Chapter

Question and Answer

Ahmad Hassan

in Modernist Islam, 1840-1940

Published in print September 2002 | ISBN: 9780195154672
Published online November 2007 |
 Question and Answer

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Ahmad Hassan (Singapore-Indonesia, 18881958) was a teacher, polemicist, and uncompromising modernist. He was of Tamil extraction, born in Singapore, given a basic Islamic instruction by his father, and thereafter largely self-taught. He was involved in cloth merchandising and newspaper work at Singapore, then migrated in his late thirties to Bandung in Indonesia, where he became involved with a religious study group called the PersatuanIslam (Islamic Union). He exercised a leadership role in this group, calling for fervent opposition to secular nationalism, traditionalist Islam, Christian missionary work, the Ahmadiyya movement (a heterodox sect of Islam), and the Dutch colonial regime. Ahmad Hassan held that Muslim traditionalism and the doctrine of unquestioning obedience to the old masters of religious law had allowed stagnation to stifle Islamic dynamism, and that this situation could be reversed only through open investigation of religious sources. He wrote extensively, helping to create a new Islamic literature in the Indonesian language, including a commentary on the Qur'an, several works on Muslim belief and a lengthy set of legal opinions that laid out the modernist position in Muslim practice. The works selected for translation here lay out his basic thinking regarding the traditionalist-mod-ernist debate. Along with this, three legal opinions on the Friday sermon in Malay and the position of Arabs in Indonesian society are given to provide examples of his thinking and his use of Islamic sources.1

Chapter.  3000 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture ; Islam

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