<i>Ijtihad</i> and <i>Taqlid</i>

Syekh Ahmad Surkati

in Modernist Islam, 1840-1940

Published in print September 2002 | ISBN: 9780195154672
Published online November 2007 |
 Ijtihad and Taqlid

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Syekh Ahmad Surkati (Sudan-Java, 18721943) was an educator, intellectual, and businessman. Originally from a pious family in the Sudan, he received a traditional Muslim education in Egypt and then studied extensively in Medina and Mecca; later he received a diploma from an institution in Istanbul. He lived in Malaya and Sumatra before being summoned to teach at the Arab Benevolent Society's school in Jakarta at the age of thirty-four. Later he was a leader of the Union for Reformation and Guidance, generally known as al-Irsyad, which promoted modernist Muslim teachings in the schools that it founded. Surkati's writings on Islam are reflective of those of Muhammad Abduh (chapter 3), and his work was highly regarded among the Muslim modernist community in Java of his day. Not being a sayyid (descendant of the Prophet), he was at odds with the sayyid-domi-nated Arab population that dominated the Arab community in Southeast Asia. Some of his writing concentrated on the equality found in Islam and the lack of religious justification for special status for those from the Prophet's Quraysh tribe, or for those descended from the Prophet. He was especially attacked by sayyids and Qurayshis, who regarded him as an upstart with poor breeding. Perhaps in defense, Surkati made far more use of Qur'anic verses in justifying his arguments than did other Southeast Asian modernists of the period. The work chosen here for translation centers on the essential difference between traditionalists and modernists in their examination of religious sources.1

Chapter.  5035 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture ; Islam

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