Islamic Reformation Activity

Islamic Reformation Activity

Many, including Aslan, argue that Islam is in the middle of a Reformation, much like the one Christianity experienced in the 16th and 17th century.  While this claim can be debated, it is evident that Islam, particularly in the Middle East, is in the midst of an identity transformation.  One of the places this transformation is most apparent and most contentious is around the question of the role of Islam in governance.   Ever since British colonization of India and Egypt, various Muslim thinkers have articulated a vision for Islamic (or secular) society.  While many of the thinkers model their society on Medinan ideas, re-interpretation of European, Enlightenment ideals, and an interpretation of Islam, the resulting visions can vary markedly.

For this activity, you will research and represent one Muslim thinker who articulated or attempted to create their understanding of an Islamic (or secular) society.  You will have one night of homework  to research your character and take notes on his vision.  Your research should at a minimum be able to answer the following questions:

  1. To what degree is the society of Medina applicable to today?  If it is applicable, articulate how your thinker understands or reinterprets the Medinan society?

  2. What place does religion hold in your society? Make sure to include consideration of different religions outside of Islam, as well as atheism and converts.

  3. What is the ideal form of governance and who (God, elected leaders, clerics, etc.) holds what kinds of power?

The next day in class, you will engage your classmates in a discussion of what an Islamic society should look like.  As part of this you will need to prepare a 30 second to 1 minute summary of your person’s vision to introduce yourself at the beginning of the discussion.  You will also be expected to submit an outline of your answers to the above questions and any additional research.

Possible thinkers include:

  1. Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab – Kiley

  2. Sayyid Qutb – Christian

  3. Hasan al-Banna – Samira

  4. Jamal ad-Din al-Afghani  - Ice

  5. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini – Charlie

  6. Gamal Abd al-Nasser – Idrissa

  7. Ali Jinah – Franscis

  8. Hassan Rouhani – Ismini

  9. Reza Aslan – Moderator  - George

  10. Sayyid Ahmed Khan – Katharine
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