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Hamed Hosseini
 Faculty of Arts
The Australian National University
ACT 0200


Islam, today the second largest religion in the world, derives from the teachings of the prophet Mohammad in the seventh century CE. Islam means submission to truth. Mohammad claimed that God (Allah) had spoken through earlier prophets- including Abraham, Moses and Jesus- before him and he was the last.   As a school of thought, Islam, essentially, is a critical and political school. It makes its appearance in the history of mankind with NO (la). A NO which began with the cry of unity, a cry which Islam reinitiated when confronted by aristocracy, monopoly or compulsion. “NO oppression, NO exploitation, NO ignorance”. Mohammad cried out “I have come from God. God has willed that all oppressed and exploited people should be helped and that they should inherit the earth”.  The main pillar of Islam is ‘Tawhid’ (dynamic monotheist ontology). God is the essence of life, the meaning of creation and the origin of truth. The unity of God has special meaning: NO discrimination in respect of race, class, gender, tribe . . .  The God-Human relation is not similar to master-slave or father-child relation. Man can approach God by realizing God’s character: justice, honesty, trust, purity, compassion, mercy. . . Tawhid also means that there is not (and there should not be) any real contradiction between material and spiritual aspects of life. Approaching to God is possible through making dialectical process between material and spirit, reality and truth, masculinity and femininity. . . And “there is a potential integration between God, human and nature”. Therefore wasting the natural resources -including health, prodigality and dissipation are strictly forbidden.

    Moslems, after Mohammad, established a rich civilization. They developed science especially mathematics, algebra, astronomy, medicine and philosophy considerably. They created a much expanded network of business. However, the history of Islam followed a strange and tragic path (especially after the invasion of Mongol dynasties). The Islamic values affected by tribal customs the economic system converted to a semi-feudal system with an oriental despotism. The pressures, injustices, usurpations and extortions of the rights of people became more pronounced through the system of aristocracy. A formal system of clerics has emerged to legitimize the power via bias interpretations of Quran and then many Islamic ideas have been distorted.  This system, rivaling with secular modernity imposed by western oriented government, developed “Islamic fundamentalism”. Therefore, Islamic fundamentalism could be defined as an irrational- aggressive reaction to oppressive behaviors of western governments and it made Islam to be misunderstood among western societies. Today we need to distinguish two kinds of Islamic revivalism; 1) a reactive approach called fundamentalism by western commentators (although I admire “traditionalism” rather than “fundamentalism” because it is very hard to find links between Islamic fundamentals and so-called fundamentalism); 2)  a proactive approach – although still very fragmented – which we may call it “ reconstructionism”. This approach is going to “de-construct” current Islamic ideas and cultures, in order to explore and exclude the historical contaminants added to original Islamic ideas; and then to reconstruct Islam as an “emancipatory historical movement”. They aimed to reconstruct Islam in struggle with internal destructive forces (i.e. traditionalism- authoritarianism) and external destructive forces (consumerism- capitalist globalism).  


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