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Contemporary Muslim Alims
TARIQ RAMADAN AND JASSER AUDA – TWO BRILLIANT GEMS
Autor: Dr. Safvet Halilović
Objavljeno: 23. Jan 2012. 21:01:05
BOSNIAN / BOSANSKI

By dr. Safvet Halilović: The last decade of the 20th century was, among other events, marked by deaths of prominent Muslim scholars, such as, e.g. the renowned Egyptian alims, Sheikh Muhammad Al-Ghazali (d. 1996), muffassir Sheikh Muhammad Mutawalli As-Sharawi (d. 1998), muhaddith Abd Al-Fattah Abu Gudda, originally from Syria, as well as of many other prominent experts on Islam, Islamic thought, its rules, tradition, civilisation and philosophy. At the very end of the previous century (Dec 31st 1999), another great Muslim scholar from India, Abu Al-Hassan An-Nadwi, left this world. He was, according to many, one of the greatest and most influential authorities in the Muslim world in the second half of the 20th century.
Deaths of such a great number of prominent Muslim alims have left a great void in the Ummah as these alims, apart from their great insight into Islam and its teachings, were much appreciated and respected by Muslims who considered them to be genuine authorities, which, indeed, they were, having influenced millions of people. These were the alims of a long epoch marked by totalitarian regimes not refraining from all forms of repression, arrests, brutal tortures conducted by their police and intelligence bodies, all aiming to remain in power and preserve their narrow personal interests. Many of the alims mentioned above were arrested and prosecuted in their very countries, but they, nevertheless, managed to gain trust of the masses.

The end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century was marked by deaths of prominent Muslim alims. However, it is the will of Allah Almighty that each epoch has alims who will strive to meet the complex tasks of the time they are living in and help the population, especially the one considered to be Muslim, overcome the crises it is being faced with. This article aims to briefly introduce the public with two prominent contemporary Muslim intellectuals and alims: Dr. Tarik Ramadan and Professor Dr. Jasser Auda.



Tariq Ramadan – A Contemporary Muslim Thinker and Reformer
Tariq Ramadan
was born in Switzerland in 1962. He is a son of Said Ramadan, a scholar and close friend of Hassan Al Banna, the founder of the greatest and most influential contemporary Muslim movement, Al-Ihwan Al-Muslimun (Muslim Brotherhood). Dr. Said Ramadan, originally from Tanta (Egypt), was a close friend of Hassan Al Banna, and their bond grew even stronger after he married his eldest daughter, Wafa, Tariq’s mother. After Hassan Al Banna was killed in February 1949, the Muslim Brotherhood was faced with difficult times that culminated in mass arrests in 1954. That was the reason Tariq’s father left Egypt and spent two years (1954-1956) in Syria, where he participated in the Syrian movement, as an assistant to the leader of Syrian Ihwans, a great Muslim scholar, Dr. Mustafa As-Sibai. Following Syria, Said Ramadan spends two years in Lebanon and in 1958 arrives to Geneva to stay and work on founding the first Islamic centre in Switzerland, opened in 1961. Said Ramadan passed away in 1995 in Geneva and was buried in Cairo, Basatin, next to his teacher and friend, Hassan Al Banna.



prof.dr. Tarik Ramadan and dr. Safvet Halilovic

Dr. Jassir Auda and dr. Safvet Halilovic

Dr. Safvet Halilovic, Peter Abdul-Azim Sanders (UK), dr. Benjamin Hale (Colorado, USA), prof. Jun Fondano (Japan)

Shejh Al-Qaradawi, Halilovic and Grand mufty Ceric


Professor Tariq Ramadan has been educated in the Western world, and studied the Islamic sciences with his father, who himself was a learned man and had a great influence on his son. Professor Ramadan also spent some time in Egypt studying traditional Islamic sciences with prominent Al-Azhar scholars. Besides Arabic, he is perfectly fluent in French and English. He has taught philosophy at the College of Geneva and Islamic Studies at Fribourg University. By means of his texts and lectures, he is widely contributing to the discussions about Islam in the West and the contemporary world. Being an expert, he actively participates in the renaissance of Islam, identity and challenges Muslim minorities are being faced with. He also works as a professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies in the Faculty of Oriental Studies at Oxford University, and a senior research assistant at St. Anthony’s College (Oxford University) and Doshisha Univesity (Kyoto, Japan). He is also the President of the Euro-Muslim Network (EMN), based in Brussels. He has authored numerous books and articles about Muslims, secularism, contemporary challenges, Muslims in the West, tolerance, freedom, and other issues.

Although he advocates more flexible views of Islam, separating it from traditional and cultural concepts associated with the Middle East, Professor Tariq Ramadan has had issues with the French authorities, and the USA Homeland Security revoked his non-immigrant visa, which was necessary for his tenured position at the prominent University of Notre Dame. Professor Ramadan has visited Bosnia-Herzegovina on numerous occasions as a visiting lecturer and participant of several scholarly assemblies. The following of his works have been translated into Bosnian: To Be a European Muslim (Biti evropski musliman, izučavanje islamskih izvora u evropskom kontekstu (2002)), Western Muslims and the Future of Islam (Evro-američki muslimani i budućnost islama (2007)), In the Footsteps of the Prophet: Lessons from the Life of Muhammad, (Stopama Božijeg poslanika (2010)), Radical Reform: Islamic Ethics and Liberation (Radikalna reforma – islamska etika i oslobođenje (2011)).

In the West, Professor Tariq Ramadan is considered to be the most prominent advocate of reformist Islam. He has also been known for encouraging Muslims who live in the Western societies to participate more in the social life and stay away from isolation. Also, he is boldly encouraging all the Muslim societies and communities in the world to start a radical reform, thus opposing all those who claim a reform is dangerous, non-Islamic and can only cause Muslims harm.

‘Authentic reform’, he says, ‘has always been grounded in Islam's textual sources, spiritual objectives, and intellectual traditions. But the reformist movements that are based on renewed reading of textual sources while using traditional methodologies and categories have achieved only adaptive responses to the crisis facing a globalizing world. Such readings have reached the limits of their usefulness’, Ramadan argues in his Radical Reform.

He is calling for a reform that goes beyond a pure adaptation and that encompasses bold and creative solutions for the transformation of present-day and future societies. This new approach questions the historically established sources, categories, higher causes, instruments and methodologies of the Islamic law, and the authority the traditional geography of knowledge attributed to scholars of the Text. What he is suggesting is a new geography re-defining sources, spiritual and ethical goals of the law, a geography giving space to authorities from the humanities and the exact sciences. In this way, he argues, the reform would be clad with spiritual, ethical, social and scientific results necessary to answer contemporary challenges. A radical reform is asking for an equal contribution by the scholars of the Text (Ulama An-Nas) and scholars of the context (Ulama Al-Waqi'), but also the key activism and creative spirit of Muslim masses. This call for a radical reform dramatically shifts the centres of authorities, and its aim is to provoke controversy and debates among both Muslims and non-Muslims. Professor Ramadan widely addresses this issue in his Radical Reform, which was translated into Bosnian last year.

Jasser Auda – A Contemporary Fakih and Shariah Scholar
Jasser Auda
was born in Cairo in 1966. In 2007, he crowned his research into the theory of Shariah law (Usul Al-Fiqh) and Shariah intentions (Maqasid As-Shariah) by a doctoral dissertation at the Univeristy of Wales (Great Britain). As a matter of fact, this was his second doctoral dissertation, since he earned his first doctoral degree at the Waterloo University, Canada, considered to be one of the most prestigious universities in Canada. He successfully defended his first doctoral dissertation on the analysis of jurisprudence systems analysis (Tahlil Al-Manzumat) in 1996.

Dr. Jasser Auda has expressed a great scholarly interest in Shariah intentions, a scientific field that has been given special attention to in recent years, which is proven by the fact that more and more scholars in various parts of the world are writing dissertations in this field. Professor Auda has written numerous significant works in both English and Arabic, such as: Fiqh Al-Maqasid (Understanding the Intentions); Maqasid As-Shariah Kafalsafatin Li At-Tashri'i Al-Islami (Shariah Intentions as Philosophy of the Islamic Law). These works were published by the International Institute of Islamic Thought in Herdnon, Virginia, USA.

Professor Jasser Auda is the Founding Director of the Maqasid Research Centre in London, and has held lectures at numerous universities in the Islamic world and the West. He is currently Deputy Director of the Centre of Islamic Legislation and Ethics, officially opened in Doha, Qatar, on January 15th 2012. The opening ceremony was attended by numerous reputable guests, such as Professor Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Her Excellency Sheikha Mozah, wife of the Emir of the State of Qatar, Professor John Esposito (USA), Professor Shareef Hasan Al-Banna (UK) and many other intellectuals, some of which arrived even from Japan. From Bosnia-Herzegovina, the opening ceremony was attended by Grand Mufti Dr. Mustafa Cerić and Dr. Safvet Halilović, Professor of Tafsir and Qur'anic Anthropology at the Islamic Pedagogical Faculty in Zenica (BiH). One of the aims of the Centre is to study ethical aspects of Islamic jurisprudence since every Islamic regulation and rule has a close connection with ahlaq and character development of human beings. In fact, the Centre is managed by the two of them, Professor Tariq Ramadan and Professor Jasser Auda, which is very convenient considering that each one of them represents a specific value: Professor Ramadan as a thinker and contemporary Muslim reformer (mujjaddid), and Professor Auda as the one focused on the foundations and intentions of the Shariah jurisprudence (Usul Wa Maqasid As-Shariah). The Centre is intended to be an intellectual polygon gathering scholars of the Text (Ulama An-Nass) and scholars of the context (Ulama Al-Waqi) so that they could discuss and search for the best solutions for numerous dilemmas and issues of contemporary Muslims.

*****

The activism and intellectual efforts of these two contemporary Muslim scholars and alims, who have spent a major part of their life in the West, and who have a great insight into the contemporary trends and movements not only in the West, but also in the East, are promising, indeed. Their works are being translated into all the major languages and are being studied worldwide. Having a profound knowledge of Islam, but also the context in which contemporary Muslim societies are found in, they are striving to contribute to a general Muslim awakening and overcoming numerous crises that have befallen Muslims in the contemporary world. Re-reading Islamic sources and a revival of the Islamic thought and ethics (ahlaq) are presented as the major demands to Islamic scholars and intellectuals, who are obliged to offer patterns of behaviour Muslim masses should follow in order to step out of the crisis and find the long-expected and necessary path of renaissance and progress.

The renowned professors, Tariq Ramadan and Jasser Auda are contributing a great deal to this and it would be rather useful if these two prominent intellectuals were given a chance to present their ideas in the Balkans as well, and to, by giving lectures at our institutions of higher education, educate our future intellectuals as well. Different from some intellectuals here who, unfortunately, deem the term 'reform' as almost the synonym for 'destruction', the two of them consider that the Islamic reform in no sense implies destruction of a single Islamic rule or regulation, but re-reading Islamic sources in the context of contemporary trends with the aim of reforming (tajdid) the Islamic spirit in ethics, jurisprudence, production, entrepreneurship, etc. Stated briefly, the reform these two Muslim scholars are advocating implies the reform of enthusiasm and skill in the development of the human being (insan), who will on Earth do what is noble, useful and humane.

(Translation from Bosnian: Nejla Kalajdžisalihović)



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