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Religious situation in Islamic scholarship


(Click to enlarge. Developed by yours truly.)

Digram: Based on a class discussion of sociology of religion, later phrase is full of many inherent negativities, just to make a point. It needs refinement as well.

These are the three classes of scholars within the landscape of Islam, so we had to naturally ignore those who argument against religion, many of them bearing Islamic names. Let's classify them again (but classification and characteristics are not exhaustive at all, they do need much modification, and that's why i am giving its "beta" version here :):

1. Traditional ulema (In diagram: Left-most):
- They do not fully comprehend what has happened to the modern world. They can refute Aristotle, but they have little or no deep understanding of modernity.
- They triumph in preserving whole of Islamic tradition to be transmitted to the next generation, and they seek no earthly carrier, their carrier, as Mufti taqi Usmani says, is akhirah or after-life.
- They reject modernity on the basis of their strong faith. They're perhaps most pious of all in Islamic societies.
- It is said they're to be found in traditional seminaries or madrissas.
God knows best.
2. Modernist-religious scholars (middle):
- They appreciate some facets of modernity. Yet they can said to be religious, at least they're faithful to Islam for it is still a part of them.
- They try to reconcile Islam with modernity, different philosophies. So they talk in terms of the metaphors of modernity (philosophies, paradigms, ideologies, etc.), to defend religion.
- They've little command over tradition, or even over its languages, in some cases.
- Examples that come to our mind are Iqbal, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, Ali Shariti, Jamal ud Din Afghani; many reformists, and modernists may also be included in this category, but then their faith has to be scaled down. Most of the English Islamic books are produced by them. They dominate the landscape of Islamic scholarship.
3. The Elites (Right most):

I've not yet come up with a label for them, but to call them elites, it is thought, says enough.
- They fully understand modernity (read this article); they fully understand and have deep roots in tradition.
- They do not try to impure religion with impurities of modernity. Rather they try to produce genuine, mainstream/traditional understanding of Islam, as something which is more than religion, the latter term as understood by Westernized mind.
- They perform dual-roles: not only of understanding modernity and tradition, but also giving strong responses, if not devastating, to the challenges posed by modernity.
- They reject modernity, as far as it is anti-traditional in spirit, with clear understanding.
- They are very low in number. And their responses determine the intellectual life-span of Muslims.
- Examples: Rene GuenonMuhammad Asad, Abdal-Hakim Murad, Dr. Rafi-ud-Din (very few may know him), Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Hamza Yusuf, etc.
Please provide us with your insightful feedback.

4 did criticisms:

Anonymous said...

Interesting classification. Where would put in the "islamists" like maulana maudodi and syed qutb ?

Umer Toor said...

I'd put Iqbal, for instance, b/w M-Traditionalists-Elites.

Since i don't know much about Moulana Moudodi and Prof. Qutb, where would you put them.

Akhtar Wasim Dar said...

Interesting, but need lot of reflection in the classification for some names like Iqbal, Ali Shariti, Rene Guenon,Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr.

You will certainly need another category for Abu Ala Moudodi. Syed Qutb will fit in the traditionalist classification.

Umer Toor said...

@ Akhtar Wasim Dar,

Nice. Yeah, i feel we definitely more comprehensive categories. There's just too much diversity. Also, the last category call themselves as Traditionalists as well...

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