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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: December 2019

2 - What Is Islam?

from Part I - Specialist versus Tacit Knowledge


Chapter 2 presents a detailed analysis of what we mean by Islamic rationalism. It explains the emphasis Islamic rationalism places on adherence to a madhhab, rational theology, and deep mystical experience, and how this approach is credited to Al-Ghazali. The chapter shows how Islamic rationalism was the mainstream Sunni orthodoxy until colonial rule displaced traditional Islamic learning practices in most Muslim countries. The chapter also shows how understanding the approach of the scholars leading this network requires understanding not just these conceptual debates but also their actual method of teaching. Emphasis is placed on acting as a model for the student.