The Contemporary Islamic Revival: A Critical Survey and Bibliography

The Contemporary Islamic Revival: A Critical Survey and Bibliography

The Contemporary Islamic Revival: A Critical Survey and Bibliography

The Contemporary Islamic Revival: A Critical Survey and Bibliography


This volume provides an introduction to the basic themes of the contemporary Islamic resurgence and a key to the scholarly literature about that revival published in recent years. It offers a starting point for the study of the Islamic revival any place on earth and a broader bibliographical base for the study of major revival experiences, such as the Iranian Revolution. The literature documented is not simply limited to materials on the Middle East or the Central Islamic lands. Coverage extends to the study of Muslims throughout the globe.


As these words are being written, The Times reports that Salman Rushdie has met with Islamic scholars in an attempt to quash the fatwa--legal opinion--imposing a death sentence by the late Ayatollah Khomeini for Rushdie's controversial novel, The Satanic Verses. This novel portrays the conflict between the material and spiritual worlds through the story of Gibreel and might be read as a parable of how man can be destroyed by the loss of Islamic faith. Apparently the charge against Mr. Rushdie remains, for Iran's present spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is reported as stating that the death penalty will not be repealed "even if he [Rushdie] were to repent and become the most pious Muslim of his time." Ironically, this story appeared on Christmas eve, and received at least the same prominence as "traditional" Christmas stories in The Times.

In one sense the Rushdie affair embodies many feature characteristics of the Islamic revival that has occurred in recent decades: an overriding concern with the destructive influence of secularism on religion, the power of Islamic religious leaders, the unbending rigor of Islamic law, the transnational impact of Islam even in non- Islamic societies. All of this exemplifies how small the world has grown in the last forty years as Middle Eastern oil and Asian trading power have forever altered the Eurocentric balance of economic and political--not to mention social and religious--power.

Since the 1960s the Islamic world has developed a new sense of unity through recognition of a common heritage that overrides economic, political, social and ethnic differences. Both the Quran and the Sunna Muslim nations and peoples share a common doctrine that stresses social justice and communal solidarity which powerfully transcends mere nationalism. On its own this transnational solidarity is not unique in the semitic religious tradition--both Judaism and Christianity share a similarly supranational identity. Within Islam, however, there is also an unequivocal call to rebel against the existing order when it departs from the salvific norms established by Allah and articulated by the Prophet. When one's salvation is at risk because of an imperfect social order, traditional Islamic teaching maintains that religious ideology and military power must combine to overthrow imperfection and recreate a more ideal religious state.

There is at present an emerging consensus among Muslims and their leaders, both political and spiritual, that the established order is inadequate and that Islam contains a viable alternative to the status quo that has been imposed by the non-

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