Muhammad ʿAbduh


in Islamic Studies

ISBN: 9780195390155
Published online May 2011 | | DOI:
Muhammad ʿAbduh


Muhammad ʿAbduh (b. 1849–d. 1905) was a chief reformer in the movement of Islamic reform that sprang from Egypt in the late 19th century. He engaged in reform in a time when Muslim society was in a period of stagnation and decline. A great reformer, ʿAbduh is presented in many different images. He is sometimes praised for being a humanist reformer who offered an ethical, social, and humanistic interpretation of Islam. His humanistic approach to Islamic reform was grounded on a belief that Islam is a religion that constitutes a set of moral virtues and an ethical system relevant to the construction of an idealized just society. Others portray him as a liberal reformer who offered a liberal and modern interpretation of Islam. Reformed Islam in the liberal mind is equally compatible with human reason, progress, and liberty. It strikes some readers that ʿAbduh, along with his great mentor Jamal al-Din “al-Afghani” (b. 1838–d. 1897), was nothing more than an unbeliever who manipulated the project of Islamic reform for political objectives. For some, however, ʿAbduh was neither a humanist nor a liberal reformer nor an unbeliever. In this view, he was an authentic religious reformer, chiefly driven by theological considerations. His arguments for Islamic reform were firmly grounded within the Islamic discursive tradition that allows for a critical mode of human reasoning (ijtihād), as distinguished from one opposed to unreasoned acceptance of established religious authority (taqlīd).

Article.  3774 words. 

Subjects: Islam

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