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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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Series Editor’s Preface


Three Western Muslim Thinkers on the Challenges of Modernity

Andy Yu’s study of the thought of Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Bassam Tibi and Tariq Ramadan is both original and timely. Here are three Muslims who live in the West and whose thought, to a greater or lesser extent, reflects the situation of Muslims in a minority position. This is a new context in which Muslim thinkers find themselves: almost all the great thinkers of previous generations, whether or not they sought to address challenges which Islam faced, reflected upon a situation in which Islam was the majority religion in the country concerned.

This book also addresses from a different perspective the much vaunted ‘conflict of civilizations’ between a supposedly unified ‘Islamic civilization’ and the West. In reality, given the varied responses of Muslim thinkers in the West, the idea of civilizational homogeneity is rendered illusory. The more influential clash of opinion is within civilizations, which makes a single, unified, approach unattainable. The differing responses to the Arab Spring are a case in point. A Saudi writer, Mshari al-Zaydi, writing in 2011, called the Arab Spring ‘the Muslim Brotherhood Spring’ and ‘a political Islamist tsunami’. Addressing the issue of ‘double speak’, al-Zaydi asked ‘what guarantee do we have that these religious fundamentalists will relinquish power once their failure is revealed, particularly as all the elements of power will be in their hands? Did this work out in Iran which has been ruled by Khomeneist disciples for...

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