Author: Abdelilah Belkeziz (**)

Book review by: Ziad Hafez (***)

Published by: Guthner, Paris  

Year of publication: 2012

Number of pages: 398

ISBN: 978-2-7053-3861-9

The book addresses the history of religious thought in Islam with a primary focus on contemporary and modern religious interpretation movements, their different schools and major texts. The author is obsessed by the need to dispel the stereotypical image of Islam in the Western mind as a single hypostatic world and body of thought devoid of diversity and pluralism, with no independent interpretation or freedom of thought. To dispel this image, he highlights efforts by Islam’s major thought traditions, be they oral, philosophical or jurisprudential, as they jostle one another, signalling these thinkers’ openness on the sources of ancient human thought (Greek, Indian, Persian, and local Arab heritage of the Jahiliyya period). He underlines the openness of these thinkers towards each other as well, despite their differences of opinion, frameworks and intellectual reference systems.

Another way Ziad Hafez dispels this image is by shedding considerable light on the renewal currents in contemporary and modern Islamic religious thought, particularly in the Arab world, and highlighting the courageous statements of various scholars and the depth with which they dealt with textual religious issues. He also shows how the initiators of these currents read and understood the text from a novel historical and knowledge-based perspective, without ignoring the adverse reaction against these renewal attempts and their main intellectual symbols, on the part of traditional conservative forces and contemporary fundamentalist Islamist movements. In his attempt to dispel these shabby and trite ideological images about Islam in some Orientalist discourses, and in the Zionist-inspired Western media, Hafez actually continues what the late Edward Said had started – as George Corm rightly observes in his Preface to the book – by refuting the veracity of this ever-present colonial view towards Arabs and Islam. He unmasks both its ideological nature, which is totally alien to science and historical reality, as well as the flagrant animosity deployed in the service of colonial objectives, reached by spreading Islamophobia.

Read full text here  La Pensée Religieuse en Islam Contemporain [Religious Thought in Contemporary Islam]

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