Additional Material
for Key Chapters

Chapter 15, Modern Challenges

On page 209 of Introducing Islam the term “muhajababes” appears. More about this will be found in the book, Muhajababes, by Allegra Stratton, Melbourne University Press, 2006.


Modernism: the following from a twentieth century Egyptian politician and statesman is a good example of Islamic modernism:

The difference between Islam and most other religions is that it did not content itself with merely establishing acts of worship and abandon the needs of society to a Caesar or any form of temporal governing body. Rather, Islam established ways of conduct, relationships, and rights and obligations for the individual vis-a-vis members of his family and the nation and for the nation vis-a-vis other nations. The reform of society was the main target of Islam.

. . .

Upon perusal of the Holy Book (Qur'an) and the Sunna, and upon examination of Islamic history during the era of the Rightly Guided Caliphs (al-Khulafā' al-Rāshidūn), we find that Islam is definite and conclusive on all general principles* suitable for all times, places and peoples. When it comes to implementing these principles, one can see clearly the flexibility of the Islamic Shari‘ah and the authority it gives to our reason and our effort (ijtihād). The Shari‘ah in effect upholds the guidance given by the Prophet when he said, "you know best about your earthly matters." Thus there is a wide scope for human opinion and it is up to reason and experience to distinguish correct from incorrect action, to show the road to the general welfare (maṣlaḥa) and to steer clear of harm.

Abd al-Rahman 'Azzam, The Eternal Message of Muhammad, English translation by Caesar E. Farah (New York: New American Library, 1964), pp. 82, 105 (translation of second paragraph modified).
*The general principles include justice, freedom, brotherhood of man, the value of work, religious tolerance, and the redistribution of excess wealth (Ibid., pp. 54ff, 90-92, 101-102)


This statement comes from Abul ‘Ala’ Mawdudi, founder of the Jama‘at-i Islami in India/Pakistan and probably the most influential Islamist leader and thinker.

"The entire Muslim population runs the state in accordance with the Book of God and the practice of His Prophet. If I were permitted to coin a new term, I would describe this system of government as a ‘theo-democracy’, that is to say a divine democratic government, because under it the Muslims have been given a limited popular sovereignty under the suzerainty of God. The executive under this system of government is constituted by the general will of the Muslims who have also the right to depose it. All administrative matters and all questions about which no explicit injunction is to be found in the Shari‘ah are settled by the consensus of opinion among the Muslims. Every Muslim who is capable and qualified to give a sound opinion on matters of Islamic law, is entitled to interpret the law of God when such interpretation become necessary. In this sense the Islamic polity is a democracy. But as has been explained above, it is a theocracy in the sense that where an explicit command of God or His Prophet already exists, no Muslim leader or legislature, or any religious scholar can form an independent judgment, not even all the Muslims of the world put together, have any right to make the least alteration in it. “ This is from The Islamic Law and Constitution, revised edition, Lahore: Islamic Publications, 1960, reprint 1975, translated by Khurshid Ahmad, pp 132-3.


The “Benefits” of Modernization.

Cairo parking lot and billboard advertising a movie called “And I Fell into a Sea of Honey”. This kind of Westernization concerns many Muslims and helps to fuel Islamism. It may have been an Islamist who defaced this billboard.

© William Shepard

Book Information / Buy the book