Islamic revival

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Islamic revival (Arabic: الصحوة الإسلاميةaṣ-Ṣaḥwah l-ʾIslāmiyyah, "Islamic awakening") refers to a revival of the Islamic religion throughout the Islamic world, that began roughly sometime in 1970s (or considerably earlier in other parts of the world, as such as Islamic Revivialism in South Asia) and is manifested in greater religious piety and in a growing adoption of Islamic culture.1 One striking example of it is the increase in attendance at the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, which grew from 90,000 in 1926 to 2 million in 1979.2

From a Western perspective, two of the most important events that inspired the resurgence were the Arab oil embargo and subsequent quadrupling of the price of oil in the mid-1970s, and the 1979 Iranian Revolution that established an Islamic republic in Iran under Ayatollah Khomeini. The first created a flow of many billions of dollars from Saudi Arabia to fund Islamic books, scholarships, fellowships, and mosques around the world; the second undermined the assumption that Westernization strengthened Muslim countries and was the irreversible trend of the future.

The revival is a reversal of the Westernisation approach common in Arab and Asian governments earlier in the 20th century. It is often associated with the political Islamic movement, Islamism, and other forms of re-Islamisation. While the revival has also been accompanied by some religious extremism and attacks on civilians and military targets by the extremists, this represents only a small part of the revival.

The trend has been noted by historians such as John Esposito3 and Ira Lapidus. An associated development is that of transnational Islam, described by the French Islam researchers Gilles Kepel and Olivier Roy. It includes a feeling of a "growing universalistic Islamic identity" as often shared by Muslim immigrants and their children who live in non-Muslim countries:

The increased integration of world societies as a result of enhanced communications, media, travel, and migration makes meaningful the concept of a single Islam practiced everywhere in similar ways, and an Islam which transcends national and ethnic customs.

—Ira Lapidus4

But not necessarily transnational political or social organisations:

Global Muslim identity does not necessarily or even usually imply organised group action. Even though Muslims recognise a global affiliation, the real heart of Muslim religious life remains outside politics - in local associations for worship, discussion, mutual aid, education, charity, and other communal activities.

—Ira Lapidus5

History

Comparison with earlier movements

The modern movement of Islamic revival has been compared with earlier efforts of a similar nature:

The call to fundamentalism, centered on the sharia: this call is as old as Islam itself and yet still new because it has never been fulfilled, It is a tendency that is forever setting the reformer, the censor, and tribunal against the corruption of the times and of sovereigns, against foreign influence, political opportunism, moral laxity, and the forgetting of sacred texts.

—Olivier Roy, The Failure of Political Islam6

The "oscillat[ion] between periods of strict religious observance and others of devotional laxity" in Islamic history was striking enough for "the great Arab historian, Ibn Khaldun" to ponder its causes 600 years ago, and speculate that it could be "attributed ... to features of ecology and social organization peculiar to the Middle East," namely the tension between the easy living in the towns and the austere life in the desert.7

Some of the more famous revivalists and revival movements include the Almoravid and Almohad dynasties in Maghreb and Spain (1042–1269), Indian Naqshbandi revivalist Ahmad Sirhindi (~1564-1624), the Indian Ahl-i Hadith movement of the 19th century, preachers Ibn Taymiyyah (1263–1328), Shah Waliullah (1702–1762) and Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab (d.1792).8

Whether or not the revival is part of an historical cycle, the uniqueness of the close association of the Muslim community with its religion has been noted by scholar Michael Cook:

What is striking about the Islamic world is that, of all the major cultural domains, it seems to have been the least penetrated by irreligion; and in the last few decades, it has been the fundamentalists who have increasingly represented the cutting edge of the culture.

—Michael Cook, The Koran, a very short introduction9

Origins

The man cited as the forerunner of re-Islamisation was Jamal-al-Din Afghani, "one of the most influential Muslim reformers of the nineteenth century" who traveled the Muslim world.10 His sometime acolyte Muhammad Abduh has been called "the most influential figure" of the early Salafi movement.11 In 1928 Hassan al-Banna established Muslim Brotherhood the first mass Islamist organization and still considered the world's largest, most influential Islamic groupcitation needed. Other influential revival activists and thinkers include Rashid Rida and Ali Abdel Raziq.

In South Asia Islamic revivalist intellectuals and statesmen like Syed Ahmed Khan, Muhammad Iqbal, Muhammad Ali Jinnah promoted Two-Nation Theory and Muslim League established world's first modern Islamic republic called Pakistan. Abul Ala Maududi was the later leader of this movement who established Jamaat-e-Islami in South Asia. Today it is one of the largest Islamic parties in the Indian sub-continent spanning four countries Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, although the different national parties have no organisational link between them.12

Two events were particularly important for the current revival:

Shia

Re-Islamisation began among Shia later but many think it has been even more successful. In Iran, Ruhollah Khomeini lead a revolution based on his interpretation of Velayat-e faqih that called for rule by the leading Islamic jurist. In a more spiritual realm, Muhammad Husayn Tabatabaei as a theologian revived Kalam, Islamic philosophy and Tafsir. Khomeini and Tabatabaei taught many students who have achieved high positions in the Hawza of Qom. Also some of their students like Morteza Motahhari and Mohammad Beheshti became an ideologue of Islamic revolution. Furthermore some activists especially Ali Shariati politicized religion and make an ideology to revolt.citation needed

In Iraq, Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir al-Sadr criticized Marxism and presented early ideas of an Islamic alternative to socialism and capitalism. Perhaps his most important work was Iqtisaduna (Our Economics), considered an important work of Islamic economics .1617 This work was a critique of both socialism and capitalism. He also worked with Sayyid Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim in forming an Islamist movement in Iraq which resulted in establishment of the Islamic Dawa Party and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq. One of the founders of modern Islamist thought, he is credited with first developing the notion, later put in operation in Iran, of having western style democratic elections, but with a body of Muslim scholars to ensure all laws corresponded with Islamic teachings.citation needed

He was a close ally and supporter of Ayatollah Khomeni, but maintained a more moderate view than him and was said to have disagreed with the concept of Velayat-e faqihcitation needed. In Lebanon Musa al-Sadr established the Supreme Islamic Shi'ite Council and the Amal Movement. Later, former members of Amal and some other parties joined each other and established the Islamist militia, party and social service agency Hezbollah, which is thought to be the most largest and most influential party among Shia of Lebanon.citation needed

Political aspects

Politically, Islamic resurgence runs the gamut from Islamist regimes in Iran, Sudan, and pre-invasion Afghanistan. Other regimes, such as countries in the Persian Gulf region, and the secular, militaristic, and authoritarian regimes of Iraq, Egypt, Turkey, Libya, and Pakistan, while not a product of the resurgence, have made some concessions to its growing popularity.

Audience

Islamic resurgence has a large component of middle class/intelligentsia, university students, professionals, civil servants, merchants, traders, and bankerscitation needed. For example, Ayman al-Zawahiri, a principal figure with Al-Qaeda, is an Egyptian physician who founded the Egyptian Islamic Jihad. This is the group that was implicated in the assassination of Anwar El Sadat in 1981. Rural, traditional people who have migrated to cities are also attracted to Islamic resurgence; it has significant, established networks that address the religious, medical, and educational needs of the urban poorcitation needed.

Examples

Syria

In Syria, despite the rule of the Arab nationalist Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party,

For the first time, the regime celebrated the Prophet's birth with greater fanfare than the anniversary of the ruling party. Billboards once heralding `progressiveness and socialism` were also being replaced with new admonitions: `Pray for the Prophet and Do not forget to mention God.` President Bashar Assad had recently approved Syria's first Islamic university as well as three Islamic banks. And Mohammed Habash, the head of the Islamic Studies Center, had been invited to speak on Islam at Syria's military academy - where praying had been banned 25 years earlier. ... In the 1980s, a distinct minority of women in Damascus wore hejab, or modest Islamic dress. In 2006, a distinct majority in Syria's most modern city had put it on.

—Robin Wright, Dreams and Shadows : the Future of the Middle East18

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Lapidus, p.823
  2. ^ Kepel, Gilles, Jihad: on the Trail of Political Islam, Harvard University Press, 2002, p.75
  3. ^ Haddad/Esposito pg.xvi
  4. ^ Lapidus, p.828
  5. ^ Lapidus, p.829
  6. ^ Roy, Olivier, The Failure of Political Islam, translated by Carol Volk, Harvard University Press, 1994, p.4
  7. ^ "September 11 and the Struggle for Islam" by Robert W. Hefner
  8. ^ ... why is the Muslim world in such a bad state?
  9. ^ Cook, Michael, The Koran, a very short introduction, Oxford University Press, 2000, p.43
  10. ^ Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World, Thomson Gale, 2004
  11. ^ The New Encyclopedia of Islam by Cyril Glasse, Altamira, 2001
  12. ^ Jamaat-e-Islami
  13. ^ Wright, Sacred Rage, p.66 from Pipes, Daniel, In the Path of God, Basic Books, (1983), (p.285)
  14. ^ interview by Robin Wright of UK Foreign Secretary (at the time) Lord Carrington in November 1981, Sacred Rage: The Wrath of Militant Islam by Robin Wright, Simon and Schuster, (1985), p.67
  15. ^ Fundamentalist Islam: The Drive for Power
  16. ^ The Renewal of Islamic Law: Muhammad Baqer as-Sadr, Najaf, and the Shi'i International
  17. ^ Seyyed Vali Reza Nasr, International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 25, No. 4 (Nov., 1993), pp. 718-719
  18. ^ Wright, Robin, Dreams and Shadows : the Future of the Middle East, Penguin Press, 2008, p.245

Further reading

  • Rahnema, Ali ; Pioneers of Islamic Revival (Studies in Islamic Society); London: Zed Books, 1994 [1]
  • Lapidus, Ira Marvin, A History of Islamic Societies, Cambridge University Press; 2 edition (August 26, 2002)
  • Roy, Olivier; Globalized Islam: The Search for a New Ummah (CERI Series in Comparative Politics and International Studies); 1994 [2]
  • Vali, Nasr, The Shia Revival: How Conflicts Within Islam will Shape the Future (W.W. Norton & Company, 2006)[3]

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