التراث بين التأويل والتلوين: قراءة في مشروع اليسار الإسلامي / The Heritage between Interpretation and Coloration: A Reading in the Project of the Islamic Left



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أبو زيد, نصر حامد; Abu Zeid, Nasr H.

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Research Article

Publication Title

Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics

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[The author explains the meaning of interpretation (extracting authentic meaning) and coloration (projecting an ideological meaning) of a text. While admitting that no reading is totally innocent, some exegeses are intentionally appropriative of texts. Such appropriation is not the result of the dialectical relation between the reader and the text, the subject and the object, but is the consequence of a distortive intention disguised under the rubric of objectivity. A distinction is drawn between a legitimate reading, albeit not innocent, and a distortive reading. The first is a productive reading while the second is an obstacle to productive reading because its mechanisms block the significance of the text. Then the author explains the term "Islamic Left" which was coined by Hassan Hanafi, a prominent Egyptian thinker and the architect of the Islamic Left in the Arab and Islamic world. Islamic Left tendencies were present before the introduction of the term, and were generated by a national awakening of a progressive nature. It was pitted against the Islamic Right which thrived in the 1970s. The project of the Islamic Left is embodied discursively in the multi-volumed publication by Hassan Hanafi entitled Min al-ʿaqida ila al-thawra من العقيدت إلى الثورة (From Faith to Revolution). This article is an analysis and a critique of the project. Caught between the accusation of Marxism by the Right and the accusation of opportunism by the Marxists, the Islamic Left tried to steer between the two poles by the use of reconciliatory discourse. This reconciliatory stance (tawfiqiyya توفيقية) marks the deep structure of the Islamic Left and produces on the surface structure of its discourse a marked vulnerability to the sensational dimensions of reality. The Islamic Left bends over backwards to accommodate the political successes of the Islamic Right, thus compromising its own radicalism. The article criticizes the Islamic Left's critique of the secular project by questioning its presuppositions. The Islamic Left assumes a single Arab-Islamic heritage (turath تراث), while in fact there are levels and pluralities of heritage(s), coexisting in the consciousness of the masses. The Islamic Left incorrectly postulates a rupture between secular thought and heritage on one hand, and on the other hand, between Islamic Traditionalists (the salafiyyun السلفيون) and the cause of the masses. Based on these questionable presuppositions, Abu Zeid argues, the project of the Islamic Left offers the renewal (tajdid تجديد) of the heritage as an answer to present-day challenges. The reconciliatory nature of the Islamic Left misses the more promising dialectical horizons, and claims that the solution is in renewal, thus projecting the present situation with its immediate concerns onto the past; while taking the past as an essence that manifests itself in time. Despite the coloration and appropriation of the past by the Islamic Left, it has, nevertheless, directed attention to the shortcomings of the structure of religious consciousness and challenged others to rethink their ideas in terms of its restructuring.]

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