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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 3: Bassam Tibi, Civil Islam and Cross-civilizational Bridging


Chapter 3 Bassam Tibi, Civil Islam and Cross-civilizational Bridging Introduction Having examined the thought of Nasr in the previous chapter, I turn now to examine another source of Muslim rationality exercised in relation to Islam in the modern world. If we say that Nasr argues for an Islamic return to the Sacred, a kind of religious reformation, then the thought of Bassam Tibi also intends to reform Islam, but in the opposite direction. For Tibi, such reform should involve a return to the secular, rather than a return to the Sacred. Both Nasr and Tibi are concerned with the transformation of Islam in the modern world. Nasr is worried about the secularization of Islam, while for Tibi it is the politicization of Islam that is most worrying. Tibi argues that Islamic fundamentalism is indeed a kind of politicization of Islam, which does not simply consist of suicide bombing or violent activities, but has also developed as a defensive reaction against cultural modernism and as an alternative global order against the civil order in the West. For Tibi, the promotion and formation of a civil Islam is the only way out of the politicization of Islam in the modern world. In this chapter, I examine and evaluate the thought of Tibi in detail. This chapter consists of three parts. First, I will discuss Tibi’s intellectual biography, with a focus on his educational background, that is, the Frankfurt school of critical theory and its application in international relations (IR). Second, starting from...

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