STUDIES IN ISLAMIC CIVILIZATION the MUSLIM CONTRIBUTION to the Renaissance
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ijtihad and Renewal is an analysis of ijtihad and the role it can play for a positive Muslim revival in the modern world, a revival based on society-wide economic and educational reform and development. In the early centuries of Islam the response of Muslims to problem-solving the various issues and challenges that faced their rapidly expanding community was to use intelligence and independent reasoning based on the Qur’an and Sunnah to address them. This practice is known as ijtihad. As the centuries wore on however the gates of ijtihad were generally closed in favor of following existing rulings developed by scholars by way of analogy. And as reason and intellect, now held captive to schools of thought and earlier scholarly opinion stagnated, so did the Muslim world. It is argued that the grafting of solutions rooted in the past onto the complex and unique realities of our own age has paralysed the vitality of Muslim thought, and confused its sense of direction, and that to revive the Muslim world from its centuries of decline we need to revive the practice of ijtihad.
The International Institute of Islamic Thought