Modernists and their opponents

Reading Islam

Authored by: Simon Wood

Routledge Handbook on Early Islam

Print publication date:  August  2017
Online publication date:  August  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138821187
eBook ISBN: 9781315743462
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter is about modernists. In English, those referred to as such are frequently described more specifically as “Islamic modernists,” conveying the notion of simultaneously and mutually reinforcing modernizing and Islamicizing agendas. This specification might preclude a possible misreading, one implying that those who have been described as modernizing Islam over much of approximately the last two centuries have largely done so by minimizing it. The aim of that minimizing would be an Islam that, in general terms, resembles a European, post-Enlightenment form of Christianity: privatized and for the most part absent from the public domain. Yet Islamic modernism has been a movement of the religiously committed, not an Islamic counterpart to the Enlightenment.

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