An Innovator, by Any Other Name: The Mujaddid and the Rhetoric of Islamic Renewal
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Siebeking, R. Brian
This study addresses the question of reform in Islam as formulated under the rubric of “renewal” (tajdid). As an idea, tajdid arises from a hadith in which God promises to send a “renewer” (mujaddid) at the turn of each century. Whereas premodern scholars eagerly made claims on this epithet, modern reformers tend to look past the person of the mujaddid to the discourse of renewal itself. Yet, in taking tajdid as a broad-based framework for socio-religious reform, do modern advocates violate the spirit, let alone the letter, of the tradition? To answer this question, I examine both the interpretive history of tajdid and the interpretive potential of the mujaddid hadith. Accordingly, I demonstrate that tajdid is less a model or doctrine of reform than the vital rhetoric of legitimating the innovations such reform entails. Insofar as contemporary reformers share in this rhetorical activity, I argue that they too are mujaddids.|Keywords: innovation, Islam, reform, renewal, rhetoric
Siebeking, R. B. (2019). An Innovator, by Any Other Name: The Mujaddid and the Rhetoric of Islamic Renewal. Supplement Series for the Journal of Religion & Society Supplement Series, 18, 45-62.
Rabbi Myer and Dorothy Kripke Center, Creighton University
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