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Thinking Between Islam and the West

The Thoughts of Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Bassam Tibi and Tariq Ramadan


Chi-Chung (Andy) Yu

In this book, the author assesses the social vision of three western Muslim intellectuals, Seyyed H. Nasr, Bassam Tibi and Tariq Ramadan. He finds that the thoughts of Nasr and his students promote a kind of tradition-based society, which is in harmony with the Divine Law in Islam and a hierarchical structure of society. The thoughts of Tibi advocate the concept of Euro-Islam, which tries to rationalize Islam and renders it a personal religion in the private domain. Finally, the thoughts of Ramadan emphasize a communicative society, in which dialogue between Muslims and non-Muslims on public affairs is crucial. The author tries to understand how these three social orders can complement each other. He compares and contrasts their ideas in order to show that modern Islamic thought is not monolithic but pluralistic, and that they present different social visions for Islam in the West. However, Muslims are often labelled as a minority group and so implicitly excluded from being part of the West: the thoughts of Muslim writers help reflect this problem. The author maintains that these Muslim intellectuals in the West should be fully recognized as western intellectuals.


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Chapter 2: Seyyed H. Nasr, Traditional Islam and the Return to the Sacred


Chapter 2 Seyyed H. Nasr, Traditional Islam and the Return to the Sacred Introduction Having reviewed the concept of modernity, I now focus attention on three Western Muslim intellectuals, Seyyed H. Nasr, Bassam Tibi and Tariq Ramadan. In the following chapters I will examine and evaluate their thought and articulate and highlight their intellectual contribution to Islam in the West. In this chapter, the focus is on Nasr. The starting point for Nasr is the concept of tradition, since he emphasizes and frequently employs this con- cept in response to modernism, and his idea of tradition is primarily moral and religious. The main purpose of this chapter is to extend his concept of tradition in the social and public domain. Therefore, I shall not examine Nasr’s thought on topics such as sacred science and religious pluralism, something which has been done by many other scholars (see the intellec- tual biography below), though we will come across them in the course of the study. My focus, rather, is on the social implications of Traditionalism or Traditional Islam. Moreover, compared with studies of the ideas about Islam of the other two thinkers (Tibi and Ramadan), presentation of the ideas of Nasr is not new, but exploration of the social implications of these ideas is. Therefore, in the case of Tibi and Ramadan my study is mainly based on their primary sources, while in the case of Nasr my approach is based on the development from the ‘known’ (Traditionalism) to the ‘unknown’ (its...

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