Contemporary Islam and the challenge of history by Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad

By Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad

The financial, social, political, army, and highbrow facets of the Muslims' predicament for historical past exhibit the overall constitution in their conception of reality.

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Contemporary Islam and the challenge of history

The industrial, social, political, army, and highbrow elements of the Muslims' quandary for historical past show the overall constitution in their conception of fact.

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Government in our countries is not for Islam. The opposition in our countries is not from Islam. Our rulers talk as Americans or Russians, as Westerners or Easterners or something else, this or that, but it does not proceed from Islam. The opposition to the rulers talk in a similar language as that of the rulers, they are as the rulers warring against Islam, distant from it or ignoring it. Where, where is Islam in our lives? 1 Written on January 11, 1977, this statement articulates the question that has challenged and haunted Muslims in a very direct way during this century.

The absence of either of these elements invalidates the postulates of history. 2 This dual recognition in which past and present, recognition and action, combine into a creative whole is part of both the individual and the communal understanding. Thus for modern Muslims the past, the tradition, is crucial to the working out of the present. One of the tasks of this study is to attempt to present the ways in which the particular political and social events of the twentieth century have been radically determined by the understanding of the Islamic heritage from its beginning.

This genre of writing has continued to be the dominant form of Muslim writing in this century, and is characterized by the grave concern that Islam is in particular danger because of the divisive attempts of foreigners who in their attacks on the faith aim to put a deeper wedge between Islam and Muslims. Orientalist investigation of Muslim religious literature has been viewed with particular suspicion because it does not take seriously Islamic claims to the faith. Not only have the Orientalists delved into the study of hadith*, finding that a substantial amount of it is fabricated, but they have claimed that the shari'a* was influenced by other religions and/or Roman law.

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