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Islam: Past, Present and Future

Islam: Past, Present and Future

by Hans Kung

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ISBN-10: 1851686126

ISBN-13: 9781851686124

Pub. Date: 11/25/2008

Publisher: Oneworld Publications

For more than two decades the world’s religions have been a central topic for Hans Küng. In books that have inspired millions throughout the world, he has pioneered work towards a new dialogue between them. Following bestselling volumes on Christianity and Judaism, Küng’s critically acclaimed guide to Islam is now available in paperback.


For more than two decades the world’s religions have been a central topic for Hans Küng. In books that have inspired millions throughout the world, he has pioneered work towards a new dialogue between them. Following bestselling volumes on Christianity and Judaism, Küng’s critically acclaimed guide to Islam is now available in paperback. Providing a masterful overview of Islam’s 1,400-year history, Küng examines its fundamental beliefs and practices, outlines the major schools of thought, and surveys the positions of Islam on the urgent questions of the day. Deft, assured, and comprehensive, this is a sympathetic assessment of Islam by a renowned Christian theologian. Dr. Küng is President of the Foundation for a Global Ethic (Weltethos). From 1960 until his retirement in 1996, he was Professor of Ecumenical Theology and Director of the Institute for Ecumenical Research at the University of Tübingen. He is a scholar of theology and philosophy and a prolific writer.

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Table of Contents

The Aim of this Book     xxiii
Against the clash of civilizations     xxiii
Making people capable of dialogue     xxvi
A long intellectual journey     xxix
A Controversial Religion     3
The hostile image of Islam     3
The usefulness of a hostile image     3
Intolerance, militancy, backwardness?     5
Is dialogue impossible?     6
Eastern knowledge, Western ignorance     7
From polemical caricature to balanced reassessment     10
Enlightenment through literature     11
Oriental studies and orientalism     12
The idealized image of Islam     14
An invitation to conversion     15
The fascination of Islam     16
May we be critical?     17
Neither prohibitions of questions nor lame comparisons     18
The real image of Islam     19
The 'essence' of Islam in changing forms     19
The 'essence' of Islam and its perversion     20
The status quo as a criterion?     22
Understanding Islam from the inside     23
Problems of the Beginning     25
Five thousand years of Near Eastern high religions     25
Arabia on the periphery of the great empires     26
The breakthrough of prophetic monotheism-Israel and Iran     30
Jews, Christians and Jewish Christians in Arabia     32
The Jews in the competition over Arabia     32
Six centuries of Arab Christianity     33
Arabic-also a language of Christians     35
No roots in Hellenistic Christianity     36
Traces of Jewish Christianity     37
Vilification of Jewish Christians     39
Jewish Christianity on the Arabian peninsula?     40
Abraham-the common ancestor of the 'people of the book'     45
Who was Abraham?     45
Abraham, Isaac and Ishmael: biblical perspectives     46
Dispute over the Abrahamic heritage: Qur'anic perspectives     49
What binds Jews, Christians and Muslims together     51
Is Islam a way of salvation?     54
God's Word has Become a Book     59
The Qur'an-the specific feature of Islam     59
A definition of essence that goes beyond essence     61
The Qur'an-an Arabic, living, holy book     62
The Qur'an-God's word     65
The Qur'an-a book fallen from heaven?     67
There is a process of canonization in all 'books of religion'     67
A wearisome process of collecting and editing     68
Periods of revelation     71
The Qur'an as the Islamic constant     73
Is the Qur'an also the Word of God for Christians?     74
The Central Message     77
There is no God but God     77
The practical theocentricity of Islam     78
Monotheism as a core concern and fighting programme     79
The creation of the world and human beings     81
God's supremacy-and human responsibility?     83
The last judgement and the final destiny of human beings     84
A concrete paradise and hell     85
The most beautiful names of God     86
The common belief in God in the three Abrahamic religions     87
Muhammad is his Prophet     91
The common basic ethic of the three prophetic religions     91
A prophetic religion par excellence     92
How the Prophet was called: the messenger of God     95
The battle for justice: the threat to the status quo     98
The battle for the oneness of God: 'Satanic verses'     100
Emigration: the turn of the ages     103
The Prophet as leading figure     105
How the Prophet became the statesman: the founding of a community     105
The break with the Jews     107
The Islamic theology of history     109
How the Prophet became the general: purges and wars     110
Muhammad's legacy     113
Achievements and virtues of the Prophet     116
Immoral? The traditional charges     118
Like the prophets of Israel     122
Is Muhammad also a prophet for Christians?     123
The Central Structural Elements     125
Mandatory prayer     126
Daily ritual prayer-the essential symbol of Islam     126
Characteristics of Islamic prayer and worship: no priesthood     127
Physical manifestations: mosque-muezzin-minaret     129
Almsgiving, fasting, pilgrimage     132
Annual almsgiving for the poor     132
The annual period of fasting     134
The great pilgrimage to Mecca     136
A change in the substance of faith     139
The Original Paradigm of the Islamic Community     143
Abiding substance of faith-changing paradigms     143
Is there also a paradigm change in Islam?     144
New epoch-making constellations     146
A religious vision realized      147
The new Islamic community     147
A religion of law?     149
Test cases: blood vengeance, the prohibition of usury, the ban on alcohol     150
The new responsibility of the individual     152
Arab and Muslim virtues     153
The religious and social transformation     155
The stabilization of marriage and family     155
Women-highly valued or discriminated against?     157
The Islamic constitution-a divine state     158
What is Islamic and what is Arab-Bedouin?     160
From the Prophet to the Prophet's representative     161
Who is to lead?     162
The choice of a successor: Abu Bakr, the first caliph     163
From the desert to the confrontation with the high cultures     164
The original community expands     166
Islamic politics: 'Umar, the second caliph     166
How was Arab-Islamic expansion possible?     168
The first wave of conquest and the great confrontation with Christianity     170
Neither assimilation of the Muslims nor conversion of the Christians     172
The beginnings of Islamic theology and law     176
A Meccan, not an Islamic policy: 'Uthman, the third caliph     176
From word of mouth to writing: the Qur'an as a book     177
An Islamic theology?     178
The germs of local theologies     179
Still no specifically Islamic system of law     181
The great crisis in the original community: the split into parties     182
'Ali, the fourth caliph-disputed     183
The first civil war     184
The split between Sunnis, Kharijites and Shiites     185
The memory of the golden age     187
The Paradigm of the Arab Empire     189
From Medina to Damascus: the new centre of power     189
The Umayyads come to power: Mu'awiyyah     190
A centralist monarchy develops     192
The establishment of the dynastic principle     192
The Shiite opposition     194
Husayn-the model for all martyrs     196
A separate 'confession': the Shiah     197
The new bearer of the hope of the opposition, the Mahdi; the second civil war     198
Imperial religious politics under the aegis of Islam     201
A pious autocrat: 'Abd al-Malik     201
Introduction of a Muslim currency     204
Arabic becomes the official language     204
Art is Islamized     205
The origin of Islamic law      208
State judges: the qadis     208
Islamization of the law: pious specialists     209
The theoretical foundation of the law     211
A new community of many peoples     212
From patriarchal regime to imperial government     213
The dividing walls collapse     213
Arabs and non-Arabs mix     214
A world empire comes into being     215
Paradigm change in foreign and military policy     217
The second wave of conquest: an empire from India to Spain     217
The second great confrontation with Christianity     219
A theological controversy with political consequences     220
Predestination by God-theologically disputed     222
Human self-determination-politically dangerous: the Qadarites     223
Still no theological orthodoxy     225
Recourse to the Qur'an: the Kharijites     226
Postponement of judgement: the Murjites     229
The crisis of the empire     230
What is to be done with the new Muslims? The reform caliphate of 'Umar II     230
A coup and an inaugural sermon     232
Towards the third civil war     234
The end of the Arab empire     235
The paradigm of the Arab empire as a vision of hope: Pan-Arabism     238
The Classical Paradigm of Islam as a World Religion     241
A new era begins     241
Baghdad, the new cultural metropolis of Islam     242
Islam as a world religion instead of the Arab nation     244
The cosmopolitan splendour of the caliphate     246
How the caliphs ruled     248
A tale from The 1001 Nights?     252
Classical Islam: a world culture     254
Arabic as a language of communication and a high language     255
Persian education and way of life     257
Hellenistic philosophy and science     258
The new role of the religious scholars     259
Classical Islamic law: the Shariah     261
The formation of the 'traditions of the Prophet', the Sunnah     263
What the Prophet said and did: the hadith     263
The science of the hadith     264
The victory of the traditionists     265
Are the hadith authentic?     266
A second source of revelation?     268
The four great law schools     269
The Malikite and Hanafite law schools     270
The classical juristic synthesis: ash-Shafi'i     271
The traditionalist principle becomes established     272
Is the door of 'legal findings' closed? Ibn Hanbal     275
Does innovation become fossilized tradition?     276
The second theological dispute: revelation and reason     278
The new importance of reason     278
The beginnings of rational theology: Wasil and 'Amr     280
Confrontation with the caliphate?     282
The paradigm of a rational theology     283
A God without properties? Jahm     284
God has properties: Abu l-Hudhayl's rational system     286
What are the consequences for the image of human beings?     288
The state and theology     289
The fourth civil war and its consequences for theology     289
An Islamic magisterium: al-Ma'mun and the Mu'tazilites     291
Is inquisition ('examination') in keeping with the mind of the Prophet?     292
The Mut' azilites gain and lose power     293
Rational theology is subsumed into traditional theology: al-Ash'ari     295
The disintegration of the empire     299
The crisis of the institutions     299
The end of the world empire     301
The classical paradigm of a world religion as an image of hope: Pan-Islamism     302
The Paradigm of the Ulama and Sufis     305
After one empire, many states     305
Regionalization in east and west     307
The third confrontation between Islam and Christianity: the crusades     308
The post-imperial period: anti-caliphs     311
The Turks as heirs of the Islamic empire: sultans instead of caliphs     313
The Mongol invasion and its devastating consequences     315
The Ulama: legal schools become popular movements     317
Functions: training cadres, forming communities, networking     317
The new form of organization: the madrasah     318
Popular movements and party factions     319
Is there an alternative to an Islam of the law?     321
The Sufis: mystics form themselves into brotherhoods     323
Is mysticism an original element of Islam? Asceticism at the beginning     324
Is mysticism un-Islamic? Personal experience of God     326
The goal of mysticism-abiding life in God: Muhasibi and Junayd     329
Does mysticism have limits? The conflict over al-Hallaj     332
Sufism as a mass movement     334
The regulation of the Sufi communities     335
Parallels to Christian religious orders     337
Social work, mission, war     337
No progress for women     339
Shadow sides of Sufism     340
A religion of the heart instead of a religion of reason?     342
Normative theology     343
The long way of theology     344
A synthesis of Shariah Islam and Sufi Islam: al-Ghazali     346
Where does fundamental certainty come from? A forerunner of Descartes?     347
Which way of life: theology, philosophy, esotericism?     350
The crisis and the turn towards mysticism     352
Theological Summas     354
Two masters of theology: al-Ghazali and Thomas Aquinas     355
Parallels in life     356
Parallels in work     357
Differences of style, method and interest     359
Different overall structures     361
The abiding fundamental difference     361
Fossilization or renewal of theology?     363
The rise and fall of Arabic philosophy     365
Can there be an independent Islamic philosophy?     366
Beginnings of Arabic philosophy: al-Kindi, ar-Razi, al-Farabi     368
The high point of historic Arabic philosophy: Ibn Sina     369
The end of Arabic Islamic philosophy: Ibn Rushd     371
Al-Andalus: an Arabized Christianity      373
Al-Andalus: a fertile symbiosis of Muslims and Jews     374
One dominant religion, two recognized minorities     376
History as a cycle of rise and decline: Ibn Khaldun     378
The crisis of medieval Islam     379
The beginning of Western Christian philosophy     379
A continuation of the Middle Ages instead of a renaissance     382
The victory of traditionalism: al-Mawardi, Ibn Taymiyyah     384
Freedom, reason, human dignity?     386
The Paradigm of Islamic Modernization     389
Confrontation with European modernity     390
Is Islam to blame for the stagnation?     390
Islamic expansion in India, South Africa and South-East Asia     393
Different social structures     394
Why was there no Islamic reformation?     395
The great Islamic empires: Mughals, Safavids, Ottomans     397
The Indian Mughal empire: Akbar's unitary religion     397
'Re-islamization' and decline     400
The Persian Safavid empire: the first Shiite state     401
Shiite piety and politics     402
The Turkish Ottoman empire: the new Muslim world power     403
The difference in South-East Asian Islam     405
How Europe challenged the world of Islam     406
The thrust towards modernization I: the scientific and philosophical revolution     407
A paradigm change in Islam?     408
The thrust towards modernization II: the cultural and theological revolution     410
Enlightenment in Islam?     411
The thrust towards modernization III: the political and democratic revolution     412
Islam and the French Revolution     413
The thrust towards modernization IV: the technological and industrial revolution     414
Reforms in Islam?     415
Questions for European modernity     416
Between reform and reaction     417
Ulama for reforms: Islamic reformism     417
Opposition to the reforms: Islamic traditionalism     419
The new elites: Islamic modernism     421
European imperialism: a paradigm of confrontation and aggression     423
Secular nationalism: the downfall of the Ottoman empire     425
Arab renaissance?     427
Challenges of the Present
Competition between Paradigms     433
The secularist way     433
Turkish secularism: Mustafa Kemal Ataturk     434
Radical rejection of the Shariah     436
The Islamist way     437
Feudal Arabic Islamism: the Wahhabism of Saudi Arabia     438
Political-social radical Islamism: Khomeini's Islamic revolution     441
The socialist way     444
Arab socialism: Egypt     444
Pan-Arabism: Syria     446
Aggressive nationalism: Iraq     448
What Kind of Islam do Muslims Want?     455
The contemporaneity of competing paradigms     455
Pan-Islamism?     456
Pan-Arabism?     457
Islamism?     458
Socialism?     462
Secularism?     463
Islam in a constant state of change     464
Questions to traditionalists, secularists and reformers     464
A chasm in knowledge that is growing dramatically     466
How is the gap in education to be closed?     468
The Middle East Conflict and a New Paradigm     471
Causes of conflict     471
The state of Israel on Palestinian land     472
The Arab dilemma: Israel either un-Jewish or undemocratic     475
No end to the tragedy?     478
Persisting in the old paradigm     478
What could be     479
Opportunities for the new paradigm     481
New Approaches to Theological Conversation      485
Yesterday's methods     485
The traditional controversy     486
The defensive strategies on both sides     487
Dialogue about Jesus     489
Jesus in the Qur'an: God's messenger, not son     489
What does it mean for Jesus to be God's son?     491
What could Muhammad have known?     494
An affinity between the Qur'anic and the Jewish-Christian understandings of Christ     495
Reflecting on the cross     497
Jesus fully integrated into the Islamic tradition     499
What are the opportunities for a 'trialogue' on Jesus? Does it ask too much?     501
Speculative Questions     504
Monotheism and Trinity     504
The Muslim belief in one God versus the Christian Trinity     504
Is criticism of the Qur'an legitimate?     506
Is there a distinction in God?     508
Reflection on the Bible     509
How do we speak of Father, Son and Spirit in biblical terms?     510
Christ and the Trinity: from the Bible to dogma     510
The situation of interreligious dialogue     515
Stages of time and systems of language     516
From Biblical Criticism to Qur'anic Criticism?      518
Literal revelation?     518
The Bible-is every word inspired?     518
The Qur'an-the question of historical contingency     520
Critical exegesis     521
The exegesis of the Qur'an-phases and problems     521
Beginnings of a modern exegesis of the Qur'an     523
Diversity of approaches and forms     524
Insights and hypotheses of Western exegesis of the Qur'an     526
New insights of Muslim exegesis of the Qur'an     528
A time-sensitive understanding of the Qur'an     528
Historical-critical hermeneutics of the Qur'an     529
Historical-anthropological hermeneutics of the Qur'an     530
Pluralistic-political hermeneutics of the Qur'an     532
What could a time-sensitive understanding of the Qur'an mean today?     533
Possibilities for the Future
Islamic Renewal     539
The programme     539
Factors in the revival     540
Renewal as a return to the origins     541
Islam-the 'third force' for the future?     542
Approaches towards realization     543
Turkey-a laboratory for Islamic democracy?     544
Pioneer Islamic thinkers     547
Critical dialogue also with moderate Islamists      548
The Future of the Islamic Legal Order     551
The challenge to traditional legal systems     551
The spread of legalism-in all three prophetic religions     552
Catching up with the Reformation     554
Reintroduction of the Shariah? Nigeria, the test case     555
The challenge of modern legal systems     557
Human rights-a test case for Christianity and Judaism     558
Human rights-a test case for Islam     559
An Islamic basis for human rights?     561
Religions and women-a relationship of tension     562
Equal rights for women in Christianity and Judaism?     562
Equal rights for women in Islam?     564
Muslim women for women's rights     566
Reforms are indispensable     570
Protection of minorities?     570
Is the Shariah simply a code of life?     572
Towards a modern Shariah     573
General ethical framework: rights and responsibilities     575
The Future of Islamic State Order and Politics     578
State and religion-united or separated?     578
A trilateral comparison     578
Religion and state in Judaism     580
Separation of religion and state with Jesus of Nazareth?     581
The different context of the Prophet Muhammad     585
State and religion in Christianity and Islam     585
Secularity without secularism     587
Farewell to aggressive universalistic Christian and Muslim claims     587
Future perspectives for Islam and Christianity     588
Religious freedom-even to change religion?     589
Religion, violence and 'holy wars'     591
Does monotheism have a special propensity to Violence?     591
Holy wars of Yahweh?     592
Violence in the sign of the cross     595
'Holy wars' of Muslims?     597
War or peace?     599
Realm of Islam-realm of war     599
Radicalization of the idea of jihad?     600
A hermeneutic of peacemaking     602
A pedagogy of peacemaking     603
A pragmatic of peacemaking     604
The Future of the Islamic Economic Order     606
Is Islam the solution?     606
The Mediterranean between piracy and good neighbourliness     606
Why the economic backwardness?     607
The prohibition of usury-required and evaded     608
Islamic traditions rediscovered     611
Islamic banking systems     611
Islamic foundations     612
Commerce and ethics     613
Ethical principles for commerce in keeping with Islam     613
The need for an ethical framework     615
Islamic commercial principles as a bridge     616
The Future of the Islamic Way of Life     619
Do clothes make people?     619
Problems for Christian churches with the veil     620
The commandment for head coverings for Muslim women-not in the Qur'an     621
What is at issue in the dispute over the headscarf?     623
Walking the tightrope between Islamism and secularism     624
An Islamist fundamentalism     625
A secularist fundamentalism     626
Neither Islamism nor secularism as a model     627
Dialogue rather than clash     629
Not prohibition but understanding     629
Pragmatic, not ideological solutions     632
A short excursus on the German legal situation     633
Controversies centred on the mosque     635
Mosques     635
Minarets     637
The call to prayer     637
Legal standpoint or dialogue?     639
Muslims, Christians and Jews-together in prayer?     640
An ecumenical prayer     641
Epilogue: Islam, an Image of Hope     643
From a hostile image to an image of hope     643
The fateful question for Islam     644
Contemporary Islam     645
An enlightened sense of religion     647
The modern differentiation of religion     648
Islam-only a part-system?     648
Ethics as the foundation of democracy-in Islam too     650
Islam as a help in life     651
Islam and world problems: the population explosion as a test case     652
The Muslim contribution dialogue among civilizations     654
Bridges into the future     654
Shared ethical standards and universal human values     656
The Islamic foundation for a global ethic     656
The basis for an understanding between Islam and the West     658
Conclusion     661
Notes     663
Index     743
List of tables and maps     763
A word of thanks     765

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