Chapter

Laws Should Change in Accordance with the Conditions of Nations <i>and</i> The Theology of Unity

Muhammad Abduh

in Modernist Islam, 1840-1940

Published in print September 2002 | ISBN: 9780195154672
Published online November 2007 |
 Laws Should Change in Accordance with the Conditions of Nations and The Theology of Unity

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Muhammad Abduh (Egypt, 18491905) was, along with his mentor Sayyid Jamal al-Din al-Afghani (see chapter 11), the most prominent figure of modernist Islam. Born to a peasant family of modest means in the Egyptian Delta, he received a traditional Islamic education in his hometown, then continued his education at the celebrated al-Azhar seminary. During Afghani's sojourn in Egypt (18711879), Abduh became closely associated with him and his reformist ideas. In 1882, Abduh was exiled to Beirut for his association with the Urabi revolt. In 1884, he joined Afghani in Paris, where they produced the famed journal al-Urwa al-wuthqa (The Strongest Link), which agitated against imperialism and called for Islamic reform and unity. Abduh returned to Beirut, where he taught for several years before being pardoned by the Egyptian ruler. Returning to Egypt, he served as a judge and then as Egypt's leading religious official, al-Azhar administrative board member, and Egypt's Legislative Council member. Abduh devised programs for the reform of the educational system, the Arabic language, and the education of girls, and labored to introduce reforms in al-Azhar, the religious endowment administration, and the court system. Abduh's influence extended beyond Egypt, inspiring reformists throughout the Islamic world. The first piece presented here makes a case for legal reform; the second piece highlights the role of reason in understanding religion and the sharia. Through a return to the fundamental sources of Islam, Abduh hoped to liberate the Muslim mind from traditional patterns of stagnation, enabling Muslims to address the requirements of modernity.1

Chapter.  8993 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture ; Islam

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