Islam, Reform, and the New Arab Man

Hichem Djait

in Islam in Transition: Muslim Perspectives

Published in print January 2006 | ISBN: 9780195174304
Published online November 2007 |
Islam, Reform, and the New Arab Man

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He studied at Tunisia's Sadiqi College and went to Paris to continue studies, first at the Ecole normale suprieure and then at the Sorbonne. He is agrg in history and now teaches at the University of Tunis.

Djait is among the most respected Tunisian intellectuals writing today. In this selection from 1974, he poses the eternal question of how to adapt Islamic culture to the requirements of the modern age without undermining the foundations of the faith. The answer is not to identify the indispensable givens of the traditional heritage and then to adapt aspects of the current age to those givens. Instead, one must first undertake a critique of the history of the Arabs and Muslims to understand how the Arabs find themselves in their current situation. Djait characterizes this approach as abandoning ourselves to the dynamism of history. Once this is doneand assuming that the Arabs understand that contemporary society is a rationalized systemit will be possible to separate religion from the public sphere. Such a separation will be the basis for retaining the sacred authority of Islamic scripture and its transcendental call, while ensuring the resounding affirmation of new ideas and new ways of acting. Djait does not provide any details here about how historicization will yield the results he describes, but he is convinced that the communitys collective mentality must be rationalized or even secularized if the Arabs are to succeed at renewal. The ideology toward which Djait strives is neither neutrala trait he associates with Western ideological processesnor communist, nor oriented to the Muslim past. Instead, it must be nationalized . . . acclimatized and wedded to our deep personality. Modernity, which Djait sees as universal, must be understood and integrated into the life-experiences of the Arabs without fear that it is a mere stalking horse of the West that seeks to destroy the Arab heritage. Djait thus calls for the revision of religions place in the social order, of the individuals personality, and of state-society relations.

Chapter.  2892 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture ; Islam

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