MAINSTREAM ISLAMIC INTELLECTUAL DISCOURSE AND THE MALAY WORLD: ISSUES AND PERSPECTIVES

By:

Muhammad ‘Uthman El-Muhammady[1]

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

نحمده ونصلى على رسوله الكريم

This paper argues that the Malay-Indonesian World should maintain its adherence to and benefit from the ethical, spiritual, intellectual and cultural guidance of the Islamic mainstream Sunni discourse which has for so long been the core of its culture and civilization apart from its adherence to the local customary practices. This mainstream universal Islamic discourse can be seen as to be represented by the  four universal themes of Islamic intellectuality: the theological, crystallizing in the Ash’ari-Maturidi theological school; the spiritual, ethical and philosophical stance in the school of al-Ghazali and those like him; in the modern world that of Sai’d Nursi; the legal crystallizing in the  legal narratives of the mujtahid imams; for the Malay World that of Imam al-Shafi’i, and finally the cultural and civilizational crystallizing in the Khaldunian discourse; in the modern era that of Malik Bennabi which can be considered as the prolongation of  the Khaldunian discourse. Then there should be the additional relevant input from the best intellectual and cultural experience of the modern world. This is for a number of most pressing reasons: for maintaining the guaranteed eternal saving truths of the Islamic message, for intellectual homogeneity, for ethical, moral and spiritual stability, for performing the stable foundation of the ummatic civilization, and, of course, for facing the onslaught of philosophic and ethical modernity and postmodernity – Allah willing – without losing out. Issues and perspectives involved in these themes will be considered.

THE DISCOURSE

What is meant by mainstream intellectual discourse of Islam here is that religious discourse of the great majority of scholars of Islamic sacred scholarship covering various fields of learning: like Qur’anic and its sciences, the traditions and its sciences, the classical theology in kalam, discourse on spirituality in tasawwuf, the legal discourse in classical fiqh, including the new legal rulings made by the jurists and included into this discourse on historical and civilizational issues. This discourse is characterized by the intellectual stance of understanding revelation and prophecy through the mediation of the epistemological construct and its methodology throughout the centuries. This position is fundamentally related to a number of principles determining the nature of this discourse: the Absolute Being,  being al-Haqq,[2] the Absolute Truth, He Being on the Straight Divine Axis,[3] He being the Preserver (al-Muhaimin)[4] [of beings, things, meanings], then the Qur’anic revelation itself as muhaiminan ‘alaihi[5] being guardian over fundamental meanings of Divine Revelation in history, the principle of consensus in the verse on sabil al-mu’minin,[6] the role of the mujtahids,  the existence  and function of consensus (ijma’),  the appearance of the mujaddids at the head of Muslim century.[7] Then the prophetic guarantee about the continuous existence of a group in my community who will be prominently victorious on the truth until the Day of Judgment, those who differ from them will not be able to harm them.[8]

Mainstream theological discourse[9] preeminently  means the accepted theological discourse of figures like al-Ash’ari, al-Maturidi, al-Tahawi, Imam Abu Hanifah, Imam Shafi’i, al-Baqillani, al-Baghdadi, Imam al-Haramayn, al-Ghazali, al-Razi and so on until the spread of the theological texts of Umm al-Barahin, Jawharah of al-Laqqani and so on within the mainstream discourse. This covers fundamental discussions of God, Divine Nature, Attributes, Acts, manifestations in sacred history, prophecy, its function reality and nature, the angelic world, its nature, functions, revelation, the prophets and messengers, their reality, nature and functions, the hereafter, its reality, nature and function, the divine governance expressed in Divine Decree and Pre-Measurement. These realities remain, and will not cease to be. The discussions and proofs can come from revealed texts, human reasoning, the realm of nature, science, Quantum Theory, whatever. But they shall continuously be, and will not cease to be; in the nature of things, as has been so well stated, in the nature of things, it is the human who must conform to the Divine and not the Divine to the human, with all the attending intellectual and spiritual consequences.

In the domain of spirituality, the mainstream discourse in this  field is guided by  discourses of figures like Junaid al-Baghdadi, al-Qushairi, al-Ghazali, with his magisterial Ihya,  al-Jilani, al-Shadhili, and others and for those who can appreciate their real position within the ambiance of this discourse, Ibn ‘Arabi and Jalal al-Din Rumi (provided their statements are understood while anchored to the moorings of this mainstream discourse).[10] These works portray not philosophical systems but results of spiritual witnessing and not mere mental speculations of the thinker in the modern provincial sense of those who have lost their sense of the sacred and the transcendent. In modern times the work of Sa’id Nursi does provide guidance in this domain-him being a figure with a masterly grasp of mainstream classical discourse, intimate knowledge and understanding of science and technology, with authentic spiritual vision and realization, and intense educational and social activism.

In the domain of spiritual ethics, again the above figures with their discourses do guide those who are the adherents of the mainstream discourse in their ethical life in the most profound way. The spiritual ethics of al-Qushairi can be seen in his Risalah al-Qushairiyyah that of al-Ghazali of course is in the Ihya’, the Minhaj al-‘Abidin, the al-Munqidh min al-Dadal and at the deepest level, can be found in the al-Madnun (which is being edited by our young scholar al-Akiti, at the University of Oxford). The philosophical views of al-Ghazali can be seen in the Tahafut al-Falasifah and Maqasid al-Falasifah.

In the domain of Islamic sacred law, mainstream discourse is found in the views of the mujtahid imams of the four schools and their adherents. All this is relevant for contemporary times. For the Malay World the Shafi’i school is the dominant legal school which is being loyally adhered to, with a number of minor departures in some details of the law.[11]

In the domain of culture and civilization, mainstream discourse can be found in the works of Ibn Khaldun (the Muqaddimah), and those of Malik Bennabi. The  diverse subjects discoursed in this sacred community[12] is reflected in al-Fihrist of Ibn Nadim,  the  Kitab al-Sa’adah of Tashkopruzade, discussed in al-Muqaddimah of Ibn Khaldun, with the technical terms elucidated in such works, among others as the monumental Kashshat Istilahat al-Funnun of ‘Abd al-Razzaq al-Tahanawi.[13]

ISSUES AND PERSPECTIVES

When we come to the question of the position of Islamic mainstream discourse in the Malay World, we find that this has been discussed in an engaging manner in that important work Modern Trends in Islamic Theological Discourses in Twentieth Century Indonesia: A Critical Survey by Fauzan Saleh[14] We can touch on some of the important issues in the work later. The other work Islam and the Malay-Indonesian World by Peter Riddell[15] gives very summarized situation of the Islamic discourse in the Malay-Indonesian World, of course with no special focus on the notion of mainstream intellectual discourse as such. Nevertheless it is a useful work giving a summary of the intellectual situation. Only that the present writer feels other dimensions from the Malaysia scene should addressed.

We have  seen this mainstream discourse in the Malay-Indonesian World in the theological texts like Matan al-Jawharah of al-Laqqani, the Bidayatul Hidayah of Shamsuddin  of Acheh, the elaborations of texts of Umm al-Barahin and others, the texts ranging from the simple Faridah al-Fara’id of Ahmad al-Fatani to the possibly most   massive theological work Ward alZawahir of Shaikh Daud al-Fatani, then ‘Aqidatul-Najin of Shaykh Zayn al-‘Abidin al-Fatani and others. The mainstream position in theological domain is also reflected in the Tuhfah al-Raghibin of Shaykh Arsyad al-Banjari dealing with various deviationist groups which are at variance with the accepted mainstream discourse of the community.[16]

In relation to this discussion on mainstream discourse and its realization in the Malay World there are a number of concerns like the following:

  • Rejection of ta’wil for mutashabihat elements in the Qur’an and Sunnah, whereas the salaf also did use ta’wil[17] whenever necessary; not using ta’wil will make certain expressions not understandable to the  common believer; so the  choice is between tafwid submission and acceptance, leaving the meanings and reality to Allah or ta’wil for the common man of belief to avoid  leading people to heresy of attributing attributes of creation to God.
  • The intellectual attitude of rejection of the use of elements from philosophy in theological discussions considering this as bid’ah; mainstream position permits its use whenever necessity demands; reasoning has to use tools, like logic, terms or  jauhar, arad – like now substance, accidents, atoms, quarks, electrons and etc even though the Prophet saw did not use it for obvious reasons to person of sound reason. Use of logic has been considered as part of the meanings of the hadith which reads wisdom is the lost property of the believer, wherever he finds it he is most entitled to it by al-Munawi in his commentary of the Jami al-Saghir of al-Suyuti.
  • The accusation that there is rejection of philosophy totally, leading to intellectual sterility, something not compatible with the intellectual aspirations of a man like al-Ghazali and others like him.
  • Division of tauhid into various categories such as tawhid rubiyyah, uluhiyyah and asma’ wa al-sifat in total isolation, hence leading to the attribution of  shirk to tawassul and so on; a stance not found in mainstream discourse, with  the practical consequences in history and life. The Qur’anic verses taken as proofs for this stance are not valid (al-‘Ankabut, 65) etc.
  • The claim of some quarters that  secularism has prevailed  in the Malay World  and elsewhere in the Muslim World leading to wholesale apostasy, collective apostasy etc, what are the implications? The  coming of the British to Malaya brought secularism and etc (with the theologico-spiritual  consequence with Turkey as an exception, with her Principles of Kemalism)
  • See the concept of secularism as defined by George J. Holyoake.[18] “Secularism is the study of promoting human welfare by material means; measuring human welfare by the utilitarian rule, and making the service of others a duty of life. Secularism relates to the present existence of man, and to action, the issues of which can be tested by the experience of this life – having for its objects the development of the physical, moral, and intellectual nature of man to the highest perceivable point, as the immediate duty of society: inculcating the practical sufficiency of natural morality apart from Atheism, Theism, or Christianity: engaging its adherents in the promotion of human improvement by material means, and making these agreements the ground of common unity for all who would regulate life by reason and ennoble it by service. The Secular is sacred in its influence on life, for by purity of material conditions the loftiest natures are best sustained, and the lower the most surely elevated. Secularism is a series of principles intended for the guidance of those who find Theology indefinite, or inadequate, or deem it unreliable. It replaces theology, which mainly regards life as a sinful necessity, as a scene of tribulation through which we pass to a better world. Secularism rejoices in this life, and regards it as the sphere of those duties which educate men to fitness for any future and better life, should such transpire.”[19] To the present writer of this paper this has nothing to do with Malaysia and many other Muslim countries, with the exception of Turkey, which has made secularism as her state philosophy.[20]
  • The rejection of classical theology and metaphysics under the influence of postmodernism,  deconstructionism etc, rejection of rigid definitions in theology, of iman-kufr dichotomy, truth-batil  etc considered as ‘irrelevant confrontations’ in intellectual discourse.

In the  domain  of spirituality we have seen the  writings of Shaikh Abd al-Samad al-Falimbani with his Sayr al-Salikin and the Hidayah al-Salikin and others Kan al-Minan Sharah of Hikam Abi Madyan by Shaykh Daud al-Fatani, the translation of Minhaj al-‘Abidin of al-Ghazali by Shaykh Daud al-Fatani and others, then the  writings of Shaikh Yusuf of Maskasar (in Arabic and some already translated into Indonesian  for example by Tudjimah) and other works reflecting mainstream position in spirituality, away from deviationist  leanings.

So with the mainstream epistemological construct in the Malay World, together with its methodology and tools, this remains intellectually and spiritually valid until the present; and all this include matters like revelation, prophecy, human reason and experience, within a system teaching man dimensions of knowing. Other data of knowledge – including contemporary findings and useful interpretations – can be incorporated within it and there is no intellectual necessity for abandoning this intellectual construct in seeking for a better one as alternative for us simply there is no better one. And there is no question of looking for an alternative either, because this is not a matter of looking for something like clothing for the sake of novelty; this is a question touching the substance of the human spirit and intellect.

For example, the epistemological construct of Shafi’i in law and the philosophy of law, has not been intellectually invalidated; new matters should be incorporated into it, new keys can be found for unraveling its discussions, but the framework is valid. The spiritual, ethical and philosophical construct of al-Ghazali is still valid and legitimate; it has never been successfully invalidated intellectually and spiritually; in fact we are indebted to him for such profound discussions on religious matters starting from the philosophical, ethical, spiritual and metaphysical, ranging from al-Munqidh, Tahafut, al-Ihya then Mishkat al-Anwar then al-Madnun.[21]

In fact there is no question of substituting new epistemological constructs to take the place of those narratives, simply because critiques  against them has failed to provide convincing arguments for such substitutions, all the more so those arguments has not been based on authentic understanding  of the previous constructs which are considered as to have been invalidated or intellectually obsolete.

Arguments of being jumud or static and unchanging, stagnant, can be leveled against individuals and certain institutions but not against the authentic expressions of the mainstream discourse itself. So when the issue is seen in the context of the total construct, there is no valid argument against the construct or the discourse itself. Granted there is the necessity for re-understanding the discourse; but there is no argument invalidating it.

The argument about Islamic theology being based on Greek philosophy, or infused with Greek influence, this has to be looked at closely. First Islamic theology in the sense of usul al-din is based on the Qur’an, Hadith, ijma’, and elaborations of those who are knowledgeable in Islamic learning. The theological conclusions are not based on hurried speculations but based on the Qur’an and Sunnah as well as ijma’. Logic was accepted for systematic reasoning and disciplined thinking and writing; that is why al-Munawi the traditionist calls it as one of the meanings of the hadith about the lost property of the believer (dallatul-mu’min).For example the use of such terms as jawhar and ‘arad by Imam Shafi’i for example, this shows the imam’s exposure to the intellectual currents of his day. For us now we should also not be unaware of Quantum Theory in physics etc.

There are other arguments against mainstream theological discourse, arguments against ilm al-kalam quoting the imams as being against this field itself such arguments against kalam are based either on prejudicial interpretations of their statements (Shafi’i’s statements and others against kalam) not in accordance with the context of those statements themselves. For example their statements are not blanket statements covering all of ilm al-kalam, for instance as explained by Imam al-Ghazali, but those which lead people astray  from the correct theological position of mainstream  discourse.

Arguments of bid’ah: arguments against matters seen as reprehensible innovations; yet   when examined in the light of objective mainstream discourse they will be found to be hasty conclusions, immature reasoning, misdirected or not based on thorough understanding of the issues; or just pure fanatical adherence to a certain view closing the mind against other views, coupled with the attitude of rejecting the ethics of differences taught by the imams of the community. Hence the necessity for education in the objective total mainstream discourse legitimized by consensus as well as for education in the etiquette and ethics of handling differences.

Arguments against madhhab: arguments against the emergence of and adherence to the madhhabs in fiqh, usul al-fiqh with their methodologies, if looked deeper into the relevant issues, will speak for their intellectual and positive strength rather than the reverse.

Arguments of backwardness of the community supposedly caused by Islamic sacred sciences: when examined objectively both from the point of view of the authentic expressions of the sciences themselves and the manifestations of such so called impacts will be found to have been half-truths; and many of such matters of such questions are results of half-truths.

Arguments  concerning the negative impact of Sufism on the ummah, apart from the practice and wrongful understanding of that science as explained by the Sufis themselves,  when  scrutinized objectively will be proven to have  been grounded on imperfect or insufficient understanding of that field of discipline, from the authentic original sources, and legitimized in mainstream discourse.

Arguments of Batiniyyah influence in Islamic spirituality: usually are arguments by selected instances, not taking into consideration the total perspective of spirituality; usually they are persuaded by   prejudicial interpretations of data and not objective.

Then arguments against Sufism as pantheism (even by a figure like Iqbal) and others are not based on the authentic understanding of the issues by the recognized Sufis themselves, but rather on prejudicial interpretations of “outsiders” even if these happen to be Muslims, but who have lost real contact with their own tradition and have lost intellectual and cultural confidence vis-à-vis that tradition. So there is the intellectual and spiritual necessity for re-learning this tradition seriously. Of course there is no measure between the spiritual witnessing of the Gnostics (knowers in God) (arifin bi’Llah)   and mere philosophical speculation of the Western pantheists of the 19th century West. But with the loss of real spiritual perspective the arguments carry weight for some writers, including Muslims who have been schooled in that alien intellectual ambiance.

Arguments of extraneous influences on Sufism not from Islamic sources is not based on authentic understanding of the  sources and its intrinsic history, but rather on intellectual fashion influenced by Western scholarship of a certain kind, with the position of always seeing “influences” in things and thoughts, whenever appearances of superficial  similarities are observed,  without considering the inward reality of the ummatic civilization and the dynamics of revelation and the life in the sacred, spiritual illumination, for instance as discussed in Risalah al-Qushairiyyah and even the Muqaddimah of Ibn Khaldun, Qut al-Qulub and Kitab al-Ta’arruf of al-Kalabadhi, among others. Only later some Western scholars have revised some of their views like Arberry and Massignon. This is not to forget also, of course, the works of Martin Lings and others in his group.

Concerning arguments against the authenticity and the history of the text of the Qur’an and the hadith, this has been done by our scholars based on painstaking research into the original sources, including newly found manuscripts, which support the mainstream position of Muslim scholars. Hence the negative position taken by Ignaz Goldziher and Joseph Schacht in such matters has been given the necessary responses by scholars like Hamidullah, Zubayr Siddiqi, Mustafa al-Siba’i, and Mustafa al-A’zami. Yet those   who prefer to choose the path of taqlid in relation to the views of such scholars still   follow those exploded views; among them can be mentioned Mohammed Arkoun of Paris.

In relation to this discussion on mainstream discourse and its realization in the Malay World there are a number of concerns like the following:

  • The claim of some quarters that  secularism has prevailed  in the Malay World  and elsewhere in the Muslim World leading to wholesale apostacy, collective apostacy etc…what are the implications? The  coming of the British to Malaya brought secularism…etc (with the theologico-spiritual  consequences… with Turkey as an exception, with her Principles of Kemalism)
  • See the concept of secularism as defined by George J. Holyoake.[22] “Secularism is the study of promoting human welfare by material means; measuring human welfare by the utilitarian rule, and making the service of others a duty of life. Secularism relates to the present existence of man, and to action, the issues of which can be tested by the experience of this life – having for its objects the development of the physical, moral, and intellectual nature of man to the highest perceivable point, as the immediate duty of society: inculcating the practical sufficiency of natural morality apart from Atheism, Theism, or Christianity: engaging its adherents in the promotion of human improvement by material means, and making these agreements the ground of common unity for all who would regulate life by reason and ennoble it by service. The Secular is sacred in its influence on life, for by purity of material conditions the loftiest natures are best sustained, and the lower the most surely elevated. Secularism is a series of principles intended for the guidance of those who find Theology indefinite, or inadequate, or deem it unreliable. It replaces theology, which mainly regards life as a sinful necessity, as a scene of tribulation through which we pass to a better world. Secularism rejoices in this life, and regards it as the sphere of those duties which educate men to fitness for any future and better life, should such transpire.”[23] This has nothing to do with Malaysia and other Muslim countries, with the exception of Turkey, which has made secularism as her state philosophy.
  • There are matters of spiritual and intellectual concerns which should be addressed effectively and seriously.
  • The rejection of epistemological authority in the classical sense.
  • The position of taking the Qur’an as product of history and culture like other documents in human history.
  • Rejection of hadith, as a product of culture, “projection backwards” theory.
  • The rejection of classical theology and metaphysics under the influence of postmodernism,  deconstructionism etc, rejection of rigid definitions in theology, of iman-kufr dichotomy, truth-batil  etc considered as “irrelevant confrontations” in intellectual discourse.
  • Rejection of traditional notion of  wahy,  nubuwwah.
  • Existence of two parallel system Sharia courts And civil courts now being addressed with various degrees of success and failure in Muslim countries.
  • Rejection of schools of Islamic jurisprudence and the claim of ijtihad, the rejection of taqlid or following qualified scholarship  in Islamic legal discourse by “reformists”, “reformers” as compared to the conservative traditionalists
  • Kaum Tua-Kaum Muda  controversy of the  1950s and 1960s –coming back under the name of Salafi movement
  • The rejection of  classical legal schools of jurisprudence under the influence of thinking along postmodernist lines in Indonesia,  manifested in the intellectual trend of Norcholish Majid, Ulil Abshar Abdalla etc, influence of Arkoun e.g the essay in Liberal Islam A Source Book edited by Charles Kurzman. Thinking that Islamic fiqh is product of culture like other human laws (not infallible , change with the times etc if understood literally, unreservedly then).
  • The notion that Islamic sacred law is a product of culture and history like any other aspects of human discourse being  products  of history and culture, hence  time-bound and space-bound
  • The people-ulil-amri relationship of classical discourse being replaced by neo-Kharijie position of  the position of rebellion against authority etc
  • The interpretation of the verse wa man lam yahkum[24] etc leading to rebellion against authority.

THE WAY FORWARD

  • Back to mainstream discourse  with education, da’wah, social  work, dissemination of  publications in mainstream discourse.
  • Heal relationship between the ulil-amri and the people.
  • Cooperation of all quarters- the authorities,  the media, educationists, professionals.
  • Enhance  mainstream discourse through writings, seminars, workshops,  blogs, etc
  • Formation of networking for promoting mainstream discourse.
  • Research and translations, publications in relation to works on mainstream discourse. Mention can be made of the Islamic Text Society of United Kingdom which is publishing such texts in English.[25]
  • Mention can be made of conferences by YADMI-YADIM in Indonesia and Malaysia  since around four years ago leading  to the acceptance of the position that : the Malay World must continue  with mainstream discourse of the People of Tradition and the Community, enhancing this position, taking this discourse as creed, epistemology and civilizational framework. Wal-hamdulillah Rabbi al-‘alamin.

In conclusion it can be suggested that there is certitude, clarity, stability, and coherence in this discourse; and traditional sources tell us in such matters traditional sources only do matter- this is the discourse that is guaranteed to be victorious till the end of time and be sustainable in the intellectual and spiritual sense to the end of early time. Hence  there is the absolute necessity for re-understanding of and  adherence to as well as being enhanced by the four intellectual poles of mainstream discourse: Ash’ari-Maturidi theological discourse, with suitable additional  materials; the Ghazalian spiritual, ethical and philosophical discourse,  with suitable additional materials (in modern times with additional materials from the writings of Badiuzzaman Said Nursi); the Shafi’e legal discourse, and that of  other mujtahids etc, with suitable  additional materials;  the Khaldunian discourse with suitable additional materials in cultural and civilizational discourse (in modern times  with additional materials from the  works of Malik Bennabi).

Wallahu a’lam.


[1] This paper is prepared for the Second International Seminar On Islamic Thought, organized by the National University of Malaysia on 6th October 2009. The author is Very Distinguished Academic Fellow, at the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Board of Directors at the Integrity Institute of Malaysia.

[2] One of the Beautiful Perfect Divine Names of the Asma’ al-Husna

[3] Reference to the verse to the effect Truly my Lord is on the Straight Path (Sirat al-Mustaqim)

[4] Al-Muhaimin being one of the Asma’ al-Husna. Al-Hashr, 23.

[5] Reference to the Qur’anic verse  to the effect standing as a guardian over it (Scripture) determining what is true therein hence its  statements about the Jewish and Christian traditions, correcting their positions in fundamental matters (al-Ma’idah, 48.Tr Tafsir al-Rahman, English version, JAKIM, 2008).

[6] With reference to the verse al-Nisa’,115.

[7] With reference to the tradition related in Abu Daud, “Truly Allah will raise up at the beginning of every century one (reviver man yujaddidu) who will revive the religion of this community.”

[8] Hadith Muslim: (رواه مسلم في كتاب الإمارة، باب قوله صلى الله عليه وسلم: ”لاتزال طائفة من أمتي ظاهرين على الحق لا يضرهم من خالفهم” حديث .1926). And hadith Muslim (أخرج مسلم عن معاوية قال سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم  يقول :لا تزال طائفة من أمتى قائمة بأمر الله لا  يضرهم من خذلهم أو خالفهم حتى يأتى أمر الله وهم ظاهرون على الناس))

[9] The spiritual and intellectual ‘temper’ of this discourse has been well summariseby by ‘Abd al-Qahir al-Baghdadi in his al-Farq bain al-Firaq, Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah,n Beirut,  n.d. especially pp 239- 286, among others. The positions taken can be gleaned from from previous texts of  Imam Abu Hanifah, al-Shafi’I, al-Tahawi, al-Ash’ari, al-Baqillani, al-Juwaini,   with differences in some details; followed later in texts of al-Ghazali, al-Razi, al-Sanusi, al-Laqqani,  Shah Waliyullah al-Dihlawi and so on.

[10] One example of seeing Ibn ‘Arabi  anchored to the mainstream discourse  can be done for instance as elucidated, among many others,  in easily accessible and  very useful and informative article ‘Shaykh Muhyi al-Din Ibn Arabi in the site http://www.sunnah.org/aqida/gh/ibnarabi/ibnarabi.htm with the necessary references.

[11] Like the payment of cash for ‘zakat fitrah’  and other matters especially in relation to economic and financial transactions.

[12] Of course  we are not forgetting the monumental work of Carl Brockelmann the well known GAL with the  supplement volumes.

[13] Kashshaf Istilahat al-Funun A Dictionary of the Technical Terms used in The Sciences of the Musalmans, edited by Mawlawies Mohammad Wajih, Abd al-Haqq and Gholam Kadir under the superentendance  of Dr Aloys Sprenger , M.D., Ph.D. and Captain W.Nassau  Lees, LLD. Published by The Asiatic Society of Bengal, under the series of Bibliotheca Indica, A Collection of Oriental Works, Old Series,   printed at W.N.Lee’s Press, 1862.

[14] Publisher: Brill, Boston, 2001.

[15] Horizon Books, Singapore, 2003 (reprinted from 2001 edition)

[16] Concerning the contents of this work this can be dseen in the paper presented by the present writer entitled Pendidikan dan Da’wah oleh Syaykh Muhammad Arsyad al-Banjari (r.a.) presented in the Regional Seminar On Shaykh Muhammad Arshad Al-Banjari – Seminar Serantau Sheikh Muhammad Arsyah al Banjari – at Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan from 4th October  2003. This conference was organized jointly by ABIM, DBP Malaysia, IAIN Antasari Banjarmasin, Majlis Ulama Propinsi Kalimantan Selatan and Badan Pengelola Masjid Raya Sabil al-Muhtadin with the cooperation of  Fakulti Bahasa Moden dan Komunikasi Universiti Putra Malaysia, Akademi Kajian Ketamadunan dan Persatuan Ulama Kedah. Important data among others are accessed through the good offices of our late Brother  Tuan Haji Wan Mohd Shaghir bin Abdullah, who has managed to gather much materials  with so much labour of love. Kaththara’Llahu amthalah. Amin.

[17] For example the ‘leader of the Salaf generation’ al-Tabari uses ta’wil for a number of mutashabihat verses of the Qur’an in his tafsir.

[18] In the work  Principles of Secularism by George Jacob Holyoake,1870, 3rd edition revised, London, Austin & Co, 17, Johnson’s Court Fleet Street.

[19] Chapter III p.11.

[20] There is even the intellectually indefensible stance stating that Mu’awiyah –Allah be pleased with him- was the one who started secularism in Islamic history, and that the Umayyad dynasty was a ‘secular government’. Subhana’Llah. Where are the thought-categories of our people in the ummah based on the pervasive ‘ahkam khamsah’? We seemed to have borrowed an alien thought-category to the point ofd losing grasp of our own.

[21] Recollecting a private discussion with our brother Dr al-Akiti of Oxford about a month ago in Kuala Lumpur.

[22] In the work  ‘Principles of Secularism’ by George Jacob Holyoake,1870,3RD edition, revised, London:Austin & Co, 17, Johnson’Court, Fleet Street..

[23] Chapter III p.11.

[24] Al-Ma’idah: 47, 48, 50 the understanding of which should be referred to mainstream theological discourse and exegesis, and not personal musings.

[25] The present writer recently presented a paper ‘The Sustainability of the Translation Field: The case of Mainstream Islamic Intellectual Discourse’,(18th August, Hotel Park Royal, Penang, 11.00-12,00 noon) ; it is published  in proceedings of the 12th International Conference On Translation 2009 entitled, The Sustainability of the Translation Field, eds.Hasuria Che Omar Ph.D, Haslina Haroon, Ph.D., Aniswal Abd.Ghani, Ph.D., published by Persatuan Penterjemah Malaysia, 2009 pp.22-27; it is accepted as one of the 5 plenary papers.

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