Written on the occasion of his birthday (b. 27 December, 1936, in Figuig, eastern Morocco, d. 3 May 2010), this piece is an homage to a towering figure in modern Arab-Islamic thought, a figure that any serious scholar in the field cannot do without: Mohammed Abed Al Jabri. One has either to build on the heritage he has left, or overcome it with a more challenging one. In both cases, one cannot escape reading him. In the age of Arab turmoils, al Jabri must be in the library of every Arab house for one simple reason: he genuinely managed to classify Arab-Islamic thought, a thing that is still missing from Arab socio-political life.
Philosophy and Religion
"Are we perhaps condemned to remain prisoners of the logic of war that cannot perceive relations with others if not in terms that bring to mind hostility, such as peril, counter-position, conflict, threat etc.? In Western countries voices are raised almost everywhere against this way of seeing future relations between the West and other countries. People are starting to question the real meaning of this unfortunate dichotomy, as well as the reality it proposes to conceal. What does the East/West duality really mean through the history of European expansion, from Rome to the empires of modern colonialism? What does its current North/South replacement mean?" Part of this interview with Mohammed Abed Al Jabri was published in Fall 2006 by our Italian magazine Reset. On the occasion of the commemoration of the philosopher's fifth anniversary (d.2010), we are pleased to publish the full interview for the first time.
The last two centuries (since 1798) have witnessed a lively intellectual revival in Islamic thought, a fact that has impacted all sectors of life, without, at the same time, forming a clear line of thought or a “new paradigm” that overcomes the malaise of either/or, modernity or traditionalism, change or conservatism. Medieval Islam managed to construct a dominant and prosperous “sharia paradigm” for some centuries, a paradigm in which reason and revelation generally worked together. This paradigm was especially enforced politically, and that is how it rooted itself in Islamic history, and medieval history in general.
By Giancarlo BosettiDue to the importance of his reformist religious perspective, many journalists have described him as “Islam’s Luther,” perhaps explained by the fact that in the Shiite tradition, unlike the Sunnis, there is the presence of the clergy and its earthly power. Soroush is a theoretician of freedom and individual rights, and he is a critic of the theological tradition that has justified power through transcendence, thereby sanctifying centuries of tyranny.
By Giancarlo BosettiThe Syrian philosopher Sadik Al-Azm, born in Damascus in 1934 where he now lives, has developed a severe critique of Arab societies, affecting an entire generation marked by Israel’s defeat of Syria, Jordan and Egypt in 1967.
Egyptian Khaled Abou El Fadl is one of the most authoritative figures of Islamic juridical culture and is currently a Distinguished Professor in Islamic Law at UCLA’s School of Law, where he teaches and lectures on human rights, Islam compared to liberal constitutions, security and terrorism.
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.
Nina zu Fürstenberg and Giancarlo BosettiSoheib Bencheikh was born in Saudi Arabia to Algerian parents in 1961 and was educated in Algeria, at Cairo’s Al-Azhar University and at the Sorbonne. He has been the mufti of the mosque in Marseille and a consultant on Islamic law as well as a judge.
«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 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.
By Nicola MissagliaOften described as “one of the most influential contemporary liberal Muslim intellectuals”, together with the Syrian Sadik Al-Azm and the Egyptian philosopher Fu’ad Zakariyya, Al-Ashmawi – who is also Egyptian – belongs to the category of secular or secularist Muslim thinkers clearly against the “extremist” emphasis of the Islamic religion’s political role.