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Glimpses of Islam - Review

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Glimpses of Islam
Publication Type  Book Review
Year of Publication  Submitted
Authors  M.H.
Original Authors  Agha Khan; Dr. Zaki Ali
Key Words  Full Text Online; English
Full Text  

This small yet important booklet contains three articles of unequal length. Fundamental of Islam (10 pp by Agha Khan) Islam and Medical Sciences (43 pp. By Zaki Ali), and Religious Revival of Islam (10 pp by both the authors).

The sequence of chapters, in the mind of the authors, seems to be that in the post-war world there will be a great desire in the Christina west to change their old order. Therefore, the first article seeks to give a small compass a survey of what fundamentals of Islam. Then they want to combat the western prejudices against Islam by endeavouring to show that Islam has always encouraged the pursuit of science and furthered progress; and as an example the contribution of the Muslims to medical sciences has been outlined. Lastly they want to revive the inherent, though actually dormant, capability of Islam to adapt itself to all times and climes without, however, losing its essentials. For this they propose an ad hoc all-Islam conference to undertake Ijtihad by means of Ijma.

At the end of the first world war - H.H. the Aga Khan and Syed Ameer Ali, although they themselves represented the two main dissentient sects opposing the main Sunni caliphate, had tried to persuade the Turks not to abolish the institution of caliphate. The opportunity was missed for the obstinacy of the Ata Turk, to end the great schism in the Islamic political society existing for the last thousand and more years.

It is symptomatic of new times that young Islam is not content with the artificial watertight compartments of sectarianism in Islam perpetuated by Mullas of both sides. And at the close of the second world-war, the son of the Aga Khan has come forward boldly to say :-

The interpretation of Islam which I wish to present is not that of the sect to which I myself belong, that is, the Ismaili sect, nor that of the Shi'a school in general ... I wish to present to my western readers the vast Sunni stream school founded by al-Gazali and the development from century to century, as far as is know, of the sources of that school's interpretation of the Quran and of the life of the Prophet. (p8)

A few extracts of the concluding chapters would better interpret what the authors have to say on the "Rival of Islam, " for which they propose :- "holding an All-Islam conference which would represent the various numerous peoples of Islam...composed of delegates, including distinguished and representative learned men as well as leaders of thought from all parts of the Muslim world ... not limited to Sunnites only, but the Shi'a te sects and subjects (e.g. The Ismaili sect headed by Agha Khan) should be invited to the conference which can thus become a truly representative assembly of the entire Islamic world.

The main objects of such conference would be :- 1. To come to an agreement on the most appropriate interpretation, in the light of the present age, of Muslim law in all its aspects...Such an interpretation, by means of Ijtihad, can be made within the general limits of the Quran and Traditions...It is , therefore, necessary to seek again a direct contact with the Quran and with the authentic Traditions.

2. And until the caliphate is restored, the congress may eventually become a sort of a permanent Muslim Assembly, a sort of an Islamic League of Nations concerned with Muslim welfare in all domains...

3. Another important object...would be to emphasize the necessity of mastering the economic resources of nature...

4. A further and important object of the conference would be to encourage and work out the best measures of Muslim activity for spreading Islamic culture both in India and in Africa.

5. Pan-Islamism is a real heritage of every Muslim...not political Pan-Islamism..a spiritual union of Muslims, a religious and moral unity...Only thus will it be possible for Muslim countries to take their worthy place in the rebuilding of the the post-war world and to render the highest services to mankind (pp. 62-72).

Transcription of Arabic proper names is sometimes loose. Again, (on p. 25) the old error has been repeated that Muslims entered Spain only in the time of Umaiyads, under Tariq.. As was shown by us, in a previous issue of Islamic Culture, it was much earlier, in the time of the 3rd Caliph Uthman, in the year 27 H., that Muslims first got a foothold in Andalus, and remained there until Tariq came to complete the subjugation of the Peninsula (Vide, Gibbon's Decline and Fall and Tabariy'sAnnales.)

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