Islamic reform movements Essay

This essay has a total of 1926 words and 10 pages.

Islamic reform movements

Behind all Islamic reform movements is the rejection of the western idea of nation-state
and the principle of separation between the church and state.

All Islamic reform movements seek to change Islam and society on the basis of a return to
a strict adherence to the Qur’an and the Hadiths. To reform Islam and society,
reform movements advocate the taking of political power in order to command that which is
proper and forbid that which is reprehensible. In brief, this means that life and
societies have to be governed by the Shari’a. Governance according to the
Shari’a can only be realized and guaranteed by a government based upon it. An
Islamic government ensures the application of the Shari’a thereby preserving the
moral order upon which the integrity of the community of believers depends. Contemporary

The following beliefs provide the ideological framework for Islamic reform movements:
Islam is a total way of life. Therefore religion is integral to politics, state and society.
The political, military, and economic weaknesses of the world of Islam are due to having
strayed from Islam and followed western, secular and materialistic ideologies and values.
Both western liberal nationalism and Marxist socialism have failed, because they are
antithetical to Islam.

Islam as found in the Qur’an and the Hadiths, and in the example of the early
Islamic community/state provides the true alternative ideology for Muslims.

Muslims must re-establish God’s rule, the sovereignty of God on earth by
re-instituting Islamic Law, the blueprint for society for all time.

The new Islamic order does not reject science and technology. However, modernization is
subordinated to Islam to guard against the westernization and secularization of Muslim
society and community.

The process of Islamization requires organizations or societies built around dynamic
nuclei of committed and trained believers who call on all to repent and turn to
Allah’s path and who are prepared, when necessary to fight against corruption and

The method for renewal and reform of Muslim society is an Islamic political and social
revolution, like the prophet Muhammad and later 18th century Islamic movements that cause
an Islamic system of government and society.

Besides the above characteristics, “radical Islam” assumes a kind of culture
that can be summarized in the following way:

A jihad mentality that pits Islam against a western Judeo-Christian conspiracy.
Legitimacy for Muslim governments is based on the Shari’a.
Jihad against unbelievers is a religious duty.
Christians and Jews are considered unbelievers rather than people of the Book.
The realization that Islam may serve as a powerful spiritual and political force or help
catalyze such forces is much in our minds these days. In a large part, this phenomenon is
given attention, because of the contemporary developments in the Islamic world,
especially, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, Iran, Iraq, Libya and other Middle East and
Asian countries. Throughout the Western world there is a spreading awareness that Islam is
resurgent. It is accompanied, however, by a sense that this development is somehow
fearsome and ominous, to say the least.

Wherever Islam manifests itself politically or religiously in the contemporary world,
popular Western and Christian perceptions of these developments are either distorted or
antagonistic. The first contributing factor to this type of perception is the negative
view associated with Islamic revolutions in Iran and Libya. The second is the whole legacy
of adverse Western and Christian attitudes towards Islam since the time of the crusades.
Such distortion and antagonism certainly affect the reporting about the Islamic revival
which has begun in the early ‘70s. Media headlines continue to highlight the Western
perceptions of fanaticism and Puritanism that accompany the Islamic reform/revival.

Islamic resurgence is a puzzling phenomenon in the contemporary world – a world
which is dominated by consumerism and secularism. The Islamic resurgence takes in a strong
and militant protest against the status quo and refuses to take the direction that the
modern world pursues. To understand this Islamic militant protest, there is a need to look
into the matrix that has given birth to the diverse modern Islamic movements.

First, there is a deep crisis in the modern Muslim world. In fact, a fundamental malaise
ails both the Muslims and their communities. Muslims sense that something has gone wrong
with Islamic history. The roots of this malaise stem from an awareness that something is
awry between the religion which God has appointed and the historical development of the
world He controls.

The glorious Islamic empire is there no more. As a matter of fact, from the 18th century,
the Muslim world began its serious decline. There was a disintegration of military and
political power. There was enfeeblement of commercial and political power. Intellectual
effort stagnated. Religious vitality ebbed. An effete decadence infected art. The writings
of the great masters elicited commentaries rather than enthusiasm. And the classical
systems were used to delimit the road that one must travel rather than provide the impetus
of one’s journey.

In brief, the Muslim world, that once gloried in its grip on the world and history from
the fall of Constantinople in 1453, seemed to have lost the capacity to order its life
effectively by the beginning of the 18th century. Worst, the degeneration of the Muslim
World coincided with the exuberance of the West. At about this time, Western Civilization
was launching forth on the greatest upsurge of expansive energy that human history has
ever seen. Vitality, skills, wealth and power vastly accumulated. With them, the West
began not only to shape its own life but also the life of all the world including the
Muslim World.

During the 19th century, Western pressure and domination increased. The Dutch in
Indonesia, the British in the subcontinent of India and Malaya, Russia in Central Asia;
the British and French in North Africa and the Middle East. All at once, the western
powers ruled Muslim society in full formality. While the Ottoman Empire retained political
sovereignty up to World War I, it was independent without being free. Apart from the
matter of political control, Muslim society, once forceful, dynamic and alert, was
everywhere in drooping spirits, and subject both in initiative and delivery to forces
outside Islam.

It is the contemporary manifestation of this problem and crisis that is paramount in the
understanding of the modern phenomena like Islamic revivalism, activism or modern
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