The Theological Thought of Fazlur Rahman
A Modern Mutakallim
By: Ahad M. Ahmed
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Fazlur Rahman was one of the most influential Muslim thinkers of the 20th Century. His encyclopedic understanding of both the Islamic and Western traditions rendered him as most suited for the task of tajdid ul-din (intellectual and academic revivification, reformism and modernism). As a pragmatist he believed that ‘social change’ could not be translated into reality without an active, positive and vital engagement with the present world which stood as the élan of Islamic morality and ethics. The present work attempts to critically analyze and deconstruct Fazlur Rahman’s thought in order to ascertain the key principles that govern the oeuvre of his work. Further, the author has provided a ‘bridge’ to facilitate an empathetic introduction to Fazlur Rahman’s life, person and thought which are essential for understanding him and his work. Also, the prejudice he faced from the orthodox ulama’ and political Islam activists in Pakistan foreshowed a biased misrepresentation of his work qua Orientalism and Western Imperialist agenda.
As a representative of modern Islam it seems plausible that serious attention must be given to ‘reconstruct’ kalām whilst standing in the midst of Western theology in a postmodern time and kalām in its post-medieval phase. Thus, Fazlur Rahman was not simply a falsafi which the majority hold him to be but also a mutakallim in the full-blooded sense.