From our archive - At the end of the day, we find ourselves, again, in a familiar position. Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd held a moral high ground and commanded respect from most scholars, but was prevented from being heard by those who needed to learn from him. The artificial polarisation and tension around him prevented even serious criticism from those who could assess his work with expertise. The motives alleged to justify his ordeal will always sound ridiculous. (This article was published on Reset-DoC in August, 2010)
Philosophy and Religion
By Giancarlo BosettiArkoun possessed a rhetorical passion capable of enchanting his listeners. He powerfully laid claim to the internal resources of a tradition he never ceased to belong to, such as the Muslim and Arab humanism of the golden age of Islam (12th century) that could have flourished and produces its own Enlightenment in the sciences, the arts and critical thought, if it had not been destroyed at birth by political circumstances.
By Nicola MissagliaJurist and Nobel Prize winner Ebadi took the lead in sponsoring an International Women’s Day in Iran, as well as a series of protest events against Iranian family law. In addition to having published numerous books, among them, Iran Awakening, A Memoir of Revolution and Hope (Milan 2006), as well as The Golden Cage, Three Brothers, Three Choices, One Destiny (Milan 2008), Ebadi founded the Defenders of Human Rights Centre in Iran and the Society for Protecting the Child's Rights. These two organizations are NGOs for the defence of human rights, which focus on strengthening the legal status of women and children in Iran.
From Reset-DoC's Archive - «Is it possible to grasp the ‘objective’ historical meaning of a text? Or is the process of textual understanding intrinsically connected with the role of the interpreter? This is the core question of hermeneutics. And it is precisely this question which – in different formulations – permeates the Arabic-Islamic tradition, ever since the beginning of Qur’anic interpretation and of ta’wil. Thus, the guiding question of the Mu’tazilites was: Is it possible to understand the divine meaning of the Qur’an without having a pre-understanding of justice or the unity of God? If we approach the Qur’anic text starting from the presumption of its divine nature but without having an intelligible pre-understanding of divine truth, how can we know that this text is not a lie or falsehood??» Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd
What was his offense? He had not directly rebelled against or attacked the government. But he did something much more far-reaching: he claimed the right of the free interpretation of scriptures (not arbitrary, but free and responsible interpretation).
The intellectual project undertaken by the Moroccan thinker and philosopher Muḥammad ‘Ᾱbid al-Ǧābirī, better known as Mohammed Abed al-Jabri (1935-2010), considered one of the greatest Arab intellectuals of the century, would not be entirely “explored” if one did not also take into account his work involving a discourse on the Qur'an. So far, studies on his work emphasise the originality of his ideas that have proved to be decisive for the development of Arab thinking, for example the discovery of the three “cognitive orders” (bayān, ‘irfān and burhān), which have contributed significantly to the formation of Arab reasoning; just like the epistemological critique of Arab-Islamic cultural traditions (turāṯ) which resulted in a totally new perspective, thanks to an original approach in engaging with the past. The Muslim world was encouraged to reread, review and therefore also better understand its own cultural traditions so as to relate to modernity. But how could Islam’s relationship with modernity be re-established through the Koran and all the religious tradition gravitating around it? What is known of the “Koranic phenomenon”?
The previous two pieces (Islamic Philosophy I and II) presented some reflections on the past and present conditions and themes of Islamic thought, philosophy in focus. The present piece, based on two forthcoming papers, introduces a voice that aims at regrounding (i.e. reconstructing) not only Islamic philosophy but philosophy in general, and the way philosophers pose philosophical questions. It sketches out some major aspects of the project of Taha Abderrahmane (b. 1944, Morocco), a leading logician and ethicist in the Arab-Islamic world.
The crux of the relationship between Islam and its journey to modernity, between the orthopraxy of this religion, with its judicial rules (shari’a) and the creation of democratic and pluralist systems, will soon become apparent. Ranging from the Egyptian Constitution to civil law, much must be rewritten, from family law to the policies needed to protect the rights of women. All of these issues are already on the agenda. Work can but start again from here to address the controversial issues that have fueled the work of the authors ResetDoc discusses here.
By Nicola MissagliaBorn in 1959 in Fasa, Iran, the ayatollah and philosopher Mohsen Kadivar is a aggressive supporter of the need for democratic and liberal reform in Iran. Educated in theology, mysticism, philosophy, fiqh (law) and tafsir (interpretation of the Koran) in Qom, he also studied under the great reformist ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, who died in 2009.
By Nina zu Fürstenberg and Giancarlo BosettiThe Egyptian theologian Ali Abderraziq (1888-1966) owes his importance to the fact that he was one of the most authoritative authors in the Muslim juridical and theological field who set out the basis for a separation between the spiritual-religious dimension and the temporal characteristics of power.
By Nina zu FürstenbergA doctor, psychiatrist, author, and human rights activist, Egypt’s Nawal al-Saadawi, born in 1931, is in the front lines of the human rights battle. Al-Saadawi specifically speaks out against genital mutilation of girls, which she herself suffered as a child, as well as on many other topics of Arab feminism.
By Nicola MissagliaSeyyed Mohammad Khatami, famous for having been the fifth president of the Islamic Republic of Iran between 1997 and 2005, is an Iranian Shiite intellectual, philosopher and theologian who belongs, without doubt, to the varied world of Islamic reformism.