من الاستعارة إلى الاستعادة: الإسلام والحداثة عند فضل الرحمن / From Borrowing to Retrieving: Fazlur Rahman's Islam and Modernity


Ali Mabrook



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مبروك, علي; Mabrook, Ali

Document Type

Research Article

Publication Title

Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics

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[It may seem today that decades (and even centuries), regarding the optimistic pursuit for development and modernization in the Arab and Islamic countries, have reached the state of overwhelming crisis and disappointment. As these countries did not know, over all these decades, except that discourse in pursuit of combining the modern and the past through mere juxtaposition, and that modernity remained just a fragile shell presiding over a solid structure of traditional culture, which did not know how to communicate, beside of course its inability to interact, with this shell presiding over it, so all this had to perpetuate the belief that this discourse is the origin of the crisis and the disappointment. In this context, it is indicated that the inability of the discourse to take both the modern and the past away from the process of closeness to the process of communication and interaction is not related to either of them on its own, as it is related rather fundamentally to their presence in the world of the discourse. When analyzing this discourse, its system reveals a sole mechanism, which is the only one identified by the discourse, that presents its knowledge of them through borrowing and not through a critical understanding. Of course this led the discourse's production to be based on a frail and illusory knowledge which is unable to influence the reality and put an end to its crisis. The reason for this is the fact that the discourse does not develop from the culture going upwards, as real knowledge should be, but it deals with it from above as a fate that does not accept from what is inferior to it but yielding and submission; and this means that its inability is transformed into repression. And if this means that the deeply rooted crisis of the discourse is based on borrowing (as a mechanism used to produce its knowledge), this would have pushed in the direction of transcending it, and this is what many had done, including Fazlur Rahman, and through what could be called the concept of "recollected modernity." Unfortunately, he kept on doing this but without reaching the essential step needed; namely, the borrowed modernity and showing its limitations and points of departure, in order to transcend it in real terms. Fazlur Rahman established his concept regarding "retrieved modernity" on the basis of his concept of "modernity," not as a final event that was completed at a certain moment, and that there was no way except to repeat it, but on how to cope with Islamic texts (and this meant the Quran exclusively), in a way that allows it to present its creative energy, and from here his pursuit toward crystalizing a mechanism to deal with these texts. Fazlur Rahman tried to go beyond the traditional approaches which deal with a departmentalized text, to an approach which deals with the totality of the text. Ironically this "new" approach is crystalized through "borrowing" from men of the early generation of Islam, who pursued the totality of the Quranic Text and tried to have the Islamic message relevant to their social and historical context. There is no doubt that this "borrowing" hinders the mechanism from being productive, as it transforms it into a measuring model to all subsequent practices. While Fazlur Rahman valued the approach of the early Muslims, he was not able to follow their model, but to constitute their findings as model.]

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