Fazlur Rahman Malik
For other people with the same name, see Fazl ur Rahman (disambiguation).
|Fazlur Rahman Malik
فضل الرحمان ملک
|Born||(1919-09-21)21 September 1919|
|Died||26 July 1988(1988-07-26) (aged 68)
Chicago, Illinois, United States
|Alma mater||Punjab University (M.A.)|
|Notable work||Avicenna's Psychology, Islamic Methodology in History, Islam and Modernity: Transformation of an Intellectual Tradition|
|Era||Contemporary Islamic philosophy, 20th-century philosophy|
|Main interests||Islamic Modernism, ijtihad|
This was quickly exploited by opponents of his political patron, General Ayub Khan, and led to his eventual exile in the United States.
His father, Maulana Shihab al-Din, was a well-known scholar of the time who had studied at Deoband and had achieved the rank of alim, through his studies of Islamic law, prophetic narrations, Quran'ic commentaries, logic, philosophy and other subjects.
Although Fazlur Rahman may not have himself attended a Darul uloom (traditional seat of Islamic knowledge), his father acquainted him with the traditional Islamic sciences, and he eventually memorized the entire Qur'an at the age of ten.
In that year, he returned to Pakistan at the behest of President Ayub Khan to head up the Central Institute of Islamic Research in Karachi which was set up by the Pakistani government in order to implement Islam into the daily dealings of the nation.
However, due to the political situation in Pakistan, Rahman was hindered from making any progress in this endeavour.
He resigned from the post in September 1968 and left for the United States.
In the US he returned to teaching, and taught at UCLA as a visiting professor for a year.
He moved to the University of Chicago in 1969 and established himself there becoming the Harold H. Swift Distinguished Service Professor of Islamic Thought.
At Chicago he was instrumental for building a strong Near Eastern Studies program that continues to be among the best in the world.
Rahman also became a proponent for a reform of the Islamic polity and was an advisor to the State Department.
Since Rahman's death his writings have continued to be popular among scholars of Islam and the Near East.
His contributions to the University of Chicago are still evident in its excellent programs in these areas.
In his memory, the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Chicago named its common area after him, due to his many years of service at the Center and at the University of Chicago at large.
He was a polyglot who, apart from mastering Urdu, Persian, Arabic and English quite early in his life, eventually also learned classical Greek, Latin, German and French in order to be more efficient in his academic career.
He argued that the basis of Islamic revival was the return to the intellectual dynamism that was the hallmark of the Islamic scholarly tradition (these ideas are outlined in Revival and Reform in Islam: A Study of Islamic Fundamentalism and his magnum opus, Islam).
He sought to give philosophy free rein, and was keen on Muslims appreciating how the modern nation-state understood law, as opposed to ethics; his view being that the shari'ah was a mixture of both ethics and law.
He was critical of historical Muslim theologies and philosophies for failing to create a moral and ethical worldview based on the values derived from the Qur'an: 'moral values', unlike socioeconomic values, 'are not exhausted at any point in history' but require constant interpretation.
He also believed that the modern conservatism of Islamic world is a defensive and temporary posture against the perceived political and economic setbacks of the Muslim world.
Adding to this was stagnation in Islamic education begun in the early Middle Ages, which led to the inadequate understanding of Qur'anic teachings.
He saw it as a priority to re-introduce intellectual disciplines such as philosophy, rationalist theology, and social sciences in education.
Rahman criticizes Islamic tradition for failing to develop a systematic Quran-based ethical theory, rather than merely a judicial code.
He considers the theocracy and monarchy (imamate and caliphate) to be understandable attempts at creating a just society in historical times, but stresses the Quranic concept of shura (mutual consultation) for modern governance.
He believes in extending the principle of shura to all of society, not only the elite, and in collaboration between religious and secular experts.
The issue of what riba is and whether it includes all interest on loans has been a major issue in Islam during the 20th century and early 21st.
The Islamic revival movement that grew in strength and influence during Rahman's lifetime, considered all and any interest on loans riba and a "curse", and considered putting an end to it a top priority.
As an Islamic Modernist, Rahman disagreed, believing that only high-interest loans were riba, and in particularly that riba referred only to a particular type of interest charged in the time of Muhammad.
Feisal Khan describes his position as being that
Rahman himself wrote that
This contradicted the contention of famous Islamist author Maulana Maududi that there was no initial interest—that money lenders made initial loans "granted free of interest"—which was doubtful on the grounds that professional moneylenders would ever make loans for free.
Rahman concluded that the Quran banned "extreme usury and so by extension injustice but not interest."
Rahman criticizes the pre-modern revivalist movement of the eighteenth and nineteenth century for discouraging intellectualism; Modernism for selectively using passages and not being grounded in methodology; and neo-fundamentalism for likewise not being based on proper analyses.
Rather than Islamic secularism, he was most optimistic about a "neo-modernism" based on an Islamic methodology, in contrast to previous reform efforts.
- Islam, University of Chicago Press, 2nd edition, 1979. ISBN 0-226-70281-2
- Prophecy in Islam: Philosophy and Orthodoxy, University of Chicago Press, 1979, 2011 ISBN 9780226702858
- Islam and Modernity: Transformation of an Intellectual Tradition, University of Chicago Press, 1982. ISBN 0-226-70284-7
- Major Themes of the Qur'an, University of Chicago Press, 2009. ISBN 978-0-226-70286-5
- Revival and Reform in Islam (ed. Ebrahim Moosa), Oneworld Publications, 1999. ISBN 1-85168-204-X
- Islamic Methodology in History, Central Institute of Islamic Research, 1965.
- (PDF). Islamic Studies. Karachi. 3 (1): 1–43. March 1964. Archived from (PDF) on 2016-03-03.
- , Chapter from Islam [Anchor Book, 1968], pp. 117–137.
Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fazlur Rahman Malik.