Home » Islamic Library » Islamic Sofware » Modern Political Islamic Thought
  Services
   About Us
   Site map
   Islamic Sites
   Special Occasions
   Sign My Guest Book
   View My Guest Book
   Audio Channel
   Weather (Mashhad)
   Islamic World News Sites
   Islamic Yellow Pages
   Yellow Pages (Mashhad)
   Kids
   Souvenir Album
  Search


Modern Political Islamic Thought

Book Review By
Dr Wahid Akhtar

Introduction
Modern Islamic Political Thought; Hamid Enayet, Macmillon Press Ltd., London and Basingstoke, 1982
This book is much talked about in the circles interested in the Islamic studies because of its subject. Hamid Enayet is one of the few Iranian writers known outside Iran. He was a professor of political science at Tehran University from 1971 to. 76. He had also served at Khartoum University, Sudan, and St.. Antony College, England. He lectured on modern Middle Eastern history at Oxford University. His untimely death grieved the academic circles, for he was expected to do more valuable work in the field of Islamic political thought. He is among a small coterie of scholars who are well versed in Western modes of thought and idiom with good knowledge of Arabic and Persian. His first book Sayri dar andishah ye siyasi `Arab was acclaimed as the best on. the subject all over Persian knowing world and secured him a place of eminence in the Muslim academic circles. He translated Aristotle's Politics and Hegel's Reason in History into Persian along with many other books and articles. He contributed articles to Persian papers and journals besides writing dissertations on political and ideological trends in English. He seems to have a wide circle of friends and admirers in Iran. Many letters that we received from his fans who defended him against adverse reviews published in Iranian and foreign journals showed that he enjoyed popularity among both the students and teachers. Modern Islamic Political Thought attracted much attention all over the world, for it dealt with a subject of burning interest, i.e. political thinking in the Muslim world. His relation to Iran made the book more important. This is the first book which gives an authentic account of Shi'i thought regarding politics. All the books written so far have dealt with one aspect of Islamic thought only, i.e. the majority Sunni view. The Shi'i outlook was ignored both by the Muslim and Western scholars. Hamid Enayet compared and contrasted the Shi'i views on state and politics with those of Sunnis, both in historical perspective and the contemporary situation.
The book consists of five chapters and one long introduction dealing with the relevance of the past. The first chapter, under the title "Shi'ism and Sunnism: Conflict and Concord," explains the spirit of Shi'ism and gives a separate account of Shi'i?Sunni polemics. The second chapter throws light on the controversy over the caliphate, with particular reference to Turkish caliphate. The concept of the Islamic state is discussed in the third chapter under two headings: "Muhammad Rashid Rida and fundamentalism". The fourth chapter takes into account the development and impact of the concepts of nationalism, democracy, and socialism in the Muslim world. The fifth chapter is exclusively devoted to aspects of Shi'i modernism with special reference to the movement of constitutionalism in Iran and the notions of taqiyyah and martyrdom. The discussions about the Shi'i milieu and its role in moulding special Shi'i concepts assume greater importance due to the Islamic Revolution of Iran and its influence on the contemporary Muslim world. Just a glance at the contents of the book is enough to realize its academic value.

Two Basic Factors
At the very outset it is emphasized that any attempt to understand the true nature of political thought in the contemporary Muslim world ought to take into account two basic factors: the inherent link between Islam as a comprehensive scheme for ordering human life, and politics as an indispensable instrument to secure universal compliance with the scheme. It is also indicated that in no case Muslims have had a unified and monolithic perception of their faith. The main differences centre around the issue of the caliphate, which divided Muslims into two major schools, i.e. Sunni and Shi'ah. It is rightly pointed out that Muslims, for the greater part of their history, lived under regimes which had only the most tenuous link with Islamic norms, and observed Shari'ah only to the extent that it legitimized their power in the eyes of the faithful. The author has given sufficient evidence of inseparability of religious faith and politics in Islam. Firstly, jihad is one of the basic tenets of the Muslim faith?which is wrongly translated as `holy war', for the term covers a wider range of meanings; secondly, the principle of `enjoining the good and forbidding the evil' (al? amr bi l?ma`ruf wa al?nahy `an al ­munkar) requires every Muslim to see that socio?political justice is enforced in the society. These principles not only politicized the Muslim mind, but also determined their attitude towards the rulers. The author explains the absence of independent political thought in Islamic history in the light of Muslim view which rarely treated politics in isolation from related disciplines. It is why the concept of secular state and society remained alien to the majority of Muslims, both literate and illiterate.
While giving a brief account of the basic strands of tradition, Hamid Enayet points out that, though always subsumed under some other discipline, classical Islamic thought represents a fascinating mosaic of divergent schools. The first and the most lasting controversy arose regarding the choice of the Prophet's successor. Two opposing views were presented, but it would be an oversimplification if one credits one view to be democratic and the other to be undemocratic. There is a very big question mark yet now before all Muslims as to what is the proper method of selecting a ruler, and as to what is the place of what we call democratic method today. Another related question: Can we apply modern Western criteria to medieval Muslim society? The book does not pass any judgement on any of the above­mentioned two views. The author, though a Shi'i, has remained neutral. But it may be pointed out that his attempt to confine Shi'i view to Imamah, wilayah and `ismah, and Sunni view to khilafah, ijma` and bayah leads a student of Islamic thought nowhere, it rather creates a confusion. This issue has been rightly discussed by the reviewer of the book in Jumhuri Islarni. Another point of contention is the author's description of the Khawarij as a revolutionary force in the body of Muslim polity. Accepting the fact that the Khawarij were pious people, devoted to the ideals of Islam, one should not forget that their naivity combined with the lack of political insight paved the way for the defeat of Islamic political ideals, and proved to be instrumental in inflicting the heaviest blow to Islamic democratic values by martyring `Ali (A) and indirectly strengthening the hands of unscrupulous monarchical aspirations. Thus their role was negative and retrogressive. Hamid Enayet, being a professor of political science, was expected to know the difference between a rebel and a revolutionary; while the former has no well thought out programme, the latter follows a well­ knit ideology. The Khawarij, at the most, can be described as rebels without political insight. Moreover, their piety was also misconceived, for they refused to listen to `Abd Allah ibn `Abbas' argument in favour of arbitration (tahkim), and betrayed the man whom they had accepted as their Imam. Hamid Enayet describes the Khawarij as a third force or trend in the `first four decades of Islamic history'. Apart from the ambiguity of `the first four decades of Islamic history', he seems to attach too much importance to a trend which soon died its natural death. The Mu'tazilite doctrine of tawhid, freedom and `aql is discussed by the author, but strangely the political implications of the doctrine of free will are not discussed, which are more relevant to political thought than other purely metaphysical notions. Anyhow, the author has rightly described Mu'tazilism and the movement of Ikhwan al­ Safa as intellectual catalytic agents in the politics of early Islam.

The Sunni View of the Caliphate
The most important part of the introduction concerns the development of the Sunni view of the caliphate, which he describes as `Sunni realism'. He selects three thinkers, Abu al?Hasan al?Mawardi (d. 450/1058), al?Ghazali (d. 505/1111) and Badr al?Din ibn Jama'ah (d. 732/1332) to discuss this realism. At a time when the Sunni Ghaznavids wielded the real power, and the authority of Abbasid caliph was just nominal, al?Mawardi defended the supremacy and indivisibility of the caliphate, but he justified the legitimacy of the transfer of power to rulers other than caliphs. Al?Ghazali took the next step. At a time when the caliphate had lost its credentials to confer authority on rulers, and was reduced to merely an instrument of legitimizing power acquired by force, he provided the powerful with a religious justification for gaining power by force with the condition that he ought to declare allegiance to the caliph. What was anticipated by al?Mawardi was realized by al?Ghazali. With the overthrow of the Abbasid caliphate the stage was set for further change in the attitude of Sunni theologians, and Ibn Jama'ah fully legitimized the right of military power to rule. This realism or flexibility reached a point at which maintenance of security was considered to be the only function of the state. Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 728/1328) declared that even an unjust ruler could be accepted, if the alternative was chaos. Thus, what is called `realism' ends in legitimiza­tion of unjust rule too. All the three?thinkers, al?Mawardi, al?Ghazali and Ibn Jama'ah were high functionaries at one time or another in the administration of the `Abbasids, Saljuqs and Mamluks. For their masters they had to bend the yard?stick of the caliphate to the extent of breaking it. The development or rather deterioration of the concept of the caliphate virtually separated rulership from religious obligations. Hamid Enayet calls it conservative realism at another place, which means willingness to forgo all principles for the sake of adjusting to ephemeral conditions. This flexibility was criticized by some later Sunni scholars, who wished to adhere to the Islamic ideals of social justice. This indignation was expressed in the writings of `Abd al?`Aziz al?Badri, himself a victim of official displeasure because of his fundamentalist views. H.A.R. Gibb says that `in the Sunni community there was no one universally accepted doctrine of the caliphate'. But he adds that Sunni thought `excludes the acceptance of any one theory as definitive and final. What it does lay down is a principle: that the caliphate is that form of government which safeguards the ordinances of the Shari'ah and sees that they are put into practice'. Because of this disagreement among Sunnis, the Turks could abolish the caliphate, and all opposition to the abolition proved futile. Some Arab states, particularly Saudi Arabia and Egypt, tried to acquire the status of the caliphate, but in vain. The Saudis were supported by the British empire for its own ends. As the Saudi kingdom was a creation of the imperialist interests, it could have served its cause faithfully. All such attempts to revive the caliphate were doomed to fail because of two reasons: firstly, the changing conditions rendered the caliphate redundant, and secondly, the very notion of the caliphate had been diluted so much that it had lost all religious and political relevance. In India the Khilafat Movement was not actually motivated by any genuine religious sentiment for the Turkish caliph, but was mainly directed against the British rule in India. Hamid Enayet, in the second chapter of his book, has dealt with this issue in depth. The author says that Azad was in favour of retaining the caliphate for the sake of providing spiritual leadership to the Muslim Ummah, while Iqbal agreed with Mustafa Kamal and supported his arguments for the abolition of the caliphate. Hamid Enayet is of the view that Azad reproduced Mawardi's theory with some alterations, but he was aware of the necessity of the reconstruction of Islamic thought. On the whole, Enayet's comments are well thought out. The point which he misses is the basic difference between the approaches of the two Indian thinkers. Azad was in the front rank of the nationalist leaders of the Indian freedom movement and subscribed to the secular policy of the Indian National Congress. His support for retaining the caliphate was determined by the policy of the Congress that used the issue of Khilifat as a platform for attacking the British involvement in the issue. Iqbal, on the other hand, supported the creation of a separate Muslim state in the Sub?continent, and he, like many Muslims of his times, regarded the emergence of the new Turkey as a sign of Islamic resurgence. Thus, in the context of Indian politics, the whole issue of Khilifat was confused due to extra?Islamic considerations. Similarly, the response of the Egyptian and other Arab intellectuals was different, for most of them were convinced of the fact that the caliphate had become redundant in the present context. Nevertheless, as Enayet indicates, some Arab thinkers were also guided by local or narrow national interests. The second chapter of the book brings the issue of the caliphate into focus in a broader perspective. It is obvious that the Shi'ah world, because of its different view of Islamic rulership, did not participate in the controversy.

Shi’ah Doctrine of Rulership
With reference to the Shi'ah doctrine of rulership it may be pointed out that the Shi'ah believe that the choice of the successor of the Prophet (S) does not rest in the hands of the Ummah, for God Himself selects the successors of prophets. According to them the Prophet (S) explicitly indicated his choice under the instruction of revelation that 'Ali would succeed him as the leader of Muslims. A group of the Prophet's Companions and most of his blood relations did not agree with the choice of the first caliph. But 'Ali (A) and his supporters, including 'Abbas, the Prophet's uncle, agreed to suppress their differences in order to maintain the unity of the Ummah. At the time of the choice of the second and third caliphs also, 'Ali (A) considered himself to be the most qualified candidate for the office, but he readily cooperated with all the three caliphs despite his sharp differences, particularly with regard to the appointment of governors and the distribution of bayt al?mal income. After `Ali (A) was compelled by the majority of the Muslim world to accept the caliphate, Mu'awiyah raised the issue of qisas of `Uthman and made it a powerful weapon for realizing his political ambitions. Here we do not wish to dabble in this controversy, but it was at this juncture that the Muslims were divided into two fighting factions. Both were called `shi'ah', i.e. the shi'ah of `Uthman or Mu'awiyah and the shi'ah of `Ali (A). Mu'awiyah .and `Amr ibn al?`As succeeded in dividing the supporters of 'Ali (A) into two factions at the pretext of arbitration (tahkim) by the Quran. Those who opposed arbitration separated from the ranks of `Ali's Shi'ah and were called `khawarij'. Though after the tragedy of Karbala' no Imam of the Prophet's Family contended for the caliphate, some individuals of the family of the Prophet (S) and `Ali (A) led armed revolts against the tyrannical rule of Banu Umayyah and later Banu al?`Abbas, and made unsuccessful attempts to establish the rule of God upon the earth. Imam' `All ibn Musa al?Rida (A) was declared crown prince by al?Ma'mun ibn al?Rashid, but was poisoned later. The Imams of the family of the Prophet (S) remained content with their work of developing Islamic sciences and providing spiritual guidance to Muslims, and did not consider time to be opportune for establishing a truly Islamic state. Nevertheless, they were imprisoned and poisoned by the ruling families, which was an indication that they were regarded as potential threat to monarchies, as they were considered to be more qualified claimants to leadership. The common belief that the Imams were indifferent to politics is not true. Had they been neutral, what was the reason for being afraid of them? The Shi'ah in general followed the footsteps of their Imams (A); they opposed unjust rule but supported the just rulers, and even cooperated with those whom they disliked when the cause of Islam was threatened by external forces. Enayet, with reference to al?Shaykh al?Tusi (d. 460/1068) and al?Shaykh al?Mufid (337?413/949?1022) and Ibn Idris (d. 598/1202), writes that they recommended paying of allegiance to righteous rulers (al?sultan al?haqq al?`adil) irrespective of their own allegiance to any school of Islamic faith. Practically the Shi'ah also took into consideration political exigencies of the times, but they did not make any attempt to legitimize exigencies. It is only in this sense that the Sunnis showed greater flexibility and displayed a sense of political realism as compared to the Shi'ah. Most of other generalizations made by Enayet are controvertible.

At the end of the introduction, the author says that the present Islamic resurgence, Sunni as well as Shi`i; is focused on four themes: breaking the spell of the sanctity of status quo; rejecting the corrupting realism of medieval writers; historical criticism; and salvaging the democratic and socialistic elements of the past. Of course, many eyebrows would rise at the mention of the term `socialistic', but as Enayet has discussed socialistic elements of Islamic teachings in the fourth chapter of his book, we should not be afraid of using it. Mutahhari and some other modern but orthodox thinkers maintain that all attempts of reconciliation between Islam and socialism are futile and deviate from true Islam. And this claim is not unjustified, for the craze of incorporating new terminology in the body of any older philosophy is often an exercise in futility. However, the values cherished by modern philosophies of democracy and socialism were introduced and implemented by true Muslims many centuries before these movements came into vogue.

Shi’ism and Sunnis: Conflict and Concord
"Shi'ism and Sunnism: Conflict and Concord" is a topic of both historical and ideological interest. Enayet gives a brief but comprehen­sive account of the development of the two sects in an objective manner. So far as the origin of Shi'ism is concerned, Enayet has referred to the view of Montgomery Watt, who holds that early Shi`is came mostly from south Arabian tribes among whom kings were treated as semi?gods. Here lies the mischief of the famous Orientalist, and it is a matter of regret that Enayet, acquainted with Shi'i faith and its origin, has quoted him without any critical remark. What M. Watt and likes of him impose upon Muslim scholars are their mental fabrica­tions, knowing that whatever they utter would be accepted by many intellectually backward Easterners. Watt wants to establish a relationship between Shi'i belief in the infallible Imams and `semi?divine kings.' On the other hand Louis Massignon traces back the origin of the Shi'ah faith in the aspirations of middle class artisans, and this sociological treatment finds more emphatic expression in the Marxist analysis of the Shi'ah faith. A Russian history of the world advances the view that the supporters of `Ali and al?Husayn (A) belonged to the class of landless soldiers camped at Kufah and Basrah cantonments. Even if the latter interpretation may hold some ground, the former, i.e. Watt's view,. is totally baseless. Shi`ism's origin can be traced back to the teachings of the Quran and the life of the Prophet (S). As said earlier, in the beginning there were not two different versions of Islam but only one. Both the Shi'ah and the Sunnis trace back their origin to the Quran and the teachings of the Prophet (S). Why some Muslims took the side of 'Ali (A) against Mu'awiyah, apart from sociological reasons, can be explained only in the terms of Islamic teachings. The majority of Muslims, who were later identified as Ahl al?Sunnah wa al?Jama'ah, owed their allegiance to 'Ali (A),. who was unanimously elected caliph after, `Uthman. The later differences have their origin in the interpretation and implementation of the tenets of the faith, which had, of course, socio?political implications too. Enayet is justified in suggesting that the distinguishing features of Shi`ism, in relation to Sunnism, should be sought mainly in its ethos. I would like to suggest that the fundamental principles of Shi'ism are the same as those of Sunnism. Emphasis on `ismah, wilayah and Imamah on the one hand, and on ijma` on the other is only of secondary importance. With this difference in emphasis emerged a unique ethos under the influence of socio?politico?cultural factors that distinguished Shi'ism from Sunnism. This ethos is grounded in the remembrance of the martyrdom of al-­Imam al?Husayn (A). The author, in the second and the last chapter, has rightly given due importance to it. But his conjecture that Shi'ism nurses a particular emotionalism is a bit exaggerated, for he contends that it issues from the peculiar Shi'i philosophy of Imamate. His assessment of Shi'i emotional attitude on the basis of elegia (marthiyyah) is also one?sided. He has ignored other aspects of Shi'i literature, particularly poetry, which is rich in a deep sense of commitment to Islamic and human values of justice, selflessness, sacrifice, and love of truth. These values of literature cannot be called eulogizing of suffering and asceticism, as Enayet has called them. He knows fully the significance of marthiyyah literature, but fails to appreciate its real value. Some of his observations regarding the Shi'i ethos are also subject to question; that, for instance, it is an attitude of mind that refuses to admit that majority opinion is necessarily true or right; or that the Shi'ah are usually concerned with personalities. Both these observations are incorrect. The belief in infallibility of the Imams in no way can be explained in this way, for the Shi'ah faith also holds that prophets are equally infallible. They argue that a person prone to errors of judgement and sin cannot lead people spiritually. The Mu'tazilites, known for their strict adherence to the dictates of reason, accepted the Shi'i belief in Imamate without questioning its much propagated `irrationality'. They rather advanced arguments in its favour. The statement that the Shi'i faith in the infallibility of the Imams is a perfect safeguard against the majority view is equally wrong. Here the concern is not for personalities, but for certain fundamental principles and facts. Enayet's claim that the Shi'ah attitude is determined by `persons' is a distortion of facts. Similarly the statement that the Shi`ah usually abstained from politics is historically wrong, for the basic difference between the majority view and the Shi'i view originated in socio?political attitudes and issues. Moreover, it amounts to claiming that the Shi'ah had no interest in political affairs, which is denying the truth. Basically, the Shi'i?Sunni difference is political, not religious in essence. The Shi'ah tried to uphold the values and norms of social and political life in strict adherence to the teachings of Islam. The author has quoted the criticism of Ibn Taymiyyah and al?Amini without their critical evaluation. He himself has tried to discover some similarity between the Shi'i practice of taqiyyah and esoterism, which is again an over?simplification. The esoteric attitude is purely spiritual, while taqiyyah is an attitude determined by socio?political conditions. During the later centuries this practice has proved to be more harmful than useful for the Shi'ah themselves. So far as the justification of taqiyyah is concerned, Amini, who levels many an objection against Shi'i practices, accepts the validity of taqiyyah, and even admits that the Sunnis also followed it to some extent, for it is an expedient method to ensure the survival of a faith under hostile regimes. In the last chapter, Enayet deals with it separately. Sunni scholars have been critical of this notion and its practice, but actually it does not in any way affect the cause of Muslim unity; it is rather instrumental in acquiring it. In the modern Shi'i thought, the practice of taqiyyah has been critically examined. Taqiyyah comes from the root `waqa' in Arabic, which means `to shield' or `to guard' oneself, the same root from which the important word taqwa (piety, or fear of God) is also derived. In English it may be translated as `dissimulation' or `expedient concealment'. All forms of concealment are not permissible in the Shi'i faith, but only four under particular conditions: (1) the enforced (ikrahiyyah), under an oppressor; (2) precautionary or apprehensive (khawfiyyah), related to performing acts and rituals according to fatwa's of Sunni theologians; (3) arcane (kitmaniyyah), concealment of faith and number and strength of one's co?religionists in times of weakness; (4) symbiotic (mudaratiyyah), participation in the social and religious functions of the majority community for strengthening Islamic unity.
Hamid Enayet holds that in recent times there is an obvious attempt at bridging the gap between the Shi'ah and the Sunnis. He has surveyed a number of tendencies that have helped to attain the end of unity. In the new Shi'i books the role of the first three caliphs has been re?evaluated. Abu Bakr and `Umar have been separated from the third caliph `Uthman. The tone of criticizing the first two caliphs is less harsh than in the case of `Uthman. Enayet has referred to many modern Arabic and Persian books in this context, but I would like to refer to a controversy with regard to the caliphate of the Banu Umayyah initiated by a book Khilafat e Mu'awiyah wa Yazid, written by a fanatic Sunni Pakistani scholar, Mahmud `Abbasi, in which he inadvertently made baseless allegations against 'Ali (A) and al?Husayn (A), quoting extensively from early sources. However, in most of the cases the quotations were taken and used out of the context with an ulterior motive. I do not consider any Shi`i work in refutation of this book worth mentioning. Yet the two most convincing rebuttals came from Sunnis, one was written by the founder?leader?ideologue of the Jama'at?e
Islami, Abu al?'A`la Mawdudi, under the title Khilafat wa mulukiyyat, and the other was written by the famous scholar of Urdu and man of encyclopaedic works, Niyaz Fatehpuri. It would not be inapt to mention that these two critics of the above?mentioned book held the third caliph responsible for the emergence of the monarchical rule of the Banu Umayyah. Enayet has referred to such critical appraisal of Islamic history by Arab Sunni scholars also, which paved the way for a better intersectarian understanding. The works of Taha Husayn and `Umar Abu al?Nasr, Sunni Arab scholars, showed the same critical re?evaluation of the rule of the first four caliphs. Rewriting of Islamic history from a truly objective, unbiased viewpoint has been instrumental in bringing the two communities closer to each other. Modern Shi`ah historians have conceded that despite the questionable mode of the election of the first two caliphs, their political integrity could not be doubted. The Shi'ah have reshaped their arguments in support of extolling `Ali (A) and his descendants with emphasis on their human, down?to?earth qualities. Both the sects, or more appropriately, schools, as called by some modern writers, are trying to play down their mutual differences and highlighting the points of agreement. For this trend of rewriting history, Enayet has used the term of historical revisionism, which is not a proper term to express the content carried by it. Another important departure from the past was marked by acceptance of the principle of ijtihad by Sunni scholars, particularly by Jamal al?Din Asadabadi, `Abduh, and Iqbal. The Sunnis accepted ijtihad as an important source of legislation, but they had practically blocked the road for any original thinking on the matters of reframing the laws in accordance with changing times. The Shi'ah, with their emphasis on `aql, kept the door of new thinking on legislation open, and they gave much scope to reason for exercising its power. In recent times, the Shi'i view of ijtihad has found many defenders and champions among Sunni theologians. Similarly the notion of ijma` (consensus), which was emphasized much by the Sunnis and was given only a very minor role to play in legislation by the Shi'ah, came to be accepted as the basis of democratization by Shi'ah scholars. Thus, theoretically the scope of agreement was broadened and differences were minimized. Under the leadership of Shaykh Mahmud Shaltut of al?'Azhar University was established an organization to promote unity among Shi`ah and Sunnis, As a first step towards attaining it the Ja'fari school of fiqh was included in the curriculum of al?'Azhar. Authorizing instruction in Shi'ah jurisprudence meant the recognition of Shi'ism on an equal footing with the four orthodox Sunni schools of fiqh. The fatwa of Shaykh Mahmud Shaltut was published (in 1959) under the title "Islam: the religion of unity," and it was prefaced by two arguments: the historical argument reminded about mutual respect and tolerance between different legal schools of Sunnis as well as the Shi`i school; the pragmatic argument emphasized the harmful practical effects of blind prejudice against one another among Muslim schools of fiqh. It was argued that the spirit of ijtihad, which could help in promoting unity and was meant to generate a feeling of mutual respect, and encouraged plurality, degenerated into antagonism, and new avenues of free dialogue were shut down. Shaltut holds that all schools of fiqh should be ready to accept from one another any idea which conforms to Islamic principles, and can together ensure the welfare of family and society. By way of example he mentions his own fatwa in favour of the Shi'i rejection of the validity of suspended divorce and divorce by triple repudiation in one sitting. In another fatwa he confirmed the validity of worship according to the Imamiyyah Shi`i doctrine. The old authentic Shi'i classics of fiqh and tafsir were published under the auspices of al­'Azhar. The post?revolutionary Iran launched a concerted movement of Islamic unity supported by a fatwa of Imam Khumayni, which permitted the Shi'ah to offer prayers behind a Sunni imam, for the sake of expressing solidarity with all the Muslims. Enayet has referred to this fatwa. These and other moves towards attaining the goal of Islamic unity have paved the way for new creative thinking with immense possibilities to meet the political and social requirements of the modern age. In this respect, the radically new but truly Islamic concept of ijtihad can be applied to the current issues, and be made more relevant to contemporary Muslim politics.

Akhbari and Usuli Controversy
It is but natural that while discussing modernism in the Shi'ah school the author has given a detailed account of the developments that took place in Iran during the last few centuries, with particular reference to the Usuli?Akhbae controversy, which resulted in the ultimate victory of rationalism and decided the role of the `ulama' in socio?political affairs. Enayet himself has indicated that it would be wrong to construe that all Akhbari `ulama' were politically reactionary and all Usuli `ulama' were progressive. He has also referred to the view that held that this controversy was mainly directed towards establishing the ‘Ulama' as de facto regents of the Imam (A.F.) in social and political affairs. Here it would be unnecessary to go into the details of this interpretation, which obviously seems to be hostile towards Usuli `ulama'. A reviewer's objection that Enayet failed to grasp this point is unfounded.
Enayet has rightly emphasized the significance of the Shi`i notions of taqiyyah and martyrdom. Taqiyyah, as he has pointed out, was not liked even by Shi'i thinkers of our age. Enayet's reference to the Islamic Revolution of Iran is passing. He refers to Murtada Mutahhari and Shari'ati as `semi?revisionist' thinkers, despite acknowledging his indebtedness to Mutahhari for writing the present book. In my humble view such terms and categories should be applied to Muslim thinkers with utmost caution, or rather must be avoided, for they lead to half ­baked, misconceived judgements. What is strange is the fact that the author has avoided expressing any view on the leadership and ideology of the present Iranian Revolution. He seems to be over?cautious, and thus betrays his fear of being dubbed a fundamentalist or a fanatic by the so?called westernized critics in case he fully supports the Iranian conception of revolution.
In order to have a closer look at the content of the book, it would be appropriate to give a critical account of some of the reviews on the book.

A Review of the Reviews
I hereby give a resume of the main points of criticism contained in Muhammad Surush's review in Persian, published in the fortnightly `Sahifah' of the daily `Jumhurt Islami'. This review is based on the Persian translation of Hamid Enayet's book by Baha' al?Din Khurramshahi.

A. Islamic Beliefs (`aqa'id) and Laws (ahkam):
(1) The author has confused usul al?`aqa'id (fundamental doctrines of faith) with furu` (subsidiary rules). He says that the five pillars of the faith are: prayer, fasting, alms?giving (zakat), pilgrimage to Ka'bah (Hajj), and al?shahadatan (tawhid and nubuwwah). (2)Islam, in the author's words, does not frame an integrated legal system. This shows his ignorance of the comprehensiveness of the Islamic Law. (3) In the author's view woman's position is made vulnerable in Islam mainly because of the law of inheritance which favours men. The author does not take into consideration greater financial responsibility of men in managing family affairs, and also ignores the fact that husband has no right over wife's earnings, while wife has a rightful share in husband's earnings and property. In defence of Hamid Enayet it can be pointed out that all these three objections arose because of reading the author's remarks out of the context. He did not refer to usul or furu`, he just mentioned the five `pillars' of Islam. The second point under criticism is with reference to a misconception, to which the author does not subscribe. (4) Without any reference to authentic sources, he claims that the Sunnis believe that the Prophet (S) said that his followers were more well?informed in the worldly affairs than himself.

   1 2 Next »»  

Copyright © 1998 - 2014 Imam Reza (A.S.) Network, All rights reserved.