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Toward an Islamic Reformation: Civil Liberties, Human Rights, and International Law (Contemporary Issues in the Middle East) Paperback – July, 1996


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Toward an Islamic Reformation: Civil Liberties, Human Rights, and International Law (Contemporary Issues in the Middle East) + Second Message of Islam: Mahmoud Mohamed Taha (Contemporary Issues in the Middle East) + Islam and the Secular State: Negotiating the Future of Shari`a
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Product Details

  • Series: Contemporary Issues in the Middle East
  • Paperback: 253 pages
  • Publisher: Syracuse Univ Pr (Sd); New edition edition (July 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0815627068
  • ISBN-13: 978-0815627067
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,306,588 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By ChairmanLuedtke on September 17, 2003
Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im, as a scholar of Islam and law, offers an analysis of Islamic decline and possible reformation that is much more clearly delineated and rigorous than the cultural accounts given by authors like Bernard Lewis. An-Na'im's argument rests on the separation of "historical Shari'a" (often wrongly treated as if it were itself divine revelation) from the essence of Islam itself, as revealed by the early tenure of Mohammed in Mecca, before he moved to Medina and grappled with the difficult and immediate imperatives of political power.

Like a good lawyer, An-Na'im's case in "Toward an Islamic Reformation" unfolds like a geometrical proof, proceeding deductively from an axiom (a universal principle of reciprocity) and reasoning from there; namely, that all peoples have rights of self-determination, as long as they don't clash with others' rights of self-determination. To this norm, An-Na'im adds two sociological observations. The first is that Muslim majorities are now becoming politically assertive, exercising their right to self-determination, which is in itself a healthy thing. However, the second observation is that the hitherto weakened and disorganized condition of the Muslim community has usually been attributed to departure from "true" belief and practice, as well as to outside interference by non-Muslims. Thus, An-Na'im reasons, secular solutions to social problems will not appeal to most Muslims. Even the doctrine of necessity (darura) is not enough, although it has been used with some degree of success in the past, because only a truly Islamic solution will satisfy Muslim demands for self-determination. Thus, any proposed reforms must be seen as Islamic in origin.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Scholarly Reviewer on January 29, 2007
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An Na'im's "Toward an Islamic Reformation" is a fascinating excursion into the evolutionary aspect of Islamic law. Without repeating previous comments, I will get to the core of his thesis and the problem with it. In essence, he states that since Islamic law evolved from a Makkan to a Madinan stage, it can "de-evolve" back to the Makkan stage. It was in Makkah where the Prophet gave his statements about tolerance and freedom of religion, while in Madinah those concepts were withdrawn. As Islamic jurisprudence argues that earlier revelations that are contradicted by later ones are abrogated, An Na'im is arguing for reverse abrogation, stating that the Madinan stage of Islam was necessary then, but is not needed now. This is the core of his argument.

Now the problems. First, An Na'im is asking for Islamic jurists to ignore 1,300 years of fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) to engage in reverse abrogation. One must ignore a good portion of the writings of al-Tabari, Ibn Kathir, Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn Qayyim, al-Mawardi, not to mention large sections of hadith collections (al-Bukhari, Imam Muslim, al-Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, etc). While not wishing to appear as a nay-sayer, this is simply an impossible task. He simply has no Qur'anic or hadith basis for saying that Islam can backtrack and abrogate much of the Madinan message.

This highlights the second problem he encounters is the amount of abrogation. For anyone who has even done a casual examination of the hadith and Qur'an regarding war and jihad, one can see that there would be large sections of both (more of the former) that would require abrogation. Large portions of the sayings and deeds of the Prophet and his Companions (the "Salafi") would have to be virtually ignored.
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3 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 30, 2004
I wonder why the American government doesn't get this fellow and send him to Iraq to head up their religious studies department and establish a modern Islamic Studies program in an Arab country to educate the Arab as to what Islam could be about, if they weren't so backwards.
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