Differences in Approaching History Between Reform Oriented and Traditionalist Muslims

Contemporary rifts between reform oriented and traditionalist Muslims might be traced back to differences in their respective philosophies on the progress of history. By first examining the three most prominent enlightenment philosophies of history, which share much in common, and then contrasting them with pre-modern philosophies of history, I will lead us to the possible formulation of an Islamic philosophy of history.  Continue reading Differences in Approaching History Between Reform Oriented and Traditionalist Muslims

Quranic Soundscapes: Bonding Beyond the Meanings

God has arranged the human heart like a fiery stone: its warmth inspires the soul to a new state. Its aesthetic world of sublime inner echoes is called the world of consciousness. The recitation of the Holy Qur’an touches the hearts of its readers in this way. The wonderful supernatural power of the Qur’an is that it removes the worries of the mind and gives comfort to the soul. The Qur’an affects human life through more than its textual meanings. In this article, I refute arguments that discourage reciting the Quran without knowing its meaning. Continue reading Quranic Soundscapes: Bonding Beyond the Meanings

Reclaiming the Question

You wake up one day to find yourself in an ornate and decorated room. You have no recollection of who you are or how you got there. From the moment you are conscious, you are beset by a relentless curiosity: Who am I? Why am I here? You are attempting to make sense of the situation that you find yourself in. The aim of this metaphor is to illustrate an elemental fact: as humans, we find ourselves in an existential situation. We find ourselves participating in a reality – the cosmos – that is not our own making. We are, as Martin Heidegger put it, thrown into the world. As such, we are essentially constituted by a dynamic consciousness that is driven towards meaning in order to obtain insight into reality and its ultimate grounds. The search for ultimate grounds emerges because as humans, although we have a number of concerns (e.g., familial, financial, political, etc.), our ultimate concern is, and ought-to be, our existential situation that is embodied in two questions: where-from? And, where-to? Continue reading Reclaiming the Question

Logic as a Tool for Adab

There is something quite bizarre about walking into an Islamic studies lecture to hear figures of the past defined in modern terms. With ease, the figure of Rābi’ah al-’Adawiyyah is described not just as a Ṣūfī but someone who “emphasise[s] the autonomy and capacity to remain free of any male authority”; this definition is then over time translated to “a brave woman who fought against patriarchy and oppression from institutionalised orthodoxy” (a phrase I heard in a Harvard class). [1] Intuitively, one might feel a discomfort at hearing the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ described as a “feminist” simply because Islām’s denouncement of Jahili practices came to raise the status of women. Continue reading Logic as a Tool for Adab

Ramadan: Beyond the Nafs, Towards the Lord

The reduction of Islamic practices to an incentive of material or individualist well-being is in effect a liberal remaking of Islam. In essence fasting cultivates a self that is conscious of the truth: that we do not have the right to food, water, and sex when Allah decrees such. The feeling of hunger and thirst, and the inability to do away with them despite having the means to, is meant to reinforce within our souls the recognition of Allah’s ultimate power. Continue reading Ramadan: Beyond the Nafs, Towards the Lord

Scriptural Reasoning: Healing the Divide Between the Self and the Other

The purpose of this piece is to bring attention to the field of scriptural reasoning which, among other approaches, proposes the use of logic of relations and a constructive-critical engagement with the Other. These approaches help curb the colonial instinct, or what has been identified as the subsuming nature of the Western philosophical thought, that stems from Enlightenment prejudices. The healing nature of these approaches can lead to possibilities of mediation and peaceful coexistence in the contemporary world order and the interaction between Islam and the West. It will help understand the needs of both the Other and the Self without delegitimizing or oppressing either one, because upon losing sight of the aim of peaceful coexistence one is bound to fall into the colonial instinct — as is the case with Enlightenment reasoning. Continue reading Scriptural Reasoning: Healing the Divide Between the Self and the Other