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The Study Of Islam From Islam in History By Bernard Lewis

The Study Of Islam

During the nineteenth century the forms, language, and to some extent even the structure of public life in the Muslim Countries were given a Western and therefore a secular appearance. In those countries which were under European domination, the process was slow, cautious, and incomplete;

In those where Muslim rulers retained political independence, they were able to impose Westernising reforms with greater ruthlessness and fewer fear or inhibitions. By nationalizing the waqf revenues and introducing modern. i.e. Western-style - law and education, they simultaneously deprived the ulema both of their financial independence and of a large part of their function and influence, and reduced them in effect to a branch of the bureaucracy.

The men of the faith now became servant and spokesman of the state, who successively justified reform, reaction, liberalism, and socialism, from the same texts and by the same methods of exegesis.

The state itself, struggling for survival in a world dominated by the European powers, adopted European forms and procedures and drew increasingly, in the recruitment and promotion of its personnel, on those whose education and aptitude enabled them to meet the needs of this situation- that is to say, on the minority who knew a Western Language, had at least a tincture of Western education and had therefore acquired some Western habits of behaviour and perhaps of thought. From this time onwards, identity is defined and loyalty claimed on national rather than communal lines; criticism and aspiration are formulated in secular not religious terms.

 

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