Recovering God's Intent in the Modern Age

 
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| What is Islamic modernism, and how did authors of this movement position themselves vis-á-vis other 19th century intellectual movements? In this episode, we examine how Islamic modernism was more than a product of 19th century social and political reforms or even an attempt at using Islamic language to justify such reforms. Rather, Islamic modernism was a substantive theological reform movement, fueled by the belief that God's intent could be recovered through correct and contextual readings of the past. As a result, Islamic modernists helped give rise not only to new understandings of Islam but also to new understandings of history. In our discussion, we draw on Dr. Ringer's book Islamic Modernism and the Re-enchantment of the Sacred in the Age of History out from Edinburgh University Press in 2020. In it, she takes up the work of four authors from across Eurasia: Namık Kemal from the Ottoman Empire, Ataullah Bayezidof from the Russian Empire, Syed Amir Ali from British India, and Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, who spent his formative years in Iran. Although they shared a religion, it was much more Islam that tied their ideas together.
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