The Poverty of Fanaticism

Winter T. J. and Murad Abdal Hakim

in Islam in Transition: Muslim Perspectives

Published in print January 2006 | ISBN: 9780195174304
Published online November 2007 |
The Poverty of Fanaticism

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Born Timothy J. Winter in 1960, he studied at the prestigious Westminster School in London and later at the University of Cambridge, where he graduated with first class honors in Arabic in 1983. Lecturer at the University of Cambridge, he focuses his work on Muslim-Christian relations, Islamic ethics, and the study of the orthodox Muslim response to extremism. He is particularly known for his translations, especially his al-Ghazali series, including al-Ghazali's On Death and What Comes After and On Disciplining the Soul.

Murad laments the fact that extremists acting in the name of Islam threaten an end to the story of a religion which [sic] once surpassed all others in its capacity for tolerating debate and dissent. Though no less certain than Nasr that Muslim belief and practice are the best way to deal with the alienating pressures of everyday life, Murad calls for a self-examining accounting by all well-intentioned believers. This alone can bring about a genuine realignment of the soul, as the Qurn itself suggests in 13:11: God will not change the state of a people until they change what is in themselves. If this is not done, then what he calls Wahhabi-style activism and salafi extremism will overwhelm the true faith. Murad believes that the modality best suited to a successful self-examination is Islamic mysticism (Sufism), which is the object of much vilification by salafi extremists, who consider it a heretical innovation (bidah) that diverts one from the straight path. Murad presents the genealogy, from classical sources, for the argument that some innovations are in fact good. For example, the famous jurist, al-Shafii (d. 820) mandated or commended innovations to the believers, among which were the redaction of the Qurn, the study of Arabic grammar (the better to understand the meaning of the Qurn), the development of the science of systematic theology (kalam), and the construction of seminaries.

Chapter.  5649 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture ; Islam

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