Islam, Christianity and Tradition: A Comparative Exploration

Islam, Christianity and Tradition: A Comparative Exploration

Islam, Christianity and Tradition: A Comparative Exploration

Islam, Christianity and Tradition: A Comparative Exploration

Synopsis

Offers a unique comparative exploration of the role of tradition in Islam and Christianity. The idea of 'tradition' has enjoyed a variety of senses and definitions in Islam and Christianity, but both have cleaved at certain times to a supposedly 'golden age' of tradition from the past. In comparing the role of tradition in Islam and Christianity, key themes are explored:
• The roles of authority
• Fundamentalism
• The use of reason
• Ijtihad (independent thinking)• Original comparisons between Islamic Salafism and Christian LefebvrismThe author suggests there has been a chain of thinkers from classical Islam to the twentieth century who share a common interest in ijtihad (or independent thinking). Drawing on past and present evidence, and using Christian tradition as a focus for contrast and comparison, the author highlights the seemingly paradoxical harmony between tradition and itjihad in Islam. The author draws on a variety of primary and secondary sources including contemporary newspaper and journal articles, documents and letters, adding an immediacy to a lucid and stimulating text. Key Features
• Proposes a new vocabulary for the articulation of Islam
• Offers original comparisons between Salafism and Lefebvrism
• Highlights the paradoxical harmony between tradition and itjihad in Islam
• Articulates the yearning amongst today's Muslim and Christian traditionalists for a revival of a 'golden age' from whence, they believe, all good traditions derive

Excerpt

We live in an age when the tired paradigms of public perception reign supreme. Stereotype is all. in this respect, the new millennium is no different from the old. Samuel P. Huntington famously talked of the potential clash of two civilisations, a Western Christian and an Eastern Islamic. the Kosovan crisis of 1999 provided an interesting example of that within the former communist Yugoslavia, with Serbian forces of the Christian Orthodox faith conducting a policy of ethnic cleansing against Kosovan Albanians. the profound irony of this particular conflict, in the light of Huntington's prognostication, was that 'the West' in the form of the nato Alliance, allied with, rather than fought against, Kosovan Albanian Islam.

Much more omnipresent is that paradigm of public perception whose essence is the clash of two seemingly immovable and invincible stereotypes, rather than civilisations: that beloved in Europe and the usa, especially since 11 September 2001, of a fanatically terrorist Islam, and that beloved by some 'fundamentalist' Muslims of an utterly corrupt and morally bankrupt West. Both stereotypes are fostered and fed by a press hungry for scandal and saleable copy, but the Western stereotype, at least, is part of an ancient tradition.

While rejecting such stereotypes, this volume will explore other paradigms and vocabularies, more firmly based in reality, often with particular reference to the concepts of tradition and authority in Islam. As it does so, frequent comparisons will be made with Christian concepts of tradition and authority by way of illuminating the Islamic dimension. in this respect, a major comparative focus will be the Roman Catholic branch of Christianity because of that Church's strong emphasis on both these key topoi. One thinks especially of the Roman Catholic dogma of Papal Infallibility. Our purpose is that of Bill and Williams: 'By comparing two religious traditions that at first sight appear to be quite different and distinct, [one may seek] to advance our understanding of both faith systems'. Our hope is that these new . . .

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