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Georgetown University Tradition and modernity: Christian and Muslim perspectives: Christianity and other religions—Islam. Modernism Christian theology —Congresses. Paul Weston did not attend the seminar but very kindly agreed at a later stage to provide a paper on Lesslie Newbigin. But the Muslim who lives in the centres of the Islamic world touched in one degree or another by modernism lives within a polarized field of tension created by two contending world views and systems of values.

This tension is often reflected within his mind and soul, and he usually becomes a house divided against itself, in pro- found need of re-integration. If he is of an intellectual bent he sees on one side the rich, intellectual heritage of Islam as a still-living reality, a heritage which is precisely a message from the Centre and a guide for man in his journey from the rim to the Centre.

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It is a world view based on the supremacy of the blinding reality of God before whom all creatures are literally nothing, and then on the hierarchic Universe issuing from His Command Amr and comprising the multiple levels of being from the archangelic world to the level of material existence.

On the other side and in contrast to this world view, the contemporary Muslim sees the basic assumptions of modern Western civilization, nearly all of which are the very antithesis of the Islamic principles he cherishes. He sees the theomorphic nature of man either mutilated or openly negated. Finally, the contemporary Muslim is taught to believe that the law is nothing but a convenient agreement within a human collectivity and therefore relative and ever-changing, with the implication that there is no such thing as a Divine Law which serves as the immutable norm of human action and which provides the measures against which man can judge his own ethical standards objectively.

In the traditional Islamic view, absolute freedom belongs to God alone and man can gain freedom only to the extent that he becomes God-like. This totally Western idea is so alien to traditional Islam that this word cannot be found in any traditional text with the same meaning it has now gained in modern Arabic. In the Islamic world-view, freedom to do evil or to become severed from the source of all existence is only an illusory freedom.

Islam: A Synthesis of Modernity and Tradition

How far removed is this concept from the current Western notion of freedom, and what confusions are created within the mind of a man who is attracted by the pull of both ideas! These confusions affect nearly all of his daily decisions and his relations with nearly all the institutions of society from the family to the state. And they reflect upon art as well as morality, influencing individual patterns of behaviour in matters as far apart as sex and literary style.


But they are the custodians of the Islamic tradition and its protectors, without whom the very continuity of the tradition would be endangered. They are usu- ally criticized by the modernists for not knowing European philosophy and science or the intricacies of modern economics and the like. As for the second class whose attitudes have been analyzed in previous chap- ters, they are the product of either Western universities or universities in the Islamic world which more or less ape the West.

Now, universities in the Islamic world are themselves in a state of crisis which stems from the question of iden- tity, for an educational system is organically related to the culture within whose matrix it functions. A jet plane can be made to land in the airport of no matter which country in Asia or Africa and be identified as part of that country.

But an educational system cannot be simply imported; the fact that modern universi- ties are facing a crisis in the Islamic world of a different nature from that which is found in the West is itself proof of this assertion. The crisis could not but exist because the indigenous Islamic culture is still alive.

The encounter of Islam with the West cannot therefore be discussed without taking into consid- eration that mentality which is in most cases the product of a modern university education, a mentality which, during the past century, has been responsible for most of the apologetic Islamic works concerned with the encounter of Islam and the West. These and similar writers are, of course, among the most important in modern Western literature, but they, along with most other modern Western literary figures, nevertheless present a point of view which is very different from, and usually totally opposed to, that of Islam.

Among older Western literary figures who are close to the Islamic perspective, one might mention first of all Dante and Goethe who, although profoundly Christian, are in many ways like Muslim writers.

In mod- ern times, one could mention, on of course another level, T. Eliot, who, unlike most modern writers, was a devout Christian and possessed, for this very reason, a vision of the world not completely removed from that of Islam. In contrast to the works of such men, however, the psychological novel, through its very form and its attempt to penetrate into the psyche of men without possessing any criterion with which to discern Truth as an objective reality is an element that is foreign to Islam. Marcel Proust was, without doubt, a master of the French language and his In Search of Time Past is of much interest for those devoted to modern French literature, but this type of writing cannot under any conditions become the model for a genuinely Muslim litera- ture.

It is of interest to note that the most famous modern literary figure of Persia, Sadeq Hedayat, who was deeply influenced by Kafka, committed suicide because of psychological despair and that, although certainly a person of great literary talent, he was divorced from the Islamic current of life. The case of ideology is very telling as far as the adaptation of modern notions in the name of religion is concerned. Nearly every Muslim language now uses this term and many in fact insist that Islam is an ideology.

If this be so, then why was there no word to express it in Arabic, Persian and other languages of the Islamic peoples?

Seyyed Hossein Nasr on Tradition and Modernity | Joseph Lumbard - xecykisypife.tk

If Islam is a complete way of life, then why does it have to adopt a 19th century European concept to express its nature, not only to the West but even to its own adherents? Islam is no excep- tion to this rule.

On the contrary, traditional Islam, basing itself on the explicit teachings of the Quran and the guiding principles of the life of the Prophet, has developed the doctrine of the relationship between the male and the female and formulated the norms according to which the two sexes should live and cooper- ate in the social order. The difference between the sexes cannot be reduced to anatomy and biological function.

Tradition and Modernity

There are also differences of psychology and temperament, of spiritual types and even principles within the Divine Nature which are the sources in divinis of the duality represented on the microcosmic level as male and female. God is both Absolute and Infinite. Absoluteness—and Majesty, which is inseparable from it—are manifested most directly in the masculine state; Infinity and Beauty in the feminine state.

The male body itself reflects majesty, power, absoluteness; and the female body reflects beauty, beatitude, and infinity. Islamic teachings have emphasized this point very clearly.

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In Islam, both the male and the female are seen as two creatures of God, each manifesting certain aspects of His Names and Qualities, and in their complementary union achieving the equilibrium and perfection that God has ordained for them and made the goal of human existence. The tenets of Islam based upon sexual purity, separation of the sexes in many aspects of external life, the hiding of the beauty of women from strangers, divi- sion of social and family duties and the like all derive from the principles stated above.

Their specific applications have depended on the different cultural and social milieus in which Islam has grown and have been very diverse. Nor has the Islamic world been without eminent female religious and intellectual figures. Man cannot reach that peace and harmony which is the foretaste of the paradise human beings carry at the center of their being, except by bringing to full actualization and realization the possibilities innate in the human state, both male and female.

To reject the distinct and distinguishing features of the two sexes and the Sacred Legislation based on this objective cosmic reality is to live below the human level; to be, in fact, only accidentally human. But more than that, this book is an education in modes of thinking outside the individualistic positivist paradigm and an introduction to the special character of the dialogue between theology and historical sociology as disciplines sharing similar hermeneutic problems.

Tradition and History in Islam: Tradition Janet Soskice 3. Christian and Muslim Thinkers on Tradition and Modernity 7. Muhammad 'Abduh — Texts Muhammad 'Abduh: Christian and Muslim Perspectives.

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Death, Resurrection, and Human Destiny.