Sunteți pe pagina 1din 31


Presented by Puteri Amalina Megat Azizul Rahman Syarifah Athirah Auni Sayd Mohamad Zamri Fatin Nadzirah Alias Ida Khairiyah Mohd Yusof Edited by Dr. Md. Mahmudul Hasan
International Islamic University Malaysia 2011

FAZLUR RAHMAN (1919-1988)

Fazlur Rahman Malik was born in Hazara, Pakistan on 21 September 1919. His father Maulana Shihab al Din was also a great Muslim scholar in Pakistan.

M. Yahya Birt of the Association of Islam Researchers describes Fazlur Rahman as probably the most learned of the major Muslim thinkers in the second-half of the 20th century, in terms of both classical Islam and Western philosophical and theological discourse.

Rahman studied Arabic at Punjab University and then went to Oxford University and wrote a dissertation on Ibn Sina. At Oxford, he also studied modern critical thinking under H.A.R. Gibb and Van Der Bergh. He began his teaching career first at Durham University in United Kingdom and then at McGill University Canada. At Durham he taught Persian and Islamic philosophy, while at McGill, Islamic studies.

In 1961 he returned to Pakistan to run the Central Institute of Islamic Research set up by the Pakistani government. The Institute promotes Islam in everyday life of the nation. However, because of the political situation in Pakistan, Fazlur Rahman was prevented from making any progress in this program. He resigned, returned to teaching career and moved to the United States and tought at UCLA as a visiting professor for a few years.

In 1969, he moved to the University of Chicago where he received the tittle Harold H. Swift Distinguished Service Professor of Islamic Thought. At Chicago, he has became a proponent for a reform of Islamic politics and was appointed an advisor to the State Department.

Areas of interest
Fazlur Rahman was deeply interested in Qur anic studies. He developed a new method of Qur anic interpretation that would be suitable in the modern time. He emphasizes the need to distinguish between the formative and historical Islam and Muslim legacy. To do so, he urges Muslims to read and understand Qur an correctly. In his writing, he mostly focuses on medicine, since he wrote a dissertation on Ibn Sina. He wrote three books on Ibn Sina: Avicenna s Psychology (1952), Avicenna s De Anima (1959) and Health and Medicine in the Islamic Tradition (1987).

As regards Islamic teachings, he focuses on their application in our daily life. He also talks about women s rgihts and feminist issues. For him, man and woman are equal, and woman can also participate and involve in public life. Besides, he focuses also on history and believes that a meaningful assessment of the past can only be made with reference to a transcendent set of ethics.

Since Rahman s death in 1988, a number of Muslim and Non-Muslim scholars worked on his works and ideas. One of the his student, Frederick Mathewson Denny uses Fazlur Rahman s ideas in writing about the Qur an and Sunnah. Another scholar Donald Lee Berry introduces Fazlur Rahman s thought in response to modernity. Berry agrees with Fazlur Rahman that the response Muslims need to give should cover education, politics, economics and social issue in order to promote Islam and Muslim society.

Avicenna s Psychology (1952) Avicenna s De Anima (1959) Islamic Methodology in History (1965) Intikhabati Maktubati Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi (1968) The philosophy of Mulla Sandra (1975) Islam (1979) Prophecy in Islam: Philosophy and Orthodoxy (1979) Major Themes of the Qur an (1980) Islam & Modernity: Transformation of an Intellectual Tradition (1982) Health and Medicine in the Islamic Tradition (1987) Revival and Reform in Islam (2000)

Major Themes of the Qur an

In this book, he argues that the Qur an blends creeds, morals, creation, laws, rituals, philosophy, life and death, and history all in the form of a book, with a unique literary style unlike any other book. In introduction, he highlights the limitations of a Qur'anic commentary on a 'verse by verse' basis, since such an approach fails to yield insight into the 'cohesive outlook on the universe and life which the Qur an undoubtedly possesses'. On the other hand, the recent efforts to arrange Qur'anic topics are helpful but fall short of providing a full insight into what Qur'an has to say about God, man or society. Rahman presents a comprehensive insight into the eight major themes in the Qur an God, Man as Individual, Man in Society , Nature, Prophethood and Revelation, Eschatology, Satan and Evil, and Emergence of the Muslim Community.

The Qur an is a document that is squarely aimed at man which it calls itself as guidance for mankind (hudan lilnas). In fact, the term ALLAH (God) occurs 2500 times in the Qur an not included other terms such as Al-Rabb (Lord) and Al-Rahman (The Merciful) to show His existence and to illustrate He is a Creator and Sustainer of the universe. The Qur an calls belief in an awareness of the unseen (2:3;5:94;35:18). The term unseen refers to God that allows man to seek Him through the revelation given to the Prophet (peace be upon him). Author stresses that it is not about seeking the proofs of God s existence but about how to use all the facts and proofs as reminders to man about God. 3 main points: - everything except God is contingent upon God including entire nature; - that God with all His might and glory is essentially the all Merciful God; - both aspects entail a proper relationship between God and man (the served and servant).

There are many verses that reveal the oneness of God. For example:

He is God, other than Whom, there is none; He is the knower of the unseen and the seen, the Merciful, the Compassionate. He is the God other than Whom there is none, the Sovereign, the Holy, the One with peace and integrity, the Keeper of the Faith, the Protector, the Mighty, the One Whose Will is Power, the Most Supreme! Glory be to Him beyond what they (the pagans) associate with Him. He is the God, the Creator, the Maker, the Fashioner, to whom belong beautiful names; whatever is in the heavens and the earth sings His glories, He is the Mighty One, the Wise One. (59:22-24)
It is the responsibility of man to seek for the Master Truth which is God as the only straight path goes to God, while others are deviant. This path is the full recognition of God as God, the path that is of sole importance to man.

Man as individual
Man is distinguished from the rest of natural creation as God breathed His own spirit into him in order to help him be His vicegerent. Angels protested when God decided to create Adam in order to be a vicegerent on earth, as they feared that human will do mischief on earth. But God said: I know what you do not know . Then, God brought a competition between angels and Adam to name things in order to describe their nature. Thus, Adam demonstrates the capacity for creative knowledge. Man is the only exception to the universal law, for he is the only being endowed with a free choice of obeying or disobeying the command of God. Men are responsible for their deeds. The purpose of man is to promote good deeds and avoid bad deeds (amar ma ruf nahi munkar). The role of man is also to have a great relationship among themselves especially within society to promote unity and fraternity.

All nature obeys God s command, as the Qur an regards the whole universe as Muslim because everything therein (except men) surrendered itself to God s will (3:83). Nature is the sign of God s miracle: Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the succession of day and night are signs for people of wisdom those who remember God (or mention, i.e; by reciting the Qur an) standing and sitting and lying on their sides, and who ponder over the creation of the heavens and the earth (exclaiming): Our Lord, You have not created all this in vain! (3:190) Man s responsibility to take care of the nature and the universe. Wrongdoing leads to warning such as floods, earthquakes, heavy rains, tsunami, etc. The purpose of man s creation is to do good in the world, substitute himself for God by using nature.

The devil (iblis) was of the jinn and he disobeyed the command of the his Lord (Qur an, 18:50). The role of satan is to confuse a person and cloud his inner sense. Satan can influence only those who do not obey Allah s command and he has no authority over the true believers. Indeed, upon my servants you will be able to exercise no influence, but only those errant ones who follow you (Qur an, 15:42). He has no authority over those who believe and put their faith in their Lord (Qur an, 16:99). One can avoid the influence of satan by following the Qur an and the teaching of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). It does not belong to any human that God should speak to him (directly) except by Revelation (i.e: infusion of the Spirit) or from behind a veil (i.e: by a voice whose source is invisible) or that He should send a (spiritual) Messenger who reveals (to the Prophet) by God s permission what He wills and He is exalted and Wise. We guide whomsoever We will of our servants, and you, indeed guide (people) to the straight path (Qur an, 42:51-52).


The religious future of Islam and the future of interfaith relationship . . . will be livelier and saner for the sort of Qur anic centrality which Major Themes of the Qur an exemplifies and serves. Kenneth Cragg, Middle East Journal. I can t think of any book more important, still, than Major Themes of the Qur an. Michael Sells, author of Approaching the Qur an. Generations of scholars have profited from [Rahman s] pioneering scholarly work by taking the questions he raised and the directions he outlined to new destinations. Ebrahim Moosa, from his new Foreword.

The Shaping of An American Islamic Discourse


This book mainly contains 12 chapters that provide reviews of Fazlur Rahman life, works and ideas by western scholars in North America.

FAZLUR RAHMAN: A Life In Review Author: Donald L. Berry The author highlights a number of contributions Fazlur Rahman made.

5 important contributions: 1) Fazlur Rahman brought a unique multicultural blend of Islamic traditionalism, progressive Islamic modernism and western scholasticism. 2) His research for truth led him to change attitudes in traditional Islam and in western writing on Islam. 3) His methodology was interdisciplinary to the core. 4) His demeanor has done much for the receptivity of his work. 5) He left a legacy in the form of his students.

First contribution Since he had background of traditional Islamic science and Islamic modernism, he sees that one could recapture the movement of Islam and face the modernity with enthusiasm. His training in western philosophy exposed him to Hellenistic influence on the Islamic philosopher. His education at Oxford and teaching experience in North America exposed him to Islamic scholarship by western and non-Muslim scholars. So his knowledge of various backgrounds on different field and people gives an advantage to him.

Second contribution He had the courage to be innovative and had his own stand towards rigid Islamic and Western attitudes. For example, his stands on appropriateness of some family planning devices, modern banking methods and appropriateness of the mechanical slaughter of animal led to criticism and controversy. He also disputes western understanding of Islam. Orthodox people think the way the Qur an was sent to Muhammad (peace be upon him) was like the process of delivering letters. Rahman argues that verbal revelation as universal belief went straight to the heart.

Third contribution He challenged students of North America to view Islam in its contextual expressions and wanted them to be well-versed in many aspects including politics, economy and social issues. He encouraged the students Of Islam to discover the dynamism of the Muslim experience. This approach opens the door for Islamic studies to dialogue with broad fields of religious studies.

Fourth contribution Fazlur Rahman was gentle, kind-spirited and intellectual. Almost everybody who knew him liked him and his ideas so much. His personality and way of life won people s heart.

Fifth contribution His ideas have influenced the study of Islam in North America. His students are currently teaching at many American colleges and universities. They represent the legacy of an Islamic scholar who always strove for depth, accuracy and validity. His student Frederick Danny says: His mind changed, his position evolved but his central coordinate was always the Qur an.


Author: Tamara Sonn The author argues that Fazlur Rahman s insistence on rethinking Islamic views of women was a recurrent theme in his insistence on the modernist approach to Islamic reform.

Fazlur Rahman categorizes trends among modern Muslims into four: Secularism Atheism, misguided. Conservative Well intentioned but ineffective. Fundamentalist Beyond conservative but actually propagating the Muslim worlds; doomed to failure. Modernist Recognition that revelation took place in specific times and places. # Rahamn claims himself a modernist.

Rahman does not believe that only one interpreter can achieve a perfect understanding of Islam that would be suitable for all times. He rather believes that every generation has the responsibility to return to revelation and make efforts to understand it. The different ulama from different times may have different interpretation due to spatiotemporal factors.


Transformation of an Intellectual Tradition

This book argues that the Qur an should be the point of reference of Islamic education. He also talks about the legislations based on the Qur an which must have background and historical contexts. Early scholars and Islamic leaders interpreted Qur an by using principles of ijtihad and qiyas. The Qur an also stresses on socioeconomic justice and essential human egalitarianism.

He proposed that in education the Qur an should be the source of references. Muslims aim of Islamicizing the several fields of learning cannot be really fulfilled unless they effectively perform the intellectual task of elaborating Islamic metaphysics on the basis of the Qur an.