Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilizations, a campus of Aga Khan University in London organises series of lectures with special focus on Muslim heritage, modernity, culture, religion and society. AKU-ISMC scholars and students use critical thinking to conduct innovative research into Muslim civilizations and religious traditions from primarily the perspectives of the social sciences and humanities.
The present lecture in the series held at Aga Khan University, Pakistan on February 21, 2020, was on ‘Islam Reformist Tradition in the 19th Century through unknown works of Muhammad Abduh (1849-1905)‘.
Dr Waleed Ghali, Assistant Professor at AKU ISMC, spoke about the significant role of Muhammad Abduh in the Islamic reform movement in the second half of the 19th century, his thought about political and social reform that lead to reforming Islam.
Muhammad Abduh, Mufti of the Egyptian realm, is one of the most famous figures in recent Islam. In Egypt, he is now generally remembered as a great scholar and a patriot, a great renewer of Islam and one of those who awakened the nation. That said, there have always been mixed views among scholars, in the Muslim world and the West, about regarding him as the leading modernist of Islam. For some, his modernism consisted of creating a synthesis of Islam and modern thought; for others, it consisted of a bridge he built between the old world and the new one. Some see him as having revived the true Islam, and some see him as having proposed an alternative to true Islam.
Amongst the many manuscripts and publications that were written during and after Abduh’s life, there have always been unknown works that have been discovered by scholars over the last fifty years. Dr Waleed Ghali finds himself fortunate to identify some unknown works within the rare books collection of the Aga Khan Library in London. It is believed that the collection belongs to the category of the “Unknown Works”. The preliminary analyses show that the handwriting of the manuscripts matches the autograph manuscript of Muhammad Abduh.
About the Speaker
Dr Ghali, holds a Masters degree in Islamic Studies and an Executive Management Diploma from the American University in Cairo. His research interests include: Arabic literature; Islamic manuscripts; bibliographies; sufism; and the history of writing.