The Reinterpretation of Islam

saf A. A. Fyzee

in Islam in Transition: Muslim Perspectives

Published in print January 2006 | ISBN: 9780195174304
Published online November 2007 |
The Reinterpretation of Islam

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He was a distinguished jurist, professor of law, and former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Jammu and Kashmir as well as a former visiting professor at Cambridge University and U.C.L.A. Among his more important works are Outlines of Muhammadan Law and A Modern Approach to Islam.

Fyzee clearly champions what came to be known from the 1920s to the 1950s as Modernist Islam, which took its cues from Muhammad Abduh and Ali Abd al-Raziq. In this selection from 1962, the author warns that if modernist efforts fail, freedom, one of the greatest values of modern life, will continue to be held ransom by unreconstructed conservative advocates of rank imitationism. Fyzee distinguishes between religion and law. The former is eternal, the latter mutable. As for Islam, the shariah (holy law) is, he maintains, both law and religion. Given this, Fyzees solution to the problems Muslims have faced in recent generations is to define religion and law in terms of twentieth-century thought and interpret Islam accordingly. Thus, Fyzee urges a reconsideration of Qurn 4:34: Men are in charge of women because God hath made one of them to excel the other by describing it as purely local and applicable for the time being . . . a rule of social conduct which [sic] was restricted to conditions existing in Arabia at the time of the Prophet and no longer applicable in modern life. Fyzee finds justification for this reinterpretation in Qurn 3:7, which stresses that some verses are clear while others are ambiguous and allegorical. Fyzee avoids a sustained legal argument here for distinguishing clear from ambiguous verses, though one might suppose that he could argue for textual abrogation (al-nasikh wa al-mansukh) or public interest (al-maslahah al-mursalah).

Chapter.  3164 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture ; Islam

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