Meeting the Challenges of Modernity as Experienced by Said Nursi, Muhammad Iqbal and Muhammad Abduh

Nuriye Aksoy
OF THE THESIS Meeting the Challenges of Modernity as Experienced by Said Nursi, Muhammad Iqbal and Muhammad Abduh By NURIYE AKSOY Thesis Director: Jawid Mojaddedi One of the core debates of the Muslim intellectuals of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries was on the question of whether Islam could or should embrace change. If so, then how would this change take place in meeting the current challenges, while also staying faithful to the primary teachings of Islam? Muslims, and non-Muslims alike
more » ... d non-Muslims alike were directly or indirectly influenced by the "modern" trends brought by the West. Did "modern" values always signify progress and value? To what extent would modern principles be adopted in the Islamic tradition? These were certainly a few of the many questions raised by pioneer figures of "modernity" like Said Nursi (d. 1960), Muhammad Iqbal (d.1938) and Muhammad Abduh (d.1905). As I have come to hypothesize prior to my research, their distinct educational background and context had great significant and lasting impacts in the unique approaches that they undertook in regards to bringing change. As I have concluded, the ways in which they have dealt with these "modern" challenges, as well as opportunities, were not only an inspiration for their own generations, but also relevant to many Muslims to this day. Still, many Muslims and non-Muslims are unaware of these intellectuals who have demonstrated an immense effort in resolving the issues of their day. This is important to note because there is the possibility iii for these intellectuals to also shed light to the existing internal crisis of the Islamic world today, if meticulous attention is given to their teachings. iv ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The present thesis would not have been possible if it was not for my thesis advisor and Professor, Jawid Mojaddedi. I have greatly benefitted from his intellectual scholarship and his constructive reading and commenting on the text. I give thanks to my father for the long discussions we had on Said Nursi's teachings. I am extremely grateful to Professor, Edwin Bryant for carefully reading and editing the text. I also thank my brother for editing the text with patience and care. My special gratitude goes to my mother and sister for the moral support that they have showed me throughout this journey. Lastly, to my dear friends and everyone else whom I have not mentioned in name, I appreciate your continuous support and understanding. It means a lot! v TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract ii. Acknowledgements iv.