-modern ahl-hadith school of thought in relation to how they conceptualise the concepts of ‘ilm, Salafism, Sunna and its the relative status in relation to the Qur’an and hadith bodies of knowledge as well as in relation to non-textual sources of knowledge such as ra’y and taqlid. Furthermore, the NTS school of thought was found to advocate a completely textual legal hermeneutic expressed best in their definition of ittibaa’ as an unflinching adherence to sahih hadith which in turn is conflated with following the true salafi Qur’an –Sunna manhaj . Secondly, I tried to show that the NTS manhaj as identified and characterised by themselves is often unspecific and vague, consisting of  amalgamations of qur’anic verse and sahih hadith and at times buttressed  with a commentary of classical scholars who themselves espouse the ahl-hadith manhaj. Moreover, I attempted to show that the NTS manhaj shows no evidence of being consciously grounded in any theory of interpretation. Thirdly, I maintained that the NTS manhaj is often disclosed by means of oppositional dialectics where it is contrasted in general terms with ‘new methodologies of modernist and intellectuals’ or that of the madhahib or Sufis. Lastly, I noted that one important part of the NTS manhaj is their subscription to the concept of al wala’ wa l bara’ which they consider as is part of the ‘aqidah.
Based on the delineating features of the NTS manhaj, a subject matter of the third chapter, the NTS was found to subscribe to very specific  concepts of a ‘Believer’ and “Muslim Woman’. Based upon their ahl-hadith salafi revivalist manhaj I demonstrated in the fifth chapter that, according to the NTS thought, the concept of a Believer was restricted only to the historical Muslim community who recognised the claim of Prophethood of Muhammad, thus forming the view  that religious salvation was permanently not to be extended to any other  non-Muslim community such as the Jews and the Christians. In the same chapter with respect to the NTS concept of a religiously ideal ‘Muslim Woman’, the study found that such a concept was constructed in relation to that of a secluded and completely veiled Muslim woman whose primary, if not exclusive, functions are considered to be that of a wife and a mother and whose religious duty is to obey her husband at the cost of her religious salvation.
Another community of interpretation within the Islamic tradition that this thesis focused on is that of progressive Muslims. In the fifth chapter I described important themes underpinning progressive Muslim worldview. In this context I maintained that progressive Muslim thought and ‘cosmovision’, is best characterized by a number of commitments, ideals and practices that the adherents of progressive Muslim thought advocate and adhere to. These included a strong commitment to social and gender justice, religious pluralism and a belief in the inherent dignity of every human being as a carrier of God’s spirit.  I also historically contextualized and placed progressive Muslim thought in relation to  their western predecessors of  the 18th and 19th century such as the European Romantic intellectuals and , in particular, with respect to the ideas and values of classical modernists of the early 20th century Muslim reformers whose worldview and manhaj was most closely related to that of progressive Muslim thought .However, also a number of important differences between the latter  and progressive Muslims were noted such as the classical modernists inability to go beyond what was termed ‘the theological verticalism’ of the pre-modern embedded religious worldview.  I also maintained that progressive Muslims consider the nature of the concept of tradition to be dynamic, humanly constructed, a product of many past and present communities of interpretation. Furthermore, I found that the concept of culture-religious authenticity (asala) in progressive Muslims thought is not based upon a literal clinging to the turath, as in the case of NTS, but on a complex, creative, historical, critical and serious engagement with it. I argued that this progressive Muslims’ consciousness purports to be firmly rooted in usable traditions but is uncompromisingly universal in outlook with the ability to redefine the very meaning of Islam in light of modernity without abandoning the parameters of faith.  As such the often employed tradition-modernity dichotomy in the context of discourses pertaining to Islam and Muslims, to which NTS thought was found to subscribe to, is considered as artificial and false by the proponents of progressive Muslim thought. As far as epistemological boundaries and contours of progressive Muslim thought are concerned, it was asserted  that they are inclusive of both the pre-modern traditional Islamic as well as the modern episteme. It was also contended that progressive Muslims consider modernity a result of trans-cultural and trans-political inter-civilisational processes. As such I maintained that progressive Muslims, subscribe to the view of civilisationally distinct types of modernity. Lastly, I argued that progressive Muslims distance themselves from the meta-narratives and universalistic claims of the Enlightenment and that they can be considered as adherents of moderate form of postmodernism. Moreover, it was maintained that progressive Muslims strive for a synthesis between modernity and the inherited Islamic tradition and a cross-cultural dialogue based on equal partnership with the ultimate goal of a culturally polycentric world founded on economic socialism and gender equality.   
The delineating features of the progressive Muslim  manhaj which constituted the subject matter of the sixth chapter, were found to be  characterised as being  comprehensively contextualist/historical and holistic in nature , hermeneutically privileging ethico-religious values of the tradition such as justice and equality over the literalist (or at best semi-contextualist) hermeneutic embodied by the NTS manhaj and endorsing  the view present in the formative period of Muslim thought of not conceptually conflating Sunna and hadith bodies of knowledge. Based upon this manhaj I attempted to show, in the seventh chapter,  that the progressive Muslims  do not restrict the concept of a ‘Believer’ to the historical, reified community of Muslims and extend and recognise  salvific plurality as part of the Qur’an’s and Prophet’s normative teachings and with respect to their normative religiously ideal ‘Muslim Woman’ concept I asserted that progressive Muslims  do not consider the practices of veiling, seclusion of women, gender segregation and husband’s  religiously sanctioned dominion over his wife  to be the part of the religiously  normative ‘Muslim Woman’  concept. Instead, I contended that they promote and advocate a an alternative concept   that highlights women’s complete autonomy and their full metaphysical, ontological, ethical, religious, moral and socio-political agency vis-à-vis the men.
I would like to conclude my study with one last idea regarding the importance of the study.
In the second chapter I briefly pointed to the fact that the forces of modernisation and globalisation have ushered a new era in which fragmentation of religious authority and democratisation of religious knowledge have resulted in a proliferation of the debates on the very nature of Islam. Furthermore, I alluded to the literature which has detected the increased importance the competing versions of “normative Islams” based on variant conceptualisations and interpretations of the primary sources of the Islamic worldviews are playing in the battlefield for the heart and the minds of Muslims as espoused by a number of different Muslim groups and schools of thought. Although occurring at a much larger scale this contemporary situation in terms of its interpretational fluidity and vibrancy as well as its highly contested nature is somewhat reminiscent, of that of the time of the Prophet himself.[i] The continuing importance of studies examining this contested nature of the Islamic tradition dynamic and its historical roots is aptly summarised  with the following words of  Afsaruddin.
For the believing Muslim, this historical-hermeneutic project remains a worthwhile and even urgent today. Given the fact that Islam’s formative period remains contested among many, reclamation of this past in a responsible and historically defensible way must remain part and parcel of every contemporary reformist project that wishes to gain broad legitimacy and acceptance….this project of reclamation is being done more credibly today by those we have termed “modernist’ and/or “reformist” Muslims (called “liberal: or “moderate” by others) than by the hard-line Islamists. These modernists have imbibed more than a drop of their illustrious forbearers’ penchant for robust faith, creative thinking, and fidelity to core principles of their religion .In contrast, the illiberal and radical Islamists, for all their protestations to the contrary, have to a large degree undermined these core principles and betrayed the legacy of the earliest Muslims in their nihilistic quest for political power.[ii]

Similarly, El-Fadl argues that the future of Islam as far as Muslims go, for the next few generations will be defined by two  broadly defined approaches or schools of thought he refers to as modernists and puritans. He goes on to say that  question of interpretation will play an increasingly important part in terms of which one of these will set root among the contemporary and future generations of  Muslims.[iii]It is hoped that this study has shed some light on this problematic and has contributed to these debates in a constructive manner.


[i] Ahmed, Women and Gender in Islam, op.cit; Mernisi, The Veil and the Male Elite,op.cit.
[ii] A. Afsaruddin, First Muslims-History and Memory, Oneworld, Oxford, 2007,199.
[iii] El-Fadl, Great Theft, 1-25.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

The concept of Sunnah and at the Time of the Prophet

Professors Izutsuand Hallaq  claim that the emerging Qurʾānic Weltanschauung during the revelationary period was not completely divorced from its pre-Qurʾānic one. Although the Qurʾān is to be considered an
independent ethico-religious and linguistic entity with its own worldview, it did not claim a complete epistemological break with pre-Qurʾānic Arabia. Over the revelationary period of some two decades, the Qurʾān rejected, modified, condoned and accepted the socio-cultural values and moral of Arabian tribal communionism of pre-Qurʾānic Arabia in accordance with the budding Qurʾānic ontological and ethico-religious value system. The foundation of this emerging Qurʾānic view of “reality” was, quite naturally, the Qurʾān as embodied by the Prophet himself.

The notion of Sunnah was, as we argued earlier, a well-known concept in pre-revelational Arabia understood as a normative action-behavioural system set by an individual worthy of tribe’s emulation, in the post-revelational period logically ascribed to the bearer of Revelation himself.  With the Prophet amongst their midst, the early Muslim community had a direct access to the living commentary of the Revelation, and through him a living link to the Divine. The Prophet’s persona and character as a source of Revelation-based authority and normativeness for his contemporary adherents and believers in his Prophethood was a natural fact and a matter of common sense. With the Prophet alive in Makkah/Medina, the Muslim community was witnessing his activities daily and was subject to his instructions directly, that is without an intermediary. The community did not engage in systematically debating the questions of nature and the scope of the Prophetic authority. When the need arose they could seek advice and consult him in matters needing personal or communal clarification.

Indeed, in the Qurʾānic verses such as 59:7 and 4:64, the Qurʾān mentions the necessary intervention of and obedience to the Prophet in the affairs of the community. These, however, were not dogmatic in nature,
i.e., did not pertain to the realm of beliefs.

The Qurʾān, therefore, can be said to testify to that fact that the Prophet enjoyed extra-revelational authority based on “right and just practice”, but that this privilege was always exercised in conjunction with concepts of mutual consultation with the community in a most balanced and delicate way. Additionally, Dutton further substantiates this point. Based on his study of Mālik’s Muwaṭṭa he asserts that, “for Mālik the Prophet is clearly a source of extra-Qurʾānic judgment but this ‘extra- Qurʾānic’ element is considered to be within the general principals outlined by the Qurʾān rather than a separate one.” Elaborating on this point of organic, directly interwoven Sunnah- Qurʾān dynamic at the time of the Prophet in Mālik’s Muwaṭṭa, Dutton
also remarks that:

Many of the fundamental obligations of the Qurʾān, such as doing the prayer, paying
zakāt and going on hajj, could not have been put into practice unless there were some
practical demonstrations of how to do so, and the obvious model for this of course was
that of the one who first put thee obligations in practice, i.e. the Prophet. The Qurʾān
could not, therefore, be divorced from its initial context, i.e. the life of the Prophet,
and, although its supremacy of the text remained beyond question, it was always seen
in the light of its first practical expression, namely, the Sunnah of the Prophet.74

Thus, due to the nature of Qurʾānic content it was in need of Sunnah, that is, in need of both Deutungsbeduerftigkeit and of a practical manifestation in actu. This organic link between the Message and the Messenger is captured best by often-repeated Qurʾānic phrase exhorting the believers to “Obey God and the Prophet”. This unity of “prophetic-revelatory event”, to use Graham’s phrase, has from the very beginning and throughout the first 150 years of the formative Islamic thought reflected the early Muslim understanding of the function, nature the scope and the relationship between the Qurʾān and Sunnah. This interdependent, symbiotic relationship between the Qurʾān and Sunnah enjoyed wide-spread acceptable in early Islam. In this context Graham maintains that:

It appears [that] for the Companions and the early Followers of the Prophet, the
divine activity manifested in the mission of Muhammad was a unitary reality in which
the divine word, the prophetic guidance, and even the example and witness of all who
participated in the sacred history of the Prophet’s time, were all perceived as complementary,
integral aspects of a single phenomenon.

Similarly, this hermeneutically intimate relationship is also noted by Sachedina who avers the following:

Explication of the divine intention of the revelation was among the functions that the
Qurʾān assigned to the Prophet. The Prophet functioned as the projection of the divine
message embodied in the Qurʾān. He was the living commentary of the Qurʾān, inextricately
related to the revelatory text. Without the Prophet the Qurʾān was incomprehensible,
just as without the Qurʾān, the Prophet was no prophet at all.

Similarly, in his investigation of an early Ḥanafī jurist, ʿIsa b. Aban (d. 221/836), Bedir asserts that at this time the hierarchy of the Qurʾān and Sunnah was not yet clear. This unity of “prophetic-revelatory event”,
to use Graham’s phrase, has from the very beginning and throughout the first 150 years of the formative Islamic thought reflected the early Muslim understanding of the function, nature the scope and the relationship
between Qurʾān and Sunnah. This interdependent, symbiotic relationship between Qurʾān and Sunnah, therefore, enjoyed wide-spread acceptability in early Islam. It was expressed in a phrase kitāb (i.e. the Qurʾān) wa sunna. Thus, similar to the Qurʾān the concept of Sunnah (but not ṣaḥīḥ Ḥadīth as by product of ʿulūm al-ḥadīth sciences) can be seen as a type of wahy.

Apart from this symbiotic Qurʾāno-Sunnahic relationship stemming from the very nature of the Qurʾānic revelation, another aspect of the Qurʾānic revelation influenced the character of Sunnah as exemplified by
the Prophet. The predominantly ethico-religious character of the Qurʾān and the Qurʾānic legislative dimension, as well as its overriding concern for the moral conduct of humans, translated itself into Prophetic activity which emphasised a person’s moral responsibility and God-consciousness rather than law formulation. This nature and the character of the Qurʾānic revelation and its legislative element embodied and continued by the Prophet, was geared towards certain underlying legislative norms which were based on certain purposes and objectives. Schacht (rightly) observes this fact when describing the origins and development of Islamic Law by saying: “Had religious and ethical standards been comprehensively applied
to all aspects of human behaviour, and had they been consistently followed in practice, there would have been no room and no need for a legal system in the narrow meaning of the term. This was in fact the original ideal of Muhammad.”This claim will be investigated more closely in subsequent parts of this study.

As alluded to above, another phenomenon that needs to be taken into consideration in the context of evolution of the concept of Sunnah is that during the formative period of Islamic thought the oral nature of
transmission and authentification of knowledge as well as oral-based interpretative strategies of the primary sources were considered more authentic and were more prevalent then written-based ones. In this context Souaiaia avers that:

In the practices of scholars and jurists closest to the time of the Prophet , there seems
to be an overwhelming attraction to isnād-based oral reports and momentous lack of
interest in the published literature, a phenomenon that can be documented for at least
one-hundred years after the recording (tadwīn) era.

He also convincingly argues that the processes of formulation, preservation and transmission of religious and legal knowledge was “fully and exclusively oral”.88 The above distinctions are of fundamental importance to this study from the point of view of understanding the evolution of the concept of an authentic Sunnah in relation to that of an ‘authentic’ Ḥadīth.

An additional issue needing clarification is the evolution in the scope of and the function or the employment of the use of reason in the Qurʾān and Sunnah, especially in relation to the assumptions governing the nature of ethical value in the same. To date, the epistemologico-moral boundaries and character of the Qurʾān from the point of view of its own context, that is, divorced from its traditional scriptural interpretation itself, have not
been comprehensively studied”. Modern scholars of Muslim tradition such as Hourani, maintain that the Qurʾān cannot be said to completely disregard the value of ʿaql (inherent human reason) in forming ethical
judgments, while Reinhart asserts that “[T]he Qurʾānic message time and again appeals to impartial knowledge that confirms the Qurʾānic summons”. Moreover, Reinhart argues that ʿaql ’s explicit Qurʾānic endorsement in recognising God’s existence, Unity and Grandeur are considered to favour its implicit usage in the realms of ethics and morality.

In terms of epistemologico-methodological boundaries of the Sunnah at the time of the Prophet, Hourani states that in terms of ethical knowledge, the Qurʾān (and therefore Sunnah) considers revelation its major source but that “it is probable, but unproven, that natural reason is also capable of forming ethical judgments [independent of revelation]”. Furthermore, argues Hourani, in terms of ethical epistemology boundaries the
Qurʾānic nature of ethical value is generally objective, “the use of independent reason in ethical judgments is never ruled out explicitly in the Qurʾān, and there are some considerations that favour implicit assumptions
of its use”. It is further maintained that:

. . . Qurʾān and Muhammad both display a common sense attitude and that we should not expect either of them to claim that for every ethical judgement he makes a man must consult a book or a scholar, or work out an analogy when the book or scholar give no direct answer to the Problem.93

Draz, in his exhaustive investigation of the moral world of the Qurʾān, echoes this view by concluding that, according to the Qurʾānic moral world, the human consciousness in prior to Revelation and that is capable
of divorcing right from wrong without it. The essential common-sensical attitude of the Qurʾān and its message are evident in its discourse of “nature, ʿaql, the cosmos, and their patterns—all [are] appealed to say that the message of the Qurʾān is reasonable”. Thus, rationality and ethical objectivity certainly cannot be considered as alien to the overall spirit of Qurʾānico-Sunnahic teachings.

In summary, at the time of the Prophet then the concept of Sunnah was associated quite naturally with him, and, except from its ʿibadat component, seemed to have been understood primarily as a general, ethico-religious and, in Medina, politico-administrative, concept based upon righteous customary practice that partially reflected some of the pre-Qurʾānic customs and practices not contrary to Qurʾānic worldview. The legislative component of Sunnah, which in no doubt existed, was in consonance with the nature of the Qurʾān as the “most trustworthy mirror of the Prophet’s outlook and teaching”, also primarily conceived in religio-moral rather than positivistic terms. These religious and moral teachings, in fact, functioned as a reference
point for legal evaluation.

taken from the academic article  here

Friday, November 30, 2018

On the concept of Sunna in early Islam

3.1. Semantico-contextual Changes in Definition and Scope of the Sunnah

 Ansari has pointed out  several difficulties one encounters when studying the terminology used during the early period of Islamic thought. One such problem is the “comparative lack of fixity in technical connotations of terms in use”19 which resulted in a gradual change in connotation over a period of time. An important aspect in these semantical changes in terminology is their increasing ‘technical’, or what the author would describe as legalistic,20 connotations. Moreover, and importantly, these terms had a multiplicity of meanings even when employed by the same author in the same work.21 Another important principle for the purpose of this study that Ansari has identified with reference to the changes in meaning of certain words and concepts is the notion of a significant time gap between the usages of the conceptual and technical/legalistic aspects of terminology. Put differently, words prior to acquiring “standard technical phraseology” had other meanings and were used in other contexts.22 The above distinctions are of fundamental importance to this study from the point of view of understanding the validity of the classical definition of the concept Sunnah. We now will examine the semantico-contextual changes of the concept Sunnah. The term will be analysed by examining its etymological (preQurʾānic) meaning(s), Qurʾānic meaning(s) and post-Qurʾānic usage(s).

3.1.1. Etymological, Qurʾānic and post-Qurʾānic meanings of Sunnah

 Etymologically, the term Sunnah underwent several semantic changes.23 It originated from the Arabic root S-N-N that probably referred to “flow and continuity of a thing with ease and smoothness”.24 Over time, the term Sunnah was increasingly used in the context of human behaviour, and as “a way, course, rule, mode or manner of acting or conducting life of life”, thus becoming equivalent to the word sira. Thereafter it evolved to signify moral appropriateness and normativeness of a human worthy of being followed.25 Ibn Manzur defines Sunnah as a “commendable straightforward manner of conducting oneself (al-sunnat al-tariqat al-maḥmudat al-mustaqimah).26 By its very nature it implies normativeness, i.e. having a normative character. With respect to the Qurʾān, the Sunnah has been used on numerous occasions with regard to the immutable laws of the retribution of God (sunnahāt allāh) with respect to people who repeatedly transgressed these laws with disdain.27 The phrase sunnahāt al-awwalīn refers to the ancient people or nations who, having brought upon themselves the wrath of God by rejecting and killing His Messengers, were doomed and turned to dust.28 Interestingly the term Sunnah of the Messenger of Allāh (sunnahāt un-nabi), a fundamental concept in post-Qurʾānic Islamic thought, does not occur in the Qurʾān. The Prophet is, however, praised in the Qurʾān as “uswah al- ḥasanah” (a good/beautiful/excellent example) for Muslims.29 Ansari aptly remarks that this use of the term is consistent with the overall Qurʾānic attitude towards all other Prophets.

Considering the status and authority that the Prophet enjoyed by his followers, especially in the Medinian period, and the etymological background of the word Sunnah as just described, it would be only commonsense to maintain that the expression “Sunnah of the Prophet” would have been used in the early Muslim community in the sense of being Qurʾānically sanctioned model-behaviour of the Prophet.30 Furthermore, there is sufficient evidence to suggest that the Prophet himself, the early caliphs such as ʿUmar (d. 23 AH), Uthman (d. 35 AH) and Ali (d. 40 AH), as well as the people at the time of early Umayyad caliphs (e.g., Abd al-Mālik, 65-86 AH), used this sunnah al-nabi (Prophet’s Sunnah) expression on numerous occasions.31 Apart from its usage in a phrase sunnah al-nabi in the first and especially second half of the first century Hijrah, the word Sunnah has been used in the following ways. Sunnah refers to the “right and just practice” of the Prophet,32 Sunnah of caliphs preceding Uthman (i.e., Abu Bakr and Umar);33 Sunnah of believers;34 Sunnah as a norm to be followed in jurisprudential sense;35 and Sunnah as distinct from Ḥadīth.36 Although still quite general and vague at the beginning of the second century, the term Sunnah, with the rise of sciences of jurisprudence (usūl ̣ al-fiqh), was being increasingly but not exclusively used in a legal sense.37Ansari gives us following Sunnah meanings from that period in time: obedience and loyalty of the people to the ruling government in accordance with the book (Qurʾān) and Sunnah;38 emphasis on the Sunnah as something that can be traced back to the time of the Prophet and/ or early caliphs (in contrast to just any practice adopted by the people);39 Sunnah becoming a synonym of the expression Sunnah of the Prophet;40

Sunnah as practice based on ijmāʿ; 41 Sunnah as a rule;42 Sunnah as extension of the Qurʾān;43 Sunnah as well-established norms/practises (ʿamal ) recognised by Muslims in general, which came through and were accepted by learned scholars ( fuqahāʾ) 44 and the Sunnah as antonym for heretical innovation (bid ʿah).45 Juynboll offers several other contexts in which the term Sunnah was associated and used during the second century Hijrah, namely, as a politico-administrative term with a religious flavour,46 Sunnah as a general righteous Islamic practice (as-sunnah al-ʿadilah; jarat alsunnah),47 Sunnah as a normative way of the early community as a whole.48 Abd Allah’s extensive analysis of Mālik Ibn Anas’ concept ʿamal leads him to conclude that he used the word Sunnah in a numner of ways: that of Sunnah supported by the Medinian ijmāʿ (sunna l-lā-ladhi lā ikhtilah fiha ʿindana); Sunnah being put into practice (madat al-sunna); Sunnah of all Muslims (sunnat al-muslimīn); Sunnah known to the people of knowledge (sunnah ʿindanah); Sunnah of the Prophet (sunnat al-nabi) and simply Sunnah (al-sunnah).49 In his book On Schacht’s Origins of Muhammadan Jurisprudence, AlAzami also gives textual evidence that the word Sunnah was used “in a variety of different contexts”.50 Dutton’s studies of Mālik’s Muwatṭ ạ lead him to conclude that according to Mālik the concept Sunnah was seen as: . . . a normative practice established by the Prophet, put into practice by Companions and inherited from them as ʿamal (in this sense the practice of Companions in Medina) by the Successors and their Successors up to the time of Mālik.51

 A somewhat different and more nuanced understanding of the concept of Sunnah in Mālik’s Muwatṭ ạ that is still independent of Ḥadīth is argued by Guraya who defines it as a concept based on “recognized Islamic religious norms and accepted standards of conduct derived from the religious and ethical principles introduced by the Prophet”.52 Importantly, Guraya also identifies Sunnah’ constituents which shall be discussed subsequently. Another definition of Sunnah that does not depend upon its writtenbased documentation is argued by Pakistani scholars Moiz Amjad and Ghamidi. They define Sunnah as: “a set of actions or practical rules (excluding beliefs) which Prophet initiated promoted and performed among all of his followers as a part of God’s religion (dīn) and that have been perpetuated from one generation to another practically”.53 Ansari echoes these words by stating that at the time of the famous Syrian scholar Awzaʾi (d. 157 AH) “the ways of referring to Sunnah, [however] were not standardised”.54 Similarly Wheeler in his investigation of second-century jurists such as Ibrahim (d. 182 AH) and Anas (d. 179 AH) maintains that the “concept and content of Sunnah was malleable because it was not yet to be limited to a textual corpus”.55 It is worth noting the words by Al-Azami in the same section of the book dealing with the early concept of Sunnah, which serves here as a means of a brief summary of what was said above with regards to semanticocontextual changes in the Sunnah: “Not only was the word Sunnah originally not confined to the practices of the Prophet: its meaning also underwent changes”.56 From the above discussion it can be established that the concept Sunnah underwent a series of semanico-contextual changes during the formative period of Islamic thought. The question that arises is why did the concept Sunnah undergo such semantico-contextual changes and which processes led to the classical definition of Sunnah? In other words, what were the background forces and mechanisms behind these semantico-contextual changes?

taken from this article :

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Comparisons of Mainsteam Sunnism, Salafism, Jihadist Salafism and progresive Islam


At the level of Fundamentals

Mainstream sunnism( based on sixth hijri version )
Jihadist salafism
Progressive Islam
Quran interpretation
Semi- textualist
Heavily textualist
 Heavily textualist
Heavily contextualist
Hadith dependent
Hadith dependent; ittiba' based
Hadith dependent;
ittiba' based
 sunna independent of Hadith  ;rationalist; dynamics and ethico-values driven
Operates within the 4 source heavily textualist hermeneutics; taqlid based 
Operates within the 4 source hiraerchy; heavily textualist hermeneutics ; ittiba' based
Operates within the 4 source hierarchy heavily textualist hermeneutics; ittiba' based 
Operates outside 4 source hierarchy of mainstream sunni ulul ul fiqh
Maqasid al sharia
Heavily textualist
Heavily textualist
Heavily textualist
Heavily contextualist
Premodern and heavily textualist
Premodern and heavily textualist
Premodern and heavily textualist
Modern , contextualist  and rationalist
Approach to ulum ul hadith
Premodern , heavily textualist
Premodern, heavily textualist
Premodern, heavily textualist
 Inclusive of premodern but applied  also modern sources and in line with above 
Ash’ari cum Maturidi
Hanbali /fideistic
Hanbali fideasitc
Ethical voluntarism
Ethical voluntarism
Ethical voluntarism
Ethical objectivism

At the level of Concepts /legal determinations

Concept /legal
Mainstream Sunnism
Jihadist Salafism
Progressive Islam
Premodern ( bay’a to ruler elected  on basis of traditional shura principles; patriarchal, elitist undemocratic; mainly quietist
Premodern ( bay’a to ruler elected  on basis of traditional shura principles, patriarchal, elitist undemocratic;questist
 ( bay’a to ruler elected  on basis of traditional shura principles, patriarchal, elitist undemocratic; revolutionaly 
Modern  ( compatibility with  constitutional democracy principles)
Criminal law and ethics ( apostasy, theft, zina,homosexuality)
Premodern hudud;can not evolve; might be suspended under certain circumstances
Premodern hudud  
Premodern hudud
Rationalist,contextualist  and in accordance with modern ethical sensibilities ( considered Islamic)
Human rights
Premodern; can't evolve 
Premodern ; cannon evolve
Premodern;cannot evolve ,
Modern, rationalist and contextualist ; can evolve
Gender issues in Islamic law and ethics
Premodern; largely fixed 
Premodern; completely fixed 
premodern; completely fixed 
Modern, rationalist and contextualist ; can evolve
al wala wa l bara
millet based saved sect Muslims only in group muslims only nonconfessional 
Legal until late 20th century  based on ‘scholarly consensus’ and pressure from outside of tradition
Legal and valid
Legal and valid
Illegal and unislamic
Premodern (  basis for engaging in war   - in Shafi and some Hanbali- kufr ; Hanafi and Maliki – aggression on Muslims
Offshoot of Shafi’I and Hanbali
Offshoot of Shafi’i and Hanbali
Builds on Hanafi and Maliki and goes beyond
relatively infrequent but present ( e.g. Ghazali against  Islamic philosophers)
more  prone to takfir
very prone to takfir
endorse religious pluralism and very abstract and non confessional concept of a muslim /mu'min

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Progressive Muslims concept of a Religiously Ideal ‘Believer’

In the first part of this section I  identify the relevant Qur’an and hadith texts employed and the  most commonly applied hermeneutical tools and methods  by progressive Muslims with regards to their view on the normative principals and the decorum  adopted when dealing with the religious Other.  
Here and in the next section I primarily discuss the work of Esack and Shahrur which , are  the most relevant   works which directly link the issue of Qur’anic hermeneutics with that of the religious status of the religious Other.
Esack based on his “contextual hermeneutic of religious diversity for libration” outlines a number of ‘general attitudes’ evident in the Qur’an which are to be considered when attempting to understand the Qur’an’s relationship with the religious Other.  Firstly, by taking recourse to the importance of ‘overall historical context’ Esack considers that the Qur’an embraces religious inclusivism by” presents a universal, inclusivist perspective of a divine being who responds to the sincerity and commitment of all of His servants.”[i]In this context he develops a hermeneutically important idea of a gradual and contextual development of the qur’anic position towards the religious Other to argue that there is no final or universal qur’anic position on the issue. Secondly, Esack emphasizes the importance of the qur’anic constant wedding of issues of dogma with that of social justice to argue that the Qur’an develops a very intimate and strong connection between orthodoxy and orthopraxis. Thirdly, he considers that the Qur’an only denounces the religious exclusivism characterized by the Jewish and Christian communities encountered by Prophet Muhammad in Hijaz. Fourthly , basing himself on a thematic approach to the Qur’an quoting a large number of relevant verses that shall be presented in the next section of this paper  below, Esack asserts that the Qur’an is explicit in its acceptance of religious pluralism and the de jure legitimacy of all revealed religion by “taking into account  the religious life of separate communities coexisting with Muslims, respecting their laws, social norms and religious practices and it accepts that the faithful adherents of these religions will also attain salvation.”[ii] Fifthly, Esack forms the view that the qur’anic portrayal of the relationship between Muslims and the religious Other is based on “the socio-religious requirements” of the Muslim community such as security and community building and not on faith convictions or lack thereof. Sixthly, quoting Qur’an 22:40[iii], he asserts that, on the basis of this verse alone, the Qur’an’s acceptance of Other’s spirituality and salvation through Otherness is revealed.
Furthermore, Esack’s view of what he terms “Prophetic responsibility” to the religious Other stemming from the religiously inclusionary stance of the Qur’an is postulated on two levels:
i.)as a challenge to existing communities with scriptures about their  commitment and faithful adherence  to their own tradition and ,
ii.) more generally to humanity,  to present the Qur’an’s own guidance for consideration and acceptance.[iv] In this context he asserts:

Muhammad’s basic responsibility in inviting was to call to God. For some components of the other, the response to this call was best fulfilled by a commitment to [reified] Islam. Thus they were also invited to become Muslims. For others, the call was limited to [non-reified] islam.[v]

In line with its method of understanding the nature, objectives, and the context-content dynamic behind the unfolding of Qur’an-Sunna teachings, progressive Muslims consider Qur’anic verses and hadith discussed in the context of NTS interpretation of the concept of a ‘Believer’ in the fifth chapter (and similar others) as being contextually contingent—and, hence, specific to the time of the Revelation and to the communities at the time of the Revelation encountered by the prophet Muhammad. In other words by making a hermeneutical distinction between universalist and historically contingent aspects of the scripture there Qur’an and hadith texts are not considered as being universal in their scope. [vi] Progressive Muslims rely not only on the comprehensively contexualist approach to their interpretation to them, but maintain that, with respect to the religiously hostile hadith vis-à-vis the religious Other presented in the fifth chapter, they contradict the concept of Sunna as based on the overall Qur’anic attitude (thematic and corroborative/holistic approach) toward the religious Other as well as on the Prophet’s praxis, which is an embodiment of that attitude. These religiously antagonistic ahadith, in turn, are considered to be reflective of the community attitudes among some of the members of (the early) Muslim community.[vii] Furthermore, progressive Muslim’s   conceptual, methodological, and epistemological divorcing of the Sunna from the hadith body of knowledge is also used as a hermeneutical tool to argue against the normative character of the reactionary ahadith presented in the fifth chapter. Moreover the hermeneutical recourse to “authorial enterprise”, “proportionality of correlation” and “conscientious pause”, (all discussed in the previous chapter), to argue against the normative nature of these ahadith can also be taken.
In addition to the above, by adopting a thematic/holistic approach to the Qur’anic verses cited below, progressive Muslims develop an inclusionary concept of a ‘Believer’ that legitimizes the religious claims of the religious Other.[viii] As such, progressive Muslims consider “the ethic of pluralism”, including the religious, to be intrinsic to Qur’an and its worldview.[ix]
In reference to what the normative  Muslim attitude towards the religious Other should be progressive Muslims consider a number of  verses to be more reflective of the spirit and ethos of the overall Qur’an–Sunna teachings such as  the following:

Invite (all) to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knoweth best who have strayed from His Path and who receive guidance. (16:125)

And dispute ye not with the People of the Book except with means better (than mere disputation) unless it be with those of them who inflict wrong (and injury): but say "We believe in the Revelation which has come down to us and in that which came down to you; Our Allah and your Allah is one; and it is to Him we bow (in Islam). (29:46)

Allah forbids you not with regard to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes from dealing kindly and justly with them: for Allah loveth those who are just. (60:8)

According to the progressive Muslim thought these verses lay down the general and universal principles underlying the decorum to be observed in dealing with, and the attitude to be taken toward, the religious Other whether in conditions of peace or in a situation of conflict.[x] As such, these verses are considered by the theoreticians of progressive Muslim manhaj as higher-order hermeneutical principles superseding the exclusionary and antagonistic Qur’an-hadith body of texts .[xi]

I will now consider how the progressive Muslim approach to interpretation of the Qur’an and  Sunna demarcates the boundaries of belief in order to construct their understanding of the concept of a religiously ideal ‘Believer.’ 
Based on a comprehensively contextualist and thematico- holistic aspects of the progressive Muslim manhaj, Esack  considers that there exists an urgent need to re-examine  and rethink the Qur’anic terms islam,’iman, kufr, din, ahl-kitab ,mushrik and wilayah which are crucial in understanding the Qur’anic position on the religious Other in the light of  the broader principles and objectives underlying his ‘hermeneutic of religious pluralism for liberation’. One of these principals Esack  asserts is that these terms are ‘dynamic’ , meaning  that they ought to be considered as being “embodied in certain qualities of individuals  in different stages of their lives,”[xii] multi-dimensional , i.e. having a number of meanings  and connotations ranging from an intensely personal/spiritual  to doctrinal,  ideological and socio-political but all of which  are inextricably intertwined ; that they  have a number of meanings that have changed over a period of time;  that they are inherently linked to issues of righteous deeds and conduct i.e. to orthopraxis ; and that they  can exist at abstract and reified levels. [xiii]
In arguing this Esack wishes to “redefine, rediscover and re-appropriate the subsumed meanings of these terms including those which appear to encourage religious exlusivism”. He considers that there exists “a frayed relationship” between majority pre-modern and contemporary understandings of the relationship between the Qur’an and the religious Others and how they are employed in the Qur’an.[xiv]
Taking recourse to a thematic and comprehensively contextualist interpretive method in relation to the dynamic between islam-iman- kurf, Esack notes that one important aspect of the “process of rigidification of Islamic theology” occurred by the means of reification of these concepts and their association with a particular socio-religious and historical community. Additionally, Esack forms the view that this narrowing of the boundaries of belief in Islamic theology emerged as a later developed theological trend of substituting, in their reified forms, the particularly meta-confessional concept of iman/mu’min with that of islam/muslim as a key term for self-identification. In this context, by basing himself on a thematic approach to the Qur’anic text analysis, Esack asserts that this process took hold despite the fact that the term iman is much more central to Qur’an and its worldview than is islam which is quite marginal. These occurrences ,as noted above in the context of work by Donner in chapter five, resulted in a narrowing of confessional identity denied a status of a ‘Believer’ to those outside the prophet Muhammad’s socio-religious and historic community. Furthermore, by adopting a thematic and comprehensively contextualist approach to the Qur’an, Esack considers concepts of iman, din and islam in their non-reified form as meta-historical universalist concepts to be primarily understood within the framework of a “deep inner and personal conviction” that cannot be linked to institutionalized religion.[xv] For example, in relation to the concept of islam[xvi] he offers three nuanced meanings two of which are non-reified, namely the Qur’anic islam of pre-Muhammadan prophets, islam as personal submission to the Will of God and a reified  Islam ‘in individuals and communities who share common space ,geography  or time with the adherents of reified Islam[xvii] (i.e. those known today as Muslims). Iman is also seen as essentially a non-reified concept. In the words of Esack as  “a personal recognition of, and an active response to, the presence of God in the universe and in history” characterized by dynamism and fluctuation and existing at various levels (such as ‘perfect’ and ‘diluted’ iman) . Esack also conceives of the concept of iman as multidimensional in nature incorporating the spiritual, the religious and socio-economic dimensions all of which form a symbiotic whole. [xviii]
Consistent with his analysis of other Qur’anic terms already discussed above, the Qur’anic concepts of kufr/shirk are re-thought by Esack in a similar manner and are linked to issues of the Qur’anically intimate relationship between doctrine and ideology, i.e. orthodoxy and orthopraxy;[xix] its socio-historical boundedness and a prior recognition of yet willful rejection of the acknowledgment of God’s unity and Muhammad’s prophethood. He considers that the pre-modern Muslim exegetes have failed in making a distinction between kufr “as an active attitude of individuals (or a collection of individuals) and the socio-religious (and often) ethnic identity of a group.” Esack does not deny its doctrinal dimension but calls for a “contemporary application of the term kufr and not the mere transference of labels.”[xx]
Another hermeneutical tool Esack uses to (re)-define the Qur’anic view of the religious Other and construct it in an inclusionary manner is to bring to the fore the Qur’nic concept of the symbiotic relationship between orthodoxy and orthopraxy. Forming the view that the Qur’an’s primary concern is for the latter and not the former, Esack considers that the basis of Qur’anic pluralism is in what he terms ‘liberative praxis’. Based upon a comprehensively contextualist and holistic manhaj in this context he interprets the Qur’nic texts dealing with the concept of ‘wilayah’[xxi] ( e.g. 5:51) not as doctrinal issue but an ideological-political  one and argues that “when understood in their historical contexts, [they] offer a radically different perspective to that which a casual and decontextualized reading render” adding that “ “[F[ar from preventing Muslims from entering into relationship of solidarity with the religious Other, they actually facilitate and inspire the progressive Islamists’ pursuit of a hermeneutic that accommodates the religious Other and liberative praxis.”[xxii]
Esack also questions the contemporary definitions and understandings of the Qur’anic term ahl-kitab as referring to distinct contemporary religious groups. Contextualizing comprehensively, he firstly notes the situation boundedness of all of the Qur’anic categories in relation to the terms dealing with the religious Other, the gradual shift in understanding in it as to who constitutes such a group and the importance of the ideological dimension in it. Secondly, he discusses the lack of consensus among classical exegetes in relation to the definition of ahl-kitab. In the context of saying the former he asserts the following:
The Qur’an naturally dealt only with the behaviour and the beliefs of those of the people of the Book with whom the early Muslim community were in actual social contact. To employ the qur’anic category of the people of the Book in a generalized manner of simplistic identification of all Jews and Christians in contemporary society is to avoid the historical realities of Medinian society, as well as the theological diversity among both the earlier and contemporary Christian and Jews. To avoid such an unjust generalization, therefore, requires a clear idea from their sources of their beliefs, as well as many nuances, that characterized the various communities encountered by the early Muslims.[xxiii]

In this regard, we may also note the view of Abu Zayd, who maintains that one major characteristic of Qur’anic discourse that of negotiation, an inclusionary mode of discourse, applies to the ahl al-kitab. In fact, he argues that Qur’anic discourse does not repudiate the scriptures of Jews and Christians, only the Jews’ and Christians’ understanding and explanation of them. The exclusivist mode of Qur’anic discourse, Abu Zayd maintains further, only applies to the mushrikun, i.e. the Arab polytheists.[xxiv]

Shahrur’s distinction between al-islam and al-iman follows closely to that of the work of Esack. However it  has a number of  novel aspects on which I will focus here. Shahrur, based on his linguistic principle of non-synonymy of words in the Al-Kitab , which itself is derived though a thematico-holistic approach it , and the  philosophical principle of evolution of religious thought considers that the only two prerequisites of belonging to a group of people the Al-Kitab refers to as ‘muslims’, (i.e. those who possess the quality of al-islam)  and thus attain religious salvation, are the belief in God and the Last Day and doing what is righteous ( al ‘amal al-salih) . On the other hand ‘mu’mins’ or those who have al-iman, are those who have a specific religious belief as well as particularistic ethics based on this belief  which is traced back to Prophet Muhammad. He terms the former Muslim-Assenters and the former Muslim Believers. Furthermore, Shahrur, on the basis of a thamatico-holistic approach to Revelation, considers al-islam to be a manifestation of the universalist ur-religion of din al-hanif, or the universalist religion and ethics that coincides with the natural predisposition of not only the humanity but the entire universe. The relationship between al-islam and al-iman is summaried by Shahrur as having the following characteristics: al-islam always takes precedents over al-iman; they mean two different types of faith; divine reward is given to both types of believers, i.e. muslims as well as mu’mins ; the term al-iman is always linked to a relationship with a  specific messenger; and al-iman is a specific type of piety. He goes on to assert that what traditionally have been understood to be the pillars of al-islam such as the testimony of faith , paying of zakat, performance of hajj and daily prayers in addition to the Qur’anic principles of consultation and fighting in the way of God ,  are in actual fact the pillars of al-iman.
Importantly, Shahrur also makes a distinction between two types of kufr. One type of kufr exists in the sphere of al-iman and the other in the realm of al-islam. Whereas the latter negates the minimal prerequisites of al-islam the former rejects the belief in the Prophethood of Muhammad and in Al-Kitab being of Divine origin. He then goes on to state that for someone to be branded a kafir his/her disbelief must be expressed :
in deliberate, fully articulate and publicly stated  views by which disbelievers antipathetically oppose either kind of faith.
Based on the above Shahrur concludes that some but no all muslims can indeed be mu’mins and importantly that religious salvation is not restricted to the socio-historical community of Prophet Muhammad.[xxv]
We will now consider some examples  which the progressive Muslim employ, based upon its interpretational model, to regard religious pluralism as the normative paradigm of the Qur’an-Sunna teachings:[xxvi]

Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth stands out clear from error; whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the trust worthiest handhold that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things. (2:256)

If their spurning is hard on thy mind yet if thou wert able to seek a tunnel in the ground or a ladder to the skies and bring them a Sign (what good?). If it were Allah's will He could gather them together unto true guidance: so be not thou amongst those who are swayed by ignorance (and impatience)! (6:35)

To thee We sent the Scripture in truth confirming the scripture that came before it and guarding it in safety; so judge between them by what Allah hath revealed and follow not their vain desires diverging from the truth that hath come to thee. To each among you have We prescribed a Law and an Open Way. If Allah had so willed He would have made you a single people but (His plan is) to test you in what He hath given you: so strive as in a race in all virtues. The goal of you all is to Allah; it is He that will show you the truth of the matters in which ye dispute. (5:48)

If it had been the Lord's Will they would all have believed all who are on earth! Wilt thou then compel mankind against their will to believe! (10:99)

(They are) those who have been expelled from their homes in defiance have right (for no cause) except that they say "Our Lord is Allah." Did not Allah check one set of people by means of another there would surely have been pulled down monasteries churches synagogues and mosques in which the name of Allah is commemorated in abundant measure? Allah will certainly aid those who aid His (cause); for verily Allah is Full of Strength Exalted in Might (Able to enforce His Will). (49:13)

Those who believe (in the Qur'an) and those who follow the Jewish (Scriptures) and the Christians and the Sabians and who believe in Allah and the last day and work righteousness shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear nor shall they grieve. (2:62)

Those who believe (in the Qur'an) those who follow the Jewish (Scriptures) and the Sabians and the Christians any who believe in Allah and the Last Day and work righteousness on them shall be no fear nor shall they grieve. (5:69

Those who believe (in the Qur'an) those who follow the Jewish (scriptures) and the Sabians Christians Magians and Polytheists Allah will judge between them on the Day of Judgment: for Allah is witness of all things. (22:17)

‘By God, I am the messenger of God and I do not know what God will do with me.

‘Previous prophets and I are like a man who built a house, set it right and made it comely except for one brick, so that people said when passing by the house, “How lovely this house would be if it were not for that brick.” I [i.e. Muhammad] am that brick and the
seal of the prophets.

For example, a contemporary Syrian scholar Al-Habash , basing himself on a thematic-holistic approach to  the above given Qur’anic and hadith evidence[xxvii]  argues that the Islamic revelation came to confirm and not abrogate previous prophecy and that non-Muslims can attain salvation though their own religions.[xxviii]
Based on the hermeneutical principles outlined in the previous chapter, the above given Qur’anic verses are viewed as being hermeneutically superior to any other Qur’an-Sunna/hadith evidence, and as forming the foundation of the Islamic perspective on the issue of faith. They are also invoked to argue that the “necessity of diversity” is intended by God and is a sign of His wisdom and will. Furthermore, progressive Muslims subscribe to the view that, as Qur’an 22:17 suggests, the ultimate arbiter in matters of belief /unbelief is God, not human beings. In this context El-Fadl writes:

Moderates[xxix] argue that not only does the Qur’an endorse principle of diversity, but it also presents human beings with a formidable challenge, and that is to know each-other [Qur’an 49:13] In the Qur’anic framework, diversity is not an ailment or evil. Diversity is part of the purpose of creation, and it reaffirms the richness of divine. The stated Divine goal of getting to know one another places an obligation upon Muslims to cooperate and work towards specified goals with Muslims and non Muslims alike…In addition to the obligation of tolerance, the Qur’an obliges people to work together in pursuit of goodness.[xxx]

Concluding his discussion on the Qur’an’s approach to the religious Other Esack similarly asserts that the Qur’an, proceeding from the premise that the notion of inclusiveness is superior to that of exclusiveness, the religious Other is recognized on the basis of certain principals such as struggle for justice, righteous conduct and competing in goodness and not their acceptance of a reified Islam and Muhammad’s prophethood.[xxxi]

As such, Progressive Muslims are of the view that religious pluralism is divinely willed and is central to the Qur’an’s vision of society giving salvational significance to all human communities.[xxxii] Thus, progressive Muslims construct a concept of a “Believer’ which encompasses the belief of those who are not part of the socio-religious and historic community of the followers of Prophet Muhammad.

Taken from chapter 7 of this book ( free pdf).

[i] Esack, Qur’an,Liberation and Pluralism, p.146.
[ii] Ibid,p.159.
[iii] Those who have been expelled from their homes without a just cause except that they say: Our Lord is Allah. And had there not been Allah's repelling some people by others, certainly there would have been pulled down cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques in which Allah's name is much remembered; and surely Allah will help him who helps His cause; most surely Allah is Strong, Mighty.
[iv] Ibid,,p.173.
[v] Ibid,p.174.On the difference between reified and non-reified Islam see chapter one of this study p ?
[vi] Ibid, 158.
[vii] Ibid,, 15.
[viii] This is shown in relation to the work of Esack in detail in the following section of the chapter.
[ix] See for example, R. Shah-Kazemin, The Other in the Light of the One: The Universality of the Qur’an and Interfaith Dialogue, The Islamic Texts Society,2006,.A.S.Asani,”On Pluralism, Intolerance ,and the Qur’an,”The American Scholar,72,1,Winter, 2002.
[x]T.Ramadan, The Western Muslims and the Future of Islam. Oxford University Press, 2004., 203-204; El-Fadl, Great Theft, 203-219.
[xi] Cf. Saeed, Interpreting the Qur’an,149-154.
[xii] Esack, Qur’an,Liberation and Pluralism,p.115;
[xiii]Ibid.  114-179,chapters four and five.
[xiv] Ibid.,p.115.
[xv] Ibid,p.125-128.
[xvi] Esack uses a capital ‘I’ in ‘Islam’ to indicate the reified concept form and non-capital ‘islam’ for a non-reified form. Hence it is replicated here.
[xvii] Ibid,p.132
[xviii] Ibid.,p.120-125.
[xix] In this context Esack points out the Qur’an it self, at times, describes reprehensible acts committed by those who belong the Muslim or the believing community at the time of the Prophet with kufr or shirk . He given an example of  surah Az-Zumar, 39:7 which states: If you are ungrateful (takfuru), then surely Allah is Self-sufficient above all need of you; and He does not like ungratefulness(el-kufr) in His servants.
[xx] Ibid,p.134; p.139
[xxi] Usually translated as friendship or  guardianship.
[xxii] Ibid,203.
[xxiii] Ibid, p.152.
[xxiv] Abu Zayd, Re-thinking the Qur’an,op.cit.
[xxv] Shahrur, The Qur’an, Morality and Critical Reason , p.21-71.
[xxvi]Cf. Miraly, The Ethic of Pluralism, op.cit.
[xxvii] M. Al-Habash, Ihtikar al-khalas, Tishrın al-Usbu’i  no. 97, 31 January 2000; and in Nahwa ta’sıl ıdiyulujı¯ li al-hiwar bayn al-adyan, Tishrı¯n, 27 May 2001.
[xxviii] Introduction written by al-Habash to the Arabic translation of W. W. Baker, More in Common than
You Think (Al-mushtarak akthar mimma¯ ta_taqid, trans. M. Abu¯ al-Sharaf, Damascus, 2002), pp. 7–34.
[xxix]In our terminology progressive Muslims. For a definition of moderates, see EL Fadl, Great Theft, 16-25.
[xxx] As per Qur’an 5:48-see above, also 5:2 “Help ye one another in righteousness and piety but help ye not one another in sin and rancor: fear Allah: for Allah is strict in punishment’- Y.Ali., El-Fadl, The Great Theft, pp.207-208.
[xxxi] Esack, Qur’an,Liberation and Pluralism, p.174
[xxxii] Cf.Miraly,The Ethic of Pluralism,p.37.