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A Key Muslim Thinker of the 21st Century pdf download

  • Book Title:
 A Key Muslim Thinker Of The 21st Century
  • Book Author:
Rāshid al-Ghannūshi̇̄
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 It briefly introduces some of the key developments that Tunisia witnessed through an examination of Postcolonial State formation. It is argued that Bourguiba’s policies had a tremendous impact on the Tunisian society especially when viewed in the context of the emergence of Islamic Movement, officially founded by Rāshid al-Ghannūshˉi in 1981. Readers in this chapter can also find a concise and comparative discussion and idea advanced by some of the leading scholars on the issue of Modernism. This survey has been incorporated for the reason that most of the contemporary Muslim thinkers, including Ghannūshˉi, endeavor to reconcile Faith with the modern global norms with an aim to reform the society. This section also covers a literature survey which helps to delineate the significance of the work.

On 20 March 1956, Tunisia gained independence after remaining for more than seventy years under the occupation of France.1 The twentieth-century Tunisia opens up with one eminent personality, Habib Bourguiba, the leader and forerunner of the independence movement. Even after independence, he continued to lead the country for a period of more than thirty years (1956–1987). After assuming the office of the to concoct the policies required to lead the country toward modernization, progress, and development—the very design his French education had taught him. In the words of Esposito, these values were “pro-Western and secular”2 and in such a course of action, Bourguiba sided entirely with USA and France.

In the post-independent Tunisia, Bourguiba entirely shifted his attention from “political activism” to “social activism.” While doing so, he replaced the country’s long cherished and enchanted Islamic culture and tradition by the Western one. Highly sentient of the conservative traditions of the majority of Tunisian population, he frequently invoked that he has no intention at all of attacking Islam per se. Rather, what is required is the reorientation and re-assessment of different Islamic institutions according to the changing circumstances, that is in itself inevitable for the society to advance.

The post-independent Tunisia witnessed a complete change; French substituted Arabic as the official language of the State, the language of higher education, and the language of elite society.3 Bourguiba cut short, slowly but steadily, the authority of the Islamic teachings in the society through a broader implementation of new policies aimed to hasten the emergence of a westernized state. For him, many of the Islamic institutions were the prime impediments in the way heading toward progress and development. Very shortly, he enacted the Personal Status Code (CPS) that proscribed many of the paramount practices of Islam such as polygamy and divorce.4 Esposito and Voll have captioned beautifully the pro-Western policy of Bourguiba in these lines:

Even more symbolic of Bourguiba’s approach to the religion and modernization [social activism] and his whole hearted acceptance of Western values were the abolition of Shariah courts, the ban on the wearing of the hijab (headscarf) by women, and his attempt to get workers to ignore the fast of Ramadan. Drinking a glass of orange juice on national television during the fast of Ramadan and thus publicly violating Islamic law, Bourguiba criticized the deleterious effects of fasting during daylight hours and urged Muslims not to observe the fast, which he claimed affected productivity and economic development. The Zaytouna, a famed center of Islamic learning in North Africa and the Muslim world was closed [by merging it with the Tunis University]. The ulama were debilitated, rather than, as occurred in many Muslim countries, coopted by the government. For Bourguiba, Islam [more than thirteen hundred years of traditional legacy] represented the past, and the West Tunisia’s only hope for a modern future

Bourguiba’s rigorous assault on various Islamic institutions, coupled with other policies (mainly related to economy), created a volatile situation in every nook and corner of the country. All these factors when weighed together lend a helping hand in paving the path conducive to the emergence of an Islamic Movement.

It is only because of the policies adopted by the President that buoyed some of the experts to have ample confidence in saying that: “Historically the most open and Mediterranean of the Arab countries, Tunisia is an improbable site for an Islamist upsurge.”6 There were other experts also, who firmly persuaded that the region of North Africa in general and Tunisia in particular with its strong “Western secular orientation” would have least rather no impact of the contemporary Islamic revivalist phenomena.

However, the birth of Ḥizb alNahḍah formerly Ḥarkah alIttijah alIslāmiˉ proved the latter speculation as hoax. More importantly, the main role in the emergence, development, and shaping of the discourse of alNahḍah was played by none other than Shaykh Rāshid al-Ghannūshˉi . Being “modern-moderate,” but famous Muslim thinker, his life and thought were shaped by a variety of complex motivations and experiences.

Objectives of the book

In the contemporary times, Rāshid al-GhannūshˉI is believed to be an eminent and distinguished Muslim thinker and activist not only in Tunisia or North Africa but also in the whole Muslim world. He is also viewed as the most moderate among the Muslim thinkers and intellec- tuals when it particularly comes to the question of Islam-Democracy compatibility. Keeping in view, the global repute of this living Muslim thinker, the book is devoted to explore and understand different dynamic facets of the life of Rāshid al-Ghannūshˉi , especially the one related to his intellectual understanding and response to some critical contemporary issues. Thus, in a way the work will bring forth an account of a previously little known yet much talked about Muslim intellectual voice in the post-Arab Spring era.

It also attempts to illuminate that how the Muslim thinkers’ own perspectives and expectations from Islamic Movement(s) and their interaction with the “western oriented local leadership” and their (secular) policies color their understanding about Islam and the various major issues.

It is because of these reasons that these Muslim identities understand and propagate Islam in various complex albeit differing ways. The chief aim of the book, thus (in addition to study different biograph- ical phases of Rāshid al-Ghannūshˉi), is to open up our comprehension about his intellectual development, precision, and response to the various challenges. From issues about Islam–West relationship and human rights to Islam-Democracy compatibility or incompatibility and pluralism, the book explores the powerful narrative and idea of this famous contemporary Tunisian Muslim thinker. This is discussed and described mostly in the context of Ghannūsh.

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