A Late Nineteenth Century Muslim Response to the Western Criticism of Islam-An Analysis of Amir ‘Ali’s Life and Works

There were more than one scholar in the nineteenth century Muslim world working for the development of the community through their writings and political activities. Justice Sayyid Amir Ali was one of them in the Indian sphere of Islam. This article attempts to determine position within the development of Muslim community in India. Our aim is to examine ‘Ali’s views of Islam critically in order to find out the values he aimed at. We are not concerned with giving our views of Islam on the issues ‘Ali dealt with, but rather we will try to determine how his interpretation of Islam contributed to the development of Muslims in India.

An Alternative to the Clash of Civilizations Scenario in the 21st Century

The term civilization has come into a focal point in current intellectual and political discourse since the publication of Samuel Huntington’s controversial thesis on the subject. Since the work revolves around ideas related to the future of humanity, many scholars have joined the debate, although some have rejected the idea arguing the thesis as self-contradictory because a civilized individual is not supposed to get involved in clash with others. Yet many observers of current affairs, particularly in the mainstream media, are convinced that the clash of civilizations is a fact of international politics today. That is why it has become absolutely pertinent for every historian, philosopher, and social scientist concerned about world peace and civilizational harmony to participate in this debate. Has the idea turned out to be a historical reality? Or this is just a myth which interest groups and individuals have manipulated in order to promote their political aspirations? We shall examine these questions below.

On History, Progress, and Civilization

Is history progressive? Does progress lead to civilization? If history is progressive and progress leads to civilization, why then do civilizations rise and fall in history? These questions lead to more questions. What is progress? High rise buildings? Increase in economic and material production? Increase in longevity? Does progress lead to easing life? If it leads to easing life, does it bring happiness in human lives? Is there a crisis of civilization in our times? If there is, is there a remedy for this crisis? These questions have been raised and discussed extensively by historians and philosophers of history, and yet the debate has not ended. In fact as the twentieth century approached its end, the debate seemed to have become more and more live and controversial. Let us browse through the last two decades of this controversy.

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