Gender Studies

Community, Justice, and Jihad: Elements of the Muslim Historical Consciousness

Islam is more than a Faith in the heart of every Muslim. It is also a source of identity. The fundamental rites and devotions constituting its 'Pillars' simultaneously confirm the faith of the individual and affirm the bonds of Community. It is this symbiosis of Faith and Community that over time gave rise to a Muslim historical consciousness. From it too stems the predilection for an active social and political involvement on the part of Muslims as groups and individuals.

Islam and Reform: Gender Perspectives on a Theme

The Modern Reformist Movement in Islam goes back to the closing decades of the nineteenth century with its epicenters spanning the major capitals of the Ottoman Empire and beyond it, the Saharan and riverine nodes in Africa and the Indo-Persian and Malay worlds in Asia, altogether constituting one extended vibrant field of magnetic resonance. Heir to a proud heritage of empire and culture, and once the crown of world communities because of its ethical foundations, the ummah, now saw itself dethroned and ousted as it heaved its way through the labor pains of a new age of uncertainties and false starts. While, at about the same period, Europe had reached its pinnacle of power and glory, exerting strong gravitational pulls throughout much of the globe, whether through outright military, political, and economic domination or, more subtly and detrimentally, through the seductive appeal of its model of civilization, the Muslim ummah had languished in its own weaknesses and complacencies and was caught unprepared for the challenges of the modern age. Vital reformist currents slowly emerged as the natural defenses of a threatened immune system would,  mixed reactions and responses to the traumatic dislocations experienced by the community in the course of an uneven civilizational encounter with the modern West.

Contemporary Social Theory: Tawhidi Projections

Contemporary social theory is conventionally addressed from within the dominant tradition of inquiry. Rarely is it subject to a critical reflection from beyond its own ken. This is a pity, for the subject matter and scope of social theory go beyond the confines of any exclusive tradition, while its reach and influence in the global context of our times merely reinforce its extended compass. Given the fact that the ambitious claims made by social theorists about the universality of their project are hardly borne out by the reality, any pretensions at exclusivism or hegemony would be as anachronistic as they are morally reprehensible. The gap between the legitimate ambitions for a universally relevant social theory and the reality of a field grounded in its historical constraints and cultural prejudices can be filled only by a critical and constructive initiative taken from within the profession to constitute a candid, open, and reflexive self-encounter. The opportuneness for such an initiative is enhanced by its urgency: the discrepancies that follow on the ineptitude of our social knowledge can only raise doubts about the relevance of our science to our social condition.

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