Modernism and Traditionalism in Islam: A Plea for Realism

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Muhammad Legenhausen

Abstract

The benefits of modernisation cannot be ignored any more than its failings. Nothing should be accepted or rejected merely because it is modern. Likewise, nothing should be accepted or rejected merely because it is traditional. There is much that is good in modernity, and much that is good in traditional societies. There is much that is bad in modernity, and much that is bad in traditional societies. 

In practice, any politically active movement that opposes Westernisation and calls for the enforcement of Islamic law is termed “Islamic fundamentalism.” One must be careful to distinguish so-called fundamentalists from traditional Muslim groups, for there are Muslim groups that have been anti-intellectualist, anti-philosophical and rather outwardly oriented throughout the history of Islamic civilisation. On the other hand, there are some revolutionary Muslims who have been philosophers and mystics.

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Viewpoints