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Learned IgnoranceIntellectual Humility among Jews, Christians and Muslims$
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James L. Heft, Reuven Firestone, and Omid Safi

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199769308

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199769308.001.0001

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Between Tradition and Reform

Between Tradition and Reform

Between Premodern Sufism and the Iranian Reform Movement

Chapter:
(p.278) 15 Between Tradition and Reform
Source:
Learned Ignorance
Author(s):

Omid Safi

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199769308.003.0016

This chapter recognizes a connection, a resonance, between the world of premodern Muslim mystics (Sufis) and those of contemporary Islamic reformers in Iran. It develops the notion of various stages of certainty (and doubt) that the premodern Sufis write about, moving from knowledge to vision to reality. It summarizes modern Iranian thinkers and claims that is it unfortunate that many modern Muslims have great difficulty believing that premodern Muslims were so willing to recognize innovation and the “hybridity” of their own selves. It urges modern Muslims to embrace this great premodern tradition by focusing on the concept of ijtihad, that is, the assertion that independent principled reasoning is able to come up with new answers to new problems. The chapter concludes with a call for greater mutual understanding among believers of different religious traditions, finding in the affirmation of religious pluralism a more faithful way to remain faithful to one's own religious tradition.

Keywords:   Muslims, religious pluralism, Sufis, premodern Muslim mystics, Islamic reformers, Iran

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