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ISLAMIC MODERNISM

Author(s): MAZHERUDDIN SIDDIQI


Source: Islamic Studies, Vol. 12, No. 3 (SEPTEMBER 1973), pp. 179-192
Published by: Islamic Research Institute, International Islamic University, Islamabad
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20846884
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ISLAMIC MODERNISM

MAZHERUDDIN SIDDIQI

The modernist Reform Movements in Islam can be categorised


under four heads.

(1) Purely Educational Movements

(2) Educational Movements with intellectual overtones

(3) Political Movements for the emancipation of the Muslim world


combined with a certain measure of intellectual thinking.

(4) Purely Intellectual Movements.

To the first category belongs the educational movement launched


by Nawab 'Abdul Latif of Bengal for the education of Bengali Muslims.
This movement did not touch upon political or intellectual issues and was
activated by economic causes. Nawab 'Abdul Latif felt that the economic
regeneration of the upper class Muslims of Bengal would come through
education. It was only when the Muslims were as much advanced in
education as the Hindus that they would get proper representation in the
Services which were being denuded of Muslims through the deliberate
policy of the British government and the ignorance of the Muslims of
Bengal. To get their proper share in the services, the Muslims had to get
themselves educated in the modern way. Oriental learning was not suffi
cient for the purpose. But English education could be imparted to the
Muslims only when the British government provided the necessary faci
lities for them. Hence it was absolutely essential for the Muslims to coope
rate with the British government in India and to shun all agitational activities.
Thus, in common with Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, Nawab 'Abdul Lat If preached
a philosophy of loyalism that made the Muslims politically inactive and
quiescent. This was seen in the undoing of the partition of Bengal.
While the Hindus agitated against the British government when it effected

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180 MAZHERUDDIN SIDDIQI

the partition and forced it to undo the partition, not a voice was heard
from the Muslim side asking the British government to stick to the parti
tion of Bengal or restore it, after it was undone.

To the second category of modernist movements belong those ini


tiated by Sir Syed Ahmad, Shibll, Mohd. 'Abdoh and Rag^?d Rid?. Al
though these reformers concentrated on education and regarded it as
the key to the renaissance of the Muslim world, they also made signal
contribution to the intellectual awakening of the Muslims and discussed
nearly all intellectual problems generated by the meeting of the East
and the West. In education, their objectives differed from those of each
other. For example, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan's objective was to enable the
Muslims of India to fill the higher posts in the British Indian services. For
this purpose, he opposed the system of competitive examinations instituted
by the British, for he thought that the Muslims, being educationally back
ward, would be unable to compete with the Hindus. This limited objective
of Sir Syed Ahmad, was reflected in the kind of education imparted to the
students at'Al?garh which did not attach much importance to science and
technology, and concentrated on the education of arts. In fact, Sir Syed
was never sympathetic to industrial and technological education,1 for he
believed that unlike Europe, India had yet to get into the machine age.
Mohd. 'Abdoh's reforms at al-Azhar aimed at bringing the 'ulem?' of al
Azhar closer to the modern intellectual heritage of Europe and of giving
them a wider vision of the world in which they lived than that imparted by
their medieval studies. Shibll and Rashid Rida worked with a different
objective. Their aim was to train missionaries of Islam who could spread
the Islamic message throughout the world and preachers who could look
after the religious needs of the masses. Shibl?, in addition, wanted to
produce a group of writers who could reply effectively to the charges
brought forward against Islam by western scholars and a group of Muftis
(legists) who could give their verdict on disputed points of Islamic law.
Since he found that the religious education imparted at 'Al?garh was in
adequate and did not prepare the educated youth for the tasks he had in
view, he laid the foundation of a separate seminary of learning at Nadwa
in Lucknow.

Both Molid. 'Abdoh and Sir Syed Afcmad Khan were political con
formists. They freely cooperated with the government they found in
control of their affairs. Their emphasis on education made them political
quietists. Although Mofrd. 'Abdoh, early in his career, was implicated in

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ISLAMIC MODERNISM 181

the A'rabi Pasha's revolt, he soon developed differences with the revolu
tionary party and gave his cooperation to the powers that be. He was
not a revolutionary by nature and his political conformity made it difficult
for him to cooperate with Jam?luddin Afghani, who was a political re
volutionary. Although intellectually, he came under Afghani's influence,
at heart he did not like Afghani's political activism. 'Abdoh's work
in Egypt, therefore, did not much influence the political development
of the country. Sir Syed Alimad Khan, the Indian reformer, went to the
extreme length of preaching loyalism. He even opposed the Pan-Islamic
movement, for this might embarass the British government in India.
Shibli charges him with having turned the Indian Muslims into political
cowards.2 This may or may not be true but his influence tended to inject
political quietism into the Muslim community of India. The Muslims
became politically apathetic. They were even afraid of attending the
Educational Conference convened by Sir Syed3 who had to reassure them
that no harm would come to them, if they attended the Educational
Conference. However, Sir Syed's opposition to Pan-Islamism did not
prevent the Muslims and the students of 'Al?garh, in particular, from
joining the Kh?l?fat agitation. But this was due more to a wave of reli
gious emotionalism than to the development of political consciousness
among the Muslims. Muslim political consciousness in the Indo -Pakistan
sub-Continent remains undeveloped to this day. For this political imma
turity of the Muslims part of the blame must be borne by Sir Syed's loyal
ism which prevented the Muslims from giving thought to their own future
in the sub-Continent. Unlike Sir Syed, Shibl?'s educational activity had
no loyalist implications. He did not see eye to eye with Sir Syed in political
matters and desired that the Muslims should actively participate in Indian
politics. For these political views, he had to pay a price and Nadwa, the
theological seminary he founded at Lucknow, was long suspected by the
British government of being hostile to its policies.

The major movement for the emancipation of the Muslim world was
led by Jam?luddin Afghani. By nature a revolutionary, he did not hold
a high opinion about the rulers of the various Muslim countries in his
time and since he found them under the influence of the Western imperial
ism, the main mission of his life was an attempt to change the existing
regimes in the Muslim world by installing into office men who could resist
foreign influence and domination and who could bring about effective
cooperation among the various national units into which the Muslim world
was divided, His efforts were not directed to changing the system of

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182 MAZHERUDDIN SIDDIQI

government which was prevalent in the Muslim world but to changing men
who controlled the affairs of the Muslim countries. He did not see that
it was the system of government which was at fault. His method was not
to appeal to the masses and rouse them to the dangers of foreign influence
but to appeal to the patriotic and religious sentiments of the upper class
in each Muslim country. For this reason, he did not concentrate his
political activity on any one Muslim country but travelled to one Muslim
country after another, leaving behind him a group of intellectuals and poli
ticians steeped in his politico-religious ideas. Perhaps in the then existing
conditions of the Muslim world, Afghani followed the right course, for in
no single Muslim country mass political consciousness was so far developed,
as to enable him to change the system of government as distinct from the
personnel of the government. It is a wrong impression about Afgh?ni
that he stood for the unification of the Muslim world under one govern
ment or one ruler. What he wanted was that the various Muslim rulers
and nations should retain their separate identity but should cooperate with
each other in defending the Muslim world from foreign control, domi
nation and influence. Afghani did not succeed even in this modest attempt
for the foreign policies of the Muslim countries remained widely divergent
from each other. He did, however, succeed in implanting Pan-Islamic
sentiments among a few intellectuals and politicians.

Another reformist political movement was the movement for


Pakistan of which the concept was put forth by Iqb?l, the poet-philosopher
of the Indo-Pakistan sub-continent. His main idea was to secure for the
Muslims of India an independent state in the North-Western provinces
where the Muslims constituted a majority. This state was to be based on
social democracy4 where every citizen was to be assured of the basic neces
sities of life. Iqb?l died in 1938 and did not participate in the Pakistan
movement which was led by Qu?id-e-'Azam, Mohammad'Ali Jinnah, on
the basis of the two nation theory and which fructified in August 1947
in the shape of an independent Muslim state consisting of two wings, one
in the West and another in the East. But Iqb?l's idea of social democracy
in which every citizen would get at least a bare minimum of subsistence
was defeated by the vested interests in Pakistan, with the result that the
Eastern wing of Pakistan separated itself and with Bharat's help, constituted
itself into a new state dependent on Bharat while the fate of the Western
wing is still hanging in the balance.

On the intellectual plane, the reformist movements are inspired

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ISLAMIC MODERNISM 183

by an intense desire to go back to the Qur'?n and to reject all intermediate


authorities that stand in the way of direct access to the Qur'?n. The
reason is that the Qur'?n puts a minimum of restrictions on human freedom
and allows human beings the largest measure of liberty, while exactly the
reverse is the case with intermediate authorities. The reformers are quite
aware of the fact that human life cannot proceed without some salutary
restrictions on man's freedom, but these restrictions, they think, should
be rational and should be dictated by the needs of the time and not by
a social structure which has passed into oblivion. In other words, the
modernist reformers want to legislate for the needs of the new society
that has come into being as the result of the impact of western civilization
on the Islamic world. But they feel that their freedom to legislate for the
modern society has been severely narrowed down by the medieval jurists
and their interpretation of Had?th literature. Therefore, while rejecting
the verdicts of the medieval jurists in toto, they adopt a new approach to
Hadith. They are not forgetful of the great services rendered to Islam by
the medieval jurists but they hold that the verdicts of these jurists were the
result of their own Ijtih?d which is not binding on the later generations of
Muslims. Inspite of this, the modernists are ready to utilize, as raw
material, the views of the medieval jurists on socio-economic problems in
raising a new edifice of laws suited to the modern conditions of life.

Am?r 'Ali goes to the furthest extreme in advocating the abolition of


medieval laws. He says that even the laws laid down by the prophet had
no finality. The prophet himself wanted to abolish them,5 after they had
outlived their utility. It is not clear from Amir 'All's wordings whether
he would include the Qur'?nic laws among such as were intended to be
abolished in course of time. Other modernists would not go so far but
they all tend to limit the authority of Hadith in its legal as well as other
aspects. Mohd, 'Abdoh would accept only those Hadith. which have been
continuously reported through many chajn of authorities and which do not
violate sense experience.6 Sir Syed Ahmad Khan would judge Hadith
on the basis of Dir?yat (Reason)7 and accept only those riad?th which deal
with the life hereafter or which contain directions about morality. H?l!
says that in the six cannonical books of Hadith, the traditions relating to
the reformation of the this-worldly affairs of Muslims about which the pro
phet declared, "You are more cognisant of the affairs of the world," are
regarded as part of Din (religion) in the same manner as those traditions
which relate to the preaching of the prophetic mission.8 In other words,
H?li would reject all those traditions of the prophet which have a bearing

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184 MAZHERUDDIN SIDDIQI

on worldly affairs. 'Ubaidulla SindhI takes his stand on the Muwatt?* of


Imam Malik and says ,in effect, that only those Had! th should be accepted
which have been incorporated by Malik in his Muwatt?'. Mohd. Asad
would confine himself, for purposes of legislation, to the Nu??? or clear
texts of the H?dith.

It is clear from all these examples that although the authority


of H?dith is not directly and clearly denied, the modernists accept H?dith
with great reservations. There is a doubt in the minds of the modernists
about the correct transmission of H?dith from the prophet. They feel
that it is difficult to sift the true H?d?th from the false and that the cri
teria laid down by the medieval traditionists to judge the veracity of H?d?tl?
are by no means perfect and, therefore, new standards should be applied
for the scrutiny of H?d?th.

In order to win back their freedom to legislate for the needs of the
new society, the modernists reject the theoratic trends in Muslim society
created by the preponderant influence of the 'Ulem?*. For example, Mohd.
'Abdoh says9 : "Isi?m threw its weight against the religious authorities,
bringing thetn down from the dominance whence they uttered their com
mands and prohibitions. It made them answerable to those they dominated,
so that these could keep an eye on them and scrutinise their claims,
according to their own judgement and lights, thus reaching conclusions
based on conviction, not on conjecture and delusion". This means that
there is no need of experts in religion who would dictate to the layman
of what to do and what not to do. Thus decisive power in matters of legis
lation comes into the hands of the laymen.

According to Raguid Rid?, the disciple of Mohd. 'Abdoh, theQur'?n


and the Sunnah laid down very few laws so that the Muslims of
the later generations would not be hampered in their legis
lative activity. Most matters were left to the decision of the Ul?l
Amr, that is, men entrusted with authority. But who are the Ulul- Amr
(men in authority). Are they the rulers and the 'Ulem?' Ras^?d Rid?'s
stand is that the Ulul- Amr 10 (men in authority) include, besides the
rulers, administrators and the 'ulem?' such laymen as doctors, lawyers and
teachers as also distinguished merchants. Thus the 'Ulem?' and the re
ligious experts become merely one component of the body which is to carry
on the affairs of the community and legislate for the needs of the modern
society. The tendency to limit the influence of the 'ulem?' and throw open

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ISLAMIC MODERNISM 185

the door of legislative activity to laymen is a recurrent feature of modernist


reform movements.

Iqb?l, the Indo-Pakistan philosopher, takes much the same stand.


He would entrust legislative decisions to an assembly of elected represen
tatives consisting of laymen. The 'Ulema' would, of course, form a com
ponent of this body but they would be there in a purely advisory capacity.
They can influence the decisions of the legislative assembly, but they would
not have the final say. The final decision would rest with the legislative
assembly composed of a large majority of laymen.11 Thus the medieval
theory that the Ijm?' of the 'Ulema' is final in matters of legislation is
replaced by a theory which assigns the decisive voice to the Ijm? of the
community as a whole. The modernist reformers are not prepared to
give the same weight to the voice of the 'Ulema' that they enjoyed in the
medieval times. It seems that in the opinion of the modernists the religious
structure of Islam is not so complex as to require the services of religious
experts. The layman has as much right as a religious expert to have
his say in the interpretation of Islam.

Now, if the laymen are to participate in interpreting the legal and


moral injunctions of Islam, how can they do so except by applying their
reason to the affairs of life as they react on religious teachings. It is
quite evident that the laymen are not in possession of expert knowledge
and do not h?ve much acquiantance with what the predecessors have said or
done. This necessitates the throwing open of the field of reason so far
as its application to religious teaching is concerned.

Hence, with the advent of Muslim modernism, reason comes into


its own and gets its rightful place. Almost all Muslim modernists are agreed
that reason should be allowed to play an important role in the field of
both theology and law. Thus Mohd. 'Abdoh says that the Muslims are
generally agreed, except a few, that when 'Aql (Reason) and Naql (Report)
conflict with each other, that which reason dictates will be accepted.12
Raguid Rid?, his disciple, says that the Qur'?n taught its followers to ask
for arguments and our virtuous ancestors did the same. They themselves
held to arguments, they asked for arguments (from others) and they forbade
people to accept anything without arguments. Biit the later generations
forbade the people to argue in matters of religion until Islam became the
very opposite of what it was.13 According to Iqb?l14 the birth of Islam
is the birth of inductive intellect and the Qur'?n constantly appeals to

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186 MAZHERUDDIN SIDDIQI

reason and experience. Dr.Khalifa 'Abdul rlakim says that knowledge


(Reason) and love ?lshq) are like twins and their relation is such that it
is impossible for the one to do without the other.15

It is true that there are some anti-intellectualist trends also among


the modernists. Thinkers like J?h? Husayn dwell on the limitations of
human reason. Dr. Khalifa 'Abdul Hakim also stresses the fact that reason
cannot wholly grasp the super-sensible realities of life. But these attacks
against the claims of reason mostly concern theological problems of a
fundamental nature. Very few modernists deny that reason has its role
to play in matters of social legislation. Ijtih?d or the exercise of inde
pendent judgement in legal matters is the demand of almost all
modernists. Iqb?l's is the only lone voice that is raised against ljtih?d
(independent judgement). His main argument is that the Ijtih?d of short
sighted scholars in times of decadence will break the unity of the Islamic
Community. In times of decadence it is much safer to follow in the foot
steps of the ancestors and the predecessors.16 This argument has a certain
measure of weight. But it overlooks the fact that human societies cannot
remain stationary. Changes are bound to occur and those who resist
change do so at their own peril. If we are to adjust overselves to the
changes that are taking place, it becomes necessary to rethink the basis
of our social legisltaltion and take into account the fact that many of the
legal decisions and verdicts of our predecessors were conditioned by the
times in which they lived and the circumstances which they had to face.
Perhaps we should not take Iqb?l too seriously as far as his stand on Ij
tih?d is concerned, for in another mood Iqb?l advocates wholesale change
in the social structure. He says:

"To be afraid of a new social order and to stick to past ways

this is a difficult stage in the life of nations."

S^} S oj^j> <?- J;^ uj? *4 )J* Uji ? jj ?JT


Now, if a new social pattern is to be adopted and outdated forms
of life have to be cast off, a new legal structure will automatically take the
place of the old and thus ljtih?d of a radical nature will have t? be un
dertaken.

Just as in the intellectual realm the modernists weere questioning

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ISLAMIC MODERNISM 187

the authority of 'Ulema' and fighting against the absolutism imposed by


medieval orthodoxy, in the political realm they were questioning the
validity of the absolutism of the rulers and mon?rchs. All modernists
are agreed that the medieval system of autocratic rule is unsuited to modern
times and it must be replaced by a more democratic system of government,
though their notions of democracy differ from each other. Many modern
ists seek democratic principles in the system established by the first four
rightly guided caliphs of Islam. They ignore the developments that have
taken place since early Isi?m in the political and constitutional fields,
and they do not recognize the fact that through experience and trial man
kind has arrived at a more developed form of government, the germs of
which were, of course, present in the early Islamic system of govern
ment. Only Amir 'Ali has the courage to say that though the system of
government in early Islam was archaic,17 it was yet capable of the greatest
development. Thus Amir 'Ali recognises that the modern system of
government is more developed and at the same time he seems to admit
its ?sl?micity, because in his opinion the modern democratic system is
only ? further development of the principles laid down by the political
leaders in early Islam. 'Arab scholars, like Tafra H?sain and Mohd.
Husain Haykal note the differences between the political system of the
early Muslims and the modern democratic methods of government, a
difference which is ignored by the more romantically minded scholars
like Abul Kal?m Az?d. These differences not withstanding, the question
remains how far Muslims are justified by the principles of their religion,
to adopt the modern democratic methods of governments.

No definite opinion is expressed by the modernists on this issue.


Although many of them are inclined in favour of democracy, it is on uti
litar?an grounds and not on religious grounds that the stand is justified.
Mohd. 'Abdoh is the only thinker who pleads for dictatorship.18 But it
is a just dictator that he wants. He does not argue from the religious stand
point but takes a utilitarian stand. How and by what process the just
man will be raised to the seat of power is not a problem for Mohd ' Abdoh.
Nor does he take into consideration the fact that a dictator or, for that
matter, any kind of ruler, does not rule in his individual capacity. He
is always backed by a social group or a political party, and his being 'just'
depends upon the programme and intentions of his group or party. A
dictator cannot ignore the wishes and interests of those with whose support
he has come into power and if these interests are at variance with the gene
ral interests of the nation, the dictator can never do justice to the people

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188 MAZHERUDDIN SIDDIQI

over whom he rules. Iqb?l also condemns democracy in his poems,


although in his prose works, he upholds the early democracy of Islam.
The reason is that Iqb?l is enamoured of strong leaders who are gifted
with the vision of a seer. He thinks that the rule of a wise man is better
than that of two hundred fools. Thus, like 'Abdoh, he also verges towards
the advocacy of dictatorship forgetting that it is not always the wise and
virtuous man who manages to seat himself into the position of power and
that the rule of one foolish or wicked person is far more dangerous than
the rule of two hundred fools who are kept under check by a wise and
enlightened public opinion.

Dr. Khalifa 'Abdul Hakim is an advocate of democracy. But he


does not close his eyes to certain defects in the modern practice of demo
cracy. For example, monetary power plays a big part in elections.
Illiterate landlords who cannot sign their names manage to get themselves
elected, while wise and virtuous men cannot get seats in the parliament.
Another objection which Dr. IJak?m brings forward against democracy
is that while equality before law is a necessary component of every good
system of government, there can be no equality in the process of framing
legislation. All men do not have the requisite ability to frame good
laws and there is no guarantee that because a man has got himself into the
parliament, he has also the necessary ability to take part in the process
of legislation. Other equally weighty objections can be brought against
democracy but from this, it cannot be concluded that democracy ought
to be replaced by monarchy or dictatorship, for other systems of govern
ment bring worse evils than democracy. Democracy is a method of
government which can perfect itself by introducing improvements in its
working mechanism but this self-improvement and self-perfection is not
possible in any other form or method of government.

While the general climate of opinion among the modernists tends


to favour democracy, there is not much realization of the fact that de
mocracy is not only a form and method of government, but also involves
certain attitudes and values of life and that in societies where these atti
tudes and values are not encouraged and promoted, democracy as a system
of government finds it difficult to flourish, For example, freedom of
expression, freedom of press, toleration of differences, a spirit of mutual
accommodation and give and take, freedom from sectarianism and rational
as opposed to emotional approach to problems, these attitudes and values
are pre-requisites to the successful functioning of democracy. Where

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ISLAMIC MODERNISM 189
these attitudes and values do not take root or do not command respect,
political democracy remains like an empty shell, a body without the spirit.
The reason for this lack of appreciation of democratic virtues seems to be
that many modernists lived in the period when their countries had not
yet achieved independence from foreign domination and to them the desir
able form of government was merely a theoretical question. They did not
have the actual experience of the democratic form of government except
in so far as it was imposed upon them by foreign rulers. Now that many
of the Muslim countries have achieved independence, actual functioning of
democracy in these countries has shown that external forms of democracy
depend for their life and sustenance on the observance of democratic
values and it is because we have failed to cultivate those attitudes which
strengthen and nourish democracy that the democratic experiment in
Muslim countries has not met with the desired success.

On the social plane, Muslim modernism had to face the challenge


of western critics in regard to such problems as the rights and status
of women, polygamy and purdah (Seclusion of women). As far as the
rights and status of women are concerned, the modernists are on a strong
ground, for, as they point out, Islam had conferred extensive rights on
women and if the present day Muslims prevent them in actual practice
from enjoying their rights, it is the fault of the Muslim themselves and
not of Islam. Perhaps in the matter of giving a low social status to women,
the Muslims came under the influence of alien civilizations. Just as in the
political structure of their society, the Muslims followed the Persians
and Byzantines rather than the prophet and his immediate successors, so
in the social sphere, the influence of Greek, Persian and Hindu society
proved to be a decisive factor and the degradation of Muslim womanhood
was given a religious sanction under the impact of alien ideas and customs.
The rapid expansion of the Muslim polity was not all to the good of
Muslims, as much of Isi?m became submerged under the torrent of foreign
mores and customs. This would not have been so harmful if
the Muslims had not given a religious sanction to the elements they im
ported from alien cultures. By giving them a religious sanction, they
eternalised what was purely temporary.

As far as polygamy is concerned, most modernists interpret the


teachings of Isi?m in such a manner that monogamy becomes the ideal
form of marriage and polygamy is allowed under special conditions. Only
Rashid Rid? defends polygamy without making any reservations. In
this field, the modernists have succeeded in influencing the course of

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190 MAZHERUDDIN SIDDIQI

legislation in some Muslim countries. For example, during the Ay?b


regime in Pakistan, a Family Law Ordinance was promulgated which lays
down restrictions on polygamous marriages.

On the economic plane, the Muslim modernists are keenly aware


of the fact, that Muslim society suffers from a serious economic disequi
librium and the distribution of wealth in Muslim society is highly unjust
so that the majority of Muslims remain underfed, illiterate and disease
stricken. But the solutions they propose differ widely from each other.
Mohd. ' Abdoh does not go beyond urging the rich to help the poor, a
method which has failed in history to alleviate the distress of the poor
and which leaves the possessing class in absolute enjoyment of all eco
nomic and political power. However, most modernists favour far more
radical changes in the economic structure and nearly all are agreed that
the economic system should ensure the provision, at least, of the bare
minimum necessities of life to every member of the Muslim society. They
draw their inspiration from the history of early Islam when the community
did not allow any of its members to go ill-fed or ill-clothed. The measures
adopted by the second caliph, 'Umar, to ensure economic justice to the
common man are particularly cited as an example of what Islam achieved
in the direction of establishing a just society free from soul-grinding
poverty. Some modernists like IqbSl, Dr. Khalifa 'Abdul rlak?rn and
Mohd, Husayn Haykal have been deeply influenced by western Socialism
and particularly by the Soviet experiment. While critical of certain
aspects of Communism, their own proposals for economic reforms
bear the imprint of the Communist economic programme. The democra
tic experiment of the West has not influenced Msulim thought so much, as
the Socialist experiment of the West. The reason seems to be that in the
Islamic heritage itself, the democratic elements are not so prominent and
strong as the socialistic elements.

On the educational plane, Muslim modernism has not made much


headway in the educational institutions of the Muslim world. The reforms
introduced by Mohd. fcAbdoh in al-Azhar did not go far enough to effect
any radical alteration in the outlook of al-Azhar scholars, who are still
steeped in traditionalism. An integrated outlook arising from a synthesis
of Islamic learning with western sciences is still far from being achieved.

At4 Al?garh in India Sir Syed's views on religious issues were rejected
by the great mass of 'Al?garians. They respected him but were repelled
by his modernist views. One reason for this was that theological studies

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ISLAMIC MODERNISM 19!
in'Al?garh were left by Sir Syed under th? supervision of the conservative
IBerrm.' This was necessary to make 'Al?garh popular among the Muslims
and to attract Muslim youth coming from families where the hold of conser
vatism was very strong. Also Sir Syed made no eifort to raise a body of
intellectuals who could continue his work in the field of Muslim modern
ism. Although 'Al?garh produced great leaders, poets and writers, it did
not produce modernist scholars in the tradition of Sir Syed and Chir?g
'All. Th? result was that the 'Al?garh modernist movement initiated by
Sir Syed petered out soon after his death;

Nadwa was founded by Shibl? at Lucknow with the ostensible object


of training preachers, orators and writers who could repel the attacks of
western critics of Islam. It might have been expected therefore, that
Nadwa would prove very different from traditional seats of Islamic
learning like Deoband and might move towards a synthesis of traditional
ism with modernism but this hope was defeated. As things developed
Nadwa bec?me hardly distinguishable from Deoband as far as tadi
tionalism was concerned.

With the establishment of Pakistan, the prospects for Muslim


modernism should have brightened up for the makers of Pakistan were
far from being Conservatives. In fact they were charged in some quarters
with being secularists. Yet at the same time they had declared that
Pakistan would be an Islamic state where Muslims would be enabled
to live their lives individually and collectively according to Islamic tenets.
Thus Pakistan would both be a modern and an Islamic state according
to their declaration. Now, if the traditional views about Islamic state and
Society could not fit in a Pakistan which was to be modern, what was the
alternative except to turn f?r guidance to the Muslim modernists. Un
fortunately this did not happen. Although a few modernist institutions
were founded like the Institute of Islamic Culture at Lahore and the Islamic
Research Institute at Islamabad, the views of the modernists about the
desired reforms in politics, economics and education did not receive
much weight in the official quarters. Pakistani rulers ruled in a pragmatic
manner adjusting themselves to the exigencies of the moment without an
eye on distant consequences. There was no programme and no ideology
to guide them. This had shattering effects on the stability of Pakistan.
Two factors impeded the growth of modernism in Pakistan. Firstly, the
modernist, were not a closely knit group. They had no organization to
disseminate their views. Most of them had official or semi-official con
nections with the governments in power which were unpopular. This

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192 MAZHERUDDIN SIDDIQI

exposed them to attacks from the conservatives who could easily question
their integrity. If the modernists had remained independent of the
governments, and had an organization of their own, they could have exerted
a powerful influence on the affairs of the country. Secondly, soon after
the establishment of Pakistan, the conservative 'Ulema' began to found and
run theological seminaries of learning in the Deoband style. These
seminaries of learning or the Madressahs, as they are called, became the
stronghold of conservatism. Through these Madrassahs, the influence
of the conservative 'Ulema' already strong, became much stronger. Thus
in Pakistan the modernist view of Islam did not prevail.

Notes

1. Sir Syed: Akhr? Maz?meen,, Lahore, N.D. pp 19 and 20.


2. &ibli: Maq?l?t ?zamgadh, 1938, vol. VIII pp. 155,156,157,158.
3. aioli: Ibid, Azamgadh, 1938, vol. VIII, pp. 155, 156,157, 158.
4. Sharifuddin Pirzada: Evolution of Pakistan, Lahore, 1963, pp. 128,129.
5. Amir Al! : Spirit of Isi?m, London, 1899,0.342.
6. Kenneth Cragg and Ish?q Musa'd : Theology of Unity, London, 1966,0.155.
7. Mohd. Ismail panipati : Maq?l?t-e-Sir Syed, vol. I, Lahore, 1962 p. 270
8. fl?l?: Hay?t-e-J?ved, Lahore, 1957, p. 590, 591.
9. Kenneth Cragg and Ishaq Musa'd: op. Cit pp. 126,127.
10. Rashid Rid?: Tafsir aUMan?r, vol. V, Cairo, 1374 A.H., pp. 198,199.
11. Iqb?l : The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam, Lahore, 1962 p. 174.
12. Mohd. 'Abdoh: AUIsl?m Wa'l Nasr?niya Ma'al-Ilm-Wa'lMadaniya, Cairo, 1
A. ., .56.
13. Rashid Rid?: Tafstr-al-Man?r, Cairo, 1373 A.H., vol. I, p. 425.
14. Iqb?l: The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam. Lahore, 1950 pp. 125,126.
15. Dr. Khalifa 'Abdul flakim : Fikr-e-Iab?l, Lahore, 1964 pp. 304,355.
16. Iqb?l: Asr?r-o-Rum?z, Lahore, 1948, pp. 144, 145.
17. Am?r Ali: op. Cit, London, 1899, pp. 411,412,415.
18. Rashid Rida: T?rikh Ust?dh-al-Im?m, Cairo, 1344 vol. II pp. 390,391.

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