Public Lecture: "Understanding Reform from an Islamic Perspective" by Prof. Tariq Ramadan
Topic: “Understanding Reform from an Islamic Perspective”
Speaker: Professor Tariq Ramadan, Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies, Oxford University, U.K.
Day/Date/Time: Friday, 30 January 2015, 9:30am - 12:00noon
Venue: International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) Malaysia
jointly organised by
There is in the classical Islamic tradition, a central reference to the need for a renewal, revival, and consequently, reform of our reading and understanding. Debates have often – quite legitimately – concentrated on clearly determining the abilities and limits necessary for the practice of tajdid and ijtihad. While some scholars called for the practice of ijtihad as a condition to faithfulness, others wanted to forbid it. What nevertheless remains the majority opinion is that the rereading effort (tajdid) and the tool of critical interpretation of texts (ijtihad) are indispensable means to face contemporary challenges.
The debate over the question of the renewal, revival, and reform of Islamic sciences is thus very old one among Muslim scholars. As early as the twelfth century, Abu Hamid al-Ghazali referred to the necessary “revival” (ihya’) of “religious sciences”, in a magisterial seminal work that bears just that title. Closer to our own times, in the late nineteenth century, with the Nahda and Salafiyya movements, and the critical output of Jamal ad-Din al-Afghani and Muhammad ‘Abduh, those concepts spread and became ubiquitous in contemporary discourse.
The contemporary Muslim conscience has to transform the turmoil of converging or contradictory ideas into an energy of debate, renewal, and creativity that produces faithfulness as well as serene coherence at the heart of our modern age and its challenges.
Tariq Ramadan is Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at the Oxford University (Oriental Institute, St Antony’s College) and also teaches at the Oxford Faculty of Theology. He is Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Islamic Studies, (Qatar) and the University of Malaysia Perlis; Senior Research Fellow at Doshisha University (Kyoto, Japan) and Director of the Research Centre of Islamic Legislation and Ethics (CILE) (Doha, Qatar).
He holds an MA in Philosophy and French literature and PhD in Arabic and Islamic Studies from the University of Geneva. In Cairo, Egypt he received one-on-one intensive training in classic Islamic scholarship from Al-Azhar University scholars (ijazat in seven disciplines). Through his writings and lectures Tariq has contributed to the debate on the issues of Muslims in the West and Islamic revival in the Muslim world. He is active at academic and grassroots levels lecturing extensively throughout the world on theology, ethics, social justice, ecology and interfaith as well intercultural dialogue. He is President of the European think tank: European Muslim Network (EMN) in Brussels.
He is a member of the International Union of Muslim Scholars.
Latest books: “Islam and the Arab Awakening” OUP USA (2012); “The Arab Awakening: Islam and the New Middle East” Penguin (April 2012); “The Quest for Meaning, Developing a Philosophy of Pluralism” Penguin (2010); “What I believe” OUP USA (2009); “Radical Reform, Islamic Ethics and Liberation” OUP USA (2008),« Au péril des idées » (French) with Edgar Morin, Presses du Châtelet, March 2014.
Reforming the self also means reforming one’s attitude towards the environment or nature. In fact, nature functions as both the “context” to which one must adapt with the goal of transforming, and also on a higher plane, as ‘revelation by other means’. Indeed, the Qur’an as revelation itself connects to nature, as evidenced in how God makes oath by the events of nature (“By the dawn”, “By the night”, “By the ten nights”, etc), and how the Prophet himself wept when those verses were revealed.