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Theology of Unity

Muammad Abduhs (1849-1905) Reformist Islam and His Interpretation of Authenticity, Civilisation and Religion

Ammeke Kateman
Master Thesis - Research Master History

Theology of Unity

Cover: Muammad Abduh (1849-1905) Photograph was probably taken in London in 1884 Mark Sedgwick, Muhammad Abduh (Makers of the Muslim World Series Oneworld Publications: Oxford/New York 2010) 47.

Theology of Unity

Muammad Abduhs (1849-1905) Reformist Islam and His Interpretation of Authenticity, Civilisation and Religion

Ammeke Kateman Supervised by: Professor James Kennedy and Dr Richard van Leeuwen
Amsterdam, 25 October 2010 Master Thesis Research Master History (Onderzoeksmaster Geschiedenis) University of Amsterdam (UvA)

Contact Information: Ammeke Kateman Retiefstraat 21-4 1092 VV Amsterdam Ammeke.Kateman@student.uva.nl Telephone: 06-43007997 Student Number: 0394971

THEOLOGY OF UNITY

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Although I associate the terminology of acknowledgements very much with highly acclaimed books published by the Oxford, Cambridge, or perhaps Stanford University Press, and although this association causes me to feel rather self-conscious while writing my own acknowledgements, I am still convinced that this is something which I should allow myself. So here I go. Prof James Kennedy, I would like to thank you very much for offering me to supervise my thesis in the first place even though its subject lies miles outside of the borders of Dutch history. I enjoyed our lengthy conversations about Christian missionary work, Samuel Zwemer and the ethnically correct pronunciation of the latters name. Also, I will not forget your advice to write and argue more assertively. This needs some practice still, however. Dr Richard van Leeuwen, there are many things to thank for you for. First of all, you were the one who introduced me to Muammad Abduh in 2007. That turned out to be a very good choice, as I am still very much intrigued by the man. Friends of mine even started to ask me how Muammad is doing lately! Second, I would like to thank you for spending lots of time and tons of patience on me, my shaky translations and all of my attempts to tackle the literature which you recommended and very often borrowed to me. Third, I would like to add that I really enjoyed our regular lunches and lengthy talks in the canteen of the P.C. Hoofthuis as a consequence of our parallel schedules. I am very much looking forward to the next four years. Besides these scholarly acknowledgements, I am also very thankful for a more personal support throughout writing my thesis and please skip these if you cannot stand sentimentalism: my parents Annemarie and Wim for raising me rather well (although I love to say that they did it completely wrong), my sisters Sanne and Acha for thinking the world of me, my dear friends especially Liesje (the one whom I talk with for hours and hours), Victoria (the one who shares my ambitions, preferably in the mensa) and Carlijn (the one asking after Muammads well-being). And I thank my class mates especially Klaas for his intellectual support and being so much fun. A special place of course is reserved for the love of my life: Young-Kon. In a real Beyonclike manner, I am now able to say (though not in a fabulous red dress...): Thank you, Young-Kon, for putting a ring on it! 1 Cheesy, but very true. I am very proud of your independence of mind in these things and extremely thankful for you wanting to spend your life with me even if that includes years in a whole new world. 2 Honey, you were the one who had to endure most of my crankiness and absent-mindedness, but: Looks like weve made it... 3

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Beyonc Knowles, Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It) (released in 2008). Alan Menken, A Whole New World (released in 1992 as part of the Aladdin soundtrack). 3 Shania Twain, Youre Still the One (released in 1998).

THEOLOGY OF UNITY

TRANSLITERATION AND PRONUNCIATION


A. System of Transliteration

For the transliteration of Arabic words in this thesis, I follow the general transliteration guidelines of the International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies (IJMES) with a few adjustments: 4 - If an English equivalent exists, I use the English translation of an Arabic term. Whenever deemed relevant, I add the Arabic term in italics in brackets. - If an (originally) Arabic term is included in the English language according to the Van Dale Online Professioneel Engels (for example, ulama, imam, mufti, Quran), I follow the Van Dalespelling in English. This means that I omit hamzas and ayns as well as diacritical marks with regard to these words. - Arabic terms for which there are no English equivalents or whose Arabic spelling is considered significant for the argument of this thesis are fully transliterated (including diacritical marks) and as such italicised by me. - When I use an Arabic term for the first time, I give a representation of its meaning in English. To accommodate the readers who are unfamiliar with the Arabic terms, I regularly repeat its meaning after the first appearance of the term. - I fully transliterate names of historical figures (for example, Muammad Abduh), i.e. including diacritical marks. - I display the names of Arabic authors of secondary literature according to the Latin spelling of their names under which they publish (for example, Aziz al-Azmeh). - I spell names of Arabic cities and countries with an accepted English spelling according to the English norms. - To avoid confusion, I transliterate the Arabic terms in titles of secondary literature according to the IJMES transliteration system, as set forth in detail below, in the main text. The original transliteration of these words can be found in the corresponding reference as well as in the bibliography. For the specific rules regarding the transliteration of Arabic words, sentences and titles in this thesis, I follow the detailed transliteration guidelines of the International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies (IJMES) with a few adjustments: 5 - No grammatical endings are displayed. - The initial hamza is always dropped.
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Website of the editorial office of the International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies: http://web.gc.cuny.edu/ijmes/pages/transliteration.html [7 October 2010]. 5 Ibidem.

THEOLOGY OF UNITY - The Arabic t marba is rendered a. In Arabic ifa constructions, it is rendered at. - The a of the definite article al is elided when preceded by a vowel. This is represented by a hyphen. - The definite article al is always a lowercase. - The adjectival nisba-suffix is displayed as -, while its feminine counterpart is -iyya. B. Transliteration Chart and Pronunciation

I follow the transliteration chart of the International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies (IJMES). 6 Here, I display the transliteration of letters about which ambiguity may arise. hamza; glottal stop as in the Cockney substitution for medial t (for example: waer). Note: not to be confused with the transliteration of the ayn that is: . th j kh dh r th; as in thing. jm; as in joy. ; aspirated h for example, when one whispers house to someone far. kh; as the famous letter ubiquitous in Dutch (for example: goed). dhl; as in that. r; r pronounced with tongue tip. long a to be pronounced as a long (for example in French: pre) or as a round long a around one of the emphatic letters. sh shn; as in shy. d; an emphatic s which renders the following vowel more round/muffled. long u to be pronounced as in the cow-sound boo. to be pronounced as ee as in Eeny Meeny. y y; as in yet. gh q ayn; produced deep in the throat. ghayn; uvular r, nearing a soft kh. qf; an emphatic k. ; an emphatic t. d; an emphatic d.

Website of the editorial office of the International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies: http://web.gc.cuny.edu/ijmes/docs/TransChart.pdf [7 October 2010].

THEOLOGY OF UNITY

CONTENTS

Acknowledgements A. B. Contents

.................................................................................................................. ...................................................................................... ........................................................................ ............................................

5 7 7 8 9

Transliteration and Pronunciation

System of Transliteration

Transliteration Chart and Pronunication

.............................................................................................................................. ..

Introducing Muammad Abduh 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6

....... .. ... . . .. . ...

11 11 15 21 23 28 32 39 39 41 46 50 53 60 67 67 70 74 78 85 85 89

Introducing Muammad Abduh A New Perspective on Tradition A Synthetic Solution of Modernity

The Traditional Perspective on Muammad Abduh

A Synthetic Approach to Authenticity, Civilisation and Religion The Expanded Horizon of Muammad Abduh Abduhs Reformism and Authentic Islam Authenticity and Textualist Essentialism The Original Sources (Arabic: Ul) of Islam

Authenticity and True Islam 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6

..................................................................................... ............................................ ................ ............................................ ............................................

History, Authenticity and the Historical Essence of Islam

Ijtihd as a Rational Source (Arabic: Ul) and the Principles (Arabic: Uul) of Islam ...................................................................................... True Rationality Mission Civilisatrice of the Fittest ...................................................................................... ....................................................................... ......................................................................................

An Islamic Mission of Civilisation 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4

Might and Unity: Ranking the Communities and the Survival .................................................................................................... .......................................................... Civilisation and Scientific Progress Civilisation

Mission Civilisatrice Intrieure and the Hidden Islamic Mission of .................................................................................................... .................................................................................................. . ........................................................................ ........................................................................

Islam as (a) Religion 4.1 4.2

Opposing Essentialisms Differentiating Religions

THEOLOGY OF UNITY 5 Theology of Unity 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 .................................................................................................... ....................................................................................... 95 95 96 98 101

Theology of Unity

A Synthetic Understanding of Authenticity, Civilisation and Religion ..................................................................................................... Abduhs Theology of Unity Abduh and Beyond ......................................................................... .......................................................................................

Bibliography A.

................................................................................................................................ Primary Sources ...................................................................................... .......................................................... .............................. - Consulted in the Arabic Language

104 104 104 105 105 106 106 109

- Consulted Translations from the Arabic Language B. Secondary Literature

- Consulted in a European Language (Originally or Translated) ................ ...................................................................................... .......................................................... - Books .................................................................................................................. - Articles (in Books and Journals)

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CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCING MUAMMAD ABDUH

I know, according to all rule written and spoken by the orthodox, that Islam cannot move, and yet in spite of it I answer with some confidence in the fashion of Galileo, E pur si muove. The fact is, Islam does move.
Wilfrid Scawen Blunt (1840-1922) in The Future of Islam (1882) 7

1.1

Introducing Muammad Abduh

After an extensive journey throughout the Arab world and Egypt in particular, the British aristocrat and poet Wilfrid Blunt could not wait to disclose his analysis of the latest developments in the ArabMuslim world to his fellow-countrymen in 1881. 8 Contrary to the general learned opinion in his home country in the second half of the nineteenth century, Blunts prediction for the Muslim world was remarkably positive. He believed that there was a liberal reform of Islam at hand which would be widely supported throughout the Arab lands. 9 This new interpretation of Islam would usher in an age of progress and prosperity, as it aimed at being in harmony with modern knowledge. 10 According to Blunt, the British government should not intermeddle with this movement, except for ensuring its continued existence. The reform of Islam would be carried out completely by an indigenous movement of intellectuals some of whom Blunt had already met while in Egypt. 11 Blunt was particularly impressed by one of these reformers, with whom he developed a lifelong friendship: the Egyptian religious scholar Muammad Abduh (1849-1905). 12 With his account on The Future of Islam in 1881, Blunt was probably one of the first external observers to identify a liberal Muslim reform movement in the late nineteenth century, in which

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Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, The Future of Islam (Kegan Paul, Trench: London 1882) 135. His book The Future of Islam (1882) was a collection of five articles which were published the year before in The Fortnightly Review. Blunt, Future of Islam, v. 9 He also devoted a poem of thirteen pages to his hopeful prediction of the Arab lands. The poem, The Wind and the Whirlwind included verses such as: I have a thing to say. But how to say it? / Out of the East a twilight had been born. / It was not day. Yet the long night was waning, / And the spent nations watched it less forlorn. Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, Secret History of the English Occupation of Egypt. Being a Personal Narrative of Events (Alfred A. Knopf: New York 1922 first edition in 1907) 406. 10 Blunt, Secret History, 77. Cf. Blunt, Future of Islam, 46 and 144-145. 11 Blunt, Future of Islam, 174. 12 Blunt, Secret History, 79-81.

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THEOLOGY OF UNITY Muammad Abduh - one of the best and wisest, and most interesting of men, according to Blunt was a pivotal figure. 13 Unquestionably, Muammad Abduh is still considered in academic circles as one of the main representatives of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century historty of Islamic reform alongside his teacher Jaml al-Dn al-Afghn and his pupil Rashd Ri. 14 Because of his importance within modern reformist thought, Abduhs ideas on Islam are widely acknowledged to have been highly influential on the development of modern Islamic thought until now supported by Ris incessant posthumous praise of his master. 15 With his reinterpretation of Islam, Muammad Abduh responded to the rising Western dominance in the Islamic lands culturally and politically. Like his fellow-reformers, he occupied a middle position in the Muslim world between so-called Westernisers who pleaded to adopt Western-style modernisation full-heartedly which included a disposal of Islam and conservative ulama who rejected any change inspired by the example of the West as a means to preserve the traditional identity of Islam. At his turn, Abduh agreed there was a need for change, but refused to accept that this would imply the end of Islam. Thus, he wished to reinterpret Islam to its true and authentic nature as to reconcile it with the needs of modern times as he understood these with the help of European philosophy. 16 As such, Abduhs reinterpretation of Islam was to a great extent coloured by his views on the desirable relation between Islam and the West. Furthermore, his considerations in this respect were significantly affected by questions of identity: that is, whether an imitation of the West and its modernity necessarily implies a loss of Islam, of authenticity and, ultimately, of a particular collective Islamic identity. At the level of historiography, similar questions revolving around the (actual as well as desirable) relation between the West and Islam characterise the study of the ideas of Muammad Abduh. Particularly, these matters of imitation versus authenticity find expression in the twin concepts of modernity and tradition. If Abduh is considered a modern thinker, does this imply a

Blunt, Secret History, 80. Itzchak Weismann is critical of this widely accepted view of Abduh as a seminal figure within Islamic modernism. Itzchak Weismann, The Sociology of Islamic Modernism: Muammad Abduh, the National Public Sphere, and the Colonial State, The Maghreb Review (MR) 32 (2007) 1, 104-121. Elie Kedourie commented on the limited importance of the reformism of Abduh and his teacher al-Afghn for the Muslim world as a whole: Elie Kedourie, Afghani and Abduh. An Essay on Religious Unbelief and Political Activism in Modern Islam (Cass: Londen 1966). 15 Albert Hourani introduced Abduh in his standard work Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age as follows: He was to become a more systematic thinker than his master [al-Afghn, AK] and have a more lasting influence on the Muslim mind, not only in Egypt but far beyond. His teaching was in the end to be rejected by many of those to whom he addressed himself, but remained working beneath the surface, the unacknowledged basis of the religious ideas of the ordinary educated Muslim. Albert Hourani, Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age (1798-1939) (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge 1983 revised paperback edition; first edition in 1962) 130. For Ris role in the magnification of Abduhs importance, see: Weismann, Sociology of Islamic Modernism , MR, 105-110. 16 See for biographical studies on Abduh and his historical context: Hourani, Arabic Thought, 130-160; Mark Sedgwick, Muhammad Abduh (Makers of the Muslim World Series Oneworld: Oxford/New York 2010); Yvonne Haddad, Muhammad Abduh. Pioneer of Islamic Reform in: Ali Rahnema (ed.), Pioneers of Islamic Revival (Zed Books: London 2005 revised paperback edition; first edition in 1994) 30-63.
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CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCING MUAMMAD ABDUH complete (intellectual) uniformity with the West and thus a radical departure from the Islamic tradition of thought? Plainly formulated as the opposition tradition versus modernity is easily liable to obscuring instead of clarifying its underlying questions and premises such a perspective inquires into questions of similarity and difference in time and space. It addresses diachronic continuity versus rupture (tradition), related to synchronic uniformity versus difference on a global scale (modernity). These questions of tradition and modernity resonate particularly in the ongoing debate about Abduhs intellectual Islamicness or Europeanness. Scholars such as Albert Hourani, Macolm Kerr and Aziz al-Azmeh emphasise Abduhs uniformity with the universally disseminated European tradition of thought as a sign of his modernity. Necessarily, his Europeanness represents a discontinuity within the Islamic tradition. Recently, anthropologist Samira Haj refuted this characterisation of Abduh by emphasising his continuity with the Islamic intellectual tradition. I seek to revise both of these characterisations in this thesis. Neither an analysis solely in the European tradition nor an explanation exclusively in terms of an ongoing Islamic tradition suffices in case of Abduhs ideas. For, on the one hand, Abduhs intellectual context was indeed characterised by a quite recent and initial phase of a universal dissemination of European ideas, to an extent which had not been encountered before. In this sense, his thought represents a departure from the Islamic intellectual tradition. On the other hand, Abduhs adoption of European ideas did not engender a complete break with the Islamic (intellectual) tradition, as the universal dissemination of European ideas have never amounted to complete Westernisation in an intellectual respect. Instead, I characterise Muammad Abduhs reinterpretation of Islam according to its profound synthetic quality. His ideas are a particular combination of the modern European as well as Islamic tradition, thereby resembling and differing from both at the same time. This renders Abduhs ideas in terms of similarity and difference, modernity and tradition. Only a two-tradition perspective as proposed here does justice to the complexities of universal modernity of which I consider Abduh to be a representative. Adhering to this perspective of synthesis, I will unravel in this thesis how Abduhs conception of authenticity, civilisation, and religion combined elements of the European as well as Islamic tradition and thereby produced new meanings. Significantly, all three of these concepts played a vital and disputed role in the nineteenth-century European discourse on colonisation and thereafter modernisation. 17 Abandoning the level of historiography for history once again, I will demonstrate how the results of Abduhs act of synthesis that is, his particular conceptions of authenticity,

Cf. Birgit Schaebler, Civilizing Others. Global Modernity and the Local Boundaries (French/German, Ottoman, and Arab) of Savagery in: Birgit Schaebler, Leif Stenberg and Roy Parviz Mottahedeh (ed.), Globalization and the Muslim World. Culture, Religion, and Modernity (Syracuse University Press: Syracuse 2004) 329, there 3-5.

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THEOLOGY OF UNITY civilisation, and religion specifically advance the conformity and harmony of the West and Islam thereby warranting the collective characterisation of Abduhs ideas as a Theology of Unity (Arabic: Rislat al-Tawd), the title of his main work of theology in 1897. As such, Abduh resolves the problem of authenticity versus imitation altogether in his thought, as he tends to equate the imitation of the West in as far as he deems this necessary - with a return to authentic and original Islam, as I will demonstrate in this thesis. Thus, he presents his plea for synchronic conformity with the West as a regained diachronic continuity within Islam. The outcomes of this study do not stand alone, moreover. As mentioned before, Abduh is considered one of the historically more important representatives of the broader reform movement in which he partook commonly referred to as Islamic Modernism or Islamic Reformism in academic circles. 18 Reformists or modernists both of these designations are commonly used with regard to Abduh, but henceforth I will stick to reformist in this thesis 19 are thought to have manifested themselves in India, (both Turkish- and Arabic-speaking parts of) the Ottoman Empire, Iran and Egypt. 20 Significantly, the issues which characterised Abduhs thought and study come to the fore in the history and historiography of Islamic Reformism as a whole, too. Reformists such as Amad Khn (1817-1898) in India and the Young Ottomans in Turkey struggled with similar questions revolving around Islams relation to the West, or its modernity. 21 Likewise, the aforementioned
Itzchak Weismann comments on the origin of the terminology of Islamic Modernism as follows: The appellation of Islamic modernism was coined by Western scholars, who apparently derived it from contemporary Catholic modernism, (). Again popularized by Adams [in Islam and Modernism in Egypt (1933), AK], two-thirds of whose work is dedicated to Abduh, the issue had already been raised by Ignaz Goldziher [in Vorlesungen ber der Islam (1910), AK], and was then taken up by the influential scholar H.A.R. Gibb. Weismann, Sociology of Islamic Modernism , MR, 107; Basheer M. Nafi, The Rise of Islamic Reformist Thought and its Challenge to Traditional Islam in: Suha Taji-Farouki and Basheer M. Nafi (ed.), Islamic Thought in the Twentieth Century (IB Tauris: London/New York 2008 paperback edition; first edition in 2004) 28-60, there 39. 19 Ira Lapidus attempts to distinguish Islamic Modernism from Islamic Reformism by attributing the latter specifically to ulama. I do not think this is a useful distinction with regard to Muammad Abduh, however. Following Lapidus definitions, Abduh was a modernist in terms of his wish to modernise Islam without denying Islams relevance in modern times, but a reformist as a member of the ulama (that is, being a lim). Indeed, Lapidus himself uses the two epithets interchangeably in his description of Abduhs reform project. Ira Lapidus, Introduction. Modernity and the Transformation of Muslim Societies and Egypt. Secularism and Islamic Modernity in: Ira Lapidus, A History of Islamic Societies (University of Cambridge: Cambridge 2002 second edition; first edition in 1988) 253-468 and 512-534, there 459 and 517-518. 20 For Egypt: Charles C. Adams, Islam and Modernism in Egypt. A Study of the Modern Reform Movement, inaugurated by Muammad Abduh (Oxford University Press: London 1933); Hamilton Gibb, Modern Trends in Islam (University of Chicago Press: Chicago 1954 first edition in 1947); M.A. Zaki Badawi, The Reformers of Egypt (Croom Helm: London 1978 first edition in 1976); For the Arabic-speaking parts of the Ottoman Empire: Hourani, Arabic Thought. For the Turkish-speaking Ottoman Empire: erif Mardin, The Genesis of Young Ottoman Thought: A Study in the Modernization of Turkish Political Ideas (Princeton University Press: Princeton 1962); For India, Iran, and Egypt: Mansoor Moaddel, Islamic Modernism, Nationalism, and Fundamentalism: Episode and Discours (University of Chicago Press: Chicago 2005). 21 Moaddel, Islamic Modernism, 1 and 29-30; Muhammad Khalid Masud, Islamic Modernism in: Muhammad Khalid Masud, Armando Salvatore and Martin van Bruinessen (ed.), Islam and modernity. Key issues and debates (Edinburgh University Press: Edinburgh 2009) 237-260, there 237-238; Nafi, Rise of Islamic Reformist Thought, 39.
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CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCING MUAMMAD ABDUH questions of imitation versus authenticity of modern uniformity versus traditional continuity come to the fore in the studies on this period of thought. An important example is the discussion about whether the explanation of Islamic Reformism solely as a response to the West conceals an earlier history of Muslim reform, independent of Western influence. Scholars such as John Voll and Rudolph Peters claim that crucial elements of the Islamic Reformists discourse were already existent in eighteenth-century reform movements, prior to a strong Western presence. They consider eighteenth-century reformers such as the Indian Wl Allah (1703-1762) and Abd alRamn al-Wahhb (1703-1792) of the Arabian Peninsula as the forerunners of nineteenth-century reformists in the Muslim World. 22 This history of indigenous Islamic reform would explain Islamic Reformism (at least partially) independent of the West. Ahmad Dallal disagrees with Peters and Voll, however, pointing out the extensive ideological differences both diachronically between the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century reformists and synchronically within the eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century reformist movement. 23 In the next chapter, I will come back to this discussion. For now, this example illustrates how much the history of Islamic Reformism as a whole and the subsequent twentieth-century history of modern Islamic thought, too is characterised by questions and concerns of the (actual and desirable) relation between Islam and the West, between tradition and modernity. As such, a better understanding of Muammad Abduh with regard to similar issues as this thesis aspires to can advance insights into the complexities of the experience of Muslim intellectuals at the onset of modernity.

1.2

The Traditional Perspective on Muammad Abduh

Because of Abduhs widely acknowledged significance in modern Islamic thought, a large volume of literature has been published on him and his thought from the beginning of the twentieth century until now. Most of these studies demonstrate a strong biographical tendency, however. In addition, his ideas are generally not studied in their own right, but predominantly in the wider context of Islamic Modernism, Islamic Reformism, or as a precursor for twentieth-century Islamic thought. 24
Rudolph Peters, Idjtihd and taqld in 18th and 19th Century Islam, Die Welt des Islams (WI) 20 (1980) 1/2, 131145, there 131; Rudolph Peters, Erneuerungsbewegungen im Islam vom 18. bis zum 20. Jahrhundert und die Rolle des Islams in der neueren Geschichte. Antikolonialismus und Nationalismus in: W. Ende, U. Steinbach and Renate Laut (ed.), Der Islam in der Gegenwart (Beck: Mnchen 2005 fifth edition; first edition in 1989) 90127; John O. Voll, Islam. Continuity and Change (Syracuse University Press: Syracuse 1994 first edition in 1982) 5. 23 Ahmad Dallal, The Origins and Objectives of Islamic Revivalist Thought. 1750-1850 Journal of the American Oriental Society (JAOS) 113 (1993) 3, 341-360, there 341-342 and 358-359. 24 See for biographical studies: Osman Amin, Muhammad Abduh (Near Eastern Translation Program: Washington DC 1953) [translated by Charles Wendell; originally published in Arabic in 1944]; Gunnar Hasselblatt, Herkunft und Auswirkungen der Apologetik Muhammed Abduhs (1849-1905), untersucht an seiner Schrift:
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THEOLOGY OF UNITY Nevertheless, there is quite a large number of articles of varying length, quality and thoroughness which probe into a tightly confined aspect of Abduhs thought or biography. 25 In search of an explanation for assigning Abduh a special significance within modern Islamic thought, Itzchak Weismann points to the great appreciation or even admiration for him in academic circles. 26 The attractiveness of Abduhs ideas to his European observers has resulted in the scholarly appointment of him as the intellectual hero of Islamic Reformism or Islamic Modernism, according to Weismann. Abduhs appeal to his European analysts particularly rested upon his moderate stance regarding the West, his rationalism and his openness to Western science, he continues. 27 So, because of his moderation and Westernness, Abduh evoked identification and ensuing appreciation much better than more eccentric or angry men such as al-Afghn and Ri. Abduh seemed to be one of their own to many European as well as to secular Arabic observers. Besides the possible exaggeration of Abduhs role and importance within a broader movement of reform, this scholarly identification with him led to a misrepresentation of both Abduh and Islamic Reformism as a whole. Scholars tended to emphasise Abduhs intellectual Westernness and portrayed him as predominantly functioning within the modern European

Islam und Christentum im Verhltnis zu Wissenschaft und Zivilisation (PhD-thesis: Gttingen 1968); Andreas Kemke, Stiftungen im muslimischen Rechtsleben des neuzeitlichen gypten : die schariatrechtlichen Gutachten (Fatwas) von Muammad Abduh (st. 1905) zum Wakf (Peter Lang: Frankfurt a.M. 1991). See for Abduh in the wider context of modernist Islamic thought: Hourani, Arabic Thought; Kedourie, Afghani and Abduh and Malcolm H. Kerr, Islamic Reform, the Political and Legal Theories of Muammad Abduh and Rashd Ri (University of California Press: Berkeley 1966). See for Abduh as a precursor to later political and legal developments: Muhammed el-Bahay, Muammad Abduh : eine Untersuchung seiner Erziehungsmethode zum Nationalbewusstsein und zur nationalen Erhebung in gypten (PhD-thesis: Hamburg 1936); Armando Salvatore, Islam and the Political Discourse of Modernity (Ithaca Press: Reading 1997) and Aziz al-Azmeh, Islams and Modernities (Verso: London 1996 revised paperback edition; first edition in 1993). 25 M. Horten, Muhammad Abduh 1905. Sein Leben und seine theologisch-philosophische Gedankenwelt. Eine Studie zu den Reformbestrebungen im modernen gypten, Beitrge zur Kenntnis des Orients. Jahrbuch der deutschen Vorderasiengesellschaft (BKO) 13-14 (1916/1917) 83-114 and 74-128; Khoury, Nabeel A. and Abdo I. Baaklini, Muammad Abduh. An Ideology of Development, MW, 69 (1979) 1, 42-52; Yusuf H.R. Seferta, Yusuf, The Concept of Religious Authority according to Muhammad Abduh and Rashid Rida, The Islamic Quarterly (IQ) 30 (1986) 3, 159-164; John W. Livingston, Muammad Abduh on Science, MW, 85 (1995) 3-4, 215-234; Thomas Hildebrandt, Waren aml ad-Dn al-Afn und Muammad Abduh Neo-Mutazilieten?, WI, 42 (2003) 2, 207-262; Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljunied, The Sociological Thought of Muhammad Abduh, IQ, 49 (2005) 2, 147-156; Omer Aydin, Muhammad Abduh on Predestination and Free Will, Ekev Academic Review (EAR) 9 (2005) 24, 75-82; Yasir S. Ibrahim, Muammad Abduh and Maqid al-Shara, MR, 32 (2007) 1, 2-30; Katharina A. Ivanyi, Gods Custom Concerning the Rise and Fall of Nations: The Tafsr al-Manr on Q 8:53 and Q 13:11, MR, 32 (2007) 1, 91103; Oliver Scharbrodt, The Salafiyya and Sufism. Muammad Abduh and his Rislat al-Wridt (Treatise on Mystical Inspirations), Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies (BSOAS) 70 (2007) 1, 89-115. 26 Weismann, Sociology of Islamic Modernism , MR, 108; Cf. Daniel Brown describes the dangers in appointing individuals to represent a larger movement of thought as follows: Perhaps the greatest danger inherent in such an approach is of focusing on thinkers whose ideas meet with our approval; we judge someone significant because his or her ideas are attractive. Daniel W. Brown, Rethinking tradition in modern Islamic thought (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge 1996) 4. 27 For examples of unbridled academic admiration of Abduh see: H.A.R. Gibb, Muhammadanism (Oxford University Press: London 1961 [first edition 1949]) 176-177, cited by Weismann, Sociology of Islamic Modernism , MR, 104; Amin, Muhammad Abduh; P.J. Vatikiotis, Muhammad Abduh and the Quest for a Muslim Humanism, IQ, 4 (1958) 4, 145-161; Mahcer Lotfi, Abduh: lEsprit et la Lettre, The Maghreb Review (MR) 32 (2007) 1, 48-75.

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CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCING MUAMMAD ABDUH intellectual tradition. Accordingly, Abduh has been labelled a liberal, a humanist, a sociologist and a modernist as Samira Haj has also pointed out recently in her Reconfiguring Islamic Tradition. 28 In fact, authors such as Hourani seemed to conclude that the European intellectual influence was so pervasive that Abduh himself was some kind of an Egyptian version of Auguste Comte or Herbert Spencer. 29 Thus, Abduh was depicted as a rather passive receptor or imitator of European knowledge, although he was highly credited for his early recognition of the merits of modern European thought. The emphasis on Abduhs intellectual Europeanness often found its counterpart in a neglect of the Islamic tradition in which Abduh was thoroughly educated as a religious scholar (Arabic, singular: lim) at the Azhar University in Cairo. Indeed, Albert Hourani regretfully admitted that he might have overemphasized the reformists modernity and novelty instead of continuity in the preface to the 1981 edition of his Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age, which is still unquestionably the standard work on nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century Islamic thought (1798-1939). 30 The only trace of Islamic tradition that was generally acknowledged in the academic literature on Abduh was his supposed Mutazilism a more rationalist strand of Islamic theology which enjoyed its heyday in the ninth century and whose opinions in Abduhs time were considered heretical. In this view, however, Abduhs Mutazilism often merely served to reinforce his (Western-like) rationalism. 31 Others emphasised Abduhs strong resemblance to the European tradition of thought to the point that Abduh became completely identified with it. Herewith, scholars such as Elie Kedourie in 1966 and Aziz al-Azmeh in 1993 postulated a radical and complete break with the Islamic tradition. They stressed the innovativeness of Abduh and other reformists in comparison to the then prevailing Islamic orthodoxy and the general vein of Islamic tradition. Accordingly, Abduhs undeniable use of traditional Islamic vocabulary was characterised as mere form, by which he actually conveyed European ideas:
In all cases, Islamic reformisms [in which Abduh figures prominently according to Aziz al-Azmeh, AK] appropriation of what was known as social Darwinism was conditional upon the concepts of

The following historiographical analysis is indebted to Samira Hajs observations. However, it refines Hajs broad sketch and does not reproduce it. Samira Haj, Reconfiguring Islamic tradition. Reform, rationality, and modernity (Stanford University Press: Stanford 2009). Examples of Abduh as a liberal, humanist, sociologist or modernist: Osman Amin, The Humanism of Mohammad Abduh, Progressive Islam (PI) 1 (april/mei 1955) 9, 4-6; Vatikiotis, Abduh and Muslim Humanism, IQ; Hourani, Arabic Thought; Aljunied, Sociological Thought of Abduh, IQ. 29 Hourani, Muhammad Abduh in: Hourani, Arabic Thought, 130-160. Cf. Aziz al-Azmeh, Islamist Revivalism and Western Ideologies, History Workshop Journal (HWJ) 32 (1991) 1, 44-53. 30 Hourani, Arabic Thought, viii-ix; Haj, Reconfiguring Islamic Tradition, 199. 31 For example: Hourani, Arabic Thought, 142; Sedgwick, Muhammad Abduh, 13. For a thorough analysis of Abduhs supposed Mutazilism: Hildebrandt, Waren al-Afn und Abduh Neo-Mutazilieten?, WI.

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social Darwinism, even though the discourse assumed the form [emphasis mine] of argumentation based on interpreting verses of the Koran: (). 32

Elie Kedourie extended this argument of external Muslimness to Abduhs religiosity, as he argued that Abduh adhered only nominally to Islam in order to reach the Islamic masses. 33 In their stress on Abduhs novelty and modernity, al-Azmeh, Kedourie but also Hourani treat the Islamic tradition (and even the Islamic religion) as a finalised and uncontested product, within which there is no sign of (further) change. 34 Samira Haj criticised this implicit premise in her 2009 work Reconfiguring Islamic Tradition. Indeed, al-Azmeh and Kedourie do not seem to allow for either synchronic or diachronic differentiation within Islamic tradition. In their analysis of Abduhs ideas as actually European, they tend to ignore Abduhs comparability with earlier strands of thought within the Islamic tradition such as the Islamic Revivalism from the eighteenth century onwards, or older and by then dismissed or neglected strands of thought such as Mutazilism or the work of Ibn Kaldn (1332-1406) or consider this irrelevant for Abduhs intellectual Islamicness. As such, they only focus on his deviation from Islamic orthodoxy as it was formulated by the conservative Sunni religious scholars or, ulema (Arabic: ulam) - of the late nineteenth century: the very Islam Abduh intended to reform. 35 More importantly, this secularist as well as European-centred perspective was not merely an interpretation of Abduh intellectually. It often also had a strong normative character with its particular understanding of what (traditional) Islamic religion is and what it is not. Likewise, contemporary or modern European thought acquired the status of a fixed and univocal normative point of reference. It was the standard which Abduhs ideas had to meet to be of any worth. So, whenever Abduh deviated from this standard, this was formulated in negative terms. 36 This resulted in a frequent qualification of Abduhs thought as apologetic and eclectic to the point of inconsistency, whenever his reasoning did not coincide with the European secular and

al-Azmeh, Islams and Modernities, 121. Kedourie, Afghani and Abduh. In this work, Kedourie resonates Lord Cromers observation on Abduh: I suspect that my friend Abduh, although he would have resented the appellation being applied to him, was in reality an Agnostic. Cromer, Modern Egypt, II, 180, cited and refuted by: J.J.G. Jansen, I suspect that my fried Abduh (...) was in reality an agnostic in: P.W. Pestman (ed.), Acta Orientalia Neerlandica. Proceedings of the Dutch Oriental Society Held in Leiden on the Occasion of its 50th Anniversary, 8th-9th May 1970 (Brill: Leiden 1971) 71-74. 34 This type of reasoning becomes manifest in statements such as these: It was, of course, easy in this way to distort if not destroy the precise meaning of the Islamic concepts (...). by Hourani: Hourani, Arabic Thought, 144. 35 Cf. Asad, Talal, Formations of the Secular. Christianity, Islam, Modernity (Stanford University Press: Stanford 2003) 220. 36 Kerr states this argumentation rather explicitly in his introduction: The theme of this book follows from the assumption, implied in the foregoing, that the practical significance of a set of abstract social ideas may at least be partly dependent on their intellectual worth: on their coherence, profundity of insight and learning, and sincerity of purpose. This may seem at first glance an unexceptionable proposition, but in actuality many people today are embarrassed by it. In this age of foreign aid and cultural exchange programs, where all cultures are equal and non are more equal than others, critical evaluation of other peoples beliefs seems arrogant and tactless.: Kerr, Islamic Reform, 17.
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CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCING MUAMMAD ABDUH scientific norms of Abduhs day. 37 Sympathising with Abduh in a rather paternalistic way, Hamilton Gibb ascribed flaws such as these to the very recent introduction of the rational analytic method in the Muslim world. As it took Europe centuries to develop this intellectual product, one cannot expect Abduh to fully get it instantly. 38 In this perspective, there was no analytical room to represent Abduhs intellectual creativity in a positive respect. Innovation can only be rejected as deviation, at times understandable but never desirable. The remnants of Islamic tradition were blamed particularly for Abduhs innovative flaws. Malcolm Kerr states in his Islamic Reform. The Political and Legal Theories of Muhammad Abduh and Rashd Ri from 1966:
What does matter is that the classical doctrines [which Abduh and RiD sought to use as a basis in the modern age] were of a nature inappropriate to modern institutionalization unless stood upside down and turned inside out; and their modern reformist proponents were not willing to go that far. 39

This quote of Kerrs points out the underlying argumentation of the normative use of the modern European intellectual tradition and its consequent dismissal of Islamic tradition. It resulted from the conviction that complete Westernisation including intellectual Westernisation was the only viable option for the rest of the world en route to prosperity in the rapidly changing world of the late nineteenth century, that is, the modern world. Westernisation thus equated modernisation, and, until well into the 1970s, modernisation was generally seen as a desirable universal future destination. 40 It was time for the rest of the world to leave history behind and to follow the West as their guide into modernity. Thus, imitation of the West was the key, also in an intellectual respect. In this perspective, the European intellectual tradition since the Enlightenment equated modernity, while the Islamic intellectual tradition coincided with tradition in the opposite sense of modernity. 41 It was therefore crucial for Abduh to adopt the European ideas completely and not half-heartedly, if he was to survive in modern times. In addition, Islamic tradition was not only outdated because of its traditionalism, but also because of its religiosity. For most modernisation theorists, Westernisation or modernisation

Kerr, Islamic Reform, 16 and 105; Hourani, Arabic Thought, 142-143; Rotraud Wielandt, Offenbarung und Geschichte im Denken moderner Muslime (Steiner: Wiesbaden 1971) 17; Hasselblatt, Apologetik Muhammad Abduhs. 38 Gibb, Modern Trends in Islam, 67. Cited by: Itzchak Weismann, Sociology of Islamic Modernism, MR, 109. 39 Kerr, Islamic Reform, 13; Cf. Ibidem, 106-107. 40 There were also those who thought that the Islamic world was not capable of modernity, because of its religion, race, or even language. These voices do not dominate the historiography on Abduh, however. This type of reasoning only resonates in Hamilton Gibbs analysis that Abduhs ideas were inherently fruitless, as they could never truly reach the Islamic masses who were still caught up in tradition and irrationality. Significantly, Gibb tells us, Islamic fundamentalism self-proclaimed upholders of tradition - did gain ground after Abduh died. See: Haj, Reconfiguring Islamic Tradition, 191. 41 Note the linguistic ambiguity of the term tradition, here.

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THEOLOGY OF UNITY implied secularisation at the least. 42 As Islam was not deemed capable of secularisation because of its supposedly inherent confusion of worldly and spiritual power, it was bound to disappear. Alternatively, it would remain backward and caught up in tradition, which was exemplified by violent Islamic fundamentalism. So, many of Abduhs academic observers interpreted his reformed Islam as the first step in the process of the secularisation and simultaneous disappearance of Islam, for example, as Albert Hourani did in Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age:
Without intending it, Abduh was perhaps opening the door to the flooding of Islamic doctrine and law by all the innovations of the modern world. He had intended to build a wall against secularism, he had in fact provided an easy bridge by which it could capture one position after another. It was not an accident that, as we shall see, one group of his disciples were later to carry his doctrines in the direction of complete secularism. 43

Samira Haj rightly summarises this kind of reasoning as: to modernise Islam is to betray it. 44 So, although Hourani identified Abduhs main aim as: To show that Islam [emphasis mine] can be reconciled with modern thought, and how it can be, this was both an undesirability as well as an impossibility in the long run according to many of Abduhs academic observers. 45 In their view, full modernisation necessarily amounts to a rather radical break in Islamic intellectual history which is one of the profoundly ahistorical implications of the classical terminology of modernity. 46 Tradition even in the general sense of historical (intellectual) continuity and modernity do not go together in this perspective. A fruitful synthesis of local tradition and universal modern intellectual history, as Abduh intended with his reformist Islam, seems an impossibility. Because of these flaws and implicit normative premises, this perspective does not suffice to analyse Abduh analytically.

Roy Wallis and Steve Bruce, Secularization: the Orthodox Model in: Steve Bruce (ed.), Religion and Modernization. Sociologists and Historians Debate the Secularization Thesis (Clarendon Press: Oxford 1992) 8-30, there 8-9; Peter van der Veer, Imperial encounters. Religion and modernity in India and Britain (Princeton University Press: New Jersey 2001) 15. 43 Hourani, Arabic Thought, 144-145. 44 Haj, Reconfiguring Islamic Tradition, 199. This immediately recalls Lord Cromers famous analysis of reformed Islam in Modern Egypt, as cited by Mansoor Moaddel: Islam cannot be reformed (...) reformed Islam is Islam no longer; it is something else. (), he [Cromer, AK] was convinced that the educated Egyptians were demoslemised Moslems and invertebrate Europeans. Moaddel, Islamic Modernism, 81. 45 Hourani, Arabic Thought, 144. 46 P. Wagner, Modernity. History of the Concept, International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavorial Sciences (2001) 9954-9961, there 9955 and 9956 [doi:10.1016/B0-08-043076-7/00133-9 - June 2010].

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CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCING MUAMMAD ABDUH 1.3 A New Perspective on Tradition

Recently, more and more authors respond to the aforementioned flaws and omissions of the European-centred perspective by explaining aspects of Abduhs ideas in an Islamic intellectual context. Thereby, they point to contemporaneous as well as to earlier intellectual movements which originated in the Islamic world within the framework of the Islamic tradition. From a conservative Islamic nineteenth-century perspective, these could be considered as either orthodox or less orthodox, but they were all somehow part of the Islamic instead of the European intellectual tradition. 47 In their theorising contributions to this type of articles, Daniel Brown in Rethinking tradition in modern Islamic thought (1996) and Samira Haj in Reconfiguring Islamic Tradition (2009) suggest a comprehensive reinterpretation of Islamic reformism on its own terms instead:
Like a specter haunting the Western mind, Islamic revivalism appears in distorted forms, rarely conceptualized on its own terms. Instead, Islam is framed through a particular reading of the experience of post-Reformation Europe, an uncritical self-understanding of the emergence of European modernity. 48

By this, Brown and Haj mean to explain scholars such as Abduh who figures prominently in both works within a dynamic Islamic tradition. Opposing the interpretation of tradition as fixed and unchanging which prevails implicitly in the European-centred perspective, they implement Talal Asads definition of Islam as a discursive tradition. According to Asad, a tradition is not defined by a shared agreement on matters of opinion, but by a specific rationality which is itself grounded in specified texts and institutions. Thus, Asad stresses the existence of diversity within one tradition. Debates can arise over the meanings of [the traditions] texts (even over which texts are formative), but this does not deny the underlying coherence of a tradition. 49 Following this definition of tradition, Abduhs reformed Islam should be regarded as an expression of an ongoing process of rethinking the traditions in which he participated, according to Brown and Haj. 50 At the same time, Abduhs reinterpretation of Islam is an attempt at rethinking orthodoxy and, as such, contest over religious authority. 51 This does not exclude Abduh from the Islamic tradition, however. Indeed, intellectual activity and creativity within a specific religious

Ibrahim, Abduh and Maqid al-Shara, MR; Scharbrodt, Salafiyya and Sufism, BSOAS; Hildebrandt, Waren al-Afn und Abduh Neo-Mutazilieten?, WI. 48 Haj, Reconfiguring Islamic Tradition, 1. 49 Ovamir Anjum, Islam as a Discursive Tradition: Talal Asad and His Interlocutors, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East (CSSAAME) 27 (2007) 3, 656-672, there 662-663; cf. Stouts definition of democracy as a tradition: Jeffrey Stout, Democracy & Tradition (Princeton University Press: New Jersey 2005 fifth print; first edition in 2004) 3. 50 Brown, Rethinking Tradition, 3. 51 Haj, Reconfiguring Islamic Tradition, 30.

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THEOLOGY OF UNITY tradition is defined here by the pursuit of an ongoing coherence by making reference to a set of texts, procedures, arguments and practice instead of by agreeing on a set of theological doctrines. 52 Despite Abduhs unorthodoxy according to nineteenth-century standards, this perspective on tradition enables Haj to position Abduhs reformism in the historical practice of religious criticism, which she considers as one of the underlying rationalities of the Islamic tradition. In the historical imagination of Islam, the mere passing of time since the revelation of the Quran is thought to entail the danger of corruption (Arabic: fasad) and degeneration (Arabic: taqahqur). One of the leitmotivs in Islamic history was thus to purify contemporary Islam from accretions for which the mere unfolding of history was responsible. 53 Therefore, Abduhs striving for Islamic reform should not be considered exceptional or as a mere expression of his European ideas. In their use of Talal Asads definition, Haj and Brown explicitly oppose the conception of tradition as opposed to modernity. Tradition is not static and thereby belonging to the past, but as Haj quotes Talal Asad:
To Asad, Islamic tradition is a set of discourses that seek to instruct practitioners regarding the correct form and purpose of a given practice that, precisely because it is established, has a history. These discourses relate conceptually to a past (when the practice was instituted, and from which the knowledge of its point and proper performance has been transmitted) and a future (how the point of that practice can best be secured in the short or long term, or why it should be modified or abandoned), through a present (how it is linked to other practices, institutions, and social conditions). 54

In denying this opposition, Haj rejects the necessity of a fundamental break between Abduhs ideas on Islam and the pre-modern Islamic tradition and simultaneously rejects the complete identification of Abduhs ideas with those of the modern European tradition. Modern Western thought or modernity according to the Eurocentrist perspective is only one of the many external influences on the continuous reformulation or rethinking of Islamic tradition in both Haj and Browns analyses. 55

Ibidem, 5. Haj, Reconfiguring Islamic Tradition, 7-8. 54 Talal Asad, The Idea of an Anthropology of Islam (Georgetown University: Washington DC 1986) 14. Cited by Haj, Reconfiguring Islamic Tradition, 4. 55 Brown compares the influence of modernity to that of a prism through which Islamic tradition is refracted and thus redefined. Brown, Rethinking Tradition, 3. Haj is in this respect influenced by Alasdair MacIntyres definition of tradition as an argument extended through time in which certain fundamental agreements are defined and redefined in terms of two kinds of conflict: those with critics and enemies external to the tradition who reject all or at least key parts of those fundamental agreements, and those internal, interpretative debates through which the meaning and rationale of fundamental agreements come to be expressed and by whose progress a tradition is constituted. Alasdair MacIntyre, Whose Justice? Which Rationality? (Notre Dame University Press: Notre Dame 1988) 12. Cited by Haj, Reconfiguring Islamic Tradition, 4 (quote) and 5 (elucidation on quote).
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CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCING MUAMMAD ABDUH This Islamic perspective on Abduh and other Islamic Reformists clearly has its advantages as against the Eurocentrist one. The reformulation of tradition as a dynamic discursive tradition, inspired by Talal Asad, is very fruitful indeed. It draws attention to innovation and change in response to contemporary challenges as well as to Abduhs indebtedness to an Islamic intellectual tradition, which displays specific styles of reasoning and conceptualising. 56 As a comprehensive perspective for characterising Abduh or other Islamic Reformists in that respect it does not suffice, however. A singular Islamic perspective only draws attention to dynamic continuities within the Islamic discursive tradition; external influences only serve to explain an internal metamorphosis. As a solely diachronic perspective, as Haj suggests by her traditional perspective, Haj neglects synchronic explanations which were particular and significant to Abduhs intellectual situation at the onset of modernity. Hajs perspective seems to stem from the wish to guard the local in Islamic intellectual history from the threat of universalising Westernisation. 57 Although this wish is certainly justified in a historiographical context in which the force of modernisation was quite overpowering, one should not retreat in its counterpart and explain Abduh solely in the perspective of the Islamic tradition. I argue that neither of the discursive traditions should fulfil a predominant role in the analysis of Abduhs ideas, as neither one does justice to Abduhs complex historical context, which Mansoor Moaddel rightly characterises as one of extensive discursive pluralism. 58 In addition, Abduhs main aim was to provide a synthesis between Islam and European thought as Hourani explained. 59

1.4

A Synthetic Solution of Modernity

Instead of emphasising a single tradition as all-clarifying, I seek to explain Abduhs ideas in relation to two traditions at the same time: the (modern) European tradition and the Islamic tradition. Although this duality of traditions is perhaps not a unique trait in intellectual history, it is particular
See: Anjum, Islam as a Discursive Tradition, CSSAAME, 662. Reinhart Koselleck exemplifies this type of reasoning in my opinion as follows: An analogous connection exists between spoken speech, synchronically, and the diachronically given language that always takes effect in a conceptual-historical way. What happens is always unique and new, but never so new that social conditions, which are pregiven over the long term, will not have made possible each unique event. A new concept may be coined to articulate experiences or expectations that never existed before. But it can never be too new not to have existed virtually as a seed in the pregiven language and not to have received meaning from its inherent linguistic context. Reinhart Koselleck, Social History and Conceptual History in: Reinhart Koselleck, The Practice of Conceptual History. Timing History, Spacing Concepts (Stanford University Press: Stanford 2002) [Translated from German by Todd Samuel Presner et al] 20-37, there 30-31. 57 This impression is strengthened by Hajs referral to her mother to whom she dedicates the book as () herself a bearer of the tradition. 58 Moaddel, Islamic Modernism, 17 and 27-30; Idem, Discursive Pluralism and Islamic Modernism in Egypt, Arab Studies Quarterly (ASQ) 24 (2002) 1, 1-29. 59 Hourani, Arabic Thought, 139 and 144.
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THEOLOGY OF UNITY applicable since the nineteenth century; with the onset of universal modernity. As such, the history of modern Islamic thought and of Muammad Abduh in particular is in need of a specific analytical approach, which takes both traditions into account. Taking my clues from Hans-Georg Gadamers dialectic theory on interpretation, I propose a synthetic perspective which addresses Abduhs indebtedness to both traditions as well as his transcendence from both. As such, this synthetic perspective enables me to render Abduhs conception of authenticity, civilisation, and religion in terms of Islam and the West, tradition and modernity and similarity and difference which does justice to the complexity of Abduhs late-nineteenth-century modernity. Here, modernity refers to an intellectual modernity which was (predominantly) connected to the increasing universality of the European discursive tradition since the nineteenth century. 60 The universal impact of European thought is aptly formulated by Aziz al-Azmeh as follows:
(...) I mean that the tropes and notions of political and social thought available today form a universal repertoire that is inescapable, a repertoire which, though of Western origin, has in the last century and a half become a universal patrimony beyond which political and social thought is inconceivable, except very marginally. This was the result of a universal acculturation which has filtered through modern state structures, forms of discourse and communication, educational and legal system, terms of political life and much more, which have become globalized, native not only to their points of origin, but worldwide [emphasis mine]. 61

In this perspective, the hallmark of (ideological) modernity is a degree of intellectual universalism which was not encountered before in history. Abduhs involvement in and appropriation of European thought might be regarded as part of an early stage of this ongoing process. This process was continuously reinforced because of Europes dominance in the political and economic fields, which seemed to prove the cultural superiority of Europe and thus justified the adoption of European ideas. 62 Three related points must be stressed (again) here. First, although European in proximate origin, the adoption of ideas from the European tradition does not necessitate a loss of intellectual

Reinhard Schulzes Was ist die islamitische Aufklrung?, WI (1990) and Peter Grans Islamic Roots of Capitalism (1979) both demonstrated eighteenth-century developments in the Islamic world which may have led to institutions or ideas which resemble European developments. However, I follow C.A. Bayly in appointing Europes modernity an influential role as the first exemplar and controller of modernity [sic], whose role was later partially assumed by non-European countries such as Japan. C.N. Bayly, The Birth of the Modern World. 17801914. Global Connections and Comparisons (Blackwell: Carlton/Malden/Oxford 2008 paperback edition; first edition in 2004) 12; Muhammad Khalid Masud and Armando Salvatore Western Scholars of Islam on the Issue of Modernity in: Muhammad Khalid Masud, Armando Salvatore and Martin van Bruinessen (ed.), Islam and modernity. Key issues and debates (Edinburgh University Press: Edinburgh 2009) 36-54, there 49; Reinhard Schulze, Was ist die islamitische Aufklrung?, WI, 36 (1996) 3, 276-325; Peter Gran, Islamic Roots of Capitalism. Egypt, 1760-1840 (University of Texas Press: Austin 1979). 61 al-Azmeh, Islams and Modernities, 33. 62 Cf. Timothy Mitchell, Preface, in: Timothy Mitchell (ed.), Questions of Modernity (University of Minnesota Press: Minneapolis 2000) vii-x, there viii.

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CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCING MUAMMAD ABDUH identity or authenticity. Every tradition incorporates elements from outside it. This is not peculiar to modernity, nor to the non-West. 63 Thus, Abduh and other modern Islamic thinkers can still be said to function in an Islamic tradition, too, despite their unorthodoxy according to nineteenthcentury standards, as Haj has demonstrated effectively. Secondly, although global intellectual modernity is dependent upon the diffusion of European ideas and discourses, it is not necessarily identical to them. The global nature of modernity does not imply complete Westernisation on a global basis, as this would suppose downright passivity of the historical subject outside the West as well as a complete and a-historical rupture with the (religious) past. 64 Certainly, Abduh was not actually Auguste Comte or Herbert Spencer dressed in a robe and turban. Thirdly, the first two points imply that an instance of non-Western intellectual modernity always portrays differences as well as similarities to both the local as well as the European tradition. As such, following Talal Asads definition of a dynamic tradition, intellectual modernity could be conceived as a new sub-tradition in both as well as a tradition of its own, perhaps. Thus, Abduh functioned within an Islamic tradition as well as in a European tradition. This applies to Abduh particularly, moreover, as he actively strove to reach an accommodation between the two. Still, or, more accurately, as a consequence, his ideas would probably have been regarded as heterogeneous and deviant in both traditions. Because of his emphasis on the fundamental historical subjectivity of every interpretation and the importance of tradition in this process, Hans-Georg Gadamers dialectic theory on understanding might help to formulate a framework for the analysis of Abduh along the lines just sketched. 65 In his hermeneutical theory, he stresses the necessary and positive role of prejudice. According to him, the interpreter necessarily brings his anticipations to the text as fore-structures of understanding. Gadamer explains this by referring to theological interpretation, in which an interpretation of the revealed texts is necessarily an application of these texts at the same time.

Following OHanlon, as approvingly cited by Talal Asad: [One must reject] the myth (...) of the selfconstituting subject, that a consciousness or being [sic] which has an origin outside itself is no being at all. From such a rejection, we can proceed to the idea that though histories and identities are necessarily constructed and produced from many fragments [sic], fragments which do not contain the signs of any essential belonging inscribed in them, this does not cause the history of the subaltern to dissolve once more into visibility. R. OHanlon, Recovering the Subject. Subaltern Studies and Histories of Resistance in Colonial South Africa, Modern Asia Studies 22 (1989) 1. Cited in: Talal Asad, Genealogies of Religion. Discipline and Reasons of Power in Christianity and Islam (Johns Hopkins University Press: Baltimore 1993) 14. Also: Cf. Richard King, Orientalism and Religion. Postcolonial Theory, India and The Mystic East (Routledge: Londen/New York 1999) 14. 64 S.N. Eisenstadt, Multiple Modernities, Daedalus 129 (2000) 1, 1-29. 65 In broad lines this representation of Gadamers ideas draws upon: Jeff Malpas, Hans-Georg Gadamer in : Edward N. Zalta (ed.), The Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy (SEP) (Summer 2009) [http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/gadamer August 2010]; King, Orientalism and Religion, 7281; Hans-Georg Gadamer, Truth and Method (Sheed & Ward: London 1989 first edition 1975) [translated by Joel Weinsheimer and Donald Marshall; originally published in German as Wahrheit und Methode in 1960] 265-379.

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THEOLOGY OF UNITY Similarly, every understanding is always oriented towards the interpreters contemporary concerns and interests. 66 Gadamers emphasis on the interpreters subjectivity does not amount to complete subjectivism, however. The fore-structures through which the interpreter understands the text are at least partially an effect of a shared history (tradition). 67 Gadamer refers to these forestructures as a horizon (German: Horizont). Likewise, the text itself is also the product of a certain horizon. Interpretation, then, is a fusion of horizons (German: Horizontverschmelzung) between text and interpreter. As such, the interpreter never completely escapes from his horizon. This does not disqualify his interpretation, however. It is an inevitable trait of character of any interpretation. Nor does this preclude change, moreover. With the fusion of the horizons of text and interpreter, new contexts of meaning can be established. Thus, Gadamers perspective draws positive attention to the subjectivity as well as creativity of understanding out of which new intellectual productions result which is not purely individual but situated in a shared historical context. Gadamer formulated his theory specifically in response to claims of objectivity within the humanities. Considering the ontological nature which Gadamer ascribes to understanding and his explicit comparison with theological understanding, however, I think it fit to employ Gadamers theoretical insights to formulate an analytical framework for a better understanding of Abduhs ideas. Although Gadamers conception of tradition as a unifying bond in history between text and interpreter is not as such applicable to Abduhs situation of traditional duality, Gadamers idea of an inherent subjectivity of interpretation is to be welcomed. Instead of rendering Abduhs Islam in terms of deviance from either the European or Islamic tradition, it opens up to analysing the creativity of Abduhs particular fusion of horizons. Therefore, I propose to analyse Abduhs Islam as a synthetic result of such a dialectic process of understanding or translation, as Talal Asad would prefer to call it. 68 Abduhs reinterpretation of Islam testifies to his synthetic act of interpreting ideas from the European discursive tradition from the viewpoint of the Islamic discursive tradition in which he was thoroughly educated and in which Islam had been defined for ages. As his interpretation of the European texts transformed his own horizon, this process worked vice versa, as well. As such, the horizons of the European as well as the Islamic tradition were fused in Abduhs Islam. When viewing Abduhs Islam as a synthesis of two traditions, two points should be addressed beforehand. On the one hand, it should be remembered following Talal Asads redefinition of tradition that traditions themselves allow for differentiation within. Each text within a tradition has its specific and particular bond to the traditions underlying unity. Indeed,
66 67

Malpas, Hans-Georg Gadamer, SEP; Gadamer, Truth and Method, 308-309. Gadamer, Truth and Method, 295. 68 Asad, Genealogies of Religion, 12. Cf. Schaebler, Civilizing Others, 5.

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CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCING MUAMMAD ABDUH Abduhs intellectual context was constituted by divergent and opposing manifestations of the Islamic as well as European tradition. For example, elements within the European tradition which were critical of Christianity or positive of (Classical) Islam provided Abduh at times with the ammunition to counter European ideas and discourses which were highly critical of Islam. 69 Frequently, furthermore, Abduhs ideas fitted in particularly well with elements in the Islamic tradition which were deemed heterodox compared to nineteenth-century standards. On the other hand, Gadamer explained that a horizon was not merely made up of the tradition in which the interpreter functioned. It was also formed by the contemporary conditions and interests of the interpreter as well as his personal competences, perhaps. Most importantly, this part of Abduhs horizon was characterised by the nineteenth-century rise of Western dominance politically, economically, scientifically, technologically and culturally. In consideration of this background, two points should be stressed. First, because of the political, economical, scientific as well as technological superiority of Europe over the rest of the world, the two discursive traditions related to each other in a fundamentally asymmetrical way. Abduh seems to have conceived of the (modern) European tradition as authoritative because of Europes dominance, while the Islamic tradition dear to him was in need of defence. 70 Second, and as a consequence of the first, Abduh himself consciously strove to accommodate Islam to the intellectual challenge as posed by (secular as well as Christian) European ideas. As such, his ideas on what Islam was or should be were a constant factor co-determining his interpretations in a manner reminiscent of the theological application to which Gadamer refers while his interpretations at their turn influenced his conception of Islam. Abduhs attempt at accommodating Islam with dominant Europe manifests itself most remarkably in his interpretation and application of discourses produced in the European tradition with regard to the Islamic religion. Following an analysis of Richard King regarding Orientalist discourses on Hinduism and Buddhism, I demonstrate in the next chapter how Abduh possibly reversed the Orientalist discourses on Islam with regard to authenticity and as such defended Islam in the terms set by its European offenders. King described an example of a similar process for India where the colonial discourses of the British became mimetically reproduced in an indigenous and anti-colonial form. 71 However, it is also probable that Abduhs defence of Islam using a discursive reversal was initiated or at least reinforced by independently developed discourses on religion in the Islamic religion which exhibited striking similarities with the current European discourses. I will come back to this in the next chapter.

Cf. Dennis Porter, Orientalism and its Problems in: Patrick Williams and Laura Chrisman (ed.), Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory. A Reader (Columbia University Press: New York 1994) 150-161, there 152-153. 70 Moaddel, Islamic Modernism, 76-77. 71 King, Orientalism and Religion, 151.

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THEOLOGY OF UNITY As this example demonstrates, a transcultural and dialectic process is highly complex as well as creative. As such, it is well-captured by the following quote of Birgit Schaebler:
The interplay of global and local forces then is not a top-down form of domination, not a one-way street, but a transcultural process, a dialectic of dominant cultural forms and their adaptation, adoption, transformation, integration, disregard, or rejection by other cultures, a process that has to be interpreted as being in itself creative and not just as simple imitation. 72

The result is a synthetic intellectual modernity which is native not only to their points of origin, but worldwide. 73 In other words, being the result of a dialectic or even a dialogue every instance of universal intellectual modernity is the product of a particular fusion of two horizons. 74

1.5

A Synthetic Approach to Authenticity, Civilisation and Religion

Following the described framework, I will specifically focus upon Abduhs synthetic interpretations of three concepts within his ideas on what Islam is or should be: authenticity (Arabic: ala), civilisation (Arabic: madaniyya), and religion (Arabic: dn). What does Abduh precisely mean by these concepts and how do his interpretations relate to the conceptions of authenticity, civilisation and religion in the European and Islamic tradition? All of these concepts fulfilled a central role in Abduhs ideas on Islam and its relation with Europe or modernity. Furthermore, they were of crucial importance in the European discourse of colonisation and modernisation. This does not mean that these concepts were new altogether in the Arabic vocabulary of the nineteenth century, however. In fact, the terminology of ala, madaniyya and dn can be retraced within the Islamic tradition, before the Muslim world was affected by a Western presence. The first is the concept of true Islam (Arabic, adjective for true or truthful: aqq) with the related concept of authenticity (Arabic: ala). This terminology fulfils a central role in the thought of Muammad Abduh as well as of modern Islamic thought as a whole. As we will see, this concept functions as the prime means for connecting and reconciling the Islamic as well as the European traditions. Genealogically, furthermore, it is heavily contested as it has been exclusively attributed to either the European or the Islamic tradition in the existing literature on Abduh. For
Schaebler, Civilizing Others, 5. al-Azmeh, Islams and Modernities, 33. I use the singular form of modernity here, as I agree with al-Azmeh that: Modernities do not and cannot free any modern history from bondage to Modernity [sic]. al-Azmeh, Islams and Modernities, xiv. More nuancedly, a similar but not identical perspective seems to be expressed by Timothy Mitchell. He states that the singular terminology of modernity both refers to its imagined singularity (which explains its globalising force but also refers to the imagination of modernity as the West) as well as an inherent pluralism (caused by its global ambitions). He sums his position up as: Modernity then becomes the unsuitable yet unavoidable name for these discrepant histories. Mitchell, Preface, iv. 74 Cf. Asad, Formations of the Secular, 217.
73 72

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CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCING MUAMMAD ABDUH example, Suha Taji-Farouki and Basheer M. Nafi consider the self-consciously Islamic character of modern Islamic thought in which the discourse of authenticity fulfills a central role as one of the most problematic elements of modern Islamic thought, as it ultimately refers to a new and discontinuous interpretation of Islam. 75 Furthermore, Aziz al-Azmeh lashes out at the inauthenticity of the fundamentalist as well as post-modernist discourse of authenticity in his 1993 book Islams and Modernities. 76 In the third chapter, the concept of civilisation will be examined. This terminology is deemed central to the colonial mission of nineteenth-century Europe. 77 In early-twentieth century Islam and Christianity related to Science and Civilisation (Arabic: al-Islm wa-l-Narniyya maa al-Ilm wa-lMadaniyya), Muammad Abduh strove to accommodate Islam to civilisation. He had already adopted the same terminology in 1884, however, as is evident from articles in the journal The Strongest Bond (Arabic: al-Urwa al-Wuthq), which he co-founded with his teacher Jaml al-Dn alAfghn while in Paris. Lastly, the concept of religion is the subject of the fourth chapter. Of a slightly other order than the first two concepts, religion is perhaps more aptly described as a category. As Islam is considered a religion itself, Abduhs conception of religion co-determines the relation between civilisation, authenticity and his interpretation of Islam. As such, as well as to enhance the thesis unity, the concept of religion will be studied in respect to issues raised by the two preceding chapters, relying among others on Talal Asads Genealogies of Religion. In this respect, Asad described, for example, how Christian missionary work was increasingly (self-)identified with the civilising mission by which colonialism was justified, while the advent of the Christian mission in the Middle East, both Catholic and Protestant, also intensified Islams contact with that other world religion. 78 Abduhs interpretation and application of these three concepts with regard to Islam will be examined throughout his life, as represented by three of his main works: (1) seven relevant articles which appeared in the journal The Strongest Bond which he co-founded with his teacher al-Afghn while in Paris in 1884, but of whose articles Abduh is considered the author; 79 (2) his most

Suha Taji Farouki and Basheer M. Nafi, Introduction in: Idem (ed.), Islamic Thought in the Twentieth Century (IB Tauris: London/New York 2004) 1-27, there 3-4 and 12. 76 al-Azmeh, Islams and Modernities, 31 and 49. 77 Schaebler, Civilizing Others, 3-5; Reinhard Schulze, Mass Culture and Islamic Cultural Production in 19th Century Middle East in: Georg Stauth and Sami Zubaida (ed.), Mass Culture, Popular Culture, and Social Life in the Middle East (Campus Verlag/Westview Press: Frankfurt/Boulder 1987) 189-222, there 189-190. 78 Asad, Formations of the Secular, 62; Schaebler, Civilising Others, 6. 79 Sedgwick, Muhammad Abduh, 49. These articles have never been translated in a European language. All translations of citations from the Arabic are therefore mine; Muammad Abduh and Jaml al-Dn al-Afghn, Ftia al-Jarda (English: Introduction of the Newspaper), al-Jarda wa-l-Manhajuh (English: The Newspaper and its Method), al-Jinsiyya wa-lDiyna al-Islmiyya (English: The Nationality and the Islamic Faith), M al-Umma wa iruh wa Ilj Ilalih (English: The Past of the Muslim Community, Its Present and the Treatment of its Sicknesses), alNarniyya wa-l-Islm wa Ahluh (English: Christianity and Islam and their People), Ini al-Muslimn wa

75

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THEOLOGY OF UNITY important work Theology of Unity (Arabic: Rislat al-Tawd) which was based upon Abduhs lectures on theology in Beirut but was only published in 1897; 80 (3) Abduhs polemic response to the Christian Syrian Fara Ann titled Islam and Christianity in 1902; 81 as well as by: (4) four of Abduhs letters to the cleric Isaac Taylor written during his time in Beirut and to Leo Tolstoy written at the beginning of the twentieth century. 82 In the following three chapters, I will retrace Abduhs conceptions of authenticity, civilisation and religion as emerging from these four types of sources in both the European and Islamic tradition. As Armando Salvatore argued convincingly, however, the search for a unique point of beginning for a specific terminology is fruitless in these kind of histories. The remaining possibility consists of identifying a plurality of possible beginnings. 83 Excellent examples of such a genealogical approach have been aptly performed by Talal Asad, Armando Salvatore, Richard King and Reinhart Koselleck. 84 In his theoretical contribution to the subject, Koselleck envisions a pregiven conceptual or linguistic structure in which a specific use of a concept becomes possible. 85 As

Suknuhum wa Sabab Dhalika (English: The Decline of the Muslims, their Stagnation and the Reason for this) and Sunan Allah f-l-Umam (English: The Principles of God regarding the Communities) in: Muammad Jaml (ed.), al-Urwa al-Wuthq li-Jaml al-Dn al-Afghn wa Muammad Abduh (English: The Strongest Bond of Jaml al-Dn al-Afghn and Muammad Abduh) (al-Maktaba al-Ahliyya: Cairo 1927) [originally published as a newspaper in Paris in 1884] 25-34, 35-37, 38-44, 45-60, 61-71, 72-81 and 218-227. 80 This work of Abduhs was translated into English by Ishaq Musaad and Kenneth Cragg as Theology of Unity in 1966. Whenever deemed relevant, I compared it with the Arabic original. In this essay, the translation of Musaad and Cragg will be used for citations from this work; Muammad Abduh, The Theology of Unity (Allen & Unwin: London 1966) [translated by Ishaq Musaad and Kenneth Cragg; originally published in Arabic as Rislat al-Tawd in 1897]; Muammad Abduh, Rislat al-Tawd (English: Theology of Unity) in: Muammad Amra (ed.), al-Aml al-Kmila li-l-Imm al-Shaykh Muammad Abduh (English: The Complete Works of the Imam and Shaykh Muammad Abduh) (Madnat al-Nar 2006) III, 377-501. 81 This collection of articles, originally published in the journal The Lighthouse (Arabic: al-Manr) which was edited by Abduhs pupil Rashd Ri, is translated into German by Gunnar Hasselblatt in 1968 as Islam und Christentum im Verhltnis zu Wissenschaft und Zivilisation. Whenever deemed relevant, I compared his translation with the Arabic original. Citations from this text are given in English, based on the German as well as the Arabic texts; Muammad Abduh, Islam und Christentum im Verhltnis zu Wissenschaft und Zivilisation, in: Gunnar Hasselblatt, Herkunft und Auswirkungen der Apologetik Muhammad Abduhs (1849-1905), untersucht an seiner Schrift: Islam und Christentum im Verhltnis zu Wissenschaft und Zivilisation (PhD thesis, University of Gttingen 1968) 7-164 [translated by Gunnar Hasselblatt; originally published in Arabic as al-Islm wa-l-Narniyya maa al-Ilm wa-l-Madaniyya in 1902]; Muammad Abduh, al-Radd al Fara Ann (al-Iihd f-l-Narniyya wal-Islm) (English: Reply to Fara Ann (Oppression in Christianity and Islam)) in: Muammad Amra (ed.), alAml al-Kmila li-l-Imm al-Shaykh Muammad Abduh (English: The Complete Works of the Imam and Shaykh Muammad Abduh) (Madinat al-Nasr 2006) III, 264-376 [originally published in Arabic as al-Islm wa-lNarniyya maa al-Ilm wa-l-Madaniyya in 1902]. 82 Muammad Abduh, Risla il-l-Qiss Isaq aylor (English: Letter to the Cleric Isaac Taylor) and Risla Thniyya il-l-Qiss Isaq aylor (English: Second Letter to the Cleric Isaac Taylor) in: Muammad Amra (ed.), al-Aml al-Kmila li-l-Imm al-Shaykh Muammad Abduh (English: The Complete Works of the Imam and Shaykh Muammad Abduh) (Madinat al-Nasr 2006) II, 357-358 and 359-360 [originally written in Beirut, ca. 1885-1888]; Muammad Abduh, Risla il Tlsty (English: Letter to Tolstoy) and Risla Thniyya il Tlsty (English: Second Letter to Tolstoy) in: ibidem, II, 361-362 [originally written between ca. 1901 (the year in which Tolstoy was excommunicated to which Abduh refers in the first letter) and 1904 (the year in which Tolstoy responded to Abduhs letter(s))]. 83 Salvatore, Islam and the Political Discourse of Modernity, xx and xxvi. 84 Asad, Genealogies of Religion; Asad, Formations of the Secular; Salvatore, Political Discourse of Modernity; King, Orientalism and Religion. 85 Reinhart Koselleck, Social History and Conceptual History, 30-31.

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CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCING MUAMMAD ABDUH such, the possible usage of a concept depends to a great extent on its preceding meanings. As such, a concepts history can help to expose the precise meaning of a concept. A pre-given conceptual structure does not preclude change, however. Indeed, the careful study of the history of a concept helps to detect the subtle shifts in meaning, too. 86 Applied to Muammad Abduhs ideas, an exciting and innovative dimension is introduced, as the pre-given conceptual structure is twofold. One residing in a European intellectual discursive tradition, the other in an Islamic one. The particular configuration of these traditions help to explain Abduhs specific conception of authenticity, civilisation and religion. So, because of the synthetic quality of his ideas, Abduhs interpretation as well as application of the concepts transcended the original conceptions in both traditions. In this thesis, I will focus on how Abduh performed this act of synthesis. How did Abduh compose a new interpretation of these concepts out of the existing conceptual structures in the European and Islamic tradition with regard to authenticity, civilisation and religion? As Gadamer pointed out, a particular understanding is always co-determined by the concerns and interests of the interpreter. Indeed, Abduhs specific anxieties and desires which were in turn determined by his contemporary as well as historical context influenced his specific interpretations of these three concepts. In particular, as mentioned before, his ideas on Islam were crucial in this respect. Specifically, I will demonstrate how Abduhs conceptions of authenticity, civilisation, and religion render Abduhs interpretation of Islam in this respect as one characterised by an overpowering sense of unity. Supported by his conceptions of authenticity, civilisation and religion, Abduh postulates and advocates a unity within Islam, a unity between the Islamic civilisation and the European civilisation as well as a unity between the Islamic religion and the Christian religion. Therefore, Abduhs ideas could legitimately be referred to as a Theology of Unity (Arabic: Rislat al-Tawd), the title of his main work of theology in 1897. In an attempt to uncover the underlying coherence of Abduhs idea of unity with respect to Islam internally and externally as becomes manifest by Abduhs usages of the concepts of authenticity, civilisation and religion, I will turn to Oliver Scharbrodts thorough description of Abduhs adherence to a Sufi inspired emanationist world view in his early work Treatise on Mystical Inspirations (Arabic: Rislat al-Wridt) as a possible explanation. In every chapter, I will lightly touch upon the recurrent theme of unity in this particular aspect of Abduhs work as well as its possible explanation in Sufism, after which I will address this issue as a whole in the concluding chapter. As Scharbrodts article Salafiyya and Sufism only focuses upon Abduhs Treatise on Mystical Inspirations, the effect of a Sufi world view on Abduhs later works and ideas are still in need of further investigation, particularly because of Abduhs critical attitude towards Sufi practices, such as the
86

For example, Reinhart Koselleck, Progress and Decline. An Appendix to the History of Two Concepts in: Reinhart Koselleck, The Practice of Conceptual History. Timing History, Spacing Concepts (Stanford University Press: Stanford 2002) [Translated from German by Todd Samuel Presner et al] 218-235.

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THEOLOGY OF UNITY popular Sufi veneration of saints. As such, although I consider the explanation of Abduhs emphasis on a theology of unity along lines of emanationist Sufism as promising, this argument is to be considered strictly hypothetical here until further research is conducted. This inquiry into Abduhs specific use of concepts, based on a nuanced perspective of intellectual modernity, and the concepts position in Abduhs ideas on Islam contributes to a better understanding of Muammad Abduh as a whole, as it addresses questions of Islam and the West, tradition and modernity, and authenticity and imitation which were pivotal to his own thought as well as to the existing historiography on him. In seeking a middle ground in all of these oppositions, this study does justice to the complexities of Abduhs modern experience outside the West. In addition, this study is also relevant to the subsequent history of twentieth-century Islamic thought, since elements of Abduhs reinterpretation of Islam have been influential until now. Particularly, Abduhs conception of authenticity is significant in this respect. In their 2008 book Islamic Thought in the Twentieth Century, Suha Taji-Farouki and Basheer M. Nafi identify the debate over what is truly and authentically Islamic as one of the central themes of modern Islamic thought in the twentieth century. 87 Like Abduh, furthermore, his successors continued formulating their ideas on Islam in relation to an increasing dissemination of European ideas and discourses. Accordingly, the historiography on twentieth-century Islamic thought is similarly characterised by questions of tradition and modernity. Therefore, a better understanding of the specific mechanisms involved in the fusing of two horizons, as I aspire in this thesis, will be relevant to the study of the twentieth century, too.

1.6

The Expanded Horizon of Muammad Abduh

Before delving into how Abduhs interpretations of the concepts of authenticity, civilisation and religion came about, I will first sketch out Abduhs expanded horizon following Gadamers terminology in general. As such, I will pay attention to the contemporary conditions which engendered Abduhs particular concerns and interests. With specific regard to his intellectual context, I will demonstrate how Abduh acquired general knowledge of the European and Islamic traditions and which specific works he knew. This makes clear how much his context was formed by an intellectual duality as well as by anxieties concerning Islam and the Muslim World. Such a general analysis confirms the need for the particular methodology chosen in this thesis. First and foremost, Muammad Abduhs reformulation of Islam was to a great extent, though not solely a response to the challenge as posed by the Western dominance, as many

87

Taji-Farouki and Nafi, Introduction, 3-4 and 7.

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CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCING MUAMMAD ABDUH authors have noted before me. 88 This challenge manifested itself in a political, economical and technological superiority, which was probably most succinctly expressed in the British occupation of his home country Egypt in 1882 for Abduh. Through the implementation of his reformed Islam, Abduh aimed at transforming Egypt or the Arab-Muslim world at large to viable and prosperous societies which could vie with Europe again. Thus, his goal was not Westernisation as such. His aim was Muslim prosperity as well as the preservation of Islam in the context of the latest developments, in which Western dominance was evident. His solution was a reformation or modernisation of the people through a reformation of Islam. 89 For this purpose, he engaged actively in journalism; as the editor of the Egyptian Gazette (Arabic: al-Waqi al-Miriyya) from 1880 to 1882, as the co-editor of The Strongest Bond in 1884 in Paris, and as a frequent contributor to many journals including The Lighthouse (Arabic: al-Manr), edited by his pupil Rashd Ri. Increasingly, through the support of the British Controller-General Lord Cromer (1883-1907), Abduh also engaged in the actual implementation of educational and judicial reform through his position in the Azhar Administrative Council and his position from 1899 on as Grand Mufti that is, the state-appointed authority in legal matters of Egypt. 90 Taking Abduhs main aim of synthesis into consideration, it is perhaps no surprise that Abduh actively engaged himself with Islamic as well as the European tradition, as he wanted his ideas on Islam to fit into both. Regarding the first, Abduh intended to formulate an Islam which was acceptable for the Islamic elite as well as the Islamic masses, as the first had to educate the second to realise a true reformation of Islamic society. Abduhs major obstacle in this respect was constituted by the conservative ulema (Arabic: ulam). 91 These religious scholars were the main authorities for defining Islamic orthodoxy in Islam. Muammad Abduh was certainly well aware of their intellectual positions, as he had followed the traditional path of religious education which started with remembering the Quran by heart and ended at the famous religious university of the Azhar in Cairo. But by the time Abduh was to graduate from the Azhar University, his ideas had so much diverted from Azhar orthodoxy that he was almost denied the Azhar degree by which he received the title of lim, designating him as one of the ulema. In addition, he dressed as a religious scholar, wearing robes instead of uniform and a turban instead of a fez. 92 At the same time, the conservative ulema continued to oppose the new-fashioned reformist attempts of their fellow lim throughout his life.

For example: Haddad, Muhammad Abduh, 34-35. Since Abduh aimed at realising a social change, by means of a reinterpretation of religion, his lifelong efforts to alter the educational system in Egypt comes as no surprise. 90 Sedgwick, Muhammad Abduh. 91 Abduh, Theology, 116-117 and 120. 92 Sedgwick, Muhammad Abduh, 13 and 15; Jansen, I suspect that Abdu was an agnostic, 71.
89

88

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THEOLOGY OF UNITY Claiming his own right to Islamic orthodoxy, Abduh couched his reinterpretation (also) in Islamic terms and as such functioned within the Islamic tradition. 93 His reinterpretation of Islam as a true Islam reasoned along arguments which were historically formulated within Islam, as Abduh invoked the authority of the Quran and employed ideas of earlier theologians and reformists. As such, Khalid Masud characterises the Islamic Modernist reinterpretation of Islam as the formulation of a new Islamic theology. 94 In Abduhs methodological consideration on how to reach true knowledge on Islam, he might have been influenced by the eighteenth century revivalist movement, with which he probably came into contact through his uncle Shaykh Darwsh, who was a major influence on Abduhs early life. Shaykh Darwsh was a member of the Sufi order of the Madaniyya. 95 This order was part of a greater Sufi development in the Islamic world at large, called neo-sufism, and was connected to the scholarly revival of the critical study of adth-literature. Adherents stressed a purity of Islamic beliefs and were critical of popular superstition and the veneration of saints. Also, they urged a return to the scriptural sources of Islam independent of the existing scholarly tradition thus, they argued for individual ijtihd (individual interpretation based on the original sources) as against taqld (the strict following of a scholarly tradition of interpretation). In fact, Rudolph Peters considers the ijtihd-taqld discussion as one of the most central discussion of the eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century reformist movement. 96 These eighteenth-century reformist ideas resemble Abduh ideas on ijtihd and taqld as well as on adth-literature, as I will demonstrate in the next chapter. Moreover, Abduhs rejection of taqld also found expression in Abduhs justification of unrestricted eclecticism from the Islamic tradition at large. Thus, he freely chose from the commonly accepted Asharite and Hanbalite school of theology as well as from the Mutazilite tradition, which was by then commonly rejected. 97 He was educated in these more unorthodox trends in Islamic theology by his Shiite teacher Jaml al-Dn al-Afghn, who was presumably originally from Persia. al-Afghn came to Cairo in 1872 and introduced a small circle of Azhar students, including Abduh, to works of Ibn Sn (980-1037), Ibn Arab (1165-1240) and Ibn Khaldn (1332-1406). 98 Thus, Abduh came into contact with diverse intellectual movements within the Islamic tradition. Nineteenth-century Sunni orthodoxy, eighteenth-century revivalism, classical theology as well as philosophy, Ibn Khaldns theories and Sufism were the most important of the sub-traditions
Cf. Nafi, Rise of Islamic Reformist Thought, 49; Christian van Nispen tot Sevenaer, Activit Humaine et Agir de Dieu. Le Concept de <<Sunan de Dieu>> dans le Commentaire Coranique du Manr (Dar el-Machreq Sarl: Beirut 1996) 10. 94 Masud, Islamic Modernism, 238. 95 Sedgwick, Muhammad Abduh, 4. 96 Voll, Islam. Continuity and Change, 27-30 and 38-40; Scharbrodt, Salafiyya and Sufism, BSOAS, 93. 97 Hildebrandt, Waren al-Afn und Abduh Neo-Mutazilieten?, WI, 210. 98 Scharbrodt, Salafiyya and Sufism, BSOAS, 98; Haj, Reconfiguring Islamic Tradition, 24.
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CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCING MUAMMAD ABDUH within the Islamic tradition upon which Abduh could draw in his reformulation of Islam and his interpretations of the concepts of authenticity, civilisation, and religion. In the following chapters it will be set forth which elements of the Islamic tradition he used specifically in this process, as well as how he differed from them. In addition, Abduh employed European ideas from the European tradition in his interpretations of authenticity, civilisation, and religion in relation to Islam. The influences of the European tradition were already evident in the methodological innovations Abduh made. His emphasis on rationalism and possibly historicism could not only be traced back to Mutazilite influences, but also, for example, to European positivism. European ideas were held in very high esteem by Abduh and his fellow reformists. This was at least reinforced by the actual prosperity Europe enjoyed at that time. In addition, the significance of the European intellectual tradition was reinforced, because science and rational philosophy themselves were accredited a fundamental role in the history of Europes supremacy, according to European analysis. Muammad Abduh was well-acquainted with the philosophical and scholarly discourses as developed in the eighteenth and nineteenth century in the European tradition. As Abduh was born in 1849, he was raised in an Egypt which had been subjected to fundamental transformations since the invasion of Napoleon in 1798. Initiated under the rule of Muammad Al (1811-1848) and with the help of French adherents of Saint-Simons positivistic model of society, military, technical and economic modernisation was introduced. For this purpose, students were sent to Europe among whom was Rifa Rfi al-Tahw (1801-1873). Thereafter, Tahw was engaged in the translation movement of European works such as Montesquieus Considerations on the Causes of the Greatness of the Romans and their Decline which gained enormous popularity. Also, secular schools were established, such as the House of Sciences (Arabic: Dr alUlm) in 1876 where Abduh taught history in the late 1870s. Independent from the Egyptian state, but connected to the British liberal attitude towards the press, scientific journals such as Tahws Garden of the Schools (Rawat al-Madris) in 1870 and societies were founded to disseminate all these new and exciting ideas to the learned public. 99 Certainly, the Egyptian elite to which Abduh belonged was no stranger to nineteenth-century European thought. But these efforts did not only originate in indigenous initiatives. Christian missionaries, both Catholic and Protestant, were very active in the Middle East in establishing schools, societies and journals. Many Muslim intellectuals were impressed by the educational quality of Christian colleges, including Abduhs pupil Ri. Abduh himself certainly came into contact with the scientific activities of the Syrian Protestant College (since 1866, in 1920 renamed as the American

99

Moaddel, Islamic Modernism, 76-77.

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THEOLOGY OF UNITY University of Beirut), when he lived there between 1884 and 1888. 100 Notwithstanding their scholarly value for the Muslim elite, the Christian missionary writings and activities were often highly polemical in tone regarding Islam. Their attacks on Islam, which was supposedly inadequate for civilisation, led to counterattacks on Christianity and apologetic replies on the Muslim side. In this respect, missionary schools were increasingly regarded as a danger to Islam. 101 Many of the Syrian Christian graduates of these missionary schools founded journals of their own in Beirut, such as The Digest (al-Muqtaaf). These aimed at a general scientific education and are therefore aptly designated as Bildungszeitschriften by Dagmar Gla. 102 In response to the increasing rigidity of the regime of sultan Abdlhamid (1876-1909), numerous of these Arabic Christian intellectuals moved themselves and their journals to Cairo and Alexandria in the 1880s and 1890s. Their journals, which espoused a secularist rejection of any religious organisation of society, were widely read among Muslims. As such, the Syrian Christian served as important middlemen to introduce European ideas and discoveries to the Arabic educated public at large. 103 Muammad Abduh was certainly acquainted with these journals as well as with their editors on a personal level. Continuing on a more personal level, Abduhs teacher Jaml al-Dn al-Afghn was crucial in this respect. It was he who introduced the young Abduh to the work of European philosophers, most notably The History of Civilisation in Europe (1828) by the French historian and politician Franois Guizot (1787-1874) which was translated into Arabic in 1877. 104 In the same period, Abduh befriended the Briton Wilfrid Blunt with whose remarks on Islamic Reformism this chapter opened ; Blunt was well-informed about the latest developments in his home country. Furthermore, Abduh chose to join his master al-Afghn in Paris in 1882, when he was exiled from Egypt for his public support to the Urb-revolt against the government of Khedive Tawfq. From that time on, Abduh travelled to Europe on a regular basis. He even visited Herbert Spencer in his home town Brighton in 1903, just months before he died, while Blunt acted as an interpreter. 105 After Abduhs return to Egypt, he learned French himself and read, for instance, the

Umar Ryad, Islamic Reformism and Christianity. A Critical Reading of the Works of Muhammad Rashd Ri and his Associates (1898-1935) (Brill: Leiden 2009) 111-113. 101 Moaddel, Islamic Modernism, 29; Ryad, Islamic Reformism and Christianity, 13; Christine Schirrmacher, The Influence of Higher Bible Criticism on Muslim Apologetics in the Nineteenth Century in: Jacques Waardenburg (ed.), Muslim Perceptions of Other Religions. A Historical Survey (Oxford University Press: New York/Oxford 1999) 270-279. 102 Dagmar Gla, Der Muqtaaf und seine ffentlichkeit. Aufklrung, Rsonnement und Meinungsstreit in der frhen arabischen Zeitschriftenkommunikation (Ergon Verlag: Wrzburg 2004 paperback edition) 71, 81 and 122. 103 Albert Hourani, The Middleman in a Changing Society: Syrians in Egypt in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries in: Idem (ed.), The Emergence of the Modern Middle East (University of California Press: Berkeley/Los Angeles 1981) 103-123, there 119-122; Moaddel, Islamic Modernism, 76-77; A.M. Hassani, The Appearance of Scientific Journalism in Syria and Egypt, Journal for the History of Arabic Science (JHAS) 1 (1977) 284-298, there 284-285 and 290-293; Radwan Mawlawi, Arab Scientific Journalism. Achievements and Aspirations, Impact of Science on Society (ISS) 152 (1988) 397-409, there 398-401. 104 Sedgwick, Muhammad Abduh, 8, 11 and 16-17. 105 Ibidem, 92.

100

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CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCING MUAMMAD ABDUH French translation of Spencers On Education (1861). 106 From then on, he corresponded regularly with European intellectuals such as Leo Tolstoy, Herbert Spencer, the British cleric Isaac Taylor, and Gustave Le Bon. 107 After Abduhs death in 1905, his library is said to contain books by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Ernest Renan, David Strauss, and John William Draper. 108 Finally, Abduh was on familiar terms with the British authorities in Egypt. Since Afghn introduced him to the Cairo-based Masonic Lodge Star of the East (Arabic: Kawkab al-Sharq) whose members included the highest (British) political circles in Egypt, Abduh frequently came into close contact with European politicians. 109 In 1884, his friend Blunt invited him to London to discuss British policy in Sudan and Egypt with Randolph Churchill (1849-1895) and other politicians, while Abduh befriended the highest British authority in Egypt Lord Cromer later on in his life. 110 Abduhs interaction with European colonial officers was not always friendly, however. At the turn of the century, Abduh got involved in a polemic with the French politician Gabriel Hanotaux (18531944) who dismissed the Islamic religion on the basis of its Semitic tendency to fatalism. 111 As Hanotauxs opinion already indicated, the opinion of political representatives of European (colonial) administration regarding Islam was almost always formulated in highly negative terms. Similar to the often negatively formulated Christian missionary positions on Islam, they excluded the Islamic religion from the (future) possibility of civilisation or modernisation. Many authors already indicated how much this exclusion was interwoven with imperialist interests of specific European countries. 112 Also, these analyses were often supported by scholarly research, such as the racial arguments of the French philosopher Ernest Renan (1823-1892) to whose accusations Afghn responded vehemently in 1883. 113 Likewise, many secular Egyptians both of a Muslim and Christian origin were convinced that Egypt and the Muslim World as a whole should leave Islam behind to Europeanise fully and thus to obtain civilisation. These Europeanised Egyptians, as they were called, dressed in European styles. In addition, they attended and propagated state schools in which the Islamic religion was not taught extensively. Abduh was vigorously opposed to these men, as they opened Egypt up for foreign

Ibidem, 72 and 74. Amin, Humanism of Abduh, MW, 6. 108 Hourani, Arabic Thought, 135. 109 Sedgwick, Muhammad Abduh, 19; Albert Kudsi-Zadeh, Afghn and Freemasonry in Egypt, JAOS, 92 (1972) 1, 25-35, there 30; Karim Wissa, Freemasonry in Egypt. 1798-1921. A Study in Cultural and Political Encounters, Bulletin (British Society for Middle Eastern Studies) 16 (1989) 2, 143-161, there 148-149 and 155-156. 110 Amin, Humanism of Abduh, MW, 6; Sedgwick, Muhammad Abduh, xii. 111 Sedgwick, Muhammad Abduh, 87. 112 Schaebler, Civilizing Others, 3-5. 113 Keddie, Nikki, An Islamic Response to Imperialism. Political and Religious Writings of Sayyid Jaml al-Dn alAfghn (University of California Press: Berkeley 1968) 85. In his renowned work Orientalism (1978), Edward Said elaborates on the academic as well as public European construction of the Orient as opposed to the Occident and its justifiying relation to imperialist politics. Edward Said, Orientalism (Vintage Books: New York 2003 paperback edition; first edition in 1978).
107

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THEOLOGY OF UNITY intervention. Only at the last moment, according to Abduh, these Europeanised Egyptians would realise their unintentional treachery and regret their nave stupidity. 114 Consequently, the status of modernisation or civilisation as typified by Europe or the West has always been one of ambivalence within modern Muslim thought. On the one hand, Europe and its modernity or civilisation functioned as a model, justified by the contemporary supremacy of Europe on practically all levels. On the other hand, there was a quite legitimate, considering the anti-Islamic opinions of European politicians rejection of Westernisation as a threat to indigenous () values. 115 Many Muslim intellectuals feared that Islam had to be given up completely for a European kind of prosperity and culture, so they opposed Europes modernity altogether. And even in case of complete renunciation of Islam, there was still an element of friction regarding the imitation of the West. This friction manifests itself in the inevitability of being a copy of the West, as Meltem Ahiska described with regard to modern Turkey. A copy never matches its original, even if it is only distinguished by a gap of time. 116 Indeed, Muammad Abduh opposed complete Westernisation of the Muslim world, because of the Muslims own particular history and mindset. 117 Hourani describes Abduhs opinion on judicial reform as an example. According to Abduh, laws had to have some relation with the standards and circumstances of the country to which they apply in order to be effective. 118 As already set forth, however, Abduh also fostered a great admiration towards nineteenth-century European sciences. In fact, Muammad Abduhs reformist Islam is an example of how Abduh tried to resolve this ambivalence towards Europe which he exhibited himself, too. In combining the European and Islamic traditions and as such reconfiguring an Islam which he thought to be conform with modern times, Abduh expressed and addressed his admiration of Europe and his fear of losing Islam to modernity. 119 This particular reformist attempt at unity did not last long after Abduhs death, however.

Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 121-122; Abduh, Ftia al-Jarda, 29; Abduh, al-Jinsiyya, 44; Abduh, M al-Umma, 52-56; al-Azmeh, Islams and Modernities, 103. 115 Meltem Ahiska, Occidentalism. The Historical Fantasy of the Modern, The South Atlantic Quarterly (SAQ) 102 (2003) 2/3, 351-380, there 353. 116 Ahiska, Occidentalism, SAQ, 357-360. 117 Abduh, M al-Umma, 52 and 55; Hourani, Arabic Thought, 136-138. 118 Hourani, Arabic Thought, 137. 119 Similar efforts were developed in Europe regarding the defence of Christianity against an increasingly secular civilization, or so many Christians feared. The designation of modernist is applied to these Christian movements, too. This is no coincidence, moreover, as Goldziher who coined the terminology of modernist in this respect probably coined the term in comparison to Catholic Modernists.

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CHAPTER TWO AUTHENTICITY AND TRUE ISLAM

2.1

Abduhs Reformism and Authentic Islam

For Muammad Abduh, there was never a question about it: the Muslim world of his time found itself in a state of utter decline, degeneration, retrogression (Arabic: ini, hub, taqahqur), or, at best, in a very bad case of stagnation (Arabic: jumd). 120 Furthermore, the severity and longevity of this situation seemed to imply that this is not an ill-fated accident, which was bound to subside soon. 121 More fundamental reasons seemed to underlie the contemporary decline, according to Abduh. 122 Furthermore, in an age of an upcoming dichotomy between secular modernity and religious tradition, Abduh had to account with the accusations of European observers and secularists within the Muslim world who blamed for the inferior position of the Muslim countries. 123 For example, the French diplomat Gabriel Hanotaux stated in 1900 in article in the Arabic newspaper The Confirmed (Arabic: al-Muayyad) that Muslims were unsuitable to develop a modern civilisation because of their fatalistic attitude which is related to Gods absolute transcendency in Islam and the Islamic doctrine of predestination. 124 Likewise, the Syrian Christian Fara Ann argued in 1902 that Islam suffers in this respect from its inherent mixture of spiritual and worldly authorities, in particular in the figure of the caliph, as opposed to Christianitys secularism. 125 As Abduh found the majority of Islamic religious scholars and ordinary Muslims alike very conservative and opposed to any change at that time, he understood why many of his non-Muslim and some Muslim contemporaries arrived at similar conclusions. 126 However plausible this type of reasoning might seem, this negative judgement on Islam was passed too quickly, according to Abduh. Like a medical doctor, a careful examination of the sick body including its anamnesis or previous history was necessary to make a right diagnosis. 127 Therefore, he replies to this type of accusation in his Theology of Unity:

Abduh, Theology, 138; Abduh, Rislat al-Tawd, 478 [muqirr]; Abduh, al-Narniyya, 70 [taqahqur] 72 [ini] and 221 [ini and hub]; Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 104 [jumd]. 121 Already in the eighteenth century, many Muslims felt that something had gone wrong: Peters, Erneuerungsbewegungen, 104. 122 Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 99. 123 Haj, Reconfiguring Islamic Tradition, 27. 124 Ibidem, 92; Sedgwick, Muhammad Abduh, 87. 125 Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 12-13 and 64. 126 Ibidem, 97-98, 116-117, 124 and 126. Abduh, Theology, 104 and 151-153. 127 Abduh uses this type of medical terminology very frequently in his analysis of the ills of the Muslim world at that time. For example, Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 101, 108, 142 and 146; Abduh, M al-Umma, 49. Cf. al-Azmeh, Islamist Revivalism, HW, 51.

120

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We say in reply: Yes! indeed. The picture [of decline] is true. But the reason lies in the fact that after the time of the prophets and the passing of their rgime, religion fell into the hands of those who quite failed to understand it, or lapsed into extremism, or else they did not sincerely love it at all. 128 According to Abduh, the Islam of his time is not really Islam. The real Islam has been distorted somewhere along the way. Contemporary Islam is only Islam in name. Likewise, most of his fellow Muslims are believers only in an outward sense; they perform their religious rituals and utter their religious phrases. The true Islamic beliefs are not found among them. 129 Therefore, Islam as such cannot be held responsible for the contemporary decline of Muslims and there is no need to renounce it. On the contrary, Abduh argued, Muslims in modern times were in great need of a reformation and restoration of Islam to its true and sound (Arabic: aqq or, nominalised: aa) nature (Arabic: aba). 130 A reformed Islam will change the current conditions of the Muslims for the better, according to Abduh, as true Islam coincides with human prosperity. 131 God favours His community of believers (Arabic: umma) both in this world and in the hereafter. That is one component of Gods ultimate justice towards his umma, as Malcolm Kerr explained and as will be expanded upon later in this chapter and in the next. 132 Furthermore, the current aberrations did not exclude this possibility. As Abduh explains in Theology of Unity: Religion is a guide. But human weakness impedes those who are called to take its guidance to themselves. Yet that weakness does not disqualify the perfection of religion, nor yet mans urgent need for it. 133 The concept of a true Islam which could be revived is therefore vital to Abduh in two ways. On the one hand, it provides him with an effective defence of Islam in a hostile environment. On the other hand, it is the cornerstone and ultimate justification of his reformist project. Having established the function of Abduhs conception of authenticity regarding Islam and the challenge as posed by European dominance, I will unravel Abduhs conception of authenticity (Arabic: ala) in the following and trace its components back to its possible roots in the European and the Islamic

128 129

Abduh, Theology, 104. Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 60, 84, 96, 108, 120, 124 and 126; Abduh, M al-Umma, 58; Abduh, alNarniyya, 70. Here, Abduh seems to regard mn (inner faith) as indispensable for islm (outer adherence). See for a history of the theological discussions revolving around the relation between islm (outer adherence) and mn (inner faith): L. Gardet, Dn in: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth et al (ed.), Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition (EI2) (Brill: Brill Online 2010) [www.brillonline.nl/subscriber/entry?entry=islam_COM-0168 June 2010]. Cf. al-Azmeh, Islams and Modernities, 48. 130 For example: Abduh, Theology, 96, 97; Abduh, Rislat al-Tawd, 442 [aa; salma wa aa]; Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 51, 78, 96; al-Radd al Fara Ann, 298 [aba], 319 [aqq; aba], 333 [aba]; Abduh, M al-Umma, 59 [aqq]. 131 Abduh, M al-Umma, 59. 132 Kerr, Islamic Reform, 114. 133 Abduh, Theology, 106; cf. Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 146.

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traditions. Informed by the studies of Aziz al-Azmeh on al-Afghn and The Strongest Bond and Richard King on nineteenth-century European Orientalism in India, I will examine whether Abduh exhibits the rationales which underlie a conception of authenticity. While al-Azmeh and King only point at the possible European roots of these elements, I will retrace their possible genealogies in the Islamic tradition, too. With regard to Abduhs (textualist) essentialism, this leads me to a more elaborate investigation of Abduhs dual notion of ul (sources and principles of Islam) linguistically related to the Arabic word for authenticity ala in the Islamic tradition. As such, it will become clear that Abduhs interpretation of authenticity is an intricate constellation of the European and Islamic traditions, which reinforce each other at times. As a consequence of its synthetic quality, I will demonstrate that Abduhs interpretation of authenticity differs from and as such transcends both traditions.

2.2

History, Authenticity and the Historical Essence of Islam

In a chapter of his book Islams and Modernities titled The Discourse of Cultural Authenticity: Islamist Revivalism and Enlightenment Universalism, Aziz al-Azmeh describes the centrality of the concept authenticity (for which the common Arabic term is ala, according to him) in the reformist discourse on Islam. 134 In order to demonstrate the striking similarities with the logic of protonationalist Romantic thought, al-Azmeh reveals the types of reasoning underlying the reformist authenticity-discourse. In spite of the crucial significance of the discourse of authenticity in reformist thought, Abduh does not use the noun ala to my knowledge. 135 Nonetheless, a notion of authenticity seems very important in Abduhs reinterpretation of Islam, as set forth before. 136 In order to retrace Abduhs conception of authenticity without his actual use of the terminology of ala, I will retrace here the possible genealogies of the logic underlying the discourse on authenticity as described by al-Azmeh and as exhibited by Abduh. I will demonstrate that these can be found in both the European and the Islamic tradition and that these two traditions possibly reinforced each other in Abduhs notion of authenticity. According to al-Azmeh, history functions in a peculiar dual way in the reformist discourse of Abduh and others with regard to true Islam. 137 On the one hand, history is assigned a purely negative role as a corruptive device of time. On the other hand, history is the location of true Islam
Aziz al-Azmeh, 5. The Discourse of Cultural Authenticity: Islamist Revivalism and Enlightenment Universalism in: al-Azmeh, Islams and Modernities, 97-116. 135 Ibidem, 99. 136 In the following I will designate Abduhs interpretation of authenticity as a notion instead of Abduhs use of a concept or Abduhs conception, because Abduh does not employ a corresponding concept of authenticity (ala) in Arabic. 137 al-Azmeh, Islams and Modernities, 106.
134

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after which contemporary Islam should be modelled. This duality is pointedly expressed in the terminology of authenticity (Arabic: ala). 138 Regarding the first role assigned to history, the Arabic terminology of salma used by Abduh in Theology of Unity to refer to true Islam is significant. 139 Salma refers to an unimpaired state of Islam, a state of immaculate perfection and purity (Arabic: ahra and af). 140 Abduh blames postprophetic innovations (Arabic, plural: bida) for corrupting this original state of purity and perfection. He regards these bida as accretions to the original and true Islam, which should be removed to reach a state of salma. 141 As such, his call for true Islam as a call for, among other things, salma does indeed portray a negative attitude towards the workings of history. Abduh lists the doctrine of predestination which was put forward by Hanotaux to discredit Islam as one of these historical corruptions. 142 These and other innovations were introduced to the beliefs and practices of Sunni Muslims by all kinds of newcomers, such as freethinkers, sophists, non-Arabs, and adherents to other religions as well as by more heterodox groups of Muslims, such as Shiites, mystics and rigid religious scholars. This latter group was particularly blamed, as they did not uphold true religion and consequently educated the masses in a corrupted and untrue religion. 143 This process of adulteration was facilitated and reinforced by ignorant (especially Persian and Turkish) rulers, who, according to Abduh, did not care about religion as only their own interest mattered to them. 144 As such, the true and authentic Islam of the Prophetic Age was abandoned. Even though some persons are attributed special blame, the corruption of true Islam seems to be an almost inescapable by-product of the passing of time for Abduh. According to Hourani, this fear of history as a force of corruption leading to decline has been inherent in the teachings of Islam from its earliest time onwards: With the full articulation of the message of Muammad (...), what was significant in history came to an end. History could have no more lessons to teach, if there was change it could only be for the worse (). 145 Likewise, Samira Haj and Rotraud Wielandt consider the fear of impending retreat (Arabic: taqahqur) and corruption (Arabic: fasad) because of the mere

138

al-Azmeh, Islams and Modernities, 99. Such discourses can also be referred to as primitivism or archaism; cf. Paragraph 3.4; cf. Schaebler, Civilizing Others, 6 and 14. 139 For example: Abduh, Theology, 97; Abduh, Rislat al-Tawd, 442 [salma wa aa]. 140 For example: Abduh, Theology, 147; Abduh, Rislat al-Tawd, 489 [ahra]; Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 104; Abduh, al-Radd al Fara Ann, 338 [af]. 141 Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 154; Abduh, al-Radd al Fara Ann, 375 [salm min bida]; Abduh, Theology, 107, 151; Abduh, Rislat al-Tawd, 451 [awzr al-bida (English: burdens of (heretical) novelties)], 493 [verb: alaqa], Abduh, M al-Umma, 58-59 [bida]; cf. Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 25. 142 Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 104 and 108. 143 Abduh, Theology, 34-35; Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 103-107, 116-117, 141-142; Abduh, al-Narniyya, 70. 144 Abduh, Ini al-Muslimn, 78; Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 106, 112-113, 120, 147; Hourani, Arabic Thought, 150-151. 145 Hourani, Arabic Thought, 8.

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passing of time as a critical component of Islamic historical memory. 146 In an article on Christianity and Islam in The Strongest Bond, Abduh exhibits a similar type of reasoning when he writes that:
(...) between [the contingencies] and the true beliefs (...), there is a permanent pushing and wrestling which does not stop. The struggle between truth and untruth is as the defence between the disease and the force of the mixture. 147

Thus, the unfolding of history has no other role regarding Islam than a negative one for Abduh. 148 According to Haj, a corrective device was developed within the Islamic community to counter this problem. The ulama and learned people have an ongoing duty of critically reviewing, testing and correcting contemporary Islam against the original Islam of the Prophetic age, as Katharina Ivanyi also acknowledges. 149 Indeed, Abduh particularly calls upon the ulama and learned Muslims to perform such a function. 150 In an article in The Strongest Bond on the customs of God regarding nations, Abduh even calls upon every Muslim individual to examine their morals critically. Their contemporary state of decline must have been their own fault, according to Abduh, as God would never punish His community except if they went astray. Particularly in hard times, Muslims should turn to God and true belief again. 151 His own reformist project was an attempt to do just that. In this sense, Abduh might have regarded himself a member of the ahl al-sunna wa-ljama; whom Hourani describes as the self-appointed, self-recognized, unorganized body of concerned Muslims, believing in the revelation of Muhammad, wishing to preserve it unaltered amidst the changes of time, seeking in it guidance in the new problems cast up by those changes, defending it. 152 The true belief which Abduh wishes to retain and regain against history is firmly located in earlier history here, the second role assigned to history becomes manifest. It is the original (Arabic: al) and pure Islam of the time of the Prophet Muammad and his Companions, the Pious Forefathers of the Muslims (Arabic: al-Salaf al-li). 153 This is the Golden Age of Islam, which has been the exemplary era in the imaginations of generations of Muslims before. 154 This type of reformism or revivalism is therefore at the same time a return to the historical and primal origins (Arabic: ul) of Islam, or as Aziz al-Azmeh puts it succinctly: Authenticity is () both past and
Haj, Reconfiguring Islamic Tradition, 8; Wielandt, Offenbarung und Geschichte, 42. Abduh, al-Narniyya, 71. 148 Cf. al-Azmeh, Islams and Modernities, 100 and 104. 149 Haj, Reconfiguring Islamic Tradition, 8; Ivanyi, Gods custom, MR, 99. 150 Abduh, Theology, 107; Abduh, Ini al-Muslimn, 80. 151 Abduh, Sunan Allh, 223-225. 152 Hourani, Arabic Thought, 8. Cf. Haj on al-Jhiz chronicle of Islamic history. Haj, Reconfiguring Islamic Tradition, 8. 153 Abduh, Theology, 107; Abduh, Rislat al-Tawd, 451 [ulihu-l-hiru-l-l]; Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 45, 51, 101, 104; Abduh, al-Radd al Fara Ann, 293 [ul al-dn al-l], 298 [ul], 336 [asbb m kna salafkum alayhi] 338 [verb: nasaba]. 154 Hourani, Arabic Thought, 8; Wielandt, Offenbarung und Geschichte, 42; Haj, Reconfiguring Islamic Tradition, 8.
147 146

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future linked contingently by the ontological void of today. The past is the accomplished future and the future is the past reasserted; history is the past in the future anterior. 155 For Abduh, history became a triptych in which the centre piece only gained significance as an unfortunate intermission. This tripartite classification was not new or foreign to the (Sunni) Muslim tradition, according to Hourani. Sunni Muslims had arranged the early history of the Islamic community in three stages: (1) the Golden Age of Islam which equalled moral perfection, (2) the Umayyad Period in which the umma was morally corrupted by the secular ambitions of kings, (3) a period of restoration under the Abbasid Dynasty. 156 Abduh retains this threefold historical order, but expands it until his own time. For him, the first period of moral excellence lasted until the disintegration of the Abbasid Empire which began in the tenth century and intensified with the Mongol invasions from the thirteenth century onwards. 157 Since then, the Muslim World has been in the second stage of history, marked by moral corruption and consequent decline. Abduh staunchly believes that the third stage of restoration is drawing near at his time, however. Although it might have taken some time and will take some time more, this is Gods promise to His community, and God always keeps His promises. God will not allow His people to perish, Abduh concludes hopefully. 158 As such, Abduh took up a practice and discourse of reform (Arabic: il and tajdd) which was well-established within the Islamic tradition. 159 Abduh himself saw that he was not alone in this. Approvingly, he notes that some Muslims had also taken on the necessary duty of reform, particularly in Egypt and India. 160 However, most of these fellow reformers either propose a faulty version of Islam because they are not genuine in their intentions or because they follow a wrong method of interpretation. For example, the nineteenth-century followers of Abd al-Wahhb (17031792) advocate a literal understanding of the Quran, of which Abduh does not approve. 161 Abduh likens these reformists to quacks who do more harm than good with their efforts. 162 As announced in the first chapter of this thesis, scholars such as John Voll and Rudolph Peters claim that this type of reformist thought in terms of il and tajdd already gained specific force in the eighteenth century. Therefore, they consider eighteenth-century reformers such as the Indian Wl Allah and Wahhb of the Arabian Peninsula Abduh disagrees with the latter in Islam and Christianity on matters of methodology, as just described as the forerunners of nineteenth155

al-Azmeh, Islams and Modernities, 106. Also cited by Ivanyi, Gods custom, MR, 106. According to al-Azmeh, Revivalism and Reformism are thus an Janus-like figure, (...). al-Azmeh, Islamist Revivalism, HW, 51. 156 Hourani, Arabic Thought, 7. 157 Abduh, Ini al-Muslimn, 78-79; Abduh, al-Narniyya, 70. 158 Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 129, 132 and 150; Abduh, Ftia al-Jarda, 27-28; Abduh, Sunan Allh, 227. Cf. King on the threefold periodisation of Hinduism in the imagionation of Western orientalists. King, Orientalism and Religion, 106. 159 Haj, Reconfiguring Islamic Tradition, 35. 160 Abduh, Ftia al-Jarda, 32-33; Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 100. 161 Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 100 and 149. 162 Abduh, M al-Umma, 49.

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century reformists such as Abduh. 163 Two pages before Abduh rejects the Wahhabist reading of the Quran in Islam and Christianity, however, Abduh refers approvingly to the theologian and mystic shaykh Muammad al-Sans (1787-1859), who is also considered an important member of the earlier reform movement. 164 Abduhs conflicting comments regarding Wahhb and Sans make clear that he was at least aware of a broader reformist movement, with which his ideas demonstrated broad parallels and with some of whose proponents he felt particularly related, but that the reformist movement was not a homogeneous body of thought and as such certainly no school within Islam. This indicates a middle position between Peters and Voll who posit a high degree of continuity between the modern reform movements of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries because of their shared preference for ijtihd (individual interpretation based on the original sources) over taqld (the strict following of a scholarly tradition of interpretation) and Ahmad Dallal who disagrees with this position altogether because of the extensive ideological variety both diachronically and synchronically between the reform movement on matters of taqld and ijtihd. 165 For now, however, it is more important that Abduhs approving reference to a fellow reformer such as al-Sans whose thought was not yet pervasively characterised by European interference, demonstrates that Abduhs reformist use of the terminology of a true Islam had roots in an Islamic discourse which was not merely an outer form concealing his actual European origins. According to al-Azmeh, these two functions of history converge in the reformist notion of (true) Islam as an historical essence. Indeed, true or authentic Islam refers to the pure and original Islam of the Prophetic days, while simultaneously it is truly a-historical as it resembles a substance presupposed by history rather than being its product. 166 As such, Islamic history becomes a function of the historical subject named Islam. That is, true or authentic Islam exists as a subliminal core, whose manifestation in history coincides with the prosperity and might of the Islamic community as it reflects its true and essential nature. This core exists throughout history unaffected by historical change. In addition, a Muslim can fall back on this supra-historical entity at any time, because it is an ontological dimension underlying history; a return to Islam is like a return to a collectives true self. Knowledge of authentic Islam, al-Azmeh argues, is for Muslim reformists knowledge of a self-identical entity, as a result of which al-Azmeh dubs their reformism quite condescendingly as an act of transcendental narcissism. 167 In this respect, it is significant that Abduh is one of the first to use Islam as a substantive relating to the Islamic religion as such. He is also one of the first to use it with a definite article: al-

163 164

Peters, Idjtihd and taqld, WI, 131; Peters, Erneuerungsbewegungen; Voll, Islam. Change and Continuity, 5. Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 98. 165 Dallal, Islamic Revivalist Thought, JAOS. 166 al-Azmeh, Islamist Revivalism, HW, 50; al-Azmeh, Islam and Modernities, 104. 167 al-Azmeh, Islamist Revivalism, HW, 50-51; al-Azmeh, Islams and Modernities, 104-106.

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Islm. 168 Abduhs language regarding Islam implies a cognisable and univocal entity which can assert its influence on history, according to Rotraud Wielandt and Armando Salvatore. 169 As such, his language reifies Islam. Salvatore argues that this terminology of Islam which was not specific to Abduh, but to most if not all subsequent twentieth-century Muslim thought on Islam was a response to the essentialist discourses of Orientalism. 170 In addition, Abduh refers to the true character or nature (Arabic: aba) of Islam and the core of the Islamic religion (Arabic: lubb aldn al-islm), while its spirit (Arabic: r) should be restored to attain moral excellence and prosperity again. 171 Aziz al-Azmeh likens this type of reasoning of a collective self, which necessarily affects its collectives history, to the romantic notion of a Volksgeist and to Herders vitalist notion of Krfte guiding history. 172 As the intended effect of the manifestation of the collective self-entity is one of power and might for the community concerned, al-Azmeh also points out its relation with SocialDarwinist thought and its notion of a survival of the fittest of nations or communities. 173 I will examine this proposition closer in the next chapter on Abduhs interpretation of civilisation. As such, al-Azmeh seems to attempt to demonstrate how inauthentic the reformist notion of authentic Islam was. 174 Although the idea of authentic Islam as a historical essence whose manifestation advances the fate of its corresponding collectives community might be new, I demonstrated that the types of reasoning underlying the notion of authenticity can (also) be retraced in the Islamic religion. As such, Abduhs notion of authenticity might not be so inauthentic after all.

2.3

Authenticity and Textualist Essentialism

As demonstrated, the two functions of history underlying the notion of authenticity converge in the idea of Islam being a historical essence. There is one true Islam at any given point in history and that is Islam according to its original quality; that is the rationale underlying the concept of authenticity. According to al-Azmeh, Muslim reformists are able to determine what authentic Islam
L. Gardet, Islm, EI2 [www.brillonline.nl/subscriber/entry?entry=islam_COM-0387 June 2010]; Abduh, Islam und Christentum (Arabic: al-Islm wa-l-Narniyya); Chapter 13. The Islamic religion, or: Islam (Arabic: aldn al-islm aw: al-islm) in: Abduh, Theology, 123; Abduh, Rislat al-Tawd, 465. Cf. The emergence of the terminologies of Buddhism and Hinduism in India under the influence of orientalist scholarship on Indian religions; King, Orientalism and Religion, 143. 169 Wielandt, Offenbarung und Geschichte, 65; Salvatore, Islam and the Political Discourse of Modernity, 76. 170 Salvatore, Islam and Political Discourse of Modernity, 76. 171 For example: Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 45, 51, 78, 96 and 121; Abduh, al-Radd al Fara Ann, 293, 298, 319, 333 [all: aba] and 349 [lubb al-dn al-islm wa ruhu]; Abduh, Theology, 138 and 146; Abduh, Rislat al-Tawd, 478 and 488 [both: r]. 172 al-Azmeh, Islamist Revivalism, HW, 49-50; al-Azmeh, Islams and Modernities, 107. 173 Ibidem, 49-50; Ibidem, 102-103. 174 al-Azmeh, Islams and Modernities, 31 and 49.
168

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is, because they are Muslim. He does not investigate this proposition any further. However, a revealed religion such as Islam is no nation or people, only to be known through a transcendental ontological epistemology. Instead, when the rationale of the authenticity-discourse is applied to a revealed religion, this implies that knowledge of the true characteristics or, more aptly called: essentials of a particular religion is obtained through the study of the origins of the religion. Muammad Abduh exhibits precisely these consequences of the authenticity-discourse in his attempt to establish the true nature (Arabic: aba) of Christianity and Islam in his book Islam and Christianity. To start with, he explains that the study of a religions essence should concern itself only with the founding principles (Arabic: ul) of the religion in question instead of its later accretions and innovations. These principles, he continues, are found in two types of sources (Arabic: ul): the founding text of the religion concerned that is, its revelation and passed down testimonies of the earliest adherents of this particular religion. 175 In his exposition of Christianitys true nature, Abduh refers frequently to the Bible and in particular to the gospels of Mark and Matthew. 176 With regard to Islams essential characteristics, Abduh invokes the authority of the Quran and the opinions and acts of the Prophet Muammad (Arabic: sunna) and the Pious Forefathers (Arabic: al-salaf al-li). 177 Furthermore, Abduhs terminology of ul for both principles and sources is significant, because ul is linguistically very closely related to ala which al-Azmeh designated as the common Arabic term for the concept of authenticity. 178 In the following, I will retrace Abduhs interpretation of ul as sources and principles in the European as well as Islamic tradition. Because of the prominence of the terminology of ul in the Islamic tradition of theology and law and because Abduhs notion of authenticity is commonly considered as modern and European in origin following al-Azmehs analysis, I will pay more elaborate attention to the possible Islamic genealogy of Abduhs conception of ul as an essential component of his understanding of authenticity. Nonetheless, I will first explore the possible genealogy of Abduhs dual interpretation of ul in the European tradition. Richard Kings analysis in his book Orientalism and Religion on the Orientalist study of Hinduism and Buddhism suggests a possibility in this respect. His description of the characteristic traits of an Orientalist perspective on religion strongly resembles the focus on origins and essentials which are implied in the discourse on authenticity. On the one hand, King identifies a strong essentialist tendency in the Orientalist attempt to define true or orthodox religion, notwithstanding the contemporary practices and beliefs. This essentialism reflects Abduhs interpretation of ul as principles. On the other hand, the essential tenets of any religion are found
175 176

Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 25-26. For example: Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 26, 27, 28 and 31. 177 See the elaborate exposition of Abduhs ideas on the sources of Islamic knowledge: paragraph 2.4. 178 Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 45, 51; Abduh, al-Radd al Fara Ann, 293 [ul al-dn al-l], 298 [ul]; Abduh, Theology, 158; Abduh, Rislat al-Tawd, 500; Abduh, al-Jinsiyya, 43; Abduh, M al-Umma, 59; Abduh, Risla Thniyya il aylor, 359.

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in the study of a religions founding texts, according to the Orientalist perspective on religion. This textualism is similar to important parts of Abduhs understanding of ul as (original) sources, because of his strong emphasis on the Bible and the Quran and his rejection of contemporary practices among believers as proof for their religions true nature. 179 According to King, this perspective of textualist essentialism as put succinctly mirrors a (post-)Christian conception of religion. As a monotheist religion, King argues, Christianity has a history of defining its religious tenets exclusively and essentially it is either true or false and with a great emphasis on beliefs over practices. Furthermore, the religious texts significance in establishing this truth mirrored the centrality of the Bible, which itself hinges upon its revealed nature. 180 In addition, King describes how the Oriental representatives of Hinduism and Buddhism frequently internalised the textualist essentialism of the Orientalist discourse on their religion. As a consequence, the reifying terminology of Buddhism or Hinduism came into being among Buddhists and Hinduists themselves. Often, the corresponding definitions of this essence were framed in terms of authenticity. 181 A similar process of internalisation might have happened in Abduhs case. The analyses of Samira Haj and Armando Salvatore lend credibility to this hypothesis, moreover. According to them, Abduh and other reformists essentialist perspective on Islam mirrored the often highly negative Orientalist analyses of Islam which they knew and which were framed in terms of authenticity and its related essentialism. 182 In particular, one might think of Gabriel Hanotauxs criticism of Islam to whom Abduh replied in 1900. Furthermore, Abduh was also on good terms with Lord Cromer the British governor of Egypt whose famous statement (...) reformed Islam is Islam no longer seems to imply that he did not believe that Islam was capable of change. 183 Particularly, I argue, Abduhs response to Fara Anns allegations to Islam is a significant example in this respect. Informed by the French Orientalist Ernest Renan (1823-1892) whom he even quotes in this respect, Ann began this polemic by criticising Islams true nature (Arabic: aba) for its incompatibility with modern civilisation (Arabic: al-tamaddun al-adth). 184 Abduh refutes Anns allegations in a similarly essentialist type of reasoning regarding Islam in Islam and Christianity. Instead of rejecting Islams worth in modern times, Abduh sets outs to demonstrate Islams conformity with modern times. In addition, Abduh exhibits a similar essentialist reasoning in his discrediting of the Christian religion. 185

179 180

King, Orientalism and Religion, 38-39, 69-70 and 145-146. Ibidem, 35-41. 181 For example: Ibidem,148-153 for his account on Buddhism in this respect. 182 Haj, Reconfiguring Islamic Tradition, 198; Salvatore, Islam and the Political Discourse of Modernity, 76. 183 Sedgwick, Muhammad Abduh, 87; Amin, Humanism of Abduh, MW, 6; Moaddel, Islamic Modernism, 81. 184 Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 16; Abduh, al-Radd al Fara Ann, 266 [aba al-dn al-islm]. 185 Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 25.

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Since the Orientalist study of religion was informed by Christian conceptions of religion, according to King, it is also possible that Abduh became aware of essentialist and textualist types of reasoning through Christian contemporaries. Attempts to find the essence of Christianity through a careful reading of the Bible were widespread in the nineteenth century. According to Hourani, for example, Abduh was familiar with the works of David Strauss and Leo Tolstoy on religion. 186 In addition, he wrote two letters to Leo Tolstoy at the beginning of the twentieth century expressing his deep admiration for the Russian writer. 187 In Islam and Christianity, moreover, Abduh refers to the papal edicts of 1864 which is commonly known as the Syllabus Errorum and of 1868 which listed beliefs and practices which the Roman-Catholic Church deemed false. 188 Finally, Abduh formulated his ideas in a context of Syrian Christian intellectuals who were educated by particularly French and American Christian missionaries. Therefore, it is also possible that he became familiar with these ideas through their journals. Retracing Abduhs essentialism and textualism to Christian exponents of the European tradition is a line of argument which needs further investigation, however. Especially Abduhs possible indebtedness to Tolstoy deserves more attention, as it will become clear from the following that he resembles Tolstoys ideas quite specifically on how to read a revelation, on the necessity of a religions principles being simple and on the compatibility of reason and revelation. It is important to note two related things in this respect. First, although Abduhs interpretation of ul was possibly affected by a European notion of authenticity and its underlying rationales of essentialism and textualism, he employed these to assert the opposite of Orientalist definitions of Islam. This will become clear in the next two chapters in which I will demonstrate how Abduh argues that Islam is compatible with civilisation and is superior to Christianity according to the logic of authenticity described here. Significantly, King identified a similar process of reversal in India where indigenous representatives of Hinduism and Buddhism translated the colonial discourse into an anti-colonial form. So, even in a process of imitation and borrowing, there is always an element of agency for the Oriental subject, according to King. 189 Second, King recognises that a Hinduist or Buddhist textualist essentialist perspective on Hinduism or Buddhism is not necessarily or uniquely the product of an internalised European notion of religion. There might be indigenous tendencies towards similar types of reasoning, which were developed in a religious tradition prior to Western influence. 190 In particular, King thinks that this might apply in the case of other monotheist and revealed religions such as Islam. 191

186 187

Hourani, Arabic Thought, 143. Abduh, Risla il Tlsty and Risla Thniyya il Tlsty. 188 Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 43. 189 King, Orientalism and Religion, 148-149 and 151. 190 For example: King, Orientalism and Religion, 148-153 for his account on Buddhism in this respect. 191 Ibidem, 40.

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In the following, I will examine Kings proposition further with regard to Abduhs dual terminology of ul sources and principles along two lines in the Islamic tradition. The first is the use of ul in the sense of ul al-fiqh as the generally agreed upon sources for Islamic law (which are also the sources for Islamic theology). The second is the appearance of the terminology of ul in the sense of the ul al-dn, the articles of dogma (Arabic: aqid) formulated by Islamic theology (Arabic: Kalm). 192 As such, I will demonstrate how Abduhs usage of the dual terminology of ul is well-grounded in Islamic tradition. At the same time, however, Abduhs ideas on the ul of Islam differ from the interpretations of ul which had been developed within the Islamic tradition until then, as will become evident. At times, these differences can be attributed to European ideas which are unrelated to the discourse on authenticity as investigated here. Also, they might be the consequence of heterodox elements within the Islamic tradition. In the following, I will point out both types of influences on Abduhs interpretation of ul, too, as this emphasises the intricately synthetic character of Abduhs ideas. Often, Abduhs differences with the Islamic tradition regarding his interpretation of ul result in an even greater resemblance to Kings description of Orientalist textualist essentialism. As such, I will point out indigenous tendencies towards a text-based essentialism as King already suggested there would be. Thus, Abduhs understanding of ul appeals to both Islamic and European conceptions of what true or authentic Islam is. In the last paragraph on true rationality as a source for religious knowledge, however, I will explain how one particular element of Abduhs interpretation of ul as a crucial component of his notion of authenticity transcends both traditions alike in this respect. Interestingly, this specific element itself is again well-grounded in the two traditions. Again, the extremely intricate character of Abduhs act of synthesis comes to the fore.

2.4

The Original Sources (Arabic: Ul) of Islam

Sunni Islamic theology came to accept four sources (Arabic: ul) as authoritative, which coincide with the commonly accepted sources in Islamic law (Arabic: ul al-fiqh): the Quran, the Sunna, the Consensus of the Muslim Community (Arabic: ijm), and the Analogy (Arabic: qiys). In Islamic theology, the first three sources are collectively referred to as the revealed proofs (Arabic: dalil samiyya) while qiys is considered a rational (Arabic: aql) proof. 193

Gimaret, Ul al-dn, EI2 [www.brillonline.nl/subscriber/entry?entry=islam_SIM-7760 July 2010]; Hourani, Arabic Thought, 145. 193 Ibidem.

192

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Abduhs opinions with regard to the first category of sources give further evidence that he equates true Islam with original (Arabic: al) Islam, that is, Islam as it was revealed and practiced by Muammad and the earliest Muslims. First, Abduh lays very strong emphasis on the Quran as the most original and authentic source. By definition, the Quran is not susceptible to later accretions, according to Abduh in Theology of Unity: Only the Quran remained unimpaired in its continuity. 194 As such, Abduh compares the Quran a true Muslims weapon in times of hardship as it will guide him to the way out of decadence. 195 Even in times of insecurity and deviation, the Quran always marks the standard to which one should return: What are all these accretions to their religion, when all the time Muslims have the very Book of God as a balance in which to weigh and discriminate all their conjectures and yet its very injunctions they abandon and forsake? 196 The authority of the Quran as a source for both Islamic law and Islamic theology has never been questioned within the Islamic tradition. But Abduh departs from nineteenth-century Islamic orthodoxy in his emphasis on the need for an independent reading of the Quran. The Quran itself should be consulted anew each time. No Muslim should ever solely rely on the interpretations of the preceding theologians and jurists for his idea of true belief. 197 Hereby, Abduh takes position against the established practice of taqld, that is, the imperative and strict following of the interpretations of the established theological and legal schools (Arabic, plural: madhhib) and the corresponding prohibition of independent individual reasoning (Arabic: ijtihd) for the religious scholars of Islam. 198 The fourteenth-century Hanbali scholar Ibn Taymiyya was one of the first and most authoritative voices speaking out against taqld in the Islamic tradition, as he disputed the idea of human infallibility with regard to the founders of the school of law which was implied by the prescription of taqld. 199 In his article Ijtihd and Taqld in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Islam, Rudolph Peters describes an upsurge of the age-old dispute on ijtihd and taqld in eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century fundamentalist revivalism. Peters links the rise of this discussion to the revivalists pursuit of authenticity which Peters considers a central part of their fundamentalism. As theological and juridical schools were developed after the time of the Prophet and the rightly-guided caliphs, these had to be rejected according to the logic of their fundamentalist plea for authenticity and originality. 200

194

Abduh, Theology, 32. Cf. Abduh, Theology, 153, 155-156; Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 111-112, 119, 127; Abduh, al-Narniyya, 71; Abduh, Sunan Allh, 226. 195 Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 119 and 127. 196 Abduh, Theology, 151. 197 Abduh, Theology, 129; Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 61-62, 100, 119 and 143. 198 Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 110-111, 117-118; Abduh, Theology, 125; Haj, Reconfiguring Islamic Tradition, 9; al-Azmeh, Islams and Modernities, 128. 199 Haj, Reconfiguring Islamic Tradition, 9; Asad, Formations of the Secular, 220. 200 Peters, Idjtihd and Taqld, WI, 132-133. Cf. Peters, Erneuerungsbewegungen, 91-92.

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One of the fundamentalist revivalists discussed by Peters is al-Sans, of whom I mentioned before that Abduh mentions him approvingly in Islam and Christianity. Interestingly, this passage on Sans is specifically concerned with Sanss treatment of the issue of taqld and ijtihd. 201 As such, Abduhs plea for ijtihd as opposed to taqld should probably be considered a continuation of a central discussion within the Islamic tradition, which was initiated long before Western presence. In addition to these proponents of ijtihd within the Islamic tradition, Laroui draws a parallel between the anti-authoritarian vein of the taqld- ijtihd discussion to the Enlightenment repudiation of (clerical) authority and its corresponding cheer for individual rationality. 202 As such, the two traditions might have reinforced each other here again. Secondly, the Sunna as the generally approved standard of practice and belief introduced by the Prophet and his Companions as narrated in the traditions (Arabic, singular: adth) was an equally valid source for defining true Islam for Abduh. 203 However, he was very careful which tradition to accept and which not. Only the adth of which the validity could be ascertained were to be accepted as proofs. The criteria involved in this process included the establishment of an unbroken chain of reliable authorities (Arabic: isnd) who had no interest themselves in circulating this particular tradition as well a multiplicity of traditions setting the same norm independent of each other. 204 As such, Abduh came to accept only few traditions as genuine and valid. The critical reappraisal of the large corpus of traditions was not something which was particular to Abduhs nineteenth-century concern of authenticity and originality, however nor was it of a particular recent date. Already in the eighteenth century, the science regarding the authentication of traditions experienced a true revival. John Voll considers the scholars who were involved in these activities (Arabic, singular: muaddith) as important members of the eighteenthcentury revivalist movement. 205 Again, this makes clear how much Abduh was also a part of the Islamic tradition, in particular with regard to his eighteenth-century predecessors. The last source in the revealed category of theological proofs is the consensus of the Muslim community. Although Abduh does not comment on ijm to my knowledge, he does not explicitly include it among the sources of Islam. But, according to Kerr, and supported by the analyses of Hourani and Salvatore, Abduh was compelled to abandon ijm as a binding principle. In case of evident decline, Kerr writes, [e]ither one must cease to believe that upright belief and conduct are rewarded in history or [Abduh] must change his view of ijm, according to which the Community as a whole is divinely protected from error. 206 Although I agree with Kerr on this, it is important to note that Abduh does not thereby
201 202

Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 98. Paraphrased by al-Azmeh in: al-Azmeh, Islams and Modernities, 109. 203 Abduh, Theology, 64; Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 26 and 111-112. 204 Abduh, Theology, 99 and 155-156. 205 Voll, Islam. Change and Continuity, 29-30. 206 Kerr, Islamic Reform, 114. Cf. Hourani, Arabic Thought, 147; Salvatore, Islam and the Political Discourse of Modernity, 83-84.

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discard the preceding tradition of Islamic theology and law completely as al-Azmeh seems to imply. 207 In Islam and Christianity, Abduh dedicates a complete paragraph to express his dissatisfaction with the disregard of early theological scholarship in contemporary Islamic schools. 208 Instead, Abduh proposes a continuous critical assessment of the opinions of all authoritative predecessors no matter what juridical or theological school (Arabic: madhhab) one adheres, according to Hourani. Instead of merely rejecting taqld that is, the strict imitation of the established meanings of one of the four schools in theology or law Abduh advocates complete freedom in picking the sound interpretations from all theological and legal schools (Arabic: talfq) here. 209 He even argues for a complete synthesis of all schools of interpretation, Hourani argues. 210 Still, with the Consensus of the Community rejected as an infallible source of religious knowledge and with the corpus of valid Traditions strongly depleted, the revealed category of sources consists first and foremost of the Quran. Thereby, Abduhs interpretation of the sources (Arabic: uul) for Islam fit the textualist approach of Orientalism as described by King even better.

2.5

Ijtihd as a Rational Source (Arabic: Ul) and the Principles (Arabic: Uul) of Islam

After having established Abduhs interpretation of the revealed category of sources for Islam, I will demonstrate here how Abduhs understanding of the rational category of sources for Islam results in a determination of the principles of Islam which is increasingly reminiscent of the Orientalist tendency to essentially define what are true and false beliefs. As this argument evolves, I will retrace the possible genealogy of every particular issue involved within the Islamic and European tradition. While the aforementioned three sources that is, the Quran, Sunna, and ijm are collectively referred to as the revealed proofs, the analogy (Arabic: qiys) is traditionally considered a valid source for religious knowledge within the rational category of sources. 211 Abduh does not limit this category to reasoning (Arabic: ijtihd) analogously to the texts (Arabic: qiys), however. 212 While qiys was only to be employed in case of problems not treated in the scripture and not encountered before, Abduh considers a rational interpretation of the revealed sources necessary throughout regardless of explicit textual references or previous interpretations. For him, the Quran and the Sunna are not self-evident, but are (almost) always in need of an act of interpretation
al-Azmeh, Islams and Modernities, 122. Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 142. In this respect, the following names are mentioned: the scholars alAshar, al-Mturd, al-Bqilln; al-Isfarayn, and the commentators of the Quran al-abar, al-Ifahn, alQurub, al-Ja, al-Ghazl, Arab. Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 142-142. Cf. Abduh, Theology, 83. 209 Abduh, Theology, 126. 210 Hourani, Arabic Thought, 152; Haj, Reconfiguring Islamic Tradition, 78; al-Azmeh, Islams and Modernities, 128. 211 Gimaret, Ul al-Dn, EI2. 212 See: M. Bernand, and G. Troupeau, iys in: EI2 [www.brillonline.nl/subscriber/entry?entry=islam_COM0527 - August 2010]; J. Schacht, and D.B. MacDonald, Idjtihd in: EI2 [www.brillonline.nl/subscriber/ entry?entry=islam_COM-0351 August 2010].
208 207

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(Arabic: tawl or tafsr) based on individual reasoning (Arabic: ijtihd), as I will demonstrate now. According to Talal Asad, Abduh thereby makes ijtihd into the general exercise of free reason, or independent opinion. 213 On the one hand, Abduhs advocacy of ijtihd is an implicit rejection of the strict imitation of the founding fathers of the established schools within Islamic law and theology (Arabic: taqld), as already mentioned. Instead, he pleads for an independent and direct reading of the sources. As explained before, it does not follow from Abduhs emphasis on the need for independent reasoning (Arabic: ijtihd) that Abduh disregards the theology of previous ages altogether. 214 Instead, Abduh argues for an act of interpretation in which one balances between force or frailty of memory. 215 On the other hand, Abduhs plea for ijtihd clearly propagates a rational interpretation of the Quran and the few adths he acknowledges as valid. This becomes especially manifest in his explicit denunciation of a literal interpretation of the revealed texts, for which other reformers argued, in Islam and Christianity Abduh probably referred to the Wahhabites here, according to Gunnar Hasselblatt. 216 Again, this does not imply Abduhs advocacy of the reverse. He warns against an interpretation in which reason acts independently of the text as the counterpart of an overly literal interpretation. Here, the theologian al-Ashar serves as an example. 217 Again, Abduh displays a strong preference for balance (Arabic: mzn). Samira Haj traces this back to al-Ghazls eleventhcentury philosophy on a virtuous society in which he deemed stability and equilibrium of central importance. 218 But what does Abduh mean when he advocates for a rational instead of a literal interpretation of the Quran? According to Abduh, one should start with establishing the general or essential meaning of the Quran or Islam as such. Abduh refers to this as the real import [of the Islamic religion] and the spirit (Arabic: r) of the Quran. 219 This general vein (Arabic, used adverbally by Abduh: ijmlan) should guide the reading of the Quran in its particulars. The terminology of essence and spirit used here by Abduh is strongly reminiscent of alAzmehs description of Islam as a historical essence, which he deemed very similar to the Romantic notion of a (Volks)geist, which flows beneath history. Also, Abduhs precise instructions how to read the Quran coincide strikingly with Tolstoys ideas on how to read the Bible:

213 214

Asad, Formations of the Secular, 219. Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 142. 215 Abduh, Theology, 72-73. 216 Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 100 and 110; cf. al-Azmeh, Islams and Modernities, 134. On the diversity of opinion within the revivalist reformist movement regarding ijtihd and taqld, see: Peters, Idjtihd and Taqld, WI, 143. 217 Abduh, Theology, 36-37. 218 Haj, Reconfiguring Islamic Tradition, 87. 219 For example: Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 52 [generally] and 57 [Sinn des Textes]; Abduh, Theology, 138 [spirit], 146 [spirit] and 153-154 [real import]; Abduh, Rislat al-Tawd, 478 [r], 488 [r] and 495; Abduh, Sunan Allh, 227 [spirit of the Quran].

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() we must form our idea of the drift and spirit of the whole work, Then, on the basis of what we have understood, we may proceed to make out what we is confused or not quite intelligible. 220

As mentioned before, however, this is a matter for further investigation. I do not know which of Tolstoys works on religion Abduh specifically knew, except for Houranis broad statement that Abduh was familiar with Tolstoys religious ideas. 221 For now, I consider it one of the possible elements of the European tradition within Abduhs interpretation of the ul within an Islamic framework. As such, this example underlines the complexity of Abduhs act of synthesis. But Yasir Ibrahim draws our attention to the usage of a similar terminology within the Islamic tradition, that is, within the science of Islamic law (Arabic: fiqh) and in particular as formulated by the theologian al-Shib. Informed by Ibrahims analysis, Abduhs reference to the true spirit of the Quran can be compared to the traditional concept of maqid al-shara, that is, the underlying aims or intentions (Arabic, singular: qad or maqd) which should guide the jurists rational interpretation (Arabic: ijtihd) of specific verses concerning prohibitions and authorisations. According to Ibrahim, Abduh uses a terminology of an (underlying) wisdom (Arabic: ikma), spirit (r) and truth (Arabic: aqqa) in a similar way. 222 In addition, Ibrahim argues that Abduh employs ul in a similar way. 223 Thus, ul should be translated here as principles or essentials instead of sources, collectively constituting the spirit of Islam. Indeed, in Theology of Unity, Abduh argues that general principles (Arabic: ul) should guide our understanding of the Quran and the Traditions, as Hourani and al-Azmehs analyses confirmed. 224 As such, Abduhs interpretation of ul as principles can also be retraced within the Islamic tradition. How does one arrive at this spirit of Islam and specifically its deduced ul, according to Abduh? With regard to methodology, it is striking that the texts which Abduh seeks to interpret along these general principles (Arabic: ul) to deduce specific applications from, constitute at the same time the authorities or sources (Arabic: ul) from which these principles themselves can be deduced. 225 Thus, the revealed sources as a whole constitutes the general textual context to which a specific verse should be related. To do so effectively, a very thorough knowledge of the Arabic language is needed. 226 Furthermore, Abduh seems to propose a historical method to infer general principles from the Quran and, to a lesser extent, from the Sunna. To understand the (true or esoteric) aims or
220

Leo Tolstoy, The Works of Leo Tolstoy. On Life and Essays on Religion (London 1934) [translated from the Russian by Aylmer Maude] 207. 221 Hourani, Arabic Thought, 135 and 143. 222 Ibrahim, Abduh and the Maqid al-Shara, MR, 2, 6-7 and 9-12. 223 Ibidem, 10. 224 Abduh, Theology, 29; Hourani, Arabic Thought,151-152; al-Azmeh, Islams and Modernities, 127. 225 Ibrahim, Abduh and the Maqid al-Shara, MR, 3. 226 Abduh, Theology, 60, 103 and 155; Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 57, 62 and 111.

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principles of Islam from the Quran, one must understand the historical conditions in which the Quran was revealed, according to Abduh. 227 Although Ibrahim points out a similar kind of historical reasoning in establishing the aims of Islamic law in consideration of the conditions of revelation (Arabic: maqid al-tanzl), Wielandt argues that a historical reading of the Quran is highly unusual in Islam. However, Wielandt mentions a few theologians al-Bqilln, al-Shib who do testify to this kind of more historical reasoning. 228 Significantly, Abduh mentions al-Bqilln approvingly a few times and is influenced by precisely al-Shibs analysis of the maqid al-shara, according to Ibrahim. 229 As such, Abduhs interpretation of ul as principles seems to refer (also) to a historical reading of the Quran which distinguished the historical meaning of the Quran from its essential meaning. This conclusion seems to be confirmed by other scholars, as they describe how moving back and forth from text to general spirit enabled Abduh to apply a general Islam free from its historical inessentials to the specific historical situation of his own time. 230 al-Azmeh claims that Abduh stripped the Quran and Islam hereby from their specific historical meanings and contexts. 231 To define Islam in this way, one can indeed easily read into it everything one would like, as al-Azmeh observes with regret. 232 Keeping Gadamers theory on interpretation in mind, however, one could also maintain that this is a necessary component of any interpretation especially in case with theology as it seeks to apply the text it interprets to a historical situation, precisely as Abduh intended. A closer look at Abduhs horizon, influenced by a duality of (intellectual) traditions as well as by prejudices resulting from specific historical conditions, renders Abduhs interpretation intelligible at the least and emphatically not a deliberate case of manipulation. Continuing our research into Abduhs understanding of ul as principles, I will now look into what these principles specifically referred to. With regard to Abduhs identification of Islams general principles (Arabic: ul), a distinction can be made between theological and juridical principles. According to Ibrahim, malaa that is, human welfare should be considered as one of the principles to guide rational interpretation in matters concerning Islamic law for Abduh. 233 Although malaa is a familiar concept within the tradition of Islamic law, it is important to reiterate here that istil that is, reasoning while taking into consideration human welfare (Arabic: malaa) as the laws main aim was not traditionally accredited as one of the main sources for Islamic law. Besides, Hourani draws our attention to the way Abduhs use of istil differs from the

227

Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 59-60 and 62; Abduh, Theology, 153-154; Kenneth Cragg and Ishaq Musaad, Introduction in: Muammad Abduh, Theology of Unity, 9-23, there 17. 228 Ibrahim, Abduh and the Maqid al-Shara, MR, 8-9; Wielandt, Offenbarung und Geschichte, 37 and 43-44. 229 Ibrahim, Abduh and the Maqid al-Shara, MR, 2-3 and 5; Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 142-143. 230 Hourani, Arabic Thought, 151; Peters, Erneuerungbewegungen, 108; Haj, Reconfiguring Islamic Tradition, 83. 231 Al-Azmeh, Islams and Modernities, 109 and 128. 232 Ibidem, 122-123, 132-133 and 144. 233 Ibrahim, Abduh and the Maqid al-Shara, MR, 4-5 and 29. Cf. Hourani, Arabic Thought, 151-152; Haj, Reconfiguring Islamic Tradition, 84; Abduh, Theology, 130.

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traditional standard in the fiqh-literature. Hourani states that the principle of human welfare was only a subsidiary means of interpretation, while Abduh considers it to be of primary importance. 234 Here, it becomes clear that, while Abduhs interpretation of ul as principles might be grounded in the Islamic tradition (too), he very much differed from this tradition in the peculiarities regarding his synthetic interpretation. Besides identifying juridical principles such as that of malaa, Abduh reduces Islam to a number of essential and simple doctrines which were understandable for every human being: Islam in a nutshell. These might be referred to as the theological principles of religion (Arabic: ul al-dn or aqid), or as defined by the Encyclopaedia of Islam the truths which must be believed. 235 These principles or essentials comprise the only beliefs which were obligatory to all believers, according to Abduh. 236 As such, these principles had to be very general and very simple, according to Abduh: every Muslim should believe in one God, His Prophet and the Prophets message, that is, the Quran. 237 In his emphasis on the simplicity and generality of the essential truths which must be believed by every Muslim, Abduh exhibits again a striking similarity with Leo Tolstoys view that:
() all [people] will certainly agree in what is most important [in the Gospels], and these are things which will be found quite intelligible to everyone. It is just this just what is fully comprehensible to all men that constitutes the essence of Christs teaching. 238

Again, this observation is in need of further investigation. Certainly, Tolstoy was not the only one exhibiting this type of ideas within modern Christianity. For now, Abduh and Tolstoys conformity regarding this particular point should be considered as a specific lead for further research into Abduhs synthetic interpretation of the ul as principles in which Christian conceptions of religious authenticity should be more prominently included. Besides these two categories of principles, which are in keeping with the Islamic tradition of law and theology at least in some respects, Abduh seems to define still another type of ul in Islam and Christianity. These particular principles serve to defend Islam against allegations of it being unscientific and not suitable to modern civilisation as opposed to the Christian religion. The eight ul of the Islamic religion, as laid down by Abduh in Islam and Christianity, seem to be a mix of doctrines, juridical principles, methodological instructions and sources (Arabic: ul) of the rational category:

234 235

Hourani, Arabic Thought, 151-152. Gimaret, Ul al-Dn, EI2. 236 Abduh, Theology, 76, 145, 147 and 156; Abduh, Rislat al-Tawd, 488 and 489 [both sadja]; cf. Abduh, Theology, 66; Hourani, Arabic Thought, 145. 237 Abduh, Risla Thniyya il aylor, 359. 238 Tolstoy, Works of Leo Tolstoy, 208.

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(1) Rationality and the Islamic faith are compatible, thus, rationality leads to faith; (2) Islam favours a rational interpretation of the Quran; (3) Islam rarely proclaims a believer as a heretic; (4) Islam encourages his believers to think about Gods customs or patterns (see the next paragraph); (5) Islam does not know religious authorities who can assert their power over an individual believer; (6) Islam is peaceful; (7) Islam preaches a tolerant attitude towards adherents of other religions; (8) Islam does not advocate a rejection of worldly matters in favour of the hereafter. 239 Because of their composite nature they are quite unlike the traditional interpretation of ul within Islamic law or Islamic theology until the end of the nineteenth century. Significantly, these principles were formulated as a defence against Anns accusations that Islam was by nature unsuitable to civilisation as it was inherently hostile to science. As mentioned before, it is possible that Abduh internalised the essentialist discourse of his adversary. Thereby, Abduh approach to the Islamic religion resembled the Christian Orientalist emphasis upon textbased orthodoxy, as described by Richard King. For now, it is important to see how two possible genealogies of Abduhs interpretation of ul as principles converge and as such reinforce each other. Before finishing my investigation into Abduhs interpretation of ul as sources in the next section on sheer rationality as a last source for religious knowledge, I will look into the consequences of Abduhs interpretation of ul as principles. In fact, through his identification of only a few ul as the essentials of Islam the only truths which every Muslim should acknowledge Abduh proposed a quite minimalist definition of what defined being a Muslim. 240 As such, he wanted to dispose of age-old theological debates on matters which he deemed inessential. 241 Furthermore, Abduhs minimalist definition of Islam is reflected in his very tolerant attitude on diversity within Islam. He deemed all schools of law and theology (Arabic: madhhib) equally valid and even advocated tolerance towards Shia Islam. 242 As such, he stressed the unity of Islam and the Muslim world as a

239 240

Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 56-72. Abduhs minimalist definition of Islam makes clear how he displayed continuities as well as discontinuities with the general reformist movement of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Abduhs minimalist definition of Islam was very much contrary to Wahhbs maximalist definition of Islam, for example. But Abduhs emphasis on internal Islamic unity is quite parallel to the Indian Wl Allahs ideas on true Islam. Peters, Erneuerungsbewegungen, 97; Dallal, Origins and Objectives, JAOS, 349. 241 Abduh, Theology, 61, 63 and 156; Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 111-113 and 138-139. 242 Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 138-139. Cf. Abduhs striving for talfq and his own eclecticism a synthesis of all legal schools; Hourani, Arabic Thought, 152; al-Azmeh, Islams and Modernities, 128; Peters, Erneuerungbewegungen, 121-122.

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whole. However, Abduh firmly rejected the veneration of human beings as saints, which could be ascribed to some Shiite doctrines and specifically to some popular forms of Sufism. 243 Informed by Oliver Scharbrodts analysis of Abduh first work Treatise on Mystical Inspirations, Abduhs tolerance with regard to Islam internally might be a result of his belief in a Sufi inspired emanationist world view. According to this emanationist perspective, creation as a whole emanates from God and is united in its descent from a common origin. Although there is constant movement in the creation both downwards (from God to its creation) as upwards (the movement of creation towards God as a result of its inherent inclination to perfection) which produces hierarchical diversification, one should always be aware of the inherent unity behind the apparent diversity. 244 Scharbrodt argues that this leads Abduh to adopt a quite relativist position in matters of truth. Postulating an underlying unity in all creation, differences of opinion can only be defined gradually and not absolutely. Likewise, theological differentiation within Islam should not be considered absolute. Instead one should focus upon the relativity of ones own position and the underlying unity which connects the diverging opinions together. Although this is an interesting hypothesis which finds evidence in Abduhs possible exhibition of a similar logic regarding other instances, Abduhs Sufi beliefs which were very heterodox regarding nineteenth-century standards are still in need of further investigation. I will come back to this in my concluding chapter. Alternatively, his advocacy of internal tolerance and relativism might have resulted from Abduhs ideas on human rationality. Abduh considers rationality and thus, ijtihd as necessarily susceptible to human fallibility. Only perfect reasoning is infallible and only very few human beings can attain this level. 245 Kerr reasons that this reservation applies equally to ijm, moreover, being the collective equivalent of individual rationality. Thus, Abduh cannot but discredit the Consensus of the Community as a revealed source for religious knowledge. 246 Accordingly, Abduh only grants the right of ijtihd to those who possess the necessary knowledge and intellectual power, according to Hourani. 247 Abduh probably considers himself one of these knowledgeable men (Arabic: uraf) who have partial access to divine wisdom. 248 This idea of an elite having special access to God and His wisdom is again familiar to Islamic mysticism, in which Abduh was well versed through his uncle shaykh Darwsh. 249 This confirms the need to investigate possible Sufi influences on Abduhs ideas. In conclusion, this research into Abduhs interpretation of ul as principles which resulted from his interpretation of one of the rational sources (Arabic: ul) that is, ijtihd shows how much his interpretation is one of synthesis. His ideas on ul in its dual meaning can be possibly
243 244

Abduh, Theology, 97 and 158. Scharbrodt, Salafiyya and Sufism, BSOAS, 100 and 103. 245 Abduh, Theology, 53-55; 246 Kerr, Islamic Reform, 144. 247 Hourani, Arabic Thought, 147. 248 Abduh, Theology, 97. 249 Cf. Scharbrodt, Salafiyya and Sufism, BSOAS, 93.

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retraced to multiple roots within the Islamic and European tradition. As such, on a historiographical level, his ideas should be considered according to their unifying quality. In addition, on the level of history, the specific interpretation of Abduhs ideas on ul with regard to Islam give similar evidence to his plea for unity. By advocating tolerance within Islam, he furthers unity within Islam.

2.6

True Rationality

Continuing my quest to unravel Abduhs interpretation of ul as part of his notion of authenticity, I will turn my attention to an additional source for religious knowledge which Abduh includes in the rational category of sources. In addition to Abduhs transformation of qiys to almost uninhibited ijtihd as demonstrated in the previous paragraph, Abduh identifies rationality pur sang that is, altogether independent from the revealed sources as another valid source for establishing the essential principles (Arabic: ul) for Islam. 250 As such, for Abduh, independent human rationality is one of the sources (Arabic: ul) for achieving a true and authentic interpretation of Islam. Hereby, Abduh differs from notions of authenticity as prevalent within the European tradition as described by al-Azmeh and King, but he also differs from interpretations of ul as principles and source which have been developed within the Islamic tradition. This demonstrates how Abduhs act of synthesis with regard to his notion of authenticity transcends both traditions and creates new meanings. His interpretation of authenticity is truly the result of a fusion of horizons, as I will demonstrate here. Aziz al-Azmeh is convinced that the compatibility of faith and reason or science and religion which Abduh exhibits by considering rationality as a valid source for religious knowledge, is influenced by Catholic apologetic thought through the works of the Syrian Christian Francis Marrsh (1836-1873) and the Syrian Sunni Muslim usayn al-Jisr (1845-1909). 251 Furthermore, a similar line of reasoning is set forth by Tolstoy in an essay titled Reason and Religion from 1894. 252 In his letter to him, Abduh seems to agree specifically on this issue of rationality with Tolstoy. 253 In addition, this type of reasoning is not foreign to the Islamic tradition either. In this respect, Abduh might have been influenced by then abandoned theological views of the Mutazila School (8th-10th century) which stated that reason was capable of deciding on good moral behaviour. The results of this endeavour would coincide with norms derived from the revelation. 254 In addition,

250 251

Kerr, Islamic Reform, 108. al-Azmeh, Islams and Modernities, 137. Modern Catholic thought itself was in this respect indebted to the early authorities of Augustine (354-430) and Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274). 252 Tolstoy, Works of Leo Tolstoy, 199-204. 253 Abduh, Risla Thniyya il aylor, 363. 254 Sedgwick, Muhammad Abduh, 13. For a thorough analysis of Abduhs supposedly Mutazilite opinions, see: Hildebrandt, Waren Afn und Abduh Neo-Mutazilieten?, WI.

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Ibn Sns (980-1037) philosophy stated as paraphrased by Hourani - that the divine law was attainable in principle by the unaided human intellect. 255 In spite of these possible links between Abduh and earlier authorities within the Islamic tradition, Mark Sedgwick, author of the most recent biography of Abduh, rightfully stresses that these ideas of Abduh were highly unorthodox at his time. Although Abduhs positions on reason and religion would perhaps be acceptable to nineteenth-century Shiite Muslims, the Sunni ulama of the Azhar would have opposed it wholeheartedly. 256 So, how does Abduh himself justify his position on rationality as another valid source for religious knowledge? In the following, will examine in what ways Abduh employs a traditional Islamic terminology to present rationality as an independent source (Arabic, singular/plural: al/ul) while appealing to prevalent European types of reasoning, too. Furthermore, I will demonstrate how an interpretation along these lines favours the early and authentic period of the rightly guided forefathers as worthy of imitation. According to al-Azmeh, Abduh and other reformists justified their position on independent rationality and the self-evidency of Islam by referring to the doctrine of fira which could be translated as nature or character (Arabic, also: aba). 257 In relation to rationality (Arabic: aql), fira or aba refers to the natural human disposition of rationality by which human beings are enabled to know what is right and wrong independent from tradition (Arabic: naql). 258 Abduh demonstrates this type of reasoning in Theology of Unity, as he repeatedly refers to rationality as a God-given ability to mankind which should therefore be employed. 259 This rational method of knowing right from wrong is only possible, because Islam itself is considered a primeval religion (Arabic: dn al-fira), which coincides with human nature. 260 Or, as Abduh expresses it in Theology of Unity: The [Islamic L]aw simply comes to disclose things as they are and not, so to speak to make them so. 261 Since Islam is a natural religion, studying (human) nature must reveal religious knowledge, too as long as the rationality involved is sound. 262 Similar to the aforementioned workings of ijtihd, a rational study of human nature results in the establishment of general principles (Arabic: ul) of Islam. Malcolm Kerr justly compares this type of

Hourani, Arabic Thought, 18. Possibly, Ibn Sn influenced the Catholic Thomas Aquinas in this respect. Sedgwick, Muhammad Abduh, 68. Cf. Kerr, Islamic Reform, 108. 257 Al-Azmeh, Islamist Revivalism, HW, 44; cf. Ris usage of the doctrine of fira with regard to the problem of miraculous events. Richard van Leeuwen, Islamic Reformism and the Secular in: Heike Bock, Jrg Feuchter and Michi Knecht (ed.), Religion and Its Other. Secular and Sacral Concepts and Practices in Interaction (Campus Verlag: Frankfurt/New York 2008) 64-78, there 69. 258 Tj. de Boer and F. Rahman, Aql in: EI2 [http://www.brillonline.nl/subscriber/entry?entry=islam_COM-0038 September 2010]. 259 Abduh, Theology, 103, 115 and 117; Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 79. 260 al-Azmeh, Islamist Revivalism, HW, 44. 261 Abduh, Theology, 76. Cf. Abduh, Theology, 77; Cf. Kerr, Islamic Reform, 127. 262 Wielandt, Offenbarung und Geschichte, 70.
256

255

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reasoning to that of the European concept of natural law, which maintains that morality is (or should be) deduced from (human) nature and its patterns and regularities. 263 If Islam as deduced from the revealed sources can also be discovered by independent reasoning, this implies the other way round that there is nothing essential in the revealed sources which is not rationally intelligible. As such, reason and revelation are mutually reinforcing. 264 In addition, knowledge which is acquired through sound reason can never be rejected in name of the Islamic religion. 265 Abduh puts these last conclusions to use in his defence of Islam in relation to civilisation, as we will see in the next chapter. The doctrine of fira is not the only Islamic terminology in which Abduh justifies the independent significance of rational reasoning for understanding true Islam, however. Abduh also draws upon the concept of Gods rules regarding His creation (Arabic: sunan Allh) to enable a rational interpretation of nature. 266 In Asharite theology, as explained by Malcolm Kerr, God is allocated an active role in nature. Nature is permanently subjected to Gods will and actions. However, God is considered to act systematically regarding his creation. Therefore His rules that is, the sunan are unchanging and therefore reliable. 267 As such, the sunan Allh are considered a foundation of strict rules (...) and laws underlying creation, as Richard van Leeuwen explains with regard to Abduhs student Rashd Ri. 268 In addition, Christian van Nispen tot Sevenaer goes as far as to call the sunan an ontological statute, which is intelligible for human beings because of its regularity and structure. 269 Throughout his works, Abduh emphasizes the importance of fixed laws (Arabic: sunan) for the possibility of rationality and scientific reasoning. Gods invariable rules enabled human beings to reason independently from the sources which were revealed by Him. 270 Although God is able to deviate from His standard, Abduh argues, He does not do so except to prove the truth of His message as brought by His prophet so that mankind can rely on these laws and deduce reliable knowledge from them. 271 For example, human reason can deduce the unity of God from the regular structure of nature. 272

Kerr, Islamic Reform, 131. Abduh, Theology, 31-32, 39, 66, 71 and 107; Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 77 and 117. Cf. Wielandt, Offenbarung und Geschichte, 20. 265 Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 145-146. 266 According to Christian van Nispen tot Sevenaer, fira is itself not easily distinguished from the sunan. The rules (Arabic: sunan) underlying human nature (Arabic: fira) include that human beings have a natural disposition to human rationality (itself also called: fira). Van Nispen tot Sevenaer, Activit Humaine et Agir de Dieu, 29-30. 267 Kerr, Islamic Reform, 119, 129 and 131. 268 Van Leeuwen, Reformism and the Secular, 68. 269 Van Nispen tot Sevenaer, Activit Humaine et Agir de Dieu, 27. 270 Abduh, Theology, 136-137, Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 58; Cf. Ivanyi, Gods customs, MR, 102. 271 Abduh, Theology, 60 and 78-79. 272 Abduh, Theology, 48-49; Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 51, cf. Wielandt, Offenbarung und Geschichte, 20.
264

263

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Besides studying nature, however, the sunan also enable human reason to deduce true Islam from the course of human history. Drawing lessons from the history of societies (Arabic, plural: umam) has been existent in the Islamic tradition from the outset. It was an important Quranic theme, Wielandt explains in his Offenbarung und Geschichte im Denken moderner Muslime from 1971. Here, the fortunes of preceding peoples that is, history - serve as examples of good or bad group behaviour for subsequent generations in a similar situation. 273 The possibility of historical lessons in morality as also displayed by the Quran is dependent upon the idea that God is not neutral towards the communities of the world, John Voll notes; God is always on the side of those who follow His religion. 274 As such, the history of communities who received a divine punishment are instructive to others in religious matters. The invariable custom of God regarding the punishment of disobedient societies thus enables historical lessons in morality. 275 Abduh displays this type of reasoning clearly as he regularly cites four similar Quranic verses: It is Gods practice towards those who passed away before you and you will not find a change regarding the practice of God (33.62), Such was the way of God in days gone by and you will find it does not change (48.23), Truly, God altereth not what is in a people until they alter what is in themselves (13.11) and This is because God is not one to alter good which He hath bestowed upon a people until they alter what is in themselves (8.53). 276 In addition, it is important to note that the lessons which Abduh drew from history were of a rather general nature, according to Wielandt. 277 Therefore, these lessons may be compared to the ul as principles, along which a believer should interpret the Quran, according to Abduh. Katharina Ivanyi argues that the Quranic verses of 8.53 and 13.11 were traditionally interpreted in a roughly similar way as Abduh does here: God changes the fortune of a people whenever they pursue a sinful life. 278 Whether this specific custom of God also works in the reverse way that is, when a people changes for the good, then God changes their fortune for the good was not answered by traditional theology. Abduh based his reformism upon this interpretation, however. 279 Therefore, although this type of historical reasoning is not foreign to Islamic tradition, the historical lessons are a source of particular importance for Abduh and gain a much more prominent role in his thought than they had had before him.
Abduh, Theology, 97-98, 100, 104; Abduh, Sunan Allh, 220-221. In addition, this cluster of meanings history, exemplarity, similarity is well-captured in the Arabic terminology of mathal. Wielandt, Offenbarung und Geschichte, 22. 274 Voll, Islam. Change and Continuity, 6-7. Cf. Abduh, Theology, 104, 118, 138; Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 60. 275 This type of reasoning only applies to societies, however. Individuals are only punished or rewarded in the Hereafter, according to Abduh. Abduh, Theology, 137; cf. Kerr, Islamic Reform, 121; cf. Ivanyi, Gods Custom, MR, 93. 276 Abduh, M al-Umma, 45; Abduh, Sunan Allh, 218; Abduh, Theology, 30-31, 138; Cf. Abduh, Theology, 97, 100, 104, 118, 137 and 138; Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 58-59, 127; Abduh, Ftia al-Jarda, 26, Abduh, Sunan Allh, 222. 277 Wielandt, Offenbarung und Geschichte, 54. 278 Ivanyi, Gods Custom, 92-93. 279 Ibidem; Abduh, al-Jinsiyya, 45.
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If Abduhs philosophy of history is as I have just expounded, it becomes clear that especially the pious or rightly guided forefathers (Arabic: al-salaf al-li) are of essential importance to Abduhs epistemology of true Islam. As Abduh recalls in Theology of Unity as well as in an article in The Strongest Bond, Islam experienced a remarkable story of immediate, fast and wide expansion. 280 In traditional Sunni imagination, according to Wielandt, the remarkable expansion of early Islam is from very early onwards interpreted as a sign from God. 281 For Abduh, too, the early prosperity and might was a worldly sign from heaven that the Muslims of that time were following the right course. 282 Early Islam thus becomes a model for later times. 283 Not only because of its inherent original and primal quality, but also because history taught Abduh so. This Golden Age is not confined to the earliest days of the Four Rightly Guided Caliphs for Abduh as most contemporary Salafists and nineteenth-century Wahhabites would hold. Instead, Abduhs exemplary Golden Age covers almost seven centuries and runs from Muammads Community in Medina to the end of the Abbasid Period. This periodisation depends upon Abduhs philosophy of history, as just set forth, which differentiates between good and bad history dependent upon the adherence to true Islam which is in turn manifested in worldly prosperity. 284 As such, historical might and prosperity give evidence to the existence of true Islam. Following this methodology, Abduh locates the final rupture with true Islam at the end of the Abbasid Empire with the Mongol conquest in the thirteenth century, most particularly of Bagdad in 1258. The buildup to these misfortunes, according to Abduh, consists of the Kharijite and Shiite secessions in the seventh century and the disintegration of the Abbasid Caliphate with the competing Fatimid and Cordoban Ummayad Calphates. 285 Having thus deduced the Golden Age, Abduh explicitly names several religious scholars who should be revered and imitated as Pious Forefathers, such as: al-abar (838-923), al-Ashari (874936), al-Bqilln (ca. 950-1013), al-Ghazl (1058-1111), and Ibn Rushd (1126-1198). 286 Abduh considers all of these forefathers as worthy of imitation and refers to their practices and beliefs regularly to prove the truthfulness of his expositions on Islam. 287 In Abduhs exposition on the history of Muslim societies, their prosperity and their practices and beliefs in Islam and Christianity, it is significant that Abduh frequently refers to Western historians and their (occasional) positive remarks on the Classical Period of Islam, such as

Abduh, Theology, 142-144; Abduh, M al-Umma, 45. Wielandt, Offenbarung und Geschichte, 40. Cf. Hourani, Arabic Thought, 7-8 and 149. 282 Abduh, Theology, 144-145. 283 Abduh, Theology, 138 and 153-154; Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 110 and 118; Abduh, al-Jinsiyya, 45-47; Abduh, Sunan Allh, 223 [al-salaf al-li]. 284 Wielandt, Offenbarung und Geschichte, 71; Cf. al-Azmeh, Islamist Revivalism, HW, 51. 285 Abduh, Ini al-Muslimn, 78-79; Abduh, al-Narniyya, 70; Abduh, Theology, 32 and 148. 286 Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 142-143; cf. Hourani, Arabic Thought, 149. 287 For example: Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 65, 67-68, 80, 83-84, 86 and 91.
281

280

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Gustave Le Bon, William Draper, Jean dAlembert, and Edward Gibbon. 288 Here, we can see how elements of Western Orientalist discourse enable a colonial subject such as Abduh to contradict the general Orientalist portrayal of Islam. Additionally, Wielandt points at the conformity of Abduhs philosophy of history based on Gods customs (Arabic: sunan) with the one prevalent in the Enlightenment, which taught that universally valid lessons could be deduced from history. 289 Abduh probably knew some historical works of Voltaire and Montesquieu such as Voltaires works on Peter the Great and Charles XII of Sweden, as well as Montesquieus of the rise and fall of the Roman Empire as they had been translated to Arabic by Tahws translation movement. 290 Thus, by referring to the traditional terminology of sunan as well as of fira or aba, Abduh draws attention to the systematic and rational nature of knowledge within Islam. According to Hourani, Abduhs desire to prove that Islam is itself a rational system of morality or even a true sociology results from the influence of the positivist philosophy of the French philosopher Auguste Comte (1798-1857). 291 Society should be organised along a scientifically acquired system of morality, Comte argues, which is acceptable to the whole of society with which he reacts against the polarisation of the French society after the French Revolution. 292 Malcolm Kerr is convinced that with Abduhs rational and systematic definition of Islam Abduh ultimately removes the use of religion, as he secularises the sources of religious knowledge for communities altogether. 293 According to Abduh, however, the conformity of revealed and rational knowledge does not render revelation superfluous. For one thing, not all human beings possess a rational mind sound enough to be capable of attaining a level of perfection which matches the wisdom of the Quran. Actually, there are only very few who can, just as there are only very few who can correctly execute the task of ijtihd. 294 Besides, in some cases, reason is of no help. Here, Abduh refers to knowledge about the specific prescriptions regarding the ritual worshipping of God (Arabic, plural: ibadt) as well as to reasons incapacity of reaching the essence of truth (Arabic: kunh aqqatih) by which he ultimately seems to refer to truly knowing God Himself. 295 Therefore, it is obligatory for at least most human beings to trust upon God and His revelation. 296 To conclude this chapter with, Abduhs notion of authenticity is truly an act of synthesis of two traditions. Multiple elements of both the European and Islamic traditions interlock in a very
Ibidem, 80, 84-84 and 87-91. Indeed, Gustave LeBons The World of Islamic Civilization is nothing but a tribute to classical Arab civilization. Gustave le Bon, The World of Islamic Civilization (Tudor: New York 1974) [translated by David Macrae; originally published in French as La Civilisation des Arabes in 1884]. 289 Wielandt, Offenbarung und Geschichte, 56, 60 and 69. 290 Hourani, Arabic Thought, 71 and 138. 291 Ibidem, 149. 292 Ibidem, 139-140. 293 Kerr, Islamic Reform, 122. Cf. Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 60. 294 Abduh, Theology, 74, 76 and 95. 295 Ibidem, 53-54, 77 and 84; Hourani, Arabic Thought, 146-147. 296 Abduh, Theology, 108; Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 57; Cf. Kerr, Islamic Reform, 110.
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complex way in his interpretation of a true and authentic Islam. I will repeat the main lines of argument here, again. First, Abduh considers the Quran and the few valid traditions of the Sunna as the most important sources for religious knowledge. As such, he differs from Islamic tradition while exhibiting an inclination towards originality as portrayed by an emphasis on texts described by King and as portrayed by his ambivalence regarding history explained by al-Azmeh. Second, the practice of ijtihd in reading the Quran is another valid source for religious knowledge for Abduh. His particular interpretation of ijtihd, furthermore, includes the establishment of the essential principles (Arabic: ul) of Islam. Thereby, Abduh exhibits an essentialist approach towards religion as described by King, of which elements can also be retraced within the Islamic tradition. Third, these principles can also be established using rationality alone. In particular, (early) Islamic history is relevant in this respect, according to Abduh. Again, this demonstrates his inclination towards originality. Finally, having established the principles of Islam, these happen to coincide with the prescriptions of a scientific (sociological) model for humanitys welfare. As such, Abduhs interpretation of the ul with regard to his notion of authenticity (Arabic: ala) combines multiple elements, both within the European as well as within the Islamic tradition. In addition, Abduhs notion of authenticity unifies Abduhs wish to return to true Islam and his desire to modernise it at the same time. This will become particularly evident in the next two chapters. As such, his particular notion of authenticity transcends both traditions.

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3.1

Mission Civilisatrice

In the second half of the nineteenth century, Europe conceived of itself more and more as the leader or front runner of the world. The non-European peoples or nations were measured against the developmental position which Europe ascribed to itself. Thus, the rest of the world was hierarchically classified according to its level of developmental congruence with or deviation from Europe. This ladder of developmental progress as well as its highest point of destination then measured that is, in Europe was called civilisation. 297 As such, the terminology of civilisation and the hierarchy implied acquired an important legitimating role in the colonialist activities of European countries towards non-European countries. Based on a universalist conception of humanity which was particularly prevalent in France and Great-Britain the homelands of Abduhs main intellectual influences the concept of civilisation even rendered Europes interference as a service to the unfortunate countries who were lagging behind at the universal ladder of civilisation. 298 It was no act of aggression, but a more favourably phrased mission civilisatrice. 299 Before these conceptual developments as described in the Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe project in which Reinhart Koselleck was involved which drew strict boundaries between Europe and the rest, a Muslim intellectual such as al-ahw still conceived of civilisation as a universal cultivating development in which Muslim countries such as Egypt equally and simultaneously participated. Only barbarians and Bedouins were excluded by him. 300 Abduh, however, formulated his ideas on civilisation in a radically different discursive environment. In fact, he was well aware that civilisation (Arabic, here: tamaddun) was used by European powers as well as by staunch proponents of extensive Westernising reforms to portray and justify European interference in internal matters as a helping hand, as becomes evident in The Strongest Bond. 301 Similarly, Talal Asad points at the prevalent nineteenth-century Egyptian terminology of being Europeanised (Arabic:

Jrg Fisch, Zivilisation, Kultur. Entstehung des modernen Kultur- und Zivilisationsbegriffs im 18. und im frhen 19. Jahrhundert and Zivilisation, Kultur. Das 19. Jahrhundert: zwei Begriffe als Ausdruck des Selbstbewutseins einer Epoche in: Otto Brunner, Werner Conze and Reinhart Koselleck, Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe. Historische Lexikon zur politisch-sozialen Sprache in Deutschland (Klett-Cotta: Stuttgart 1992) VII, 705774, there 740, 743-744 and 758; cf. Ibidem, 718 and 753; Burrow, Crisis of Reason, 72 and 80. 298 John Wyon Burrow, Crisis of reason, European thought: 1848-1914 (Yale University Press: New Haven 2000 paperback edition) 72 and 80; Fisch, Zivilisation, Kultur, 744. In the following, I will normally omit the brackets of civilisation. Only if I want to emphasise its function within the text as a concept, I will add them. 299 Margaret Kohn, Afghn on Empire, Islam, and Civilization, Political Theory (PT) 37 (2009) 3, 398-422, there 398; Schaebler, Civilizing Others, 23. 300 Schaebler, Civilizing Others, 23-24. 301 Abduh, al-Jinsiyya, 43; Abduh, M al-Umma, 53-54.

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mutafarnij) as an equivalent of being civilised (Arabic: mutamaddin). 302 In addition, Abduhs most elaborate account of Islam and civilisation that is, Islam and Christianity Related to Science and Civilisation in 1902 (Arabic for civilisation here: madaniyya) was written as a response to allegations of the Syrian secularist Fara Ann that Islam was by its nature not suitable to civilisation (Arabic, most of the time: tamaddun, but also: ara and madaniyya). 303 Instead, Ann locates civilisation exclusively in contemporary or modern (Arabic: adth) Europe. 304 Abduh does not counter Anns localisation, as he agrees with Ann that contemporary civilisation is indeed situated in Europe. 305 However, he wishes to demonstrate that true Islam is and was - compatible with civilisation, for which he employs the dual terminology of ul (sources as well as principles), as set forth in the preceding chapter, extensively. On the one hand, Abduh refers to Islam in its original quality, purely based on the original sources in particular the Quran and its deduced and therefore equally authentic principles. On the other hand, he locates civilisation in the heydays of medieval Islam, which coincided with true Islam, according to Abduhs philosophy of history. 306 In the following, I will analyse Abduhs conception of civilisation as he expounded this in Islam and Christianity in particular, and reinforced it in occasional references in Theology of Unity in 1897 as well as in his 1884 articles in The Strongest Bond. Simultaneously, I will demonstrate how Abduh unremittingly matched his idea of what civilisation was with his idea of the true or authentic nature of Islam. Thus, both of these concepts must have co-determined each others meaning to a high degree. This applied particularly for civilisation towards Islam, since the relations between Europe and the Muslim world were asymmetrical indeed as I mentioned in the introduction. Throughout these three works, Abduh predominantly uses the Arabic word madaniyya for civilisation. 307 Furthermore, but only sporadically, Abduh employs the terms ara, umrn and tamaddun. 308 These terms are significant, because the best-known theory on human civilisation in the Muslim world that is, as Ibn Khaldn (1332-1406) exposed it in his Prolegomena (Arabic: Muqaddima) is formulated in terms of umrn. According to Ibn Khaldn, umrn knows two
Asad, Formations of the Secular, 252. Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 12-13, 16 and 103; Abduh, al-Radd al Fara Ann, 264 [ara; tamaddun; tamaddun], 266 [madaniyya] and 338 [tamaddun]; Donald Malcolm Reid, The Odyssey of Fara Ann, a Syrian Christians Quest for Secularism (Bibliotheca Islamica: Minneapolis 1975) 83-85. 304 Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 13 and 16; Abduh, al-Radd al Fara Ann, 264 and 266. 305 Abduh, Theology, 128; Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 134 and 135. 306 For example: Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 82, 127-128 and 140; Abduh, Ftia al-Jarda, 37; Abduh, M al-Umma, 58, 59 and 60; Cf. Pre-Islamic state of barbarism [barbariyya]: Abduh, Theology, 148; Cf. Afghn on religion and civilisation: Kohn, Afghn on Civilization, PT, 399. 307 Use of madaniyya for civilisation: Abduh, Theology, 128, 148, 150; Abduh, Rislat al-Tawd, 469, 490, 492; Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 44, 82, 100, 127, 128, 134, 134, 135, 137 and 151; Abduh, al-Radd al Fara Ann, 293, 323, 335, 354, 354, 360, 360, 361, 362 and 372; Abduh, Ftia al-Jarda, 37; Abduh, M alUmma, 58, 59 and 60; 308 Abduh, M al-Umma, 53-54 [tamaddun]; Abduh, al-Narniyya, 61; Abduh, Theology, 70; Abduh, Rislat al-Tawd, 417 [umrn].
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successive forms: the first being a nomadic type of civilisation (Arabic: umrn al-badaw) and the second a sedentary or urban type of civilisation (Arabic: umrn al-aar in which aar is adjectivally used). 309 Furthermore, the summit of the sedentary type of civilisation is called by its corresponding noun in Arabic: ara as such. 310 This last stage that is, the one of ara is characterised by the state of living in the city (Arabic: tamaddun). 311 Although Ibn Khaldns Prolegomena was republished in Cairo in 1857-1858 under the auspices of ahw and was lectured by Abduh at the House of Sciences (Arabic: Dr al-Ulm) in the 1870s, Abduh did not choose or not predominantly, at least umrn, ara or tamaddun to refer to civilisation. 312 Instead, Abduh uses madaniyya a term which is linguistically related to tamaddun, but is, to my knowledge, not used by Ibn Khaldn. This strengthens Houranis conviction that, at least in the 1884 journal The Strongest Bond, the usage of civilisation was highly determined by the exposition on civilisation by the French historian and politician Franois Guizot (1787-1874) in his 1830 Histoire de la Civilisation en Europe. This set of lectures was translated into Arabic in 1876 and exerted great influence on Afghn and Abduh. 313 Abduh even lectured on this work at his house. 314 More importantly, through Abduh and Afghns usage of the concept of civilisation in The Strongest Bond, this seminal idea of nineteenth-century Europe of civilisation was introduced to the Islamic world at large, according to Hourani. 315 This further qualification of the importance of Abduhs understanding of civilisation by Hourani renders a detailed examination of Abduhs usage of the concept even more interesting. Hourani himself does not go into this at all. Moreover, as I argue in the introduction, Hourani is more interested in showing Abduhs correspondence with European ideas than in analysing Abduhs ideas as a creative act of interpretation, which was performed in a context of an Islamic intellectual tradition as well as interests specific to that time, place, and person. This makes it unlikely that Abduh adopted Guizots conception of civilisation completely, particularly because there were Muslim conceptions of civilisation available which Abduh held in high esteem and because the concept of civilisation was being arrogated for European colonial interests. Therefore, a more detailed examination of Abduhs idea of civilisation seem to be in place. Before I delve into this, however, I must direct my attention to the composite nature of the concept of civilisation known to Abduh. Both in the European and the Khaldnian conception of
Schaebler, Civilizing Others, 16-17; Kohn, Afghn on Civilization, PT, 411. Djamel Chabane, The Structure of Umran al-Alam of Ibn Khaldun, The Journal of North African Studies (JNAS) 13 (2008) 3, 331-349, there 342. 311 Schaebler, Civilizing Others, 16-17; Amri, Laroussi, The Concept of Umran. The Heuristic Knot in Ibn Khaldun, JNAS, 13 (2008) 2, 351-361, there 352. 312 Hourani, Arabic Thought, 132; Amri, Concept of Umran, JNAS, 352; Schaebler, Civilizing Others, 16. 313 Hourani, Arabic Thought, 114 and 132; Frdric Volpi, Understanding the Rationale of Islamic Fundamentalists Political Strategies: A Pragmatic Reading of their Conceptual Schemes during the Modern Era, Totalitarian Movements & Political Religions (TMPR) 1 (2000) 3, 72-96, there 76. 314 Sedgwick, Muhammad Abduh, 16. 315 Hourani, Arabic Thought, 114.
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civilisation, civilisation is quite a comprehensive concept. It may refer to social, political, cultural, economic and scientific activities as well as the products of these efforts. 316 Not surprisingly perhaps, this applies to Abduhs idea of civilisation, too. Therefore, I will dissect his conception of civilisation into its most prominent components.

3.2

Might and Unity: Ranking the Communities and the Survival of the Fittest

As I explained before, civilisation simultaneously refers to the progressive ladder of human development, as well as the highest point of being civilised. In the nineteenth-century European imagination of time and space on a global level, the stages of Europes own history of development provided the means of categorisation for other nations or peoples although contemporaneous in time. Indeed, civilisation has known from early on a specifically collective dimension, as it referred to humanity as a whole (civilisation as a universal ladder) or to specific nations or peoples (the highest form of civilisation exclusively assigned to the European peoples). 317 Civilisation thus offered a possibility of hierarchically ranking the communities with Europe as its culmination. As such, Europes history of civilisational progress was concretised in space, while Europe itself became the site of civilisation. As became clear in the application of this conception of civilisation in a discourse of colonialism, civilisation was certainly not conceived in an apolitical manner. It was coupled with the idea of might and power, to the detriment of non-European nations in an earlier stage of civilisation. This was in keeping with the ideas of Social-Darwinist proponents such as Herbert Spencer, who transposed Darwinist conceptions, such as the survival of the fittest, to social phenomena. 318 Thus, a higher degree of civilisation enabled and justified conquest and subjection. As competition was seen as an inevitable feature of human life which resulted in progress, the overpowering of other nations might even be conceived as particularly positive. 319 Although only sporadically explicitly, Abduh continuously makes a similar connection between civilisation and the worldly might of human collectives. 320 Similarly, moreover, Abduh equates the worldly might of one community (Arabic: umma) necessarily with its dominance over

For the nineteenth-century concept of civilisation: Jrg Fisch, Zivilisation, Kultur, 740; For the concept of civilisation (Arabic: umrn) by Ibn Khaldn: Chabane, Structure of Umran, JNAS, 332. 317 Fisch, Zivilisation, Kultur, 718, 721 and 753. 318 Burrow, Crisis of Reason, 45-46; cf. Herbert Spencer, Herbert Spencer on Social Evolution. Selected Writings (University of Chicago Press: Chicago 1972) [edited and introduced by J.D.Y. Peel] 37 and 167. 319 Spencer, Spencer on Social Evolution, 52; J.D.Y. Peel, Introduction in: Herbert Spencer, Herbert Spencer on Social Evolution. Selected Writings (University of Chicago Press: Chicago 1972) vii-li, there xvi. 320 Abduh, M al-Umma, 59 and 60.

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other communities (Arabic: umam), while a decline in the communitys power always results in its submission to and subjugation by other communities. 321 As demonstrated in the section on Gods customs (Arabic: sunan) and the possibility of historical lessons regarding true Islam, Islam has traditionally been accustomed to the idea that true Islam results in worldly prosperity and might (Arabic: izza). 322 Based on the Quran, historical patterns and the corresponding model of the classical period of Islam, Abduh states that Islam existed for the welfare of humanity, and [as] the ground of human well-being in both worlds. 323 Moreover, Islams conformity with strength and power demonstrates how much Islam is in keeping with human nature (Arabic: fira), according to Abduh, an argument which I also encountered in the previous chapter. 324 Eighteenth-century reformists of Islam displayed a similar type of reasoning in which true Islam would coincide with might and prosperity, as they wished to counter the economic, cultural and political decline well before European powers entered the scene they perceived in their time by reforming Islam. 325 Furthermore, Ibn Khaldn connected the development of civilisation (Arabic: umrn) specifically to the acquisition of political and military power of a state, according to Hourani. 326 In addition to these leads within Islamic tradition, Aziz al-Azmeh compares Abduh and other reformists emphasis on Islams congruence with might, power and collective survival primarily to Herderian Vitalist theories combined with Social-Darwinist notions of a survival of the fittest on the level of nations or communities. 327 Indeed, the spirit of Islam which al-Azmeh compares to the Herderian Volksgeist functions as a revitalizing power which al-Azmeh likens to the Herderian concept of Krfte in Abduhs Theology of Unity:
How splendid is the wisdom of God in the pattern of Islam. It was a river of life welling up in the desert of Arabia, the remotest part of Gods earth from civilization [Arabic: al-madaniyya]. It flowed out to cover and to embrace in one the territories it renewed, bringing to them a vitality [Arabic: ayt], (). 328

Ibidem, 59; Abduh, Theology, 138; Abduh, al-Jinsiyya, 43. Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 77-78; Abduh, al-Radd al Fara Ann, 319 [izza]. 323 Abduh, Theology, 130; cf. for example: Abduh, Theology, 97, 133-134 and 143; Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 77-78 and 142; Abduh, al-Jinsiyya, 45; Abduh, M al-Umma, 60; Abduh, Ini al-Muslimn, 72; Abduh, Sunan Allh, 219 and 221; cf. Ivanyi, Gods Customs, MR, 92-93, Schaebler, Civilizing Others, 27. 324 Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 77-78; Abduh, al-Jinsiyya, 43; cf. Kerr, Islamic Reform, 131; Hourani, Arabic Thought, 149. 325 Peters, Erneuerungbewegungen, 108; Voll, Islam. Change and Continuity, 29-30. 326 Hourani, Arabic Thought, 22. 327 al-Azmeh, Islams and Modernities, 102-103; al-Azmeh, Islamist Revivalism, HW, 49-50. 328 Abduh, Theology, 148; Abduh, Rislat al-Tawd, 490 [madaniyya; ayt]; See for the spirit of Islam and the consequent strength for the Muslim community: Abduh, Theology, 138.
322

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These Romantic notions of Darwinist vitalism fitted well into the Darwinist evolutionism, which the European civilisational discourse already portrayed. In a continuing manner, Aziz al-Azmeh draws our attention to the importance of unity in Abduhs ideas on power and might, which does not have a very important role in European discourses on civilisation, as far as I know. 329 However, according to al-Azmeh, the theme of unity was very prominent in Romantic vitalism, which often had a strong organicist tendency. A human collective that is, a nation, a people, a community, or even a civilisation was conceived as a body, whose parts depended on the whole, and vice versa. A healthy and internally interdependent body was a strong and powerful body. Transposed to a social entity, this organic view of the social world resulted in an emphasis on unity and collectivity. 330 Indeed, Abduh testifies to this type of reasoning - not only in The Strongest Bond, which alAzmeh analysed himself, but also in his later Theology of Unity in which he writes that Each individual (...) has something to do in maintaining the whole, while the community in turn has its role which none can dispense with for his growth and subsistence. 331 In addition, Abduh regularly uses the body-metaphor in his articles in The Strongest Bond and in Islam and Christianity to explain something regarding the Muslim Community. 332 Abduh was certainly not the first Muslim thinker to emphasise unity. His eighteenthcentury fellow reformists demonstrated a similar tendency. According to Peters, the emphasis on unity is even a trait specific to the Islamic fundamentalist style, which is not specific to the eighteenth or nineteenth century but has been a constant factor in Islamic intellectual history. 333 Even more interesting is Kerrs reference to an Islamic proponent of unity with specific regard to civilisational development: Ibn Khaldn. According to Kerr, Ibn Khaldn teaches us with his reference to aabiyya that is, group solidarity that unity and political supremacy are mutually interdependent. No nation (...) can prosper without a cohesive and aggressive spirit. 334 More specifically, according to Ibn Khaldn, a religion is particularly well-suited to create a bond of solidarity and unity within a state to ensure its survival although this is always temporary, according to Ibn Khaldns cyclical notions of history. 335 Although Abduh rejects fanaticism (Arabic, linguistically related to aabiyya: taaub) regarding the nation, as it spreads discord in the last resort, he advocates pan-Islamic unity instead. In The Strongest Bond he calls upon all Muslims to unify themselves to regain strength and prosperity

329

Professor James Kennedy is right to suggest that civilisation always implies a certain amount of unity, being a designation for a collective. 330 al-Azmeh, Islamist Revivalism, HW, 48-49; al-Azmeh, Islams and Modernities, 103. 331 Abduh, Theology, 85-86. 332 Abduh, Ini al-Muslimn, 78, Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 101, 108, 142 and 146; see also the medical metaphors to which attention was drawn before [chapter 2]. 333 Peters, Idjtihd and taqld, WI, 132-133; Peters, Erneuerungsbewegungen, 91. 334 Kerr, Islamic Reform, 137. 335 Hourani, Arabic Thought, 24; Kohn, Afghn on Civilization, PT, 411.

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in the Muslim World as a whole. 336 According to Abduh, Islam is particularly well-suited to promote unity. Again, the sources and principles (Arabic: ul) of Islam play an important role in establishing proof for this assertion. According to Abduh, the revealed sources and the deduced general spirit or principles of Islam call Muslims to internal unity and stimulate individual efforts for the common good. 337 Furthermore, Abduhs advocacy to favour general principles (Arabic: ul) of religion over specific and detailed regulations and his efforts to promote a synthesis of the theological as well as juridical schools imply an Islamic unity in itself. 338 True Islam did not bother itself with hairsplitting activities, according to Abduh, as these engendered divisions and discord both between scholars and among the masses who followed them. 339 Finally, the forefathers who were worthy of imitation as proved by their might which ensued from political unity already testified to the spirit of theological, juridical, and political unity. 340 In the Classical Muslim world which was still united under one caliph, one could easily find prominent Shiite, Mutazilite and Asharite scholars who discussed each others ideas freely, Abduh maintains. Although they differed of opinion on the details of Islam, they knew not to secede into different schools or sects. 341 In sum, Abduh brings Islam, civilisation, power, unity and dominance over other communities together in his plea for Islamic revivalist reform:
Are you amazed, o reader, at my words that the true religious origins, which are free from novelties and innovations, produce for the communities the power of unity, the harmony of union and the esteem of honour for the bliss of life? And that the [true religious origins] cause for [the community] the acquisition of moral excellencies and the expansion of the domain of knowledge and that [the religion] finally leads towards the most extreme limit of civilisation [Arabic: madaniyya]? If you are astonished, then my astonishment with your astonishment is greater. Did you forget the history of the Arabic community and what was incumbent upon them before the rise of the religion regarding barbarism and disunity as well as the existence of disgraces and forbidden actions until the religion reached it? Thus [the religion] united [the community], it strengthened it, it purified it, it enlightened its minds, it straightened its moral, it directed its rulings rightly, and so it mastered the world. 342

Abduh, al-Jinsiyya, 38-40; Kerr refers to the article Islamic Unity (Arabic: al-Wada al-Islmiyya) in The Strongest Bond: Kerr, Islamic Reform, 137-138. 337 Abduh, Theology, 90-92, 102, 134 and 138; Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 111-112; Abduh, M al-Umma, 59; Abduh, Ftia al-Jarda, 31; Abduh, Ini al-Muslimn, 73 and 80. 338 Hourani, Arabic Thought, 152; al-Azmeh, Islams and Modernities, 128. 339 Abduh, Theology, 61, 63 and 156; Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 111-114, 115 and 138-139. 340 Abduh, Theology, 32-33, 123 and 148; Abduh, M al-Umma, 45-47 and 59; Abduh, Ini al-Muslimn, 78; Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 17, 107, 115, 124; cf. Cragg, Introduction, 12; Scharbrodt, Salafiyya and Sufism, BSOAS, 103-104. 341 Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 112-113 and 138-139. 342 Abduh, M al-Umma, 59.

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Moreover, this quote also refers to the conceptual twin of civilisation as becomes manifest throughout Abduhs works, but particularly in Islam and Christianity Related to Science and Civilisation, whose title immediately gives it away: science. I will now turn to this component of civilisation.

3.3

Civilisation and Scientific Progress

In an article with which he immediately aroused Abduhs anger, Fara Ann following Ernest Renans works on Islam and on the Muslim philosopher Ibn Rushd set forth why Islam was not conducive to science and therefore not to civilisation. 343 The connection between science and civilisation is not particularly surprising, moreover, given the prominent status science had acquired in the nineteenth century. In the works of Auguste Comte as well as in Renans own work The Future of Science, science and scientists were assigned an almost divine role in the progressive development of mankind. 344 In his reply to Ann, titled Islam and Christianity Related to Science and Civilisation, Abduh does not question Anns line of reasoning which coupled science and civilisation intricately together. Apart from the telling title, Abduh refers to these twin concepts and their close connection regularly. 345 Also, he argues that science was particularly conducive to might and power which he regards as one component of civilisation, as has just been demonstrated. 346 For Abduh, like Ann, science is unquestionably an indispensable aspect of civilisation. Abduh does object, however, to Anns claim that the Islamic religion is incompatible with science, and therefore with civilisation. He devotes the greatest part of Islam and Christianity to counter the first component of Anns allegation. According to Abduh, Islam is even particularly conducive to science. 347 He cites scientific accomplishments of the medieval Muslim civilisation to prove true Islams compatibility with science and civilisation. 348 Preferably, he relies on European works of history for this, such as those of Gibbon and Le Bon in which the classical Muslim-Arabic sciences are highly praised. 349 In addition, Abduh refers to the eight general principles (Arabic: ul) of Islam which he deduces from the general spirit of the Quran and the Sunna. In these, Abduh first and foremost stresses Islams rational nature. The rationality of Islam manifests itself in two ways, according to Abduh. Having encountered both in the second chapter, I will touch on them only briefly here. First, according to Abduh, the essentials of Islam teach that the Quran should be rationally instead
343 344

Reid, Odyssey of Fara Ann, 83-85. Burrow, Crisis of Reason, 54-55 and 99. 345 Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 19, 82, 100, 127 and 140. 346 Ibidem, 77-78, 129 and 142. 347 Ibidem, 52, 109, 117 and 145-146; Abduh, Theology, 103 348 For example: Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 65, 80, 83-84, 86-87 and 91. 349 Ibidem, 84-85 and 87-91.

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of literally interpreted. 350 Second, reason as such that is, independent from revealed sources is capable of producing religious knowledge in Islam. 351 Thus, revelation and reason coincide in the case of Islam, that is, according to Islams principles drawn up by Abduh. As I explained in the second chapter, this conformity relies upon the regularity of Gods customs. As such, Islam does not reject the possibility of natural or social laws, as Ann argues, closely following the analysis of Renan in this respect. 352 On the contrary, the general purport of the Quran motivates Muslims to examine the regular workings of nature, according to Abduh. 353 Secondly, the conformity of faith and reason is dependent upon Islams conformity with human nature. 354 So, if rationality is an indispensable component of human nature and if Islam is necessarily conducive to human nature, Islam by definition confirms and stimulates human rationality, Abduh reasons. 355 Probably, Abduhs exposition on the rational nature of Islam would not have persuaded Ann that Islam is compatible with civilisation, however. Ann considers a secularist separation of church and state as a necessary condition for the acquisition of civilisation. According to him, Christianitys secular nature is the only reason that Christian Europe became civilised in the first place. Because of its inherently irrational nature, Ann maintains, Christianity is actually just as detrimental to science as Islam. However, in a Christian society, religion is restricted to its proper sphere and cannot harm the development of science. 356 Abduhs reply to this is rather enigmatic therefore, the following account should be considered predominantly as a first impulse to further investigation. Based upon an earlier article in The Strongest Bond on Christianity and Islam, it seems that Abduh rejects the possibility of a separation of church and state. As the ruler is a believer himself, Abduh argues, religion necessarily exerts influence on the mind of the leader and therefore on his politics regarding the state. 357 A religion can therefore only be conducive to a secularist separation of church and state as Abduh understands it in a quite unique way, when it does not claim any authority over its believers. Abduh is proud to announce that Islam by its nature does not know any clerical hierarchy between God and His believers. 358 As such, there is no religious authority asserting its influence over an individual believer whether this is a political leader or not. Every believer gives account to God only, according to Abduh.

Second principle of Islam: Ibidem, 56. First principle of Islam: Ibidem, 56. 352 Reid, Odyssey of Fara Ann, 83. 353 Fourth principle of Islam: Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 58. 354 Eighth principle of Islam: Ibidem, 72 355 Ibidem, 72, 76-77, 79 109 and 146; Abduh, Theology, 35, 39, 103, 115, 117, 127 and 145; Abduh, Risla il Tlsty, 361; Abduh, Risla Thniyya il Tlsty, 363. 356 Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 12-13, 64 and 102; Reid, Odyssey of Fara Ann, 84-85. 357 Abduh, al-Narniyya, 65, cf. Reid, Odyssey of Fara Ann, 86. 358 Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 60-62.
351

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The function of the caliph is not to be misunderstood, moreover. A caliph is not in the position to judge or force the believers regarding their inner faith, according to Abduh. That is the task of God only. The caliph is merely a civil (Arabic: madan) ruler, as Hasselblatt translates madan here. With this term, Abduh seems to mean that the caliph does not intermeddle with individual matters of spirituality. 359 In that particular sense, Abduh conceives of him as secular. However, Abduh omits here that, previously in that chapter, he holds that a caliph should provide the state with religiously inspired law, so that believers can conduct their religiosity as an individual and as a collective. For Abduh, Islam is religion (Arabic: dn) and law (Arabic: shar). 360 As such, the state and church or in the Islamic case, the state and perhaps the jurists are intertwined. Religion remains an important foundation of the nature of the state. Indeed, this renders Abduhs interpretation of secularism rather peculiar. As such, his interpretation for civilisation includes a component of secularism as he conceives it but perhaps a less confusing terminology would be that his interpretation of civilisation comprises religious tolerance and the lack of religious coercion. Indeed, instead of coercion, Abduh claims that a religion should peacefully preach tolerance and independence of mind in particular to promote science and, as such, civilisation. Islam certainly fits this picture well, according to Abduh. For example, true Islams rejection of taqld that is, the strict and compulsory following of the interpretations of one established school of theology and law favours an independence of mind. 361 In addition, Islam is a religion of tolerance. It does not persecute anyone for his thoughts and opinions, whether these concern the religious or scientific domain. 362 The legal status of protection for Christians and Jews in the medieval caliphates was just one example of this attitude of true Islam, according to Abduh. 363 The particular combination of intellectual freedom, a pluralism of opinions and tolerance, which collectively characterise Abduhs idea of secularism, is reminiscent of Guizots theory on the development of European civilisation. According to him, the pluralist composure of European civilisation engendered a particularly high level of tolerance which resulted in the thriving European civilisation of the nineteenth century. Also, Guizot assigns particular importance to the Reformation in this respect, as it favoured an independence and freedom of mind. 364 This parallel with Guizot is confirmed by Abduh in Theology of Unity, in which he states: A certain [W]estern philosopher of the recent past has said that the growth of civilization in Europe rested on the
359 360

Ibidem, 63-65 and 71; Abduh, al-Radd al Fara Ann, 310 [madan]; cf. Asad, Formations of the Secular, 205. Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 62. The terminology of al-Islm dn wa shar is particularly interesting, moreover, because of its parallels with al-Islm dn wa dawla [Islam is religion and state]. 361 For example: Abduh, Theology, 39, 115, 125, 127, 129 and 138; Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 98, 100, 110-111, 117 and 125. 362 Third, sixth and seventh principle of Islam: Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 57, 66 and 70. 363 Ibidem, 67-68; cf. with regard to classical as well as contemporary tolerance regarding scientists: Ibidem, 13, 67-69, 72, 121, 139 and 140-141. 364 Franois Guizot, The History of Civilization in Europe (Penguin Books: Londen 1997) [translated by William Hazlitt in 1846; originally published as Histoire de la civilisation en Europe in 1828] 29, 31-32.

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independence of will and the independence of thought and opinion. 365 As Abduh continues to set forth the philosophers ideas on the importance of the Reformation, Guizot is most probably referred to here. 366 Furthermore, in his introduction to Histoire de la Civilisation en Europe, Guizot is very explicit that he defines civilisation in the light of progress. 367 For him, the unfolding of civilisation is not a neutral transformation. Here, the passage of time implies a change for the better. Certainly, the ranking of communities along a civilisational ladder, which I mentioned in the introduction to this chapter, also testifies to this hopeful belief in progress. In fact, in the Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe, progress is even presented as the most central element of the modern civilisational discourse. 368 In line with Guizots ideas on civilisational progress, Abduh particularly connects progress to the continuous practice of science. By the merit of hindsight, which was gained by the study of history, younger generations could surpass their predecessors, according to Abduh. 369 Similarly, knowledge is never on a stable and constant level throughout history. It is in constant process. 370 Because of Abduhs terminology of process and constant movement, I will briefly draw attention to the prominence of change in this respect. After all, the idea of a progressive civilisation implies a great appreciation for dynamics and a corresponding rejection of stagnation. The centrality of the opposition of stagnation versus dynamic is significant, moreover, because it figures very prominently, too, in nineteenth-century Orientalism. The East is portrayed as passive and fatalist by many Orientalists, while the West is active and therefore especially suitable to civilisation. This amounts to the Orient virtually being excluded from history which is itself conceptualised in close reference to change, if it is not identified by it because of its inherently unchanging nature. 371 Blunts words in defence of Islam, with which I began my introduction of this thesis, are telling in this respect: The fact is, Islam does move [emphasis mine]. 372 Likewise, Abduhs demonstration that Islam is particularly suitable to science is at the same time a defence of Islams dynamic and progressive nature. 373 It also explains why he so fervently argues against taqld as a sign of stagnation (Arabic: jumd). 374 Despite firm claims by Kerr and others with regard to Abduhs belief in progress, Abduhs references to progress are not without ambiguity. 375 On the one hand, in an essay on the conceptual history of progress and decline, Reinhart Koselleck already warns us for religious concepts of
365 366

Abduh, Theology, 128. Sedgwick also seems to confirm this position: Segwick, Muhammad Abduh, 16-17; cf. Kohn on Afghns indebtedness to Guizot: Kohn, Afghn on Civilization, PT, 415. 367 Guizot, History of Civilization, 16. 368 Fisch, Zivilisation, Kultur, 716. 369 Abduh, Theology, 127; Abduh, al-Narniyya, 63. 370 Abduh, Theology, 131; cf. Abduh, Theology, 103. 371 King, Orientalism and Religion, 104; Van der Veer, Imperial Encounters, 4. 372 Blunt, Future of Islam, 135. 373 Cf. Peters, Erneuerungsbewegungen, 108. 374 Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 104 and 110. 375 Kerr, Islamic Reform, 149.

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perfection which do not refer to a modern concept of progress, although they may seem so at first. 376 Indeed, Abduh often writes in the terminology of perfection [Arabic, verb: kamala]. 377 This idea of perfection is well-grounded in the Islamic tradition. Scharbrodt demonstrates that Abduhs belief in progress might be facilitated by his knowledge of the ideas of the Iranian Mull Sadr (ca. 1571-1640) who sees a constant tendency of all creatures to increasing perfection as they all strive to come near to their divine creator. 378 Koselleck argues that the decisive feature of a modern conception of progress is the qualitative differentiation between past and future. 379 Although one might learn lessons from history, ones prior experience will never suffice to predict coming surprises and innovations. 380 Abduhs wish to return to the Pious Forefathers (Arabic: al-Salaf al-li) becomes suspect in this respect. Can a return to history herald the future in a progressive view on civilisation? 381 In addition, Islam has been traditionally conceived as the final religion; Muammad is considered the seal of prophets. As such, Islam is a point of destination. 382 But, although the final stage of Islam refers to perfection, Abduh maintains that Islam is not opposed to further development. 383 Although he is not completely explicit about this, Abduh seems to suggest that Islam, being the highest level of human development, furthers a constant movement towards perfection. Thus, Abduhs Islam is civilisation in its dual sense; both as the highest state of development as well as the development itself. As such, Abduh seems to exhibit a sense of progress in his interpretation of civilisation, which should be predominantly retraced to the European tradition.

3.4

Mission Civilisatrice Intrieure and the Hidden Islamic Mission of Civilisation

In his conception of civilisation, Abduh connects religion with political as well as scientific development. This type of combination was not foreign to the European discourse surrounding civilisation. As the simultaneous treatment of culture in Kosellecks Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe already seems to suggest, civilisation was from its earliest days onwards also a moral or ethical qualification perhaps even before it acquired political connotations. 384 Franois Guizots ideas on
376 377

Koselleck, Progress and Decline , 223-224. Abduh, Theology, 82 and 83. 378 Scharbrodt, Salafiyya and Sufism, BSOAS, 102-103. 379 Koselleck, Progress and Decline , 225. 380 Koselleck, Progress and Decline , 233. 381 Cf. Wielandt, Offenbarung und Geschichte, 68. A similar type of reasoning is exhibited by the European Renaissance. Precisely because of this argument, however, Koselleck does not consider the Renaissance interpretation of progress modern, however. Koselleck, Progress and Decline , 225. 382 Abduh, Theology, 96, 132, 133-134 and 140; Wielandt, Offenbarung und Geschichte, 60. 383 Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 50. 384 Fisch, Zivilisation, Kultur, 718.

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civilisation especially testify to this connection, moreover. To Guizot, civilisation is simultaneously a development of mans inner life and morality as well as of societys public life and institutions. These are intricately connected, according to him. 385 With regard to European civilisation, for example, Guizot assigns an important role to the intellectual influence of the Protestant Reformation. 386 If civilisational progress in all of its aspects is coupled with moral progress, a moral decline inevitably results in a political decline. This type of reasoning is also found in Ibn Khaldns theory, whereby the luxury which comes with the last stage of civilisation (Arabic: ara) corrupts the ruling elites morality and destroys their civilisation eventually. 387 In addition, Montesquieus Considrations sur les Causes de la Grandeur des Romains et leur Decadence which was translated, too, under the auspices of ahw and gained enormous popularity in both the Arabic and Turkish parts of the Ottoman Empire demonstrates an analysis in which morality is of similar importance in maintaining political might. 388 According to Montesquieu, the Roman Empire eventually perished because it lost its superior morality which was characterised by a very high degree of discipline and a healthy fighting spirit. 389 Abduh gives examples of this type of historical reasoning in which decadence of morality was of major importance in explaining decline. 390 Conversely, a moral revival leads to a revival in other respects a conviction that Abduhs advocacy of a reformation of Islam illustrates. 391 Furthermore, a change in a collectives morality is based upon a change in morality of the individuals constituting it. This might explain Abduhs emphasis on education. Changing individual morality is not easy, however, as Kerr analyses that Gods promise of worldly prosperity in case of upright reform does not apply to the individual level, as God only rewards individual believers in the Hereafter. Gods system of reward concerns human collectives only, that is, the Muslim community (Arabic: umma). 392 Interestingly, one can find the same tense convergence between an individual upbringing and the prosperity of a collective in the Romantic notion of Bildung, as al-Azmeh points out in passing. 393 For Afghn and Abduh, the surest way to ensure a communal following of the right morality was religion. 394 After all, clever and well-intentioned intellectuals, who could figure out the right mentality rationally and independently from revelation, would never be able to direct the
385 386

Ibidem, 753; Kohn, Afghn on Civilization, PT, 412; Sedgwick, Muhammad Abduh, 17. Guizot, History of Civilization, 203 and 211; Sedgwick, Muhammad Abduh, 16. 387 Chabane, Structure of Umran, JNAS, 342. 388 Hourani, Arabic Thought, 71. 389 Baron de Charles de Secondat Montesquieu, Considerations on the Causes of the Greatness of the Romans and Their Decline (Hackett Publishing Company: Indianapolis/Cambridge 1999 first edition by The Free Press in 1965) [translated by David Lowenthal; originally published in French as Considrations sur les Causes de la Grandeur des Romains et leur Dcadence in 1734] 62, 92-93 and 97-98. 390 Abduh, Theology, 70 and 110; Abduh, M al-Umma, 58; Abduh, Ini al-Muslimn, 75-76. 391 Abduh, al-Narniyya, 63. 392 Kerr, Islamic Reform, 121. 393 al-Azmeh, Islamist Revivalism, HW, 49; al-Azmeh, Islams and Modernities, 102. 394 Abduh, Theology, 106; Kohn, Afghn on Civilization, PT, 399 and 402; Sedgwick, Muhammad Abduh, 40.

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masses into a the right course of morality. 395 Religion worked even better than love for ones own nation, as it suited human nature better in the long run. 396 Therefore, Abduh concludes in Theology of Unity that:
The ground of moral character is in beliefs and traditions and these can be built only on religion. The religious factor is, therefore, the most powerful of all, in respect both of public and of private ethics. It exercises an authority over mens souls superior to that of reason, despite mans uniquely rational powers. 397

In this, Abduh was perhaps confirmed by Comtes opinion that religious symbols were highly necessary to gain acceptance for any rational sociological model. 398 Abduh also quotes the French historian and politician Gabriel Hanotaux who claims that Islam has a particularly great influence over its believers. 399 The attainment of civilisation thus required the civilising of [an entire subject population] through religion, as Talal Asad noted with regard to the juridical reform which Abduh wanted to introduce in Egypt. 400 Birgit Schaebler compares this civilising activity with the mission civilisatrice as performed by nineteenth-century European states. This mission had an inner and an outer component. The civilising mission, which was directed outwards, applied to efforts to colonise the barbaric rest of the world, as encountered before with regard to Europes colonialist efforts regarding the rest of the world. The inner civilising mission, on the other hand, referred to the barbaric masses within which still had to be civilised by the avant-garde of domestic civilisation. 401 The efforts of Muslim reformism were directed towards their fellow Muslims and could therefore be particularly compared to the internal civilising mission, as described by Schaebler. According to Schaebler, the internal type of civilisational activities was often supported by a Romantic form of archaism, in which a remote ancestor was idealised as a noble savage. A return to the ancestors way of life would bring about a regeneration of civilisation. Schaebler argues that the Islamic reformists revivalism was similarly informed by a nostalgia for the Pious Forefathers and the Golden Age of early Islam. 402 As mentioned before, Abduh indeed regularly presents the forefathers as a model of true but also authentic Islam. As true Islam equates civilisation, the imitation of the pious forefathers would lead to civilisation again. As such, the trope of a noble ancestor enables Abduh to formulate an acceptable alternative to the European mission civilisatrice, of which he experienced the
395 396

Abduh, Theology, 90 and 93; cf. Kerr, Islamic Reform, 126. Abduh, M al-Umma, 58-59; Abduh, al-Narniyya, 63-64 and 71; Abduh, Theology, 110. 397 Abduh, Theology, 106. 398 Hourani, Arabic Thought, 139-140. 399 Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 152. 400 Asad, Formations of the Secular, 253. 401 Schaebler, Civilizing Others, 10-11. 402 Ibidem, 6, 14 and 25-28; Cf. Kohn, Afghn on Civilization, 403.

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consequences at first hand through the British protectorate of Egypt. Informed by Schaeblers analysis, I propose to explain Abduhs civilisational reform as a mission civilisatrice intrieure: an Islamic civilising mission. By this, Abduh counters excessive European interference, while he does not have to reject the necessity as well as desirability of modern, European-style reforms because of their inauthenticity. al-Azmeh dismisses this type of reasoning which he compares to Herderian Romantic thought, as mentioned before as rather destructive and disruptive:
With this, history is ensnared: it is supposed to contain modernity. Modernity is also ensnared, by assuming its correspondence with that supposed past. Both are presumed equal under an ideological sign: Islam. Thus Reformism undertook the secularization of Islam, that is, applying its name to that which historically was neither part of it nor its intellectual and cultural authority, and implicating this name with a politically desired and intellectually pre-determined world. 403

I do not agree with al-Azmeh on this, as the creation of a mission civilisatrice intrieure provides Abduh with room to deviate from and transcend the European model. By this, it might be said that Abduh avoided the pitfall of equating modernisation or civilisation with Westernisation as most modernisation theorists are only now beginning to realise. In addition, Abduhs specific type of archaic revivalism enables him to transcend the mission civilisatrice as monopolised by Europe in a second way. The archaic revivalist tendency in the European civilisation discourse, as described by Schaebler, is particularly well-suited to a specifically pluralist idea of civilisation. It draws upon the same Romantic notions, as al-Azmeh described earlier with regard to Abduhs notion of authenticity. It presupposes a Volksgeist, whose manifestation in history vitalises the specific and enclosed Volk corresponding with it. Indeed, Burrow describes that such an archaic revivalist civilising perspective was particularly prevalent in the German lands perhaps because Herderian Romantic thought and its references to Vlker were most influential there. While the English and in particular the French were convinced of the universal pretentions of their civilisation as is most succinctly expressed in the French terminology of a mission civilisatrice a more pluralist and distinguishing view on humanity and its corresponding civilisations albeit not without an hierarchical ordering was developed in the German lands. 404 The ancestors to whom Abduh referred in his appeal to civilisational revival did not embody a certain Volksgeist, however. al-Salaf li the Pious Forefathers did not represent the spirit of the Arab people, but of the Muslim religion, as the adjective of pious already indicates. The coupling of civilisation with a religion instead of a people does not necessitate a pluralist conception of
403

al-Azmeh, Islams and Modernities, 125; cf. Ibidem, 129; On the succession of civilisation and thereafter modernisation/secularisation, see: Asad, Formations of the Secular, 217. 404 Burrow, Crisis of Reason, 87 and 90.

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civilisation, moreover. This is evident with regard to European Christian missionary work, which at times succeeded in closely relating itself to the civilising mission. 405 Missionary work whether in relation to Christianity, or to civilisation goes hand in hand with a universalist view of humanity. Similarly, Abduh demonstrates a universalist view on Islam and civilisation. Islam has been a potentially universal religion from the beginning, according to Abduh. 406 Islams correspondence with civilisation assumes that Abduh conceived of civilisation in equally universalist terms. This is not particularly surprising, moreover, as Guizot also testifies to this kind of civilisational universalism albeit hierarchical as well as ahw. 407 With his appeal to his religious ancestors, Abduh thus combines the revitalising archaism of the German civilisational discourse with the (at times religious) universalism of the French and English civilisational discourse. Although I do not want to claim that Abduh was unique in this, I do want to draw the attention to the way Abduh employs this typical combination in a second way. Not only does Abduh employ his Pious Forefathers to demonstrate the contemporary possibility of Islamic civilisation, but Abduh also uses his religious ancestors to reveal a civilising mission which spread from the Muslim world to Europe instead of the other way round. Again, his interpretation of a concept that is, civilisation which is indebted to Islamic and European discourses on civilisation, does not result in a mere deviation from the original, but should be judged at its transcendental value. The history of Abduhs own religious ancestors and their connections with the ancestors of the civilised Europeans of that time provides him with the ammunition of a hidden mission civilisatrice in reverse. As Abduh conceives of his noble forefathers and this epithet applied to most (Sunni) Muslims until the end of the Abbasid Empire, as mentioned before as early representatives of European-style civilisation, he is able to postulate them as Europes civilisational predecessors. Not as an earlier stage of development, however, as the discourse of progress implies, but in a purely chronological respect this is therefore also where Abduhs interpretation of (progressive) civilisation exhibits inconsistencies. 408 Relying on European works of history of Gibbon, Draper, Le Bon and Guizot, Abduh draws our attention to the beneficial effects of Europes interaction with the Islamic World in particular the translations of Greek philosophers which were reintroduced into Europe through Andalusia. 409 Guizot considers the Crusades as a crucial experience for the maturing and civilisation of the European mind, which culminated in the Protestant Reformation. 410 Abduh employs this analysis of Guizot then to claim that Europe adopted the Islamic spirit during the

405 406

Schaebler, Civilizing Others, 6. Abduh, Theology, 125 and 142; Abduh, Rislat al-Tawd, 485 [adjective for universal: mm]. 407 Fisch, Zivilisation, Kultur, 753; Guizot, History of Civilization, 29; Schaebler, Civilizing Others, 23. 408 Abduh, Theology, 149-150; Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 121. 409 Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 36, 90, 134; Volpi, Islamic Fundamentalists Strategies, TMPR, 77. 410 Guizot, History of Civilization, 145 and 150.

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Crusades and that the resulting Protestant faith was actually and essentially Islamic although without reference to Muammad. 411 Abduh is not entirely clear whether this history of interaction and borrowing renders European civilisation as identical to the Islamic civilisation. As the home of civilisation, he regards the Islamic form of civilisation as slightly better, it seems: A glimmer of Islam () illuminated the [W]est but its full light is in the [E]ast. 412 Likewise, Abduh opposes the complete imitation of European civilisation, while one could argue that this would not matter if European civilisation is actually Islamic anyway. He states that copying the copy is of no use, as the copy is often only an imitation of the originals appearance instead of the originals essence. 413 Here, Abduhs preference for originality and authenticity comes to the fore again, which is always coupled with his call for revivalist reformism. Islam itself is the cure and therefore, a Muslim should treat himself as he has treated Europe before, Abduh explains in the following metaphor:
a physician treated a sick man with medicine and he recovered: then the doctor himself succumbed to the disease he had been treating. In dire straits from pain and with the medicine by him in the house, he has yet no will to use it. Many of those who come to visit him or seek his ministrations or even gloat over his illness could take up the medicine and be cured, while he himself despairs of life and waits either for death or some miraculous healing. 414

Here, too, the germs of a more pluralist view which divided humanity into East and West and its corresponding civilisations, which became prevalent later on, might be evident. 415 For, besides his use of a neutral geographical classification into East and West, Abduh also testifies to a more culturalist one especially in The Strongest Bond. 416 He rejects the imitation of European civilisation (Arabic: tamaddun), as this is in reality a civilisation which belongs to the countries on whose structure of nature and on whose course of human society, it is based. 417 As such, I pointed out Abduhs universalism and his culturalism regarding civilisation. Abduh seems to solve this apparent contradiction in a rather mystical way. In the same article in which Abduh opposes the imitation of European civilisation (Arabic: tamaddun), he states that Islam is compatible with civilisation as such (Arabic: madaniyya). 418 Abduh does not elaborate on the distinction between tamaddun the word for the European type of civilisation and madaniyya the word for the civilisation with which Islam coincides. I argue, however, that these

411 412

Abduh, Theology, 128 and 149-150; Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 36, 121 and 154. Abduh, Theology, 153. 413 Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 147-148. 414 Abduh, Theology, 154. 415 Schaebler, Civilizing Others, 29. 416 Geographical classification into East and West, see: Abduh, Ftia al-Jarda, 34; Abduh, Sunan Allh, 224. For a more culturalist classification, see: Abduh, Ftia al-Jarda, 27-28. 417 Abduh, M al-Umma, 53-54. 418 Ibidem, 58.

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two relate to each other as a manifestation (tamaddun) of an underlying spirit (madaniyya). As set forth before with regard to the minimalist definition of Islam in the previous chapter, this idea of a unity underlying diversity might have been indebted to Sufi philosophy which saw creation as an emanation of God. 419 As also already indicated, this assertion is very much hypothetical still and is in need of further investigation. I will come back to this in the concluding chapter. Following this emanationist perspective nonetheless, madaniyya would be the original civilisation the source while tamaddun would be a derivative of madaniyya. Certainly, tamaddun can differ from the true spirit of civilisation, but, in the last resort, it cannot be regarded independently from it. Likewise, Islamic civilisation is the true civilisation, while European civilisation is merely a copy. It does not make sense to imitate a manifestation of civilisation (Arabic: tamaddun), when the underlying spirit of civilisation (Arabic: madaniyya) is available in the Islamic religion. To conclude this chapter with, these possible Sufi influences are just one aspect of Abduhs complex interpretation of civilisation. As explained, Abduhs interpretation of civilisation consists of multiple components which can be traced back to Islamic and in particular, here European traditions. At times, the particular configuration of the elements from both traditions enable Abduh to transcend the then prevalent European conception of civilisation to assert Islams compatibility with and even superiority to nineteenth-century European civilisation. The last hypothesis of Abduhs application of an emanationist perspective to his understanding of civilisation should be considered another possible example of this.

419

Scharbrodt, Salafiyya and Sufism, BSOAS, 103-104. See paragraph 2.5 of this thesis.

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CHAPTER FOUR ISLAM AS (A) RELIGION

4.1

Opposing essentialisms

The previous chapter on civilisation concluded with a discussion on the culturalist versus universalist nature of Abduhs ideas on Islam and civilisation. I explained how the religious nature of Islam enabled Abduh to combine his nostalgic archaism for ancient forefathers with the universalist pretensions of civilisation. However, Abduhs discourse on Islam as a religion also nourished a more culturalist and essentialist view of the world. The representation of Islam as the perfect and ultimate religion advanced a differentiating discourse on human nature which found expression in the rejection of an imitation of Europe. In this chapter, I will look into these contrasting consequences of a modern religious discourse which is itself well-grounded in an Islamic theological tradition. I do not intend to focus upon the concept of religion in all of its aspects, however. Religion will be looked into here only in as far as it elucidates issues raised by the previous two chapters. First of all, it is important to notice that this type of ambiguities concerning universalism and pluralism is not restricted to Islam in the modern period. For example, European discourses on modernity which shows parallels with the discourse on civilisation display similar tensions, according to Timothy Mitchell. On the one hand, modernity is construed as the West, while on the other hand modernity exerts universal claims. 420 The same ambiguity is exemplified by the dual nature of civilisation, moreover, which refers both to the final stage of development that is, Europe and to a developmental ladder on whose steps the other nations and peoples are positioned. This ambiguity revolves around a set of questions which often remains unanswered: is the position of the West and the non-West in the world rankings inherently, essentially and therefore permanently defined; or does their ranking result from a rather coincidental fortune and is it therefore only temporary? Will the backward nations be able to catch up with the West? Or are they destined to stay behind? These are the questions underlying the opposition of universalism versus pluralism. The discourses on civilisation and modernity are not clear regarding this fundamental question. As such, Mitchell considers it one of their foundational tensions. In this chapter it will become clear that Abduh does not resolve it, either.

420

Mitchell, Introduction and The Stage of Modernity in: Timothy Mitchell (ed.), Questions of Modernity (University of Minnesota Press: Minneapolis 2000) xi-xxvii and 1-34, there iv, xii-xiii and 15.

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THEOLOGY OF UNITY Aziz al-Azmeh and Armando Salvatore both stress the essentialist nature of the modern discourse on Islam, as also expressed by Abduh. 421 According to al-Azmeh, the vital importance of authenticity in Abduh and other reformists definition of Islam engendered an
antithetical relation to all otherness: to other nations, which by virtue of the very nature of bodies naturally seek to subjugate the nation-subject, and to corruptions within, for these are privations of the essence which seek to subvert, and thus to nullify, the vital energy which uplifts and allows for glory. 422

According to al-Azmeh, this oppositional type of discourse is a necessary consequence of the essentialism which Abduh displays in his equation of true Islam with authentic or original Islam. This renders Islam comparable to a nation or a culture, as al-Azmehs terminology of a nationsubject testifies to in a chapter on Islamist Revivalism. 423 This is confirmed by Rudolph Peters, too, who argues that Islam acquired a new cultural dimension in the colonial period through Afghn, Abduh, and others (political) opposition against their colonial rulers. 424 According to Richard King, this type of essentialist and oppositional reasoning is not specific to a discourse of culturalism or nationalism. It was also a central trait of nineteenth-century Orientalist religious studies, which was itself a product of Christian conceptions of religion. King describes how Orientalists defined the true character of the religion under study by focusing predominantly on the religions original texts, instead of on the contemporary practices of its believers. This approach did not only result in an essentially and permanently defined image of what the religion in question truly was, but also of what it was not. King continues that the thus established permanent nature of the Oriental religion in question often coincided with being the opposite of the true nature of the Orientalists own religion that is, Christianity most of the time whose essentials were similarly established upon the revealed texts. As such, the religious essentialist discourse drew firm lines between the religions, whereby the observers own religion constituted the positively defined photo, while the other religion only functioned as its negative. 425 This religious type of essentialism might also shed another light on the universalismpluralism discussion with regard to Abduh. For, as long as religion is not regarded as an inherent feature of a human being which would exclude the possibility of conversion even an essentialist view on religion opens up the possibility of universalism. I argue that Abduh testifies to this

421

Salvatore, Islam and the Political Discourse of Modernity, 68-70; al-Azmeh, Islams and Modernities, 104; al-Azmeh, Islamist Revivalism, HW, 50-51. 422 al-Azmeh, Islams and Modernities, 104. 423 Chapter 5. The Discourse of Cultural Authenticity: Islamist Revivalism and Enlightenment Universalism; alAzmeh, Islams and Modernities, 97. 424 Peters, Erneuerungsbewegungen, 105. 425 King, Orientalism and Religion, for example: 69-70, 111, 146 and 148.

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CHAPTER FOUR ISLAM AS (A) RELIGION universalist type of reasoning most of the time, notwithstanding the existing germs of a more culturalist division of humanity in his ideas. Before I will expound on this assertion, however, I will first look into Abduhs essentialist view on religion(s). Abduhs congruence with the essentialist discourse regarding religion has been set forth in the second chapter by emphasising his dual use of the ul-terminology in his definition of Islam. 426 This conclusion is only to be reinforced by Abduhs essentialist and opposing perspective on other religions. Based on the Bible as well as on the Christian history of persecution, Abduh defines the six basic principles of Christianity in a mirror image with the eight basic principles of Islam see chapter two in Islam and Christianity: (1) Christianity relies on the faith in miracles; (2) The Christian Church with the exception of Protestantism positions the clergy as a religious authority between God and believer; (3) Christianity renounces the worldly in favour of the Hereafter; (4) Faith is considered to escape the powers of human reason; (5) The Christian scriptures contain every knowledge there is to know; (6) Christianity teaches hostility towards adherents of other religions. 427 These principles are drawn up by Abduh to deny Christianitys capability to attain civilisation. Therefore, they represent the antithesis of some of the main components of Abduhs concept of civilisation. Christianity is not scientific, rational or tolerant and is therefore by definition hopelessly unsuitable to civilisation. In his essentialist depiction of Christianity, Abduh relies in particular on John William Drapers A History of the Conflict between Religion and Science (1874) for Christianitys history of opposition to science as well as on Voltaires critical comments on the harmful effects of the authority of the Catholic clerical hierarchy. 428 Here it is evident that critical elements within the European tradition supported Abduh to formulate an alternative to European allegations of Islams essentially anti-modern or anti-civilised nature. This anti-civilising nature of Christianity implies that the flourishing of nineteenth-century civilisation should not be attributed to Christianity. Indeed, according to Abduh, it was only very fortunate for the Christian nations that the worldly rulers of Europe held the Church in check. 429 In addition, contemporary Christians like their Muslim counterparts did not follow the true nature of their religion anymore. Their Christian morals were corrupted, just as Islam was corrupted

426 427

See paragraph 2.3 to 2.6. Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 25-36. 428 A reference to Draper: Ibidem, 33; Regarding Voltaire: Wielandt, Offenbarung und Geschichte, 63. 429 Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 133 and 136.

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THEOLOGY OF UNITY nowadays. 430 In contrast to the Muslim situation, however, the Christian deviation of their true religion was very lucky. Unintentionally, the Christian deviation and corruption consisted of the adoption of the Islamic religion, as I explained in the preceding chapter, which happened to be the antithesis of Christianitys uncivilised nature. 431 As Abduh exclaims in The Strongest Bond, Was the Sunna [perhaps] exchanged in the two communities? 432 In these passages, the apologetic nature of Abduhs works comes to the fore. Especially Islam and Christianity is pervaded with anxiety and anger, which is caused by the particular context in which Abduh lived. His angry references to the dangers of Christian missionary schools are significant, for example. 433 In this threatening environment, Abduh anxiously defends Islam and angrily attacks Christianity. In this process, his use of history becomes very instrumental at times. Also, he is not particularly consistent through time on the true nature of Christianity. In The Strongest Bond, for example, he deemed Christianity by its essence peaceful and therefore unsuitable to civilisation. 434 In addition, his ideas on the inherent pacifist nature of Islam seem to contradict his ideas on civilisations congruence with dominance and subjugation. The overriding desire to disqualify Christianity is perhaps best exhibited by Abduhs ideas on Protestantism. Although he assigns the Reformation a crucial role in the development of civilisation in Europe, following Guizot, and even likens Protestantism to Islam in Theology of Unity, he rushes to discredit it in Islam and Christianity after all. 435 Abduh argues that Protestantism was indeed very promising at the beginning. The Reformation should even be a model for contemporary Islamic reformist activities because of its return to the original sources and its rejection of religious authority, Abduh claims. 436 In the long run, however, Protestantism differs only from other forms of Christianity in its rejection of the absolutist clerical authority. 437 Otherwise, Protestant Christianity is still thoroughly and essentially Christian. Abduh brings to mind the persecution ordered by Calvin himself of the theologian Servetus to prove this. 438 Thus, Abduhs essentialist portrayal of both Islam and Christianity which is possibly indebted to the Christian Orientalist discourse on religions, as described by King, but which is also well-engrained into the Islamic tradition by Abduhs dual use of ul as principles and sources produces a largely antithetical relation between Islam and Christianity, or so it seems.

430 431

Abduh, al-Narniyya, 71; Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 137. Abduh, al-Narniyya, 68-69. 432 Ibidem, 67. 433 Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 122-123. 434 Abduh, al-Narniyya, 66-67. 435 Abduh, Theology, 149-150; Guizot, History of Civilization, 203 and 211; Sedgwick, Muhammad Abduh, 17. 436 Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 44-45 and 150. It is also significant that Abduhs teacher, Jaml al-Dn alAfghn, liked to compare himself to Luther: Keddie, An Islamic Response, 38 en 82; Haddad, Muhammad Abduh, 26. 437 Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 134; Abduh, Theology of Unity, 128. 438 Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 44-46, 135-136.

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CHAPTER FOUR ISLAM AS (A) RELIGION 4.2 Differentiating Religions

Another element of the modern (Christian) conception of religion is described by Talal Asad and Armando Salvatore. Religion, as defined by modern Christianity, was regarded a universal element of the human experience. 439 On the one hand, this resulted in a scholarly perspective on nonChristian religions which was informed by the Christian experience. An example of this is the essentialist textualist approach of Orientalism, as Richard King described. On the other hand, there was postulated a common and human religiosity to all religions. In this respect, Talal Asad points out how Kants philosophy on religion postulated a fully essentialized idea of religion which could be counterposed to its phenomenal forms. 440 Thus, there was one valid, universal and Natural Religion. This constituted a stable point of reference with the help of which the actual religions could be classified. 441 As such, another hierarchy is introduced of which Abduh was probably aware. For example, Tolstoy displays the same kind of reasoning in his works on religion. 442 In addition, Herbert Spencer couples the existence of a common human religiosity with a progress in time. As such, he described a gradual unfolding of human religiosity which was itself a specific and passing stage in the evolution of civilisation. 443 Considering Abduhs good relations with Spencer, Spencers ideas on religious evolution were probably known to Abduh. 444 In Theology of Unity, Abduh set forth his own ideas on the development of a common human religiosity. According to al-Azmeh, he was deeply influenced in this by Herbert Spencer. 445 The development of religiosity is intricately connected to that of humanity, Abduh maintains, as religiosity is a natural disposition of humanity. 446 Despite its common human nature, humanity is internally differentiated. Human diversity is on the one hand caused by the different conditions in which the diverse peoples developed, Abduh explains. 447 This type of reasoning is in keeping with a tendency towards culturalist pluralism, which Abduh at times exhibits with regard to civilisation. On the other hand, however, humanity changes necessarily over time. It matures. According to Abduh, religion adapts itself to the particular stage in which humanity finds itself. 448 In this development, he describes three stages. The first is the one suitable to humanity with the intellectual level of a child. This religion expects absolute obedience and marvels its believers with
439 440

Asad, Genealogies of Religion, 40-42; Salvatore, Islam and Political Discourse of Modernity, 25. Asad, Genealogies of Religion, 42. 441 Ibidem. 442 Tolstoy, Works of Leo Tolstoy, 170 and 175. 443 Spencer, Herbert Spencer on Social Evolution, 206-208. 444 Sedgwick, Muhammad Abduh, 92; Hourani, Arabic Thought, 143. 445 al-Azmeh, Islams and Modernities, 118-119. 446 Abduh, Theology, 90, 107, 110 and 150; al-Narniyya, 63-64. 447 Abduh, Theology, 72; cf. Scharbrodt, Salafiyya and Sufism, BSOAS, 103-104. 448 Wielandt also mentions Abduhs exposition on a second type of evolution for human religiosity: (1) the preprophetic stage; (2) the prophetic stage; (3) the post-prophetic stage, after which humanity should return to its second stage. Wielandt, Offenbarung und Geschichte, 66-67.

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THEOLOGY OF UNITY wonders. The second stage of humanity is that of a woman. It was directed to the emotions and preached an ascetic way of life. The highest form of religion is directed to a mature man. It appeals to humanitys rationality. This religion was Islam, states Abduh. 449 The other two stages probably referred to Judaism and Christianity, as al-Azmeh concluded. 450 Remembering Kant, there was only one true and universal religion. This was also the most Natural Religion. 451 As such, a conformity with human nature was considered a very important point of reference in the hierarchical ranking of religions. Here, Islams traditional doctrine of fira Islams conformity with human nature, which was elucidated in chapter two suits Abduh well, again. In particular, Abduh appeals to Islams conformity with rationality in this respect. As rationality is considered a universal trait of human nature, Islams rationality serves as a proof of Islams coincidence with human nature and as such establishes universal validity and the highest position in the ranking of religions for Islam. With regard to natural religiosity, the modern European as well as traditional Islamic line of reasoning easily coincide. When Abduhs first proposition on human diversity as dependent upon different conditions is coupled with the second as dependent upon humanitys stage of maturity, it becomes clear that peoples can contemporaneously differ in their developmental stage and thus in their religiosity:
There are, of course, types of worship and diversities of pattern in true religions, ancient and modern, and also varieties of precepts, new and old. But these we trace to the mercy of God and His gentleness, in shape to each people and time according to His knowledge of what is best for them. The nurture of peoples may be likened to that of individuals. Gods way the way of the Lord or nourisher of the worlds is to proceed by stages in the nurture of a man, from the time he is born, knowing nothing, to a ripe intelligence and a mature personality, capable of penetrating the veiled mysteries of existence by his reason and attaining a knowledge of them. 452

The contemporaneous existence of diverse stages of human history recalls the hierarchical ranking concerning civilisation(s), moreover. Following Koselleck, Talal Asad describes this type of reasoning, which was also characteristic of the modern anthropology of religion, very aptly as a dual modality of historical time which enabled [modern anthropologists] to represent events as at once contemporaneous and noncontemporaneous and thus some conditions as more progressive than others. 453 As such, Abduhs ideas on religion(s) reflect a commonality as well as a hierarchical

449 450

Abduh, Theology, 132-133; cf. Ibidem, 125, 136 and 140. al-Azmeh, Islams and Modernities, 119. 451 Asad, Genealogies of Religion, 40-42; Salvatore, Islam and Political Discourse of Modernity, 25. 452 Abduh, Theology, 130. 453 Asad, Genealogies of Religion, 22-23.

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CHAPTER FOUR ISLAM AS (A) RELIGION ordering. Both of these ideas are not completely foreign to the Islamic tradition. On the contrary, the Islamic tradition displays a similar ambivalence even in the Quran itself. Since its earliest days, Islam conceives of itself as standing in the same line with Judaism and Christianity. The Quran acknowledges the prophets mentioned in the Bible as prophets. They are considered as the messengers of a true revelation. Thus, a unity of the revealed truth of Judaism, Christianity and Islam is postulated. 454 Abduh testifies wholeheartedly to this idea in Theology of Unity:
When Islam came, mankind was divided into religious sects (). Islam repudiated all that and affirmed unmistakably that the religion of God through all times and by the mouth of all prophets is one. 455

However, the Islamic message would not have been necessary if the Jews and Christians had not corrupted and even falsified their revelations (Arabic: tarf). 456 Therefore, Islam came as a correction of the earlier and in time revealed religions, as a recovery of true belief. 457 Islams own revelation that is, the Quran was itself unsusceptible for this kind of corruption, as mentioned in chapter two. 458 As such, Abduh establishes a superiority of Islam over Judaism and Christianity within the framework of the Islamic tradition. As the Islamic tradition developed, the hierarchical relation of Islam towards Judaism and Christianity became increasingly connected to the mere passage of time. In the Quran, the messages which were revealed to the diverse communities (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) were originally one and the same. There was no differentiation in humanity yet. 459 However, soon afterwards, the idea of progressive development in time with regard to religion came into being by referring to the doctrine of abrogation (Arabic: naskh). This doctrine originally governed the hierarchy between contradictory verses in the Quran. A later revealed verse was said to negate or, abrogate a previously revealed verse concerning the same topic. Applied to the hierarchy of religions, a later revealed religion could be considered to annul a previous religion altogether. 460 As such, Wielandt explains, Abduh was not the first within the Islamic tradition to set forth the idea of progressive change regarding religions, by which he asserted a sense of Islamic superiority over Christianity. 461

Wielandt, Offenbarung und Geschichte, 25. Abduh, Theology, 129; cf. Ibidem, 130 and 134; Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 50 and 152; Abduh, Risla il aylor, 358; Abduh, Risla Thniyya il aylor, 359; Abduh, Risla il aylor, 361. 456 Wielandt, Offenbarung und Geschichte, 25; Abduh, Theology, 33, 115, 118 and 133; Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 50. 457 Abduh, Theology, 114. 458 Ibidem, 110, 114 and 145; Wielandt, Offenbarung und Geschichte, 30, 31 and 33. 459 Wielandt, Offenbarung und Geschichte, 36-37. 460 Ibidem, 59-60. 461 Abduh, Theology, 125, 132, 133, 136 and 140.
455

454

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THEOLOGY OF UNITY Still, Christian and Jews are recognised as brothers in religion throughout Islamic history. They constituted the ahl al-kitb the people of the book. 462 The Jewish and Christian religions were referred to as a dn, that is, the word for religion which was also used for the Islamic religion. To distinguish the Islamic dn from the other religions (Arabic, plural: adyn), Islam was referred to as al-dn al-aqq, that is, the religion of truth. 463 In the traditional terminology of dn, the commonality as well as the hierarchy of the relation between Islam and other religions as exhibited by Abduh and the Islamic tradition as a whole is well-formulated. Traditionally, moreover, dn comprised a component of mn (inner faith) as well as of islm (outer ritual or practice). 464 Abduhs increasing usage of islm as such for the Islamic religion instead of merely dn therefore conceals the commonality as expressed by the terminology of dn. Probably, this substantivised use of islm is no coincidence in an increasingly essentialist and oppositional discourse with regard to Islams relation to other religions (as well as cultures), as Salvatore concludes through a different reasoning. 465 As announced at the beginning of this chapter, Abduh does not only emphasise the differences between Islam and the other religions. Abduh also argues for harmony and union between the revealed religions. 466 In fact, he established a society for this purpose, while he was in Beirut (1885-1888): The Society for Unity and Rapprochement among the Revealed Religions (Arabic: Jamiyyat al-Talf wa-l Taqrb bayna al-Adyn al-Samwiyya) whose members were Christian, Jewish, and Muslim (both Sunni and Shii) including the British cleric Isaac Taylor and the Orthodox archimandrite Christophoros Gibara. 467 In his letters to Taylor, Abduh argues for the commonality of Christianity and Islam, because of which a unity of religion should be established. This unity would strengthen both religions, according to him. 468 Also, in his definition of the principles (Arabic: ul) of true Islam, Abduh pleads incessantly for tolerance towards adherents of other religions. He points at evidence for Islams conformity with tolerance in the Quran as well as in the classical history of Islam. 469 Sedgwick argues that Abduhs idea of a single true religion probably stems from conceptions of religion as developed by European Theosophy or the Bahai faith. 470 But Sedgwick cannot reconcile Abduhs ideas of a true and unified religion with his remarks on the hierarchical evolutionary relation between Christianity and Islam in Theology of Unity. Sedgwick suggests that Abduh purposefully omitted these kind of statements to the reverend Taylor in his letters, as these
462

G. Vajda, Ahl al-Kitb in: EI2 [www.brillonline.nl/subscriber/entry?entry=islam_SIM-0383 September 2010]. 463 Gardet, Dn, EI2. 464 Gardet, Dn, EI2. 465 Salvatore, Islam and the Political Discourse of Modernity, 76; Abduh, Theology, 123. 466 Abduh, Theology, 130, Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 50. 467 In the Greek-Orthodox Church, an archimandrite refers to an abbot of a cluster of monasteries. Ryad, Islamic Reformism, 4. 468 Abduh, Risla il aylor, 357-358. 469 Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 13, 14 and 50; Abduh, Theology, 134-135, 138, 144 and 146. 470 Sedgwick, Muhammad Abduh, 61-62.

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CHAPTER FOUR ISLAM AS (A) RELIGION would not have pleased the cleric. 471 Furthermore, Abduhs plea for a unity between the revealed religions seems at first glance rather contradictory to Abduh exposition on the true nature of Christianity in Islam and Christianity, being the almost exact opposite of the true nature of Islam. I argue that Abduh himself would not have agreed to this supposed contradiction, however, as he added without hesitation a chapter in Islam and Christianity to explain that Islam and Christianity were essentially one and the same. 472 Also, Abduhs letter to Taylor seems actually quite explicit about Islam being the highest form of religion to him. 473 Instead, I think that Wielandts rather casual remark on Abduhs idea of a developmental connection between the religions provides the key to explaining Abduhs ideas on Islams relation with the other revealed religions. 474 For Abduh, the shared divine descent of Islam, Christianity and Judaism seems to undo the seemingly fundamental differences although he certainly acknowledges these considering his list of opposing principles in Islam and Christianity. Thus, in his letter to Taylor, he asks him repeatedly not to niggle over inessentials such as slavery, divorce or polygamy. 475 In a concluding passage, Abduh seems even able to accept differences of opinion regarding the divine status of Jesus, following this type of reasoning:
Come on, my friend, towards the agreement on the foundations so that concord on the branches becomes easy for us, and towards the union on the father so that the union on the son is easy for us, because the conclusions stem from its premises, and its premises do not stem from its conclusions. 476

Moreover, Abduh states in Islam and Christianity that religions only differ in manifestation not in spirit or truth. 477 As in case of the internal diversity within Islam, Abduh seems to favour here an underlying unity over differences in manifestation. He is concerned with the general principles (Arabic: ul) and not so much with the details. Again, Scharbrodts exposition of the influence of Sufi-inspired emanationist thought on Abduhs first and only mystical work contributes to a better understanding. Scharbrodt attributes this type of reasoning of an inherent unity behind [a] apparent diversity to the emanationist philosophy of Sufi philosophers such as Ibn al-Arab (11651240) and his unity of existence (Arabic: wadat al-wujd). According to Scharbrodt, this particular world view enables Abduh to take on a rather relativist position in matters of truth. As such, it advances Abduhs desire for harmony with Christians and his tolerant attitude towards Shiites. 478

471 472

Sedgwick, Muhammad Abduh, 69. Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 49. 473 Abduh, Risla Thniyya il aylor, 359. 474 Wielandt, Offenbarung und Geschichte, 64. 475 Abduh, Risla Thniyya il aylor, 359. 476 Ibidem, 360. 477 Abduh, Islam und Christentum, 50. 478 Scharbrodt, Salafiyya and Sufism, BSOAS, 103 (for quote) and 104.

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THEOLOGY OF UNITY Although Abduhs later inclinations towards this type of Sufism are unknown to a very great extent and would have been considered very heterodox by most nineteenth-century Sunni ulama, Scharbrodts hypothesis is certainly worthy of further investigation. For besides giving an explanation with regard to Abduhs position on Islamic diversity and on Islams relation to other religions, the same idea of an underlying and unifying truth is also telling with respect to Abduhs ideas on European civilisation (tamaddun) and the spirit of civilisation (madaniyya). There, Islam as a civilisation was itself the underlying spirit, or civilisation as such, while the European civilisation was a mere manifestation. Similarly, Islam is the religious truth underlying and unifying the other revealed religions, which are mere manifestations of Islams truth. According to Abduh, Islam is the only al-dn al-aqq that is, the only religion which is truth itself instead of a derivative:
And in [the three religions, i.e. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam] the visitor [of Jerusalem] sees one family tree, that is, the true religion [Arabic: al-dn al-aqq], from which numerous twigs branch out. The unity of its sort and its character nor the singularity of its origin is harmed by what [the visitor] sees in the diversity of its leafs and in the splitting of its branches. Furthermore, he judges that the fruit is as one, with regard to its colour and its flavour. It is concentrated in the Islamic religion [Arabic: al-dn al-islm], which draws from all its roots and its stems, thus it is its summary and the extremity in which its course ended, (...). 479

With the terminology of al-dn al-aqq as the underlying truth, Abduh invokes at the same time the traditional and commonly accepted Islamic view on all revealed religions (Arabic, plural: adyn) being a religion like Islam, while Islam is the highest, the only true religion. As such, Abduhs conception of Islam as a religion is in its emphasis on both commonality and hierarchical difference grounded in the Islamic and European traditions alike which exhibit a high degree of heterogeneity themselves, in addition. With his particular configuration of elements of two traditions and as such appealing to both, Abduh is able to reverse the negative essentialist discourse of European scholars on Islam and, in addition, even to posit a relation of commonality and at the same time superiority of Islam towards Christianity.

479

Abduh, Risla Thniyya il aylor, 359.

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Those Muslims who stand on the threshold of science see their faith as a kind of old garment in which it is embarrassing to appear among men, while those who deceive themselves that they have some pretension to be religious and orthodox believers in its doctrines regard reason as a devil and science as supposition. 480

5.1

Theology of Unity

Muammad Abduhs reforms of Islam steer a middle course between secularists and traditionalists, as this quote of Abduh from Theology of Unity illustrates. Although these two groups were not particularly fond of each other, they demonstrate a striking complicity in their absolute attribution of tradition to Islam and (secular) modernity to Europe. 481 The support which Fara Ann received from the religious establishment of the Azhar University for his polemic with Abduh is telling in this respect. 482 Both sides postulate a spatial as well as temporal fault line between modern Europe alternately conceived of as (secular) Christian or as essentially non-religious altogether and traditional Islam. Interestingly, these two positions and their pitfalls are still reflected in the existing historiography on Abduh as set forth in the first chapter. Muammad Abduh, on the contrary, sought to counter both of these propositions. Like a premature proponent of the de-Westernising efforts of modernisation theorists from the 1980s onwards as well as of their attempts to reformulate tradition in a dynamic way, Abduh emphasised Islams compatibility with all the good things which Europe stood for. As such, he stressed the spatial unity instead of difference between Islam and Europe without equating them altogether. He also stressed a temporal unity between modernity and tradition through his reference to the Pious Forefathers (Arabic: al-Salaf al-li) as representatives of European-style civilisation and authentic Islam, at the same time. Likewise, on the level of historiography, I argue that Abduhs ideas on Islam reflect a unity between the European and Islamic traditions. His ideas are the result of a specific fusion of horizons and as such represent one of the many paths to modernity in the non-European world. Viewing Abduhs ideas as an intellectual combination of the European and Islamic traditions prevents one from stressing either Abduhs Europeanness or Islamicness, from choosing between
480 481

Abduh, Theology, 153. Cf. al-Azmeh, Islams and Modernities, 27-28. 482 Reid, Odyssey of Fara Ann, 86.

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THEOLOGY OF UNITY tradition or modernity. Because, whether one elaborates predominantly on Abduhs striking resemblance to Comte or Herder thereby favouring modernity, as Hourani and al-Azmeh did or whether one focuses instead on the similarity of Abduhs arguments to those of al-Ghazl and Wahhb thus rehabilitating Islamic tradition by stressing a coherence underlying its diversity, as Haj did one necessarily misses out on the peculiarity of Abduhs modern intellectual experience as a self-conscious Muslim at the end of the nineteenth century. Abduhs horizon was characterised by tradition and modernity, by Islam and the West. Therefore, I argue that his ideas should be analysed according to their synthetic quality. This perspective implies a demonstration of the diachronic continuity of Abduhs ideas with tradition that is, Islamic tradition - without neglecting the discontinuous nature of his ideas vis-vis the Islamic tradition. Similarly, this perspective of unity draws attention to the synchronic continuity with nineteenth-century Europe and its European tradition, without disregarding or dismissing how Abduh differed from the European tradition. Indeed, although a synthesis is by definition indebted to thesis and antithesis, it transcends both. On the one hand, this implies a definition of tradition in which diversity and heterogeneity are recognised without denying its claims to coherence. On the other hand, this synthetic perspective does justice to the complexity and ambiguity of non-European modernity of which Abduh might be considered a typical representative by not equating it to Westernisation. Muammad Abduhs intellectual task as well as that of the historiography on him revolve around balancing similarity and disparity in a temporal and a spatial respect. While I advocate an analytical perspective of synthesis to explain Abduh intellectually, Abduh himself proposes an almost complete congruence between Islam and modernity. As such, the title of Abduhs main work is particularly appropriate to characterise Abduhs ideas: Rislat al-Tawd aptly translated by Kenneth Cragg and Ishaq Musaad as Theology of Unity.

5.2

A Synthetic Understanding of Authenticity, Civilisation and Religion

Following this analytic perspective of syntheses, I unravelled Abduhs interpretation of the concepts of authenticity, civilisation and but only regarding themes raised by the first two religion. In each case, I exposed the dual nature of Abduhs intellectuals origins by dissecting Abduhs conception of each of the three concepts and tracing its components back to its possible roots in both the European and the Islamic traditions. At times, the two traditions reinforced each other. For example, one of the rationales underlying Abduhs notion of authenticity is the double role history fulfils. Indeed, Abduhs dismisses history as necessarily corruptive and, at the same, wishes to return to the earliest history of Islam. In the first chapter, I demonstrated how this particular trait of his conception of

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CHAPTER FIVE - THEOLOGY OF UNITY authenticity could be retraced to both traditions equally. On the one hand, the traditional Islamic historical imagination favours the Golden Age of Islam above all other history. Therefore, it conceives of the passing of time particularly in terms of corruption. On the other hand, the Romantic vitalist notion of an unfolding historical Geist, underlying and determining history while the essence itself remains unaffected, displays a similarly a-historical attitude, al-Azmeh explained. Furthermore, a similar process of a mutual reinforcement of the two traditions applied to Abduhs interpretation of civilisation for example with regard to the component of unity and corresponding might and of religion for example with regard to the component of universal religiosity and, at the same time, religious differentiation. At other times, Abduhs particular combination of elements engendered meanings which were novel to one or both traditions not necessarily intentionally, though. The configuration of European as well as Islamic elements into his conceptions of authenticity, civilisation, or religion enabled him to transcend the existing conceptions in both traditions. For example, Abduhs recognition of rationality as such as a source for knowledge on true or authentic Islam connects rationality and Islamic authenticity in ways new to both traditions. Furthermore, while Abduh frames his argument for rationality within Islam in an Islamic terminology of fira and sunan, his plea for rationality as a source for (Islamic) knowledge on social morality fits in with Comtean sociology. As such, one sees how elements from two tradition converge in Abduh to produce new meanings, which suit the interests and anxieties of his time. These subtleties are ignored if one focuses either upon Abduhs Europeanness or solely upon his Islamicness. Further research is still needed, however. Regarding its theoretical framework, this analysis raises questions about the status of Abduh and other reformists ideas in terms of tradition. Arguably, Abduhs thought can be considered part of the Islamic and European tradition. But should Abduh also, or primarily be considered as a representative of the modern Islamic tradition of thought, which is defined as a tradition by its particular fusion of the Islamic and the European tradition? Or is there even a universal tradition specific to non-European modernity to which Abduh belongs, which is characterised by its combination of the European as well as a local tradition? In addition, with regard to the synthetic understanding of Abduhs interpretation of authenticity, civilisation, and religion, research should be conducted to establish further proof to the possible genealogies proposed here. Abduhs access to and knowledge of both traditions should be researched in much greater detail. In particular, his acquaintance with Christian conceptions of religion should be investigated. Following Kings argument that Indian Oriental subjects internalised Orientalist ideas on religion which were themselves inspired by the Orientalists conceptions of Christianity, Abduhs acquaintance with Christian conceptions of religion should be examined in detail. Specifically, Abduhs admiration of Tolstoy and his close contact with Syrian Christian graduates of missionary schools might be significant in this respect.

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THEOLOGY OF UNITY Also, more research should be conducted on the possible Sufi influences on Abduh especially considering Scharbrodts remark that Abduh in his first work adhered to a Sufi-inspired emanationist world view through which a unity underlying diversity is postulated. This is particularly significant for a better understanding of Abduhs ideas, because the emanationist perspective might have played an important role in his postulation of unity throughout as I will demonstrate in the next paragraph. It is also particularly in need of a critical examination, however, as Abduh was very critical of the Sufi-related popular veneration of saints. Also, Abduh prohibited the republication of the work of Ibn Arab (1165-1240) in which a unity of existence (Arabic: wadat al-wujd) was postulated, while this idea of a unity of existence draws upon the same emanationist world view as to which Scharbrodt alludes. Scharbrodt explains this discrepancy by means of the traditional distinction between elite (Arabic: kha) and the mass (Arabic: mma). Abduh was afraid that these kind of theories might confuse the intellectually underdeveloped masses. He did not oppose them, as such, however. 483 For now, these examples confirm the need for further research regarding the Sufi aspect of Abduhs ideas.

5.3

Abduhs Theology of Unity

The theme of unity is recurrent in Abduhs ideas concerning all three concepts. In Abduhs conception of authenticity regarding Islam, the preparations are made for a spatial as well as temporal unity by asserting a conformity between true Islam and modernity. First, Abduhs idea of true Islam relies upon a discourse of originality. The first Muslims are the proponents of authentic (Arabic: al) and therefore true Islam. Through the original religious sources (Arabic: ul), from which original and true religious knowledge could still be obtained, contemporary Muslims can learn the true Islam of their ancestors. This makes possible the convergence and identity of the Islam of contemporary Muslims with the true Islam of their Pious Forefathers (Arabic: al-Salaf alli). Regarding the composite nature of civilisation which can be predominantly but not exclusively traced back to European and particularly Guizotian conceptions of civilisation this true Islam fits all of the aspects of civilisation particularly well. Thus, contemporary Muslims can reach the highest point of civilisation that is, civilisation itself if they only reform their religion to its true nature. This enables Abduh to postulate a unity between original - and therefore true Islam and modern civilisation. As such, a temporal as well as spatial unity is simultaneously established: first between original Islam in history and Islamic potency nowadays, second between Islam (both in historical reality as in contemporary potentiality) and European civilisation. This
483

Scharbrodt, Salafiyya and Sufism, BSOAS, 113.

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CHAPTER FIVE - THEOLOGY OF UNITY unity is strengthened, moreover, because it does not rely on coincidental resemblance only. Abduh posits a historical connection between his medieval ancestors, who represent true Islam, and Europe. During the Middle Ages, Europe borrowed the spirit of civilisation from the Islamic Pious Forefathers, who embodied Islam and thus civilisation. Second, Abduhs ideas on Islam and authenticity (Arabic: ala) are couched in a terminology of ul in another way. Not only do the ul refer to the original sources, the ul can also mean principles although the way Abduh uses the terminology of ul is certainly not orthodox regarding nineteenth-century Sunni Islam. The ul as principles express a generality as well as essentiality regarding Islamic law and theology, which coincides again with true Islam. With regard to Islamic internal unity itself a prerequisite for civilisation, according to Abduh I formulate the hypothesis that this particular usage of ul as principles enables Abduh to advance an inherent unity between all Muslims, despite the Muslims diversity in beliefs and practices. For, on the one hand, Abduh would have argued that most Muslims would agree with these essentials facilitated by the essentials general nature. Of course, the religious establishment of that time would not have agreed, however. On the other hand, in his very original analysis concerning Abduh first mystical work, Scharbrodt mentions in passing that Abduhs (later) advocacy of internal tolerance should be understood in consideration of Abduhs adherence to a Sufi emanationist philosophy. In this world view, creation as a whole emanates from God and is united in its descent from a common origin. Although there is constant movement in the creation both downwards (from God to its creation) as upwards (the movement of creation towards God as a result of its inherent inclination to perfection) which produces hierarchical diversification, one should always be aware of the inherent unity behind the apparent diversity. 484 Looking closer into Scharbrodts suggestion, Abduh seems to consider Islams essentials (Arabic: ul) as deductions from the spirit of Islam. As such, they are essentially connected to the highest truth on Islam. Since all Muslims agree to these general principles, the spirit of Islam pervades them all perhaps even the Azhar ulema who Abduh so forcefully opposed. Adhering to an emanationist world view, Abduh might have believed that this omnipresent spirit of Islam implies a fundamental unity underlying all Muslims despite the diversity of Islams manifestations. In the last resort, it seems plausible that Abduh would have been capable of casting aside his opposition to his contemporary Muslims if it was not for their rejection of precisely this type of tolerance! With regard to civilisation, too, Abduh seems to recognise a unity within diversity because of a common origin. Having just set forth Abduhs ideas on true Islams compatibility with European civilisation, at times it seems more apt to refer to Islams compatibility with true
484

Ibidem, 100 and 103.

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THEOLOGY OF UNITY civilisation (Arabic: madaniyya). For Abduh posits the European civilisation (Arabic: tamaddun) as a mere manifestation of true civilisation, which itself coincides with the Classical Islamic civilisation as this embodies true Islam. Thus, there is a civilisational spirit which connects European civilisation with civilisation as such the first source which happens to be the Classical Islamic civilisation. Keeping in mind Scharbrodts exposition on emanationist philosophy, it now makes sense why Abduh rejects a complete imitation of European civilisation added to his objections which arose out of his concerns over authenticity and autonomy as prompted by pervasive Westernisation and colonisation. One must always aim for the manifestation which is closest to the common origin, from which all manifestations emanate. Thus, a Muslim should turn to true civilisation which coincides with a return to true Islam. Abduhs reform of Islam is the solution to both. Finally, Abduh exhibits a similar logic of a unity underlying diversity regarding his ideas on Islam as (a) religion. Again, Abduh emphasises the underlying unity of the diverse and opposed revealed religions particularly concerning Islam and Christianity. On the one hand, he stresses their fundamental commonality as revealed religions (Arabic, singular/plural: dn/adyn), as these prophecies ultimately derive their existence from one and the same God. On the other hand, only Islam in its uncorrupted form, of course is still in complete congruence with its divine origin. Only Islam is therefore called the religion of truth (Arabic: dn al-aqq). By corrupting their revelations (Arabic: tarf), Christians and Jews distanced themselves even further from the truth. In addition, their scriptures were adapted to an earlier and therefore inferior stage of humanity. Still, the underlying unity should never be betrayed. This type of reasoning might have led Abduh to founding his Society for Unity and Rapprochement among the Revealed Religions. The Christian, Jewish and Muslim members of this society argued for a harmonious relation between Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. However, the idea of a diversified unity of human religiosity can also be traced back to European conceptions of religion. In the fourth chapter, I referred, for example, to Herbert Spencers conception of a common but hierarchically phased human religiosity. Nonetheless, these first investigations into Abduhs possible adherence of a Sufi-inspired emanationist world view confirm the need for a further investigation of Scharbrodts hypothesis. Furthermore, it becomes clear from the foregoing that Abduh advocated unity throughout his works. Yet, Abduh does not only stress the unity between true Islam and European-like civilisation. He does not merely counter the claim of contemporary secularists as well as traditionalists that the Islamic religion is not compatible with civilisation while Christianity is. On top of that, Abduh renders Islam as superior to the European civilisation and Christianity. For European civilisation and Christianity are only manifestations of the ultimate truth: Islam and its corresponding civilisation. By doing so, the European ambivalence regarding modernity whereby, according to Mitchell, modernity is considered unique to the West, while it is also attributed

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CHAPTER FIVE - THEOLOGY OF UNITY universal validity and desirability seems to be reversed. 485 Abduh stresses the (actual) universalist nature of Islamic civilisation, while reserving the highest point (civilisation itself) for Islam. Instead of construing modernity as the West, as Mitchell analysed, Abduh imagined civilisation as well as religion as Islam. 486

5.4

Abduh and Beyond

Soon after Abduhs reformist plea for a Theology of Unity, other intellectual tendencies gained the upper hand within modern Islamic thought. In particular, nationalism, Arabism and although somewhat later in full force political Islam came to the fore and took the prominent position in public debate reformist ideas once had. 487 In their stress on opposition instead of accommodation, on difference instead of similarity, these new developments constituted a break with Abduhs reformism. Increasingly, they stressed authenticity and a self-conscious (Islamic) identity to demarcate the lines between the self and the other. 488 Predominantly, in my opinion, these changes were at first the result of the continuing and increasing colonial aggression of European states in the Middle East, especially after the dissolution of the Ottoman empire. Also, the ongoing story of globalisation seemed to present an ever increasing challenge to (traditional) identities. But the beginnings of a more hostile and self-centred perspective were already existent in the ideas of Abduh and other reformists, too. In the third chapter, I pointed out some of the pluralist tendencies in Abduhs thought. 489 More importantly, however, was the centrality of a discourse of authenticity, which included a wish for revival and a desire to preserve (Islamic) identity. 490 In modern and self-consciously Islamic thought in particular, Abduhs complex notion of authenticity as explained in the second chapter of this thesis was too easily transformed into a simple nostalgia for the Islamic past and the corresponding rejection of the present and the West as having any value as such. This development was in part to be attributed to elements within Abduhs thought itself, which were too naive and not refined enough to provide a philosophical foundation for twentiethcentury Islamic thought. His literal equation of modernity with early Islamic history reveals a lack of any real sense of history through its denial of change. In addition, Abduh demonstrates no awareness that his specific interpretation of Islam is prompted by the concerns and desires of his
Mitchell, Introduction and Stage of Modernity, iv, xii-xiii and 15. See paragraph 4.1 in this thesis for a short exposition on Mitchells ideas on the subject. 486 Mitchell, Stage of Modernity, 15. Cf. On Christianity - Van der Veer, Imperial Encounters, 25-26. 487 In the following, I will predominantly focus on modern Islamic thought instead of nationalist or Arabist thought. Nafi, Rise of Islamic Reformist Thought, 47-53. 488 Nafi and Taji-Farouki, Introduction, 3-4. 489 See the end of paragraph 3.5. 490 Cf. On Reformism and nationalism: Nafi, Rise of Islamic Reformist Thought, 49.
485

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THEOLOGY OF UNITY time and in particular of himself. As such, he does not recognise any form of human agency with regard to the definition of true Islam. The essentials of Islam seem self-evident to him. Yet, other aspects of Abduhs thought, although lost in the main-stream twentieth-century arrogation of Islamic authenticity, are still promising and valuable. First, Abduhs plea for authenticity was very much an internal critique. He wished to view Islam critically in order to reform it to a viable religion which was suited to its time. As such, he did not only conceive of Islam or Muslims as victims of European aggression or even modernity as such. Instead, he recognised an important task of internal discussion and subsequent reform laying ahead for the Muslim community itself. As such, he calls on Muslims to assume an active role in defining their own religion. At the same time, he allocates Muslims a similarly sense of agency in defining and designing their form of modernity, instead of adopting full-fledged Westernisation. Second, I referred in the second chapter to Abduhs methodology to deduct the general essentials (Arabic: ul) from the Quran. 491 Although not very explicitly, this methodology seemed to include the seeds of a historical method in which there is a distinction between the essential and the historical meaning of the Quran. This allows for a conscious and constant reinterpretation of Islam in ever changing contexts, which renders this rather implicit element of Abduhs thought particularly valuable for consequent modern Islamic thought. Third, his plea to define the essentials of Islam in their generality, stripped from their historical specificity and literal meaning, seems to be a first step to an emphasis on defining Islam spiritually and ethically. For example, in his fatwas that is, legal advice and his own religious practice, he stressed the inner over the external aspect of religiosity. 492 A spiritually defined Islam provides for a much greater flexibility in interpreting it. Throughout the twentieth century, Muslim authors have taken on these aspects. For example, in 1925, Al Abd al-Rziq (1888-1966) proposed a purely spiritual interpretation of the caliphate. He conceived of Muammad as a prophet only, not a statesman. 493 Similarly, Mamd Muammad aha (1911-1985), Nar Ab Zayd (1943-2010) and, most recently, riq Raman (b. 1962) amplified on the aforementioned themes of Abduhs thought. In Westerse Moslims en de Toekomst van de Islam (English: Western Muslims and the Future of Islam), Raman wishes to reinterpret the Quran and the Sunna in the context of the modern European context in which many Muslims now live. He calls on all European Muslims to stop marginalising themselves by retreating into an exclusively defined Muslim identity. 494 Instead, he urges them to seek active accommodation and

491 492

See paragraph 2.5. Sedgwick, Muhammad Abduh, 114. See for an exposition on the secular aspects of Abduhs position on Islamic law: Asad, Reconfigurations of Law and Ethics in Colonial Egypt, Formations of the Secular, 205-256. 493 Hourani, Arabic Thought, 183-192; See for Houranis argument that Abduh possibly advocated a purely spiritual caliphate: Ibidem, 155. 494 Tariq Ramadan, Westerse Moslims en de Toekomst van de Islam (Bulaaq: Amsterdam 2005) 17-20.

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CHAPTER FIVE - THEOLOGY OF UNITY integration with the West for which he says he feels particularly indebted to Muammad Abduh. 495 Although it is more than a century since Abduh died, these themes are all still very much in need of further elaboration, of greater dissemination among the religious elite and of consequent popularisation. In fact, the main-stream history of modern Islamic thought has been held captive throughout the twentieth century by the appealing but too simple divide between the self and the other, between Islam and the West, between tradition and modernity: the very same oppositions I seek to revise in the study of Abduh as an exponent of modern Islam. In fact, modern Islamic thought is in need of a similar revision.

See interviews with Ramadan on, for example: http://www.abc.net.au/rn/philosopherszone/stories/ 2009/2434282.htm and http://www.ianburuma.com/user/image/tariqramadan.rtf [18 October 2010].

495

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A.

Primary Sources

Consulted in the Arabic Language Abduh, Muammad and Jaml al-Dn al-Afghn, Ftia al-Jarda (English: Introduction of the Newspaper) in: Muammad Jaml (ed.), al-Urwa al-Wuthq li-Jaml al-Dn al-Afghn wa Muammad Abduh (English: The Strongest Bond of Jaml al-Dn al-Afghn and Muammad Abduh) (al-Maktaba alAhliyya: Cairo 1927) [originally published as a journal in Paris in 1884] 25-34. Idem, al-Jarda wa-l-Manhajuh (English: The Newspaper and its Method) in: ibidem, 3537. Idem, al-Jinsiyya wa-l-Diyna al-Islmiyya (English: The Nationality and the Islamic Faith) in: ibidem, 38-44. Idem, M al-Umma wa iruh wa Ilj Ilalih (English: The Past of the Muslim Community, Its Present and the Treatment of its Sicknesses) in: ibidem, 45-60. Idem, al-Narniyya wa-l-Islm wa Ahluh (English: Christianity and Islam and their People) in: ibidem, 61-71. Idem, Ini al-Muslimn wa Suknuhum wa Sabab Dhalika (English: The Decline of the Muslims, their Stagnation and the Reason for this) in: ibidem, 72-81. Idem, Sunan Allh f-l-Umam (English: The Principles of God regarding the Communities) in: ibidem, 218-227. Abduh, Muammad, Risla il-l-Qiss Isaq aylor (English: Letter to the Cleric Isaac Taylor) in: Muammad Amra (ed.), al-Aml al-Kmila li-l-Imm al-Shaykh Muammad Abduh (English: The Complete Works of the Imam and Shaykh Muammad Abduh) (Madnat al-Nar 2006) II, 357-358 [originally written in Beirut, ca. 1885-1888].

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THEOLOGY OF UNITY Idem, Risla Thniyya il-l-Qiss Isaq aylor (English: Second Letter to the Cleric Isaac Taylor) in: ibidem, II, 359-360 [originally written during Abduhs time in Beirut, ca. 18851888]. Idem, Rislat al-Tawd (English: Theology of Unity) in: ibidem, III, 377-501 [originally published as Rislat al-Tawd in 1897] Idem, al-Radd al Fara Ann (al-Iihd f-l-Narniyya wa-l-Islm) (English: Reply to Fara Ann (Oppression in Christianity and Islam)) in: ibidem, III, 264-376 [originally published in Arabic as al-Islm wa-l-Narniyya maa al-Ilm wa-l-Madaniyya in 1902]. Idem, Risla il Tlsty (English: Letter to Tolstoy) in: ibidem, II, 361-362 [originally written between ca. 1901 (the year in which Tolstoy was excommunicated to which Abduh refers in this letter) and 1904 (the year in which Tolstoy responded to Abduhs letter)]. Idem, Risla Thniyya il Tlsty (English: Second Letter to Tolstoy) in: ibidem, II, 363.

Consulted Translations from the Arabic Language Abduh, Muammad, The Theology of Unity (Allen & Unwin: London 1966) [translated by Ishaq Musaad and Kenneth Cragg; originally published in Arabic as Rislat al-Tawd in 1897]. Abduh, Muammad, Islam und Christentum im Verhltnis zu Wissenschaft und Zivilisation, in: Gunnar Hasselblatt, Herkunft und Auswirkungen der Apologetik Muhammad Abduhs (1849-1905), untersucht an seiner Schrift: Islam und Christentum im Verhltnis zu Wissenschaft und Zivilisation (PhD thesis, University of Gttingen 1968) 7-164 [translated by Gunnar Hasselblatt; originally published in Arabic as al-Islm wa-l-Narniyya maa al-Ilm wa-l-Madaniyya in 1902].

Consulted in a European Language (Originally or Translated) Blunt, Wilfrid Scawen, The Future of Islam (Kegan Paul, Trench: London 1882). Blunt, Wilfrid Scawen, Secret History of the English Occupation of Egypt. Being a Personal Narrative of Events (Alfred A. Knopf: New York 1922 first edition in 1907).

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THEOLOGY OF UNITY Guizot, Franois, The History of Civilization in Europe (Penguin Books: Londen 1997) [translated by William Hazlitt in 1846; originally published as Histoire de la civilisation en Europe in 1828]. le Bon, Gustave, The World of Islamic Civilization (Tudor: New York 1974) [translated by David Macrae; originally published in French as La Civilisation des Arabes in 1884]. Montesquieu, Baron de Charles de Secondat, Considerations on the Causes of the Greatness of the Romans and Their Decline (Hackett Publishing Company: Indianapolis/Cambridge 1999 first edition by The Free Press in 1965) [translated by David Lowenthal; originally published in French as Considrations sur les Causes de la Grandeur des Romains et leur Dcadence in 1734]. Ramadan, Tariq, Westerse Moslims en de Toekomst van de Islam (Bulaaq: Amsterdam 2005). Spencer, Herbert, Herbert Spencer on Social Evolution. Selected Writings (University of Chicago Press: Chicago 1972) [edited and introduced by J.D.Y. Peel] Tolstoy, Leo, The Works of Leo Tolstoy. On Life and Essays on Religion (London 1934) [translated from the Russian by Aylmer Maude].

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THEOLOGY OF UNITY al-Azmeh, Aziz, Islams and Modernities (Verso: London 1996 revised paperback edition; first edition in 1993); in particular the chapters: The Discourse of Cultural Authenticity. Islamist Revivalism and Enlightenment Universalism and Muslim Modernism and the Canonical Text, 97-116 and 117-142. Badawi, M.A. Zaki, The Reformers of Egypt (Croom Helm: London 1978 first edition in 1976). el-Bahay, Muhammed, Muammad Abduh : eine Untersuchung seiner Erziehungsmethode zum Nationalbewusstsein und zur nationalen Erhebung in gypten (PhD-thesis: Hamburg 1936). Bayly, C.N. The Birth of the Modern World. 1780-1914. Global Connections and Comparisons (Blackwell: Carlton/Malden/Oxford 2008 paperback edition; first edition in 2004). Brown, Daniel W. Rethinking Tradition in Modern Islamic Thought (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge 1999). Burrow, John Wyon, Crisis of reason, European thought: 1848-1914 (Yale University Press: New Haven 2000 paperback edition). Gadamer, Hans-Georg, Truth and Method (Sheed & Ward: London 1989 first edition 1975) [translated by Joel Weinsheimer and Donald Marshall; originally published in German as Wahrheit und Methode in 1960]. Gibb, Hamilton, Modern Trends in Islam (University of Chicago Press: Chicago 1954 first edition in 1947). Gla, Dagmar, Der Muqtaaf und seine ffentlichkeit. Aufklrung, Rsonnement und Meinungsstreit in der frhen arabischen Zeitschriftenkommunikation (Ergon Verlag: Wrzburg 2004 paperback edition). Gran, Peter, Islamic Roots of Capitalism. Egypt, 1760-1840 (University of Texas Press: Austin 1979). Haj, Samira, Reconfiguring Islamic tradition. Reform, rationality, and modernity (Stanford University Press: Stanford 2009). Hasselblatt, Gunnar, Herkunft und Auswirkungen der Apologetik Muhammed Abduhs (1849-1905), untersucht an seiner Schrift: Islam und Christentum im Verhltnis zu Wissenschaft und Zivilisation (PhDthesis: Gttingen 1968).

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