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Late Nineteenth-Century Islamic Reform Movements:

The Transformation of al-Azhar University

Carissa Flint

on 12 December 2012

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Transcript of Late Nineteenth-Century Islamic Reform Movements:

Late Nineteenth-Century Reform Movements:
The Transformation of al-Azhar University

Carissa Flint Why Reform Now? Modernism and industrialization were becoming powerful forces in European culture

Oppositely, Muslims were in a state of dormancy and were susceptible to being colonized

Two Muslims intellectuals- Sayyid Jamal al-Din al-Afghani and Muhammad Abduh felt that Islam had the potential to successfully function in a modern world, if sweeping reforms were embraced Al-Azhar University Reforms Is this Relevant? Many prominent Muslims reformers, past and present, often cite both al-Afghani and Abduh as influential in their own attempts to revive Islam to a relevant state

Protesters of the Arab Spring are calling for reforms that are similar in nature to the secular reforms of the 19th-century

Even the most conservative Muslims adopted al-Afghani and Abduh's progressive reforms;
Time will tell if activists throughout the Muslim world will be successful in their renewal efforts Incorporation of secular subjects such as philosophy, science, and literature into curriculum

Annual examinations

Establishment of an on-site hospital devoted to research (Even Darwin's works were taught) Lack of Forward-Thinking Leadership The bold idea that, "...Islamic tradition conceptualizes human history as a continuum of renewal, revival, and reform..." was being disregarded by many Muslims fundamentalists, who were also the most powerful religious leaders at the time Source: Karen Armstrong Questions al-Afghani and Abduh Sought to Answer How could a faithful Muslim live in a modern socio-political environment without losing his or her identity as a Muslim?

Does Islam accomodate science and philosophy?

Were modern political institutions such as democracy, elections, and parliament accepted by Islam?

Could they replace the traditional institutions of "shura" (consultation) and the authority of the elite ulama? Source: Nasr Abu Zayd al-Afghani Regarded as the founder of both the Pan-Islamism movement and modern Islam

Began mentoring Abduh in 1871 in Paris

Blamed Islam's devastating state due to Muslims who had lost their "philosophic spirit" and yielded to the Europeans who were in "accord with science"

Emphasized that science is the source of all reason and success, as it knows no religious boundaries Source: Nikki Keddie Abduh Regarded as one of the most liberal, humanist reformers of the Arab world

His Egyptian nationalism and status as Grand Mufti were primary factors in his attempt to reform the nation's exclusive university The Theology of Unity is his most famous work and the chapter on "Islam, Reason and Civilization" summarizes his reforms Served as the first advisor to Egypt's Higher Council for the Department of Education, which was created to ensure educational reforms were maintained
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