This text presents the ideas of a number of contemporary modernist and liberal Muslim thinkers, exposing an important intellectual current in Islamic thought. These figures work mainly outside "established" institutional, political and religious frameworks, whilst relying heavily on traditional sources. Responding to the challenges brought by colonialism and modernization, they propose new conceptions and interpretations of Islam consonant with the age. Although their specific concerns and emphases vary, their thought shares certain features; a reconsideration of the relation between religion and politics; an easy incorporation of modern Western ideas; a reinterpretaton of sacred sources which highlights their more universalist elements; and a conception of Islam as moving with historical change whilst remaining rooted in Qur'anic values. Disputing the widespread view of modern Islam as essentially political, the book shows a quite different face of the tradition.
Introduction: the culture of modernity in Islam and the Middle East, Derek Hopwood; nature, hyperbole, and the colonial state - some Muslim appropriations of European modernity in late 19th century Urdu literature, Javed Majeed; the limits of the sacred - the epistemology of 'Abd al-Karim Soroush, John Cooper; Islamic scholar and religious leader - Shaik Muhammad Sa'id Ramadan al-Buti, Andreas Christmann; Islamic history, Islamic identity and the reform of Islamic law - the thought of Husayn Ahmad Amin, Nadia Abu-Zahra; Malmud Muhammad Taha's second message of Islam and his modernist project, Mohamed Mahmoud; Mohamed Talbi;s ideas on Islam and politics - a conception of Islam for the modern world, Ronals L. Nettler; can modern rationality shape a new religiosity? Mohamed Abed Jabri and the paradox of Islam and modernity, Abdou Filali-Ansari; Islam, Europe, the west - meanings-at-stake and the will-to power, Mohammed Arkoun; divine attributes in the Qur'an - some poetic aspects, Nasr Hamid Abu Zaid.