The Thirteenth General Conference : Renewal in Islamic Thought
In the Name of Allah, The Most Compassionate,
The Most Merciful
Over the past two years, the Conference of the Supreme
Council for Islamic Affairs in the course of two consecutive
sessions (A Civilizational Project of an All-embracing Renaissance
of the Islamic world), has been of the view that an essential
complementary procedure is required to embody the most
significant component in the endeavor to reach this renaissance.
Hence was the issue of the renovation of Islamic thinking in the
absence of which no renaissance is attainable in the light of the
tremendous variables sweeping the entire world and which should
be dealt within the perspective of a corresponding line of thought.
Therefore, renovation does not by any means indicate an
infringement on the parameters of religious teachings, rituals, and
the conclusive judgments enshrined in the Qur'an and the
Prophetic Tradition (Sunna). It is rather an operation of intellect
and thinking in contact with problems enveloping our
contemporary life in a way to deduce appropriate rulings
consistent with jurisprudential evidence.
Furthermore, renovation of Islamic thinking entertains
fundamentals of its own, respective guidelines for its proceeding,
and controls to abide by. It is neither an invitation to dissipation or
to discarding any and all constraints nor the starting point of
On the other hand, we as Muslims, do not live in reclusive islands,
nor do we choose to shut ourselves out of the surrounding world, or
to keep ourselves detached from the developments brought upon our
modern world at all levels.
It can thus be safely admitted that we need not fear that
renovation may end up with forfeiting the teachings of religion and
its cherished values. The truth about renovation resides in
resuscitating the rites of Islam, its rulings and principles without
breaching the parameters and basics of Islamic jurisdiction
This renovation hinges on an Islamic asset founded on the
Prophet's saying "Allah sends to this Nation every one hundred
years he who rejuvenates its religion".
This means that renovation is an Islamic tradition necessary for
the viability of shari'a and its continued relevance irrespective of
the considerations of space and time. This fact had been assimilated
by Imams and eminent scholars of Islamic jurisprudence who laid
down these foundations and who built upon them their judgments
and positions in practice.
The developments, however, that have taken place all over
world, tend to clamp other types of new jurisprudence such as
Reality-based Jurisprudence", "Jurisprudence of Priorities",
"Jurisprudence of Environment", and "Jurisprudence of Muslim
Minorities", as well as other urgent issues which cannot be
overlooked if we wish to enable our Umma to keep pace with up-to-
date variables in a framework which preserves our Isalmic Shari'a
and safeguards our Islamic identity.
The momentous cause of our Islamic Umma nowadays lies in the
issue of backwardness. Hence it is the incumbent duty of Muslim
minds to fully discharge their role in order to put the Umma on the
way out of this backwardness.
Renovation does not mean disregard or belittlement of the
efforts made by previous scholars. On the contrary, it involves
taking them into consideration with a view of picking upon
whichever of them is commensurate with our times without abiding
by certain scholarly judgments or rulings.
Due to the conformity of Islam with the cannons of life and the
universe as well as the laws governing human nature which are
based upon mobility and evolution, the call for renovation
enshrined in the holy traditions has become, as already
mentioned, an Islamic Sunna necessary for the viability of
Shari'a and continued relevance irrespective of considerations of
space and time for, the absence of renovation leads to stagnation
Islam has adopted a mechanism for renovation. This
mechanism is the principle of original thinking in all walks of life,
including of course, religious thinking.
The message of prophethood meant liberalizing men's minds
and inculcating confidence in their ability to decide on whatever
had not been resolved by decisive provisions from Shari'a texts.
This has been clearly elucidated in the words of Mu'az Ibn Jabal
when the Prophet- peace be upon him- asked him what he could
normally do whenever he had to resolve a matter. He replied that
in such a case he would resort first to the Book of Allah, then to
the Sunna of His prophet, and finally to his own mind as best as it
could be employed. Adoption of the principle of "Original
thinking" is one of the most significant steps taken by Islam
towards mental enhancement and moving ahead towards
progress, thus paving the way for the mind towards safeguarding
the Glorious Quran and Sunna in the light of the saying that goes
as follows, "An original thinker is rewarded twice when his
judgment is correct; and rewarded once when it is wrong".
Islamic Intellectuals had long developed interest in
rationalizing and enriching life as evidently demonstrated in all
epochs out of their jealousy for Islam and its teachings and on the
basis of the transparency and chastity of Islamic thinking. Each
and every one had had his own renovation-oriented style and
individual approach of reform. However, they furnished unity of
objective as reflected in the necessity of apprehending religion as
one of life in all its dimensions. Consequently, religion cannot be
separated from life since besides being a creed and a jurisdiction
it should be regarded in terms of science, knowledge, civilization,
Renovation demands impartial diagnosis of Islamic world
situations and identification of point of weakness with a view to
prescribing therapeutic remedy to help the Umma out of its stifling
civilizational dilemma in order to contribute to the cultural
advancement of humanity at large.
The Umma shall not have access to this status or be empowered to
undertake this role in its capacity as the best nation ever created
unless it casts away backwardness, engages in fate-determining
issues, keep itself apart from trivialities, and transcend marginal
matters. This indicated that it has to rearrange its priorities and
invigorate itself to broach fresh horizons of progress and be armed
with science and knowledge in its race to provide for its sons all
means of honorable living, and to effectively contribute to peace,
security, and stability of this world, which is also our world.
In view of the above-mentioned illustrations, President Hosni
Mubarak of the Arab Republic of Egypt has concluded his address
saying, "Your Conference is looked upon as one of the most
important gatherings held by the Supreme Council for Islamic
Affairs over the past years in quest of renovation and original
thinking being springboards for vistas of strength and elevation".
Renovation of thinking is the right path to renaissance or
civilization. It is even the indispensable prelude for any progress or
May Allah be on our side and may He be our Guide.