This book is the fruit of twenty years’ reflection on Islamic charities, both in practical terms and as a key to understand the crisis in contemporary Islam. On the one hand Islam is undervalued as a global moral and political force whose admirable qualities are exemplified in its strong tradition of charitable giving. On the other hand, it suffers from a crisis of authority that cannot be blamed entirely on the history of colonialism and stigmatization to which Muslims have undoubtedly been subjected – most recently, as a result of the "war on terror". The book consists of seventeen previously published chapters, with a general Introduction and new prefatory material for each chapter. The first nine chapters review the current situation of Islamic charities from many different viewpoints – theological, historical, diplomatic, legal, sociological and ethnographic – with first-hand data from the United States, Britain, Israel–Palestine, Mali and Indonesia. Chapters 10 to 17 expand the coverage to explore the potential for a twenty-first century "Islamic humanism" that would be devised by Muslims in the light of the human sciences and institutionalized throughout the Muslim world. This means addressing contentious topics such as religious toleration and the meaning of jihad. The intended readership includes academics and students at all levels, professionals concerned with aid and development, and all who have an interest in the future of Islam.
with the state of scholarship in this field.
The last third of the book ( Part II ) gives
attention to what I have called Islamichumanism. Here (with the
exception of Chapter 10 ) the emphasis is more on
reviewing the work of other authors and should be read as tentative and
provisional. I am well aware of the delicacy and complexity of the
in these ‘non-places’.
This book has argued that the
precedents of Islamic Relief Worldwide in Britain and Muhammadiyah
in Indonesia as successful institutions have a bearing beyond the
sphere of charities and aid. They could inspire those Muslims who
are committed to independent new thinking. A commitment to
representatives of God –as kings once
were –but of the people).
Bidar’s emphasis on the importance of the individual in Islam should not be
interpreted as a move that is founded on individualism in a selfish sense. Indeed,
Bidar places considerable emphasis on the principle of discussion and exchange
of different views or reflections on specific aspects of Islam. Rather, his focus on
the individual and what he calls the ‘divinisation’ of the individual lays a foundation for him to articulate his vision of an Islamichumanism, couched in the
principles of liberté, égalité and
Chebel identifies as being part
of Islamic intellectual culture, citing the experience of Muslim Spain or what
Chebel: Enlightenment Islam
he refers to as ‘l’esprit de Cordoue’ (spirit of Cordoba) whereby tolerance
constituted a model that inspired a range of elites including emirs, vizirs,
scholars and poets. For Chebel, Al-Andalus represents one of the rare and
unparalleled examples of Islamichumanism due to the successful co-existence
between different religious groups there. He laments the generalised ignorance of the contribution of Arab civilisation
’éradication pure et simple de l’héritage
spirituel, patrimoine non pas d’une religion, mais de toute l’humanité’ (Babès
2004: p. 91) (the pure and simple eradication of spiritual heritage, not from religion, but from humanity as a whole). Babès is always striving for a universalist
vision of Islam, and her reference to humanist heritage links her thinking to that
articulated by Bidar in his work on Islamichumanism as a basis for the renewal
of universalism (see Chapter 5). However, her focus on the universal leads her to
disqualify the specific claims of many Muslims and hence
to Rosenzweig (Amsterdam: Van Gorcum, 1977).
19 Chamberlain, ‘Gender and the Metaphorics of Translation’, p. 310.
20 Chamberlain, ‘Gender and the Metaphorics of Translation’, p. 311.
21 Chamberlain, ‘Gender and the Metaphorics of Translation’, p. 312.
22 Edward W. Said, Orientalism (London: Penguin, 1995), p. 2.
23 Said, Orientalism, p. 3.
24 Said, Orientalism, p. 5.
25 Louis Gardet, Les Hommes de l’Islam (Paris: Librairie Hachette,
1977), p. 384.
26 Lenn E. Goodman, IslamicHumanism (Oxford: Oxford University
Press, 2003), p. 7.
27 Fanon, The Wretched of the
Fatima Mernissi of Morocco was another believer in historical contextualization. She maintained that freedom of the individual, man or woman, was at the heart of Islamichumanism, but had been severely restricted by the sword, political tyranny, or the force of Muslim law. She painted the patriarchal laws of Islam in dark colors, especially under the Abassids, who viewed women as unbridled sexual beings who distract men and keep them from fulfilling their religious and social duties. This led to an obsession with safeguarding male superiority—for society