From Tradition to Modernity and Vice Versa
The Progressive Islam of Mahmoud Muhammad Taha
Keywords:Ustadh Taha, second message of Islam, progressive Islam, Divine Revelation, absolute individual freedom
Mahmoud Muhammad Taha (1909–1985) was the most original Muslim modernist reformist of the twentieth century. His book The Second Message of Islam is a work that, on the one hand, reflects a deep and genuine Islamic experience and, on the other, engages boldly and creatively with the predicament and the challenges of modernity. Taha developed his idea of progressive Islam by drawing upon the spiritual fountains of tradition in order to promote the relevance and viability of the message of Islam within the modern world. And this he did with integrity; and this he paid with his life… The present article attempts to show the transactions between tradition and modernity operative in the work of Taha, based on his insightful hermeneutics of the Qur’an and the Hadith. The final aim of the article is to put forward all of Taha’s major ideas—albeit not in any kind of exhaustive manner—namely, Mecca over Medina revelations, the inversion of naskh, the concept of evolution in Islam, the intention of Revelation and the ethico-religious core of Islam, as nothing less than a desperate plea for justice.
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