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Trajectories of the Humanum in contemporary Islamic thought

Howard, Damian Andrew Joseph Keeling (2010)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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Abstract

This thesis explores how the spread of evolutionary theory has affected the beliefs of contemporary Muslims regarding human identity, capacity and destiny. Incorporating traditional and modern notions, Muslim responses to the crisis of the religious imagination presented by evolutionary ideas fall into at least four different modes of engagement. During the 19th century encounter with “the West” Muslims addressed the issue largely by juxtaposing the data of scientific discovery with those of revelation, a method still dominant today in the guises of creationism and modernisation. Another approach, whose impact on Islamic thought reaches from India to West Africa, emerges under the influence of Henri Bergson’s optimistic evolutionary philosophy and inclines towards a dynamic view of human personhood. Diametrically opposed to this is a perennialist Traditionalism marked by the cultural pessimism of post-1918 Europe. Strongly influenced by neo-Platonic Sufism, it represents the most rigorous rejection possible of evolutionary ideas. The last style of engagement arises from various late-20th Century attempts to renew science itself by “Islamizing” it. The thesis evaluates the content, influence and success of these four modes, asking how Muslims might now proceed to address the profound challenges which evolutionary theory poses to the effective reconstruction of religious thought.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Thomas, David
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
Department:Department of Theology and Religion
Subjects:BP Islam. Bahaism. Theosophy, etc
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:662
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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