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Radical Reform: Islamic Ethics and Liberation [Hardcover]

Tariq Ramadan
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

5 Feb 2009
Tariq Ramadan has emerged as one of the foremost voices of reformist Islam in the West. In one of his previous books, 'Western Muslims and the Future of Islam'he urged his fellow Muslims to participate fully in the civil life of the Western societies in which they live, and addressed many of the issues that stand in the way of such participation. In this new book he tackles head-on the thorniest of these issues — namely, the rulings of Islamic jurists that make Islam seem incompatible with modern, scientifically and technologically advanced, democratic societies. He argues that it is crucial to find theoretical and practical solutions that will enable Western Muslims to remain faithful to Islamic ethics while fully living within their societies and their time. He notes that Muslim scholars often refer to the notion of ijtihad (critical and renewed reading of the foundational texts) as the only way for Muslims to take up these modern challenges. But, Ramadan argues, in practice such readings have effectively reached the limits of their ability to serve the faithful in the West as well as the East. In this book he sets forward a radical new concept of ijtihad, which puts context — including the knowledge derived from the hard and human sciences, cultures and their geographic and historical contingencies — on an equal footing with the scriptures as a source of Islamic law. This global and comprehensive approach, he says, seems to be the only way to go beyond the current limits and face up to the crisis in contemporary Islamic thought: Muslims need a contemporary global and applied ethics. After setting out this proposal, Ramadan applies his new methodology to several practical case studies involving controversial issues in five areas: medical ethics, education, economics, marriage and divorce, culture and creativity. His radical proposal and the conclusions to which it leads him are bound to provoke discussion and controversy. Muslims and non-Muslims alike will have to contend with Ramadan's new idea of the very basis of Islam in the modern world.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: OUP USA (5 Feb 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195331710
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195331714
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 16 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 40,285 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

The most eagerly anticipated of new works on Islam and the Muslim world comes from Tariq Ramadan. (Karen Shook, THE)

Ramadan's 'Radical Reform' promises to be a landmark work of scholarship: essential, unmissable and full of hope. (Karen Shook, THE)

About the Author

Tariq Ramadan is a Research Fellow at St. Antony's College, Oxford University and the Lokahi Foundation (London). He is the author of Western Muslims and the Future of Islam; Islam, the West, and the Challenges of Modernity; and To Be a European Muslim.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book. Must read it. 20 Feb 2013
By Hashim
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Excellent book . But if possible this book should be available in Kindle edition also.

The book is very written . Specially the Case Studies are very good written .
Specially the point of view from different school of thoughts are very good.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
This book not only explains the philosophical and theological world view of the so called "moderate" (as opposed to extremist or radical) Muslims, but also proposes ways in which this way of thinking about Islam can be advanced in shaping the future of Islamic culture and civilization in both West and East. Since this is the first and only book that introduces a modern and radical way of thinking about Islam, it is of historical significance. Therefore, you must buy and read this book!!!
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By EnAhmad
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I am a big fan of Mr. Ramadan, when I head him speaking about this book and what to expect I went for a buy.
And I must say I found it very logical, useful and full of analysis.
This is by far the most genuine contribution by a Muslim scholar and academic that I have come across in terms of Reform and how Islamic reform (Islah and tajdeed) should be understood and performed.
His idea of Sharia is very refreshing and palatable.
As I Said it earlier it the best and must read on Islamic reform for any Muslims, and for non-Muslims to understand the dynamics of legal debates in Islam.
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0 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank you 23 Jan 2011
Format:Hardcover
Thank you for your good job.
I have got my book in time and in good condition.
Nice to work with you guys,
M. Wakefield
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An important book 17 May 2009
By Imran Price - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Tariq Ramadan has published an important new book as a culmination of all the work that he has been doing in a series of books including "In the footsteps of the Prophet", "Western Muslims and the future of Islam", "To be a European Muslim" and "Islam, the West and the challenges of modernity".

Each of these books has been quite important but none more so than this one, which calls for a basic reform in the way in which Islamic law is formulated.

"Radical Reform" calls for a new approach to the formulation of Islamic law based on the spiritual and ethical dimensions of the faith and by taking greater cognisance of the environment in which the law is to be implemented. He bases this call on his interpretation of the history of the original formulation of the body of Islamic laws (Fiqh) by each of the major Muslim scholars that developed their own schools of jurisprudence in the centuries after the death of the Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him).

Unlike a number of Western commentators who have called for fundamental reformation of Islam itself, Ramadan's approach is based on his impressive knowledge of the Holy Quran, the sayings of the Prophet (Hadith) and in depth history of scholarship in the complex science of Islamic jurisprudence (Fiqh). But that of course does not mean that all Muslims will agree or embrace his proposals.

The book is divided into 4 parts - a description of the reform process within Islam, an analysis of the classical approaches to the fundamentals of Islamic law and jurisprudence, his proposal for a new approach to the sources of law and finally, case studies of subjects as diverse as medical practice, culture and the arts, the role of women, ecology, economy, education and ethics.

He of course, does not or could not attempt to provide answers to all of the myriad of questions and challenges faced by Muslim societies in addressing each of these issues in the modern world. But rather he has provided a tremendous effort to considering the fundamental ways in which the formulation of Islamic law has been historically carried out and could be developed much further in the future.

As one example, he mentions the way in which Fiqh councils regularly consult medical experts before they issue fatwas on anything to do with medical practise such as organ donation, abortion etc. This is because the legal scholars that sit on such councils around the world realise that they do not have the technical medical knowledge to be able properly decide what is the best ruling on any such issues despite their in depth knowledge of Islamic ethics, principles and historical approaches to the law. And yet Fiqh Councils do not regularly consult experts in other fields such ecology, economics and science when they make pronouncements on other areas that are beyond their field of specialisation.

He calls for much greater consideration of the natural world and the environment in the determination of law and bases this call on the ways in which the great pioneers of the major Islamic schools of law (Madhab) developed their own approaches.

As he states on p252, "The aim of this book is reform and coherence: reform in the name of coherence. One should know what one wants. If we aim to return to scriptural sources and extract higher objectives and ethical goals, we should then equip ourselves with the means to respect them across history and the diversity of societies. In a time of complex globalization where all the fields of human activity interact and have multidimensional consequences, there can be no question of having an isolated, partial or formalist approach.

Twofold action is necessary in the light of the ethical goals to which we strive to remain faithful: on the one hand we must redefine - for our time - the way, the vision, in terms of the Islamic conception of life (ad-din) and of the common good and interest of humankind (al-maslahah), generally but also for the different areas of human activity (the sciences, education, economy). One the other hand, more detailed specialized studies should be undertaken to get up-to-the-minute knowledge about new developments and of their relations and actual interactions, and thus determine the most realistic and efficient way of acting on the world in the name of ethics and reform for the better."

He hopes to start a global debate amongst Muslim scholars on the need for such a major reform and for a concerted effort to be started on this important undertaking.

It is a bold vision which should lead to some very interesting discussions.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reform, why and how?! 20 April 2010
By Ibrahim - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Ramadan, like many other muslim intellecuals in the West, tend to feel the gap between the ideals of Islam and its realities, and be more exposed to the pressures calling for reform... The dilemma, most of these intellecuals seem to face, is how to balance the need of maintaining the idealism of the faith and its coherence against the immediate pressures calling for pragmatic/realistic approaches for pressing developmental problems.

It is a delicate balance to maintain. Most of these intellecuals tend to be viewed as missing that point of equilibrium or unable to find it in the first place. These intellecuals, Ramadan included, tend to give up on Islam as itself a reforming faith aspiring for its own space and model for humanity progress and prospirty, and rather tend to strive to find ways to align the faith itself with the givings.

Muslim people tend to feel that humanity deserve a better fate than be just cramped into a narrow view of life and development. Ramadan's approach tend then to channel its critique to the current or traditional ways of viewing or interpreting within Islam. It would have been more constructive of Ramadan to try to expose the humane values and creative ways Islam can offer, which humanity can employ to address and cure many of its chronic problems.

It is true that we may not totally agree on how to diagnose our modern problems, and consequently may disagree on how to approach them, but the problem is when the mind set is already geared to view reality in a certain way, and then try to push for a solution in a given direction. This is probably where the point of concern is, rather than the inability to move in a given direction.

I think Ramadan has alot more to offer his readers if he could more vigorously move towards attempting to paint the picture of how reality/existence is being perceived from different perspectives than adopting a perspective and try to envisiage how to actualize it within an environment with its own aspiration and view of existence...
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Progressive solution oriented Islamic thinking 10 Feb 2011
By SMohr - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Tariq Ramadan presents many of the most crucial and controversial issues of our time and proposes a comprehensive approach to solving them. Muslims must make our decisions to influence policy not to respond to others actions. Very well written and cites Hadith that are wonderful, specifically those relating to the environment and animal rights.
5.0 out of 5 stars Grappling with Modernity, Grappling with Islam 15 July 2013
By Gregory R. Weiher - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As a public intellectual, Tariq Ramadan is the equivalent of a rock star. He is handsome, charismatic, and glib. Be reassured, however, that this book overcomes all these obstacles.
Since the French occupation of Egypt in 1798, Muslim intellectuals have been faced with two imperatives. One is to master enough of the lore of the West to throw off the hegemony of the colonizers, and to restore the Islamic ummah to the position of power in the world that it once held. The other is to maintain an authentically Islamic identity, i.e., to ensure that Muslims do not forfeit their souls in the process. The tension between these imperatives has produced what Ramadan calls "the crisis of the contemporary Muslim conscience". Resolving this tension has been problematic because the metaphysical assumptions that underlie western science and rationality are not transparently compatible with the metaphysical assumptions underlying Islam. The Islamic Modernists -- Afghani, Abduh, Ahmed Khan, Tahtawi -- asserted the compatibility of Islam with science, and Islam and rationality, but did not demonstrate that compatibility in any closely reasoned fashion, or with respect to the kind of practical conflicts that arise in the life worlds of Muslims. Ramadan makes a very credible attempt at doing so, taking seriously both the moral and spiritual claims of Islam, and the need for reform of interpretations of holy law in the face of the challenges and opportunities presented by modernity. He is extremely knowledgeable about the content of the law, and about the history of the jurisprudence which has produced various interpretations of that law. One of his most valuable contributions comes in the later chapters where he recounts recent attempts by religious scholars, substantive experts, ethicists, and others to confront and resolve the separate requirements of holy law and modern expertise in areas such as medical ethics, the environment, and gender relations.
No one could produce a seamless assimilation of Shariah and the modern book of nature, of revelation and science, because no such assimilation is possible. Revelation ultimately leads us into the heart of mystery, and science is an imperfect instrument in the hands of finite beings. Neither is capable of trumping the other, at least not for observers who reject both credulity and scientistic literalism. In a later chapter, after making a convincing case for the co-equal importance of both formal revelation in the scriptures and general revelation in the form of science, Ramadan dispels contemporary genetic engineering as an abomination. Of course experiments with nuclear energy and arguments for a heliocentric universe were similarly dispelled by religious authorities in the past. Staking out the authority of religionists to delimit the activities of science in this way raises suspicions about the good work he had done in the hundreds of pages leading up to that point . . . at least in the minds of those who insist upon equal authority for science. But as a meditation on how a resolution of the claims of piety and reason can be achieved, this book takes us quite a ways.
3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Information on Islamic Religion 16 April 2009
By Miaa Fisher - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Tariq Ramadan is probably one of the best male Muslim writers today. He has the unique ability to write from both sides of the story and explain using proof and fact from either an Islamic, scientific, Christian, Jewish, Agnostic or Cultural view point without disrespecting anyone elses' views.
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