Sunday, November 22, 2009

from Ebrahim Moosa's "The Debts and Burdens of Critical Islam" 3

This dilemma to keep past and present in a productive conversation while producing something entirely innovative and fresh has had a fairly schizophrenic outcome, to put it mildly. On the one hand, religious knowledge is regarded as being coterminous with the pre-modern Muslim tradition itself, with the full pedigree of authenticity and legitimacy. That version of tradition continues its passage through the modern period largely by resisting modernity or grudgingly adjusting to modernity, on its own terms. On the other hand, another more contested Muslim tradition that is more euphoric about modernity and dazzled by its rapture develops side-by-side with the pre-modern tradition. This one is relatively smaller, has less popular appeal, and remains the domain of a small elite. In between these two polarities a plethora of traditions emerge that co-exist within Muslim societies and communities globally. Thus, it is preferable to speak of Muslim traditions, in the plural. Like all traditions, continuity and discontinuity are essential elements in a dynamic and organic tradition.

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