Modernism in Islam
WHAT IS MODERNISM AND WHERE DID IT COME FROM?
We can relate, ideologically, the modernist movement spreading these days to one sect in the past. This sect is called the Muta’zila, which is dated back to the third Islamic century. Although those people accepted the Qur’an and Sunna they made ta’weel (their own interpretation of the Qur’an) and said ‘aql (intelligence) takes precedence over naql (guidance of the Prophet).
However, this school died out. The modernist movement did not evolve from them, but they are very similar to them. The modernist movement actually originated in Europe (middle-ages).
At the time when the scientific method came about in Spain, it was seen that what the church was teaching was not true. This led to a slow revolt. The basic view of modernism (in all religions)is that: the religion should change according to the circumstances, and that it is not fixed. There is no such thing as absolute truth. The Jewish and Christian modernist responce in Europe tried to explain how the religion was still relevant for the people. They made innovations to keep people interested in the religion (such as singing in church, introduced only in the 1900’s).
They tried to say the divine and the human is mixed in the Bible and that the parts that are true must be the ones that are not out of date. Also, the religion is improving over time and there is no absolute truth in the Bible. This is the time in history when many Muslims were looking to Europe. This led to three choices for those Muslims: accept the West; reject the West; or mix the two (reform Islam).
America has had its times of despair and advances but through it all we have learned new ways, cultures, and overall advancements in life. Throughout the literatures we were given to read and analyze, there were many things about American life that not only related to now but also showed us lessons learned and conflicts repeated through time. To myself and maybe others, the pieces presented to me ...
Those who followed the third (the modernist) developed in, and focused on: Turkey – because it was under British influence; and Egypt – because Al-Azhar was the seat of Islamic knowledge. The people of this modernist movement judge Islam according to their ‘aql. Some of their faults in regards to it are:
1) use it for things which it can’t comprehend;
2) refer everything to it: accept what agrees with it, reject what does not;
3) judge the revelation by it. However, Ahl As-Sunna Wal Jamaa’ believes that using the sound ‘aql should lead one to the conclusion that the Qur’an and the Prophet are true and that their teachings should take precedence over pure ‘aql.