BOOK REVIEW | Remarkable and Relevant

Reading Prof. Hashim Kamali on Islam and ‘Civilizational Renewal’ vis-à-vis Contemporary Issues
BOOK REVIEW | Remarkable and Relevant
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Mohammed Hashim Kamali (b. 1944) is a prominent Islamicscholar and specialist in Islamic law and jurisprudence. Born and raised inAfghanistan, he received his Bachelor's from Kabul University (1965) and holdsMaster's and Doctorate in Comparative Law from University of London (1972 and1976). He has taught, for most of his academic career, at McGill University(Montreal, Canada) and International Islamic University (Kuala Lampur,Malaysia). He is the founding chairman and CEO of International Institute ofAdvanced Islamic Studies (IAIS), Malaysia (since 2008) and editor-in-chief ofits journal Islam and Civilizational Renewal (ICR). He is described as "one ofthe leading contemporary scholars' who has been "advocating for reform inIslamic thought and in Islamic law and legal theory, in particular, for wellover two decades" (Adis Duderija, 2014, pp. 13, 14). Having published widely onvarious aspects of Islamic legal theory, in his numerous writings he hasunequivocally expressed his views on reformation of Islamic law, and over theyears, has developed a philosophy of civilizational renewal (al-tajdidal-hadari) which is more evident in his Civilizational Renewal: Revisiting theIslam Hadhari Approach (2008). A recent addition to this thought is his Tajdid,Islah, and Civilizational Renewal in Islam (hereinafter Civilizational Renewal).

A slim book of over 50 pages, fully referenced withclassical Arabic and English sources, the basic theme of Civilizational Renewalis that "civilizational renewal is an integral part of Islamic thought" andthat looking into the origins, history, and interpretation of Tajdid, Islah,and their relationship with Ijtihad, will help in developing "tajdid-relatedformulas and guidelines" leading in "forging the objectives ofinter-civilizational harmony and their cooperation for the common good" (p. v).Divided broadly into two parts, Civilizational Renewal first looks into "ananalysis of tajdid, its definition and scope, its textual origins and theimpact of scholastic developments thereon" and then throws light on "islah inconjunction with Islamic revivalist movements, interactions and responses towestern modernity and secularism" (p. 1). This is followed by a briefdiscussion on exploring the "relevance of maqasid to islah and tajdid" and "anoverview of the Western critique and responses it has received from Muslimthinkers" (p. 1). The concluding sections "address the question as to how civilizationalrenewal (al-tajdid al-hadari) is to be understood in its Islamic context", andfinally ends with 'Conclusion and Recommendations' (p. 1).

Civilizational Renewal begins with bold statements that the"history of Islamic thought is marked by a continuous tradition of internalrevitalization and reform embedded in the principles of islah and tajdid" andit is the "tradition of islah-tajdid" which has "consistently challenged theMuslim status quo and prompted fresh interpretation of the Quran and Sunnah"(p. 1).

Throwing light on the meaning of Tajdid by classical,medieval, and contemporary scholars, Kamali defines Tajdid as "renewal andregeneration of the applications of Islam in society, returning it to the pathof Islam anew, as it was originally", with an emphasis "on the revival ofIslamic tenets and principles that have been neglected, marginalized orforgotten" (p. 7). With reference to the developments in 20th century in 'Islahand Tajdid' (pp. 13-17), and referring specifically to the views of Muhammad'Abduh, Rashid Rida, Seyyed H. Nasr, Murtaza Mutaharri, etc., Kamali defines Islahas signifying "the broader meaning of 'reconciliation', 'striving towardpeace', and 'pious action'" (p. 13).

Elaborating further the subject, within the context of 20th centurysocio-political and intellectual milieu of Muslim world, the author explainsthe link between 'Islamic Revivalism, Modernity, and Tajdid' (pp. 18-22),referring specifically to the views/ works of Muhammad Iqbal, Abd al-Mutaalal-Saidi, Fazlur Rahman, Jamal al-Din Atiyah, and Muhammad Salim al-Awa, and isfollowed by brief sections on 'The Relevance of Maqasid [al-Shari'ah]' (pp.22-23) and 'A Critique of Tajdid' (pp. 24-27), arguing that precedent-oriented tajdidmainly seeks to address new issues through ijtihad; advocacy of open-ijtihad readsscripture and rationality side by side; and tajdid-cum-globalization seeks toaddress the challenges of modernity in their own context (pp. 24-25).

He also refers to Malek Bennabi and Mutahhari regarding thesuffering of "Muslim reformist movements" (p. 25) and is followed by a sectionon 'A Plea for Theological Renewal' (pp. 27-32), wherein he refers to the viewsof Mutahhari, 'Abduh, Bennabi, and Aref Ali Nayed regarding Kalam (scholastictheology) and its role in tajdid, and argues: "A renewed kalam must be rootedin the guidance of the Qur'an and traditions of Prophet Muhammad [pbuh]"; andit should be ruled by "the practice of love, compassion, and service toward Hiscreature" (p. 31).

By this discussion, Kamali prepares ground for addressingthe question, and advocating his understanding of "the notion of civilizationalrenewal in Islam" (p. 32). For him, civilizational renewal is "broad andcomprehensive, and so is the role of tajdid therein" (p. 33), and thussummarizes the "various dimensions of civilizational renewal in Islam in itsrelationship especially with other major civilizations" (p. 34) under 7-points,and some of them are: Reciprocating with what is better (taking guidance from Q.41: 34); Recognition and advocacy of pluralism in the cultural, political, andsocio-legal components of Islamic civilization (Q. 5: 48; 49: 13); Developingbeneficial cooperation (ta'awun) and exchange with other communities andcivilizations; Enhancing and further developing the jurisprudence of minorities(fiqh al-aqaliyyat) for minority Muslims in non-Muslim majority countries,based on Q. 2: 233; Unwavering commitment to the advancement of equality,freedom, human rights, gender justice, and protection of the human dignity ofwomen; and a resolute stand and commitment to the eliminations of sectarian conflictsand taking all-round measures to make the Qur'anic vision of "the believers arebrethren" (Q. 49: 10) a reality (pp. 34-36). Here he also adds the role,contribution and achievements of IAIS and its journal ICR within the frameworkof civilizational renewal (see, pp. 36-37).

In the final section, 'Conclusion and Recommendations' (pp.37-40), Kamali argues that "the tajdid potential is a permanent feature of theUmmah" and Muslim scholarship, both in past and present, has, undoubtedly,"widened the scope of tajdid to matters outside the established text andprecedent" (p. 37). He also proposes numerous recommendations, and some of themare:

Tajdid is an important instrument for achieving renewal andsocial progress in harmony with religious principles;

Tajdid is multi-disciplinary, not an exclusively fiqhitheme, and thus it should be accorded greater recognition;

Tajdid and Islah need to expanded within the broader pictureof Islamic civilizational objectives, and not to be confined to particularitiesof any discipline; and

Tajdid in the era of globalization should be givenopportunity to acquire its international dimensions and find common solutionsto the issues faced by humanity at large (see, pp. 38-40).

In sum, Kamali's book is highly rich and relevant in itscontents, analysis, and issues highlighted, and, thus, needs seriousconsideration. Keeping in view his academic contribution and his scholarlyacumen, Kamali's Civilizational Renewal is a must-read for everyone interestedin seeking solutions, within the paradigm of civilizational renewal, to thecontemporary issues Islam is facing in the 21st century.

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