Muhammad Abduh and His Epistemology of Reform: Its Impact on Rashid Rida – Part III

July 9, 2021

Ahmad Nabil Amir || 9 July 2021



Abduh largely concentrated his reformist work on educational reform, and his far-reaching achievement had significantly impacted Rida’s advocacy of educational reform extensively in al-Manar. A serious undertaking in the form unprecedented in its intellectual tradition, as alluded by Kosugi (Kosugi, 2006, p. 11): in doing so (maintaining the publication of al-Manar), Rida depended upon al-Afghāni and ‘Abduh to a great extent, especially at the beginning. This is partly because he had faith in their thought and believed that their cause was not only correct but also beneficial to all members of the Islamic world. Their authority and credibility were assets to him.

Abduh had exerted significant change and putting great effort to improve and transform educational structure and landscape in Egypt, focusing his endeavor to uplift school curriculum and bring intellectual and religious consciousness for meaningful institutional reform. This monumental feat was observed by Osman Amin (O. Amin, 1995, p. 167): the educative and ethical aspects of Abduh’s modernism explain the pervasive influence this Egyptian reformer had in some parts of the Muslim world.

Al-Manar echoed such idea of reform by advancing scientific worldview espoused by Abduh that fundamentally inspired ethical and spiritual change, intellectual improvement and moral consciousness, and promote social transformation, and it was deeply influential in the introduction and development of modern education in the Muslim world, and the proliferation of progressive Islam, by adopting the science and technology of the West (Hunt, 2005, p. 145). According to Kosugi (Kosugi,2006, p. 7) Al-Manar is a treasure of historical sources for Islamic areas of its days.

The ideal of reform had inspired progressive and scientific achievement and the penetration of modern worldview. Abduh’s essential effort was projected to improve the condition and intellectual malaise of the umma, and the pursuit of educational reform. This critical effort was exponentially articulated by Ahmad Bazli Shafie (Shafie, 2004, p. vii) in his work analyzing Abduh’s principle and philosophical framework of education: education was the most vital means and the key to ‘Abduh’s efforts to halt the decline of the Muslim world.

He sought to reassert the dynamic civilization and encourage the excellent pursuit of knowledge, arguing that: Islam urged Muslims to seek knowledge and to spread it because the Prophet of Islam had asked Muslims to seek knowledge even in China. Islam emphasized the importance of knowledge and within two centuries from the emergence of Islam “the Muslims were already  excelling in all the branches of human knowledge (O. Amin, 1995, p. 172) (Adams. C.C, 1933, p. 128). This fundamental aspiration to inspire cultural and scientific endeavor, was critically expounded in al-Manar, that marked Rida’s enduring contributions to rigorously articulate and conceptualize Abduh’s fundamental aspiration and idealism on educational reform, emphasizing the primacy of reason, as he categorically argued: Islam persistently encourages man to use reason and to study created beings through the laws and natures that govern them in order to know their creator God (Adams. C.C, 1933, p. 128).

The principle of ijtihad (independent reasoning) was the foremost ideal rigorously espoused by Abduh in his religious struggle. He strongly criticise the passive and blind adherence to past authorities (taqlid) and encouraged the application of ijtihad, arguing that: Islam attributed folly and levity to those who accept blindly the words of their predecessors. And it calls attention to the fact, that precedence in point of time is not one of the signs of knowledge, nor a mark of superiority of intellect or intelligence; but that the preceding generations and the later are on an equality so far as critical acumen and natural abilities are concerned (Adams. C.C, 1933, p. 132) (Ibrahim, 1992, p. 58). He encourages the critical use of reason and defended it emphatically, claiming that: Islam is pre-eminently a religion of reason (Adams. C.C, 1933, p. 128) and that, Islam and reason were totally compatible if Islam was properly understood. Abduh insisted on the importance of science and the power of intellect: in the search for truth, Islam prescribes reason, condemns blind imitation, and blames those who attach themselves without discernment to the habits and opinions of their forefathers (U. Amin., 1953, p. 172). He maintained that the latter generations had more explicit ground and crucial reason to exercise ijtihad: the latter generations of Muslims have better knowledge than the earlier generations because they have the capacity to acquire knowledge of past circumstances, to reflect upon them and to use them for their benefit in the world in the light of present knowledge and circumstances. (Adams. C.C, 1933, p. 132) In realizing the greater reform and its essential spirit and tradition, he encouraged the pursuit of science and rational judgment, and denounced the passivity and decadence views of the conservatives, as pointed out by Sayyid Qutb (Qutb, 1980, p. 19): ‘Abduh grew up in a strict society where rational inquiry was discouraged, among scholars who regularly neglected the role of reason in understanding God’s doctrines.

Rida explicitly espoused Abduh’s position in condemning taqlid (uncritical imitation) and denounce the blind emulation and obedience to past authorities, as succinctly illustrated by Kosugi (Kosugi, 2006, p. 11): his [Rida] major contribution was that he disseminated these ideas [ijtihad, anti-taqlid] widely in the Islamic world through the most enduring and consistent medium in the modern era, the journal of al-Manar.

In Rida’s opinion, taqlid had damaging consequences for the umma that corrupted its spirit and subsequently led to factionalism: what is harmful is fragmentation of Muslims into sects and parties, while each of them requires its members to follow a scholar whom they call an imam, and they follow him in every  word and opinion, and assemble themselves against the followers of another scholar, leading finally to the negligence of the Book [Qur’an] and the Sunna [Prophetic tradition] (Rida, 1901, p. 209) (Kosugi, 2006, p. 15). In explicating the fundamental influence of Abduh and the essential impact of his teaching in proclaiming ijtihad, Rida reflected the intellectual premise of Abduh and its profound impact that inspired him to carry on his tradition in his advocacy of ijtihad: I have similarities with the teacher in the use of freedom of thought and argument, both in religious and scientific problem. It was already an imperative for me since the first day I became his disciple. I have learned a lot of science, philosophy and many subjects form the teacher, but I never blindly emulate him. In many ways, I concurred and agreed with the teacher, but in some ways I disagree, in fact I rejected his argument with my own proof. We have similarities in  principle, goal, motivation, and intention (Rida, 1931, p. 1019).

Rida idealized the rational spirit and independent judgment advocated by Abduh through his fatwa (juristic opinion) in al-Manar, that resonated Abduh’s unprecedented ruling and significant juristic tradition in the twentieth century, as observed by Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi (Qaradawi, 1992, p. 17), illustrating the profound influence of al-Manar’s magazine in the Islamic world: after that [the periods of traditional fatwas], fatwas of al-‘allamah al-mujaddid [great renewer scholar] al-Sayyid Muhammad Rashid Rida had become famous, which were published in his noble Islamic journal, al-Manar, a journal which continued for thirty five years. Each issue always had one or more fatwas, answering questions from the readers of the journal in the Islamic world. For this reason, the questions and answers did not represent any particular locality, but addressed problems the entire Islamic umma and Muslims in all corners of the earth were facing…these fatwas had many features. First, they treat modern issues and actual problems which peoples face and suffer and need to know the answers of Islamic law, or at least, contemporary Islamic ijtihad (judgment, reasoning) on them. Second, they are written with a spirit of intellectual independence, with freedom from bonds of sectarianism, imitation, and narrow-minded insistence on a particular view. He did not refer except to the Book [Qur’an], Sunna, and the foundations of the Islamic law. Third, they carry the spirit of reform and the invitation to the balanced comprehensive Islam.

Rida also discussed the principle and essential foundation of ijtihad in his groundwork Muhawarat al-Muslih wa’l-Muqallid (The Dialogue between the Reformer and the Imitator/Traditionalist) published in al-Manar from vol. 3, no. 28 (Dec. 1900) to vol. 4, no. 22 (Feb. 1902), where he painstakingly emphasized the crucial and indispensable need for ijtihad which ought to be exercised for the interest of people at large: the basic fundamentals of Islam are proper creed, ethics, control of one’s own soul, and worshipping Allah in an appropriate manner, and general principles for social relations such as protection of life, honor and property. All these principles were established in the time of the Prophet… as for the details of social relations, after the foundations are laid such as justice of rulings, equality of rights, prohibition of transgression, deception, and treason, and hadd punishments for some crimes, and after the principle of shura (mutual consensus) is established, the details are entrusted to those with authority among the scholars and rulers, who ought to be possessors of knowledge and justice, deciding what is best for the umma according to [conditions of] the time. (Rida,1901, pp. 209–210) (Kosugi, 2006, p. 15)

The intensity of da‘wa (Islamic proliferation) and its advocacy was also addressed by al-Manar, inspired from the worldview of Abduh, that espoused the higher ideal of religion based on underlying principle of the Qur’an and prophetic tradition. In proclaiming the ideal and crucial aspiration of da‘wa, Abduh and Rida had founded Jam‘iyyah al-Irshad (The Benevolent Society) and Madrasah al-Da‘wah wa’l-Irshad [School of Propagation and Guidance] an elite school that was established in Egypt in 1912 (Kurzman, 2002, p. 89) which undertake to gear and recruit young cadre and initiate the call for Islam and espoused its message, and strive to improve the condition of the umma.

The crucial role of al-Manar in the proliferation of da‘wa and projecting the forceful aspiration for reform was strengthen by the formation of al-Manar party or moderate party of Islamic reform (hizb al-islah al-islami al-mu‘tadil) that rigorously espoused al-Manar’s defining work. The movement has developed an unprecedented influence that penetrate into broader Islamic world. The advocacy of Islamic da‘wa and its work was carried by younger Egyptian modernist and preachers, such as Tantawi Jawhari, Muhammad Farid Wajdi, Qasim Amin; and scholars in Tunis and Maghrib such as ‘Abd al-Aziz al-Thaalibi, Muhammad ibn Nahil, Tahir ibn Ashur, and Ben Badis and their counterpart in the Malay Archipelago, such as Syed Shaykh al-Hadi, Syeikh Muhammad Tahir Jalaluddin al-Falaki al-Azhari, Shaykh Abdul Karim Amrullah (Haji Rasul) and Shaykh Abdul Malik bin Abdul Karim Amrullah (Hamka) that contribute to extend the influence and continue the struggle of al-Manar. They espoused dynamic aspiration of reform and articulated the modern ideas of Abduh and Rida, and defending their principle and struggles. This ideal was articulated by Hunt Janin (Hunt, 2005, p. 142) documenting this influential modern salafis movement: his [Abduh] teaching inspired the Salafiya (a reformist movement designed to purify Islam through a modernist interpretation of the first three generations of Muslims) in Egypt, the Arab Middle East, and North Africa.

That the broad influence of the underlying aspiration of modern Islam, and the understanding of Rashid [Rida] and Muhammad Abduh of the religion of Islam helps progress and benefits the state (Kurzman, 2002, p. 83). In the Malay-Indonesian world, the spread of Islamic modernism was instrumental in the active proliferation of da‘wa and the development of al-Manar’s influence, as illustrated by H.A.R. Gibb: persons who accepted the principle of al-Manar in Egypt, upon returning to their own countries, formed small group of al-Manar supporters (al-Manarat) (O. Amin, 1995, p. 227).Substantial part of Tafsir al-Manar was translated by Syed Shaykh al-Hadi in 1908 and published in the periodical al- Imam, beginning from sura al-Fatihah (no. 3, vol. 3, 29 August 1908) and widely read in Malaya, Singapore, and Indonesia. Al-Hadi also published the translation of Tafsir Juz ‘Amma in al-Ikhwan’s journal in Penang and translated Abduh’s Tafsir al- Fatihah in 1928, that constituted about127 pages (Mustaffa, 2012, p. 762).

The significant premise of modern ideas and religious teaching of Abduh was profoundly developed by Rida in his leading periodic al-Manar, proclaiming his dynamic aspiration for reform, and brought forth the progressive pan-Islamic ideal and rational theology he espoused: The Ustadh-Imam (teacher-leader) [Abduh], may God bestow mercy upon him, reached the leadership position in this umma and the level of those in authority in the religious and temporal affairs, and he came quite close to the leadership of the entire umma. But this potential was not realized, because the umma was not formulated in such a manner to make it possible to move on the line which he planned (Rida, 1923, pp. 59–60) (Kosugi, 2006, p. 12). Rida significantly proclaimed the revivalist ideal and advocating Islamic renewal through al-Manar that established wide influence in major Arab countries in the Middle East, North Africa, and Southeast Asia. He was strongly influenced by the reformist ideas of al-Afghāni and especially of Abduh. Indeed, Al- Manar, the highly regarded reformist monthly magazine that Rashid Rida published for 37 years (from 1898 to 1935), was essentially a call for change according to the doctrines of Abduh (Hunt, 2005, p. 144).

Al-Manar’s extensive effort to formulate the essence of Abduh’s modernism was exceptionally instrumental in realizing his principle, and modern aspiration, as articulated by A. Athaillah (Athaillah, 2006, p. 1) of his ideological influence: in the history of modern Islam, Abduh was hailed as the most successful reformist, however, this success can’t be realized by his efforts alone, but also thanks to the result of gracious works and contributions of his closest students Sayyid Muhammad Rashid Rida, who unfailingly and tirelessly publicize and disseminate his thoughts throughout the Islamic world in his periodical al-Manar, Tafsir al-Manar, and his other works.

The reform struggle was fundamentally aim to restore the dynamic and critical role of the umma in the modern world. Rida strongly espoused the need to reclaim this strategic and influential role of the umma that largely inspired the rise of Islamic modernism in the twentieth century. This convincing argument for reform was depicted by Malcolm Kerr (1966) in his work that rediscover Rida’s legal theories and premises in advocating reform and his defining ideas of the principle of freedom and rationality: Rashid Rida and others of his school, whatever their intentions may have been, have facilitated the accomplishment of a great undertaking of secular reform in Islamic countries.

The struggle principally focused on the goal of reviving the umma from intellectual crisis and decades of backwardness and malaise and long slumber. Articulating this radical thought Hunt (Hunt, 2005, p.144) remarked: intellectually, Rashid Rida began precisely where al-Afghāni and Abduh had begun. Hefirst raised a fundamental question – “Why are Muslim countries so backward?”– and then answered it by tying religious belief directly to secular power and prosperity.

Rida formulated dynamic argument for reform and its imperative, articulating its underlying premise that essentially call for systematic and profound change in moral precepts and religious outlook. This was brought forth by Shakib Arsalan (1869-1946), describing his intellectual and religious premise, and articulating the essentially significant and indispensable need for creative technical breakthrough: the teachings and moral precepts of Islam are such that if they are properly understood and fully obeyed, they will lead to success in this world as well as the next – and to success in all the forms in which the world understands it, [namely] strength, respect, civilization, happiness. If they are not understood and obeyed, weakness, decay, barbarism are the results…it is irrelevant to say that modern civilization rests on technical advance, and that Islamic civilization cannot be revived so long as the Muslims are technically backward; technical skill is potentially universal, and its acquisition depends on certain moral habits and intellectual principles. If Muslims had these, they would easily obtain technical skill; and such habits and principles are in fact contained in Islam (Hunt, 2005, p. 145).

Rida’s political activism, and his prolific writing on the theory and principle of Islamic governance explicitly reflected the influential thought of Abduh, projected to espouse and accentuate his political ideal, that fundamentally aim: to adjust Islam to the demands of modern times (Hunt, 2005, p. 143).Rida only  discussed political issues in al-Manar after the death of Abduh in 1905, as Abduh discourages him from discussing politics in this critical period of political clash and  conflicting interest of the Ottoman and Egyptian rule. Rida’s political writings were compiled in six volumes by Yusuf Ibish and Yusuf Quzma al-Khuri in Maqalat al- Shaykh Rashid Rida al-Siyasiyya (Beirut: Dar Ibn ‘Arabi, 1994) that reflected the great turbulent and heated political climate in the Muslim world. Rida unwaveringly advocated the political aspiration of Abduh, which espoused the compatibility of religion and politics asset forth in his writings al-Islam wa’l- Nasraniyyah ma‘a al-‘Ilm wa’l-Madaniyyah (Islam and Christianity in Relation to Science and Civilization): Muhammad Abduh, with all his emphasis upon the spiritual character of religious exercises, defended the union of the civil and religious authority in Islam, and favoured retention of the essentials of the system of canon law, although with far-reaching reforms. (Adams. C.C, 1933, pp. 267–268) Abduh’s advocacy for democratic principle, accountable conduct of Islamic state, constitutional reform and formation of full fledge modern state was emphasized in al-Manar, as alluded by Hunt (Hunt, 2005, p. 144): he (Rida) was one of the first Muslim intellectuals to call for the establishment of a modernized but fully Islamic state and for a reformed sharia, the body of Islamic sacred law.

Rida deeply espoused Abduh’s political construct and philosophical thought on the idea of Islamic society, and his unprecedented formulation and attempt to revive the institution of Caliphate that undisputedly debunked Sa‘ad Zaghlul’s nationalist thesis. He strategically outlined the theoretical ground for the establishment of modern Islamic state, echoing the thesis of al-Kawakibi, and to restore Islamic authority and the spirit of pan-Islamism with structural change of contemporary Muslim state: [The proposal is]…to leave the issue of the khilafa (Caliphate) to all Islamic peoples, and independent and semi-independent governments among them, and constitute a mixed independent committee or assembly with its headquarters in Istanbul, which will study all reports and proposals from the men of knowledge and judgment on the issue, and this will prepare an Islamic conference. (Kosugi, 2006, p. 23).

Al-Manar’s essential statement of Islamic government explicitly espoused Abduh’s crucial views on the Muslim conduct of state that stresses the indispensable union of religion and politics. This aspiration was derived from his works, Islam and Christianity in Relation to Science and Civilization. The essential part of Rida’s book al-Khilafa aw al-Imama al-Uzma and his political theory “Khilafa of the mujtahid” or governance by the jurists in 1920s, was explicitly inspired from the principles of Abduh, that espoused the fundamental ideal of the underlying structure of Islamic governance. In this, al-Manar had stated explicitly and unequivocally the imperative of Islamic caliphate and refuted ‘Ali ‘Abd al-Raziq’s thesis as set forth in Al-Islam wa Usul al-Hukm (Islam and the Fundamentals of Authority) that assaulted the institution of Islamic caliphate, arguing that: the assertion that the government and the state should be separated from religion, is one that necessitates the blotting of Islamic authority out of existence, and abrogating entirely the Islamic shari‘a (Adams. C.C, 1933, p. 267).

The institution of governance, according to Rida, must be founded on the crucial principal of freedom, and democratic principle of fairness and accountable rule, and this constitutional ideal was critical to realize the underlying aspiration of political Islam and its ethical foundation, based on classical example of religious orthodoxy and theory of caliphate, as suggested by Malcolm Kerr (Kerr, 1966, p.220) in his work on Rida political theory and legal postulate: [H]is revival of the classical theory of the Caliphate serves to remind us that the classical theory itself had not been a program for action but ahyperbolical, almost allegorical, rationalization…Rida’s constitutional theory, despite his intentions, does not represent a serious program but a statement of ideals.

The political ideal espoused by Rida was much influenced by the writings of classical Muslim jurists such as al-Mawardi (975-1058), Abu Ya‘la al-Farra’ (990-1065) and Shihab al-Din Ahmad al-Qalqashandi in their works of political authority and the institution of caliphate. This provide essential framework of the traditional system of government and its fundamental form and structure that significantly impacted his theoretical premise on classical religious authority. This was portrayed in his substantive exposition on the constitutional theory of caliphate in his al-Khilafa aw al-Imama al-‘Uzma fi al-Islam (Caliphate, or the Supreme Leadership in Islam) which was: presented to the courageous Turkish people and the reform party in Arab and Indian countries and the rest of Islamic people (Rida, 1923). The arguments presented gave some impression that: Rida thinks the traditional system of government still the best, as argued by Emile Tyan, commenting on Henri Laoust’s modern translation of Rida’s Khalifa al-‘Uzma, entitled Le califat dans la doctrine de Rasid Rida: all the personal efforts of this author, animated by a very intense religious and apologetic spirit led him to propose certain adaptations in order to make possible the restoration of the Caliphate in modern Muslimstates. (Rida, 1931, p. 130) (Badawi, 1978, p. 66)

Rida’s rationalistic outlook, was greatly influenced from Abduh’s rational framework, essentially articulated in his groundwork, Risalat al-Tawhid (The Theology of Unity). The work was published in 1897 that illustrated the foundation of his rational philosophy and scientific premises, thanks to the influences of the medieval rationalists, the Mutazilites. This speculative theology and its influential system in classical thought by way philosophical argument was critically observed by Stewart (Stewart,1995, p. 194): by using the expression the Divine Unity (tawhid) in the title of his book, ‘Abduh was deliberately recalling the Mu‘tazilites, for that was the term that they used to sum up their doctrine. It is clear that he was in fact a latter-day Mu‘tazilite for in the first edition of his epistle he stated that the Koran is created and not eternal. He was obliged to remove this statement from the later editions, but there seems to be no doubt that his view did not change. He also shared the Mu‘tazilite view on such matters as free will and the role of reason in religion. (Iftitah, 1998, p. 26) Abduh’s principal ideas and position that reverberated Mu‘tazilite doctrine was definitely emphasized by Sulayman Dunya, an Azharite scholar, in his comprehensive edition of Abduh’s Hashiyah (commentary) of the Sharh al-Dawwani li al-‘Aqa’id al-‘Adudiyah (1876), analyzing Abduh’s intrinsic doctrine, which: ranks him as more radical than the Mu‘tazila in giving greater prominence to reason than to revelation (Nasution, 1968, p. 4).

Risalat al-Tawhid was a statement on Islamic theology based on his lecture in 1885 in Madrasa al-Sultaniyya, Beirut where he taught in his exile for three years. It was translated into French by B. Michel and Mustapha ‘Abd al-Raziq and later in English by Ishak Musa‘ad and Kenneth Cragg. This principal work formed the foundation of rational Islam that outlined substantive framework of rational theology and highlight the highly influential and supreme position of reason and its  role in early Islamic theology and religious orthodoxy, as critically explained by Elma Harder: ‘Abduh’s ideas were met with great enthusiasm, but also by tenacious opposition. They are still a subject of contention today…as questions of modernism and tradition re-emerge in conflict in the Muslim world. Although he did not achieve his goals, Muhammad Abduh remains a continuing influence, and his work, Risalat al-Tauhid (The Unity of Theology) is the most important statement of his thought (Hunt, 2005, p. 142). It stresses the need to purge Islam of  its superstition, to correct Muslim conceptions of the articles of faith, and eliminate errors that crept into Islam on account of textual misinterpretations(Caesar, 1994; p. 231) (Iftitah, 1998; p. 25) Abduh’s rational argument had substantial influence in the intellectual views of Rida in his advocacy of Islamic rationalism and modernism, as significantly portrayed by Ryuichi Funatsu (Funatsu, 2006) in his historical study of the intellectual history and modern influence of al-Kawakibi and Rida: rather for him, as for Afghāni and ‘Abduh, a return to the roots, to the first principles, of Islam represented an affirmation of the values of rationalism and freedom inherent in the faith and imperative for its renewal.

In this, Rida categorically argued that, when holy texts are ambiguous or appear to contradict each other, men should use reason to decide what course of action is most in accord with the spirit of Islam and will further the interests of the Muslim community as a whole (Hunt, 2005, p. 145). Rida’s argument was essentially grounded on rational ideas and teaching of Abduh and his underlying philosophical tradition which reinforced the principal argument of the Mu‘tazilite and their theological reasoning. This was pointed out by Abdullah Saeed (Saeed, 2008, p. 209) in his essential study of the Qur’an: modernist scholars also argued that accepting the concept of revelation did not clash with the use of reason. Thus, they tried to revive Islam’s rationalist philosophical tradition, and some previously discounted ideas of the rationalist Mu‘tazilis came into vogue again among some modern scholars.

This philosophical tradition and its underlying premise was espoused by  the modernist in different context that advocate rational argument and modern doctrine of Islam, as significantly illustrated by P.J. Stewart (Stewart, 1995, p. 194) in his incisive analysis of the Mu‘tazilite and the influence of their philosophical tradition in the intellectual history of Islam: like the Mu‘tazila [the Mu‘tazilis], the majority of the modernists emphasize the high place of reason in their scale of values and try to show the perfect compatibility of true Islam with the findings of a mind free from the scourge of ignorance, prejudice and superstitions. Like the Mu‘tazila, the modernists think that Islam upholds the principles of free will (ikhtiyar), as opposed to that predestination (jabr), since it has been obvious to both groups that Muslims first conceive of their capacity to determine their destiny. (Enayat, 1982, p.8) Abduh’s philosophical tradition and scientific argument was also magnified by Rida in Tafsir al-Manar, which according to Goldziher (Goldziher, 1952, p. 325): contain the substance of the theology as propagated by al-Afghāni and ‘Abduh (Nasution, 1968, p. 15). In his tafsir, Rida tried to explicate Abduh’s rational interpretation in traditional way, alluding to its intrinsic relation with Islamic orthodoxy, as pointed out by Caspar, that: Rida is trying to interpret ‘Abduh’s ideas in a more traditional sense (Nasution, 1968, p. 15). Nevertheless, Rida’s advocacy of Abduh’s rational commentary and his attempt to idealized his philosophical tradition in defending reason does stop him from taking more liberal position and depart from Abduh’s rational doctrines, which had great ramification in his methods as set forth in Tafsir al-Manar, as contended by Osman Amin (U. Amin., 1953, p. 168): while Rida in the beginning of the Tafsir al-Manar, follows Abduh closely, he later begins to express his own views in a more and more liberal way and begins to deviate from ‘Abduh’s method.


The paper had briefly demonstrated the major influences of Abduh’s principles on Rashid Rida. Abduh had exercised lasting and far-reaching influences on Rida in the field of tafsir, tradition, jurisprudence, theology and journalism. Rida’s principal work such as Tarikh al-Ustadh al-Imam al-Shaykh Muhammad Abduh and Tafsir al-Manar, had rigorously and liberally expounded his ideas and reinforced his arguments and continued his inspiring influence and struggle for reform and renewal. The modern aspiration was rigorously resonated by his effort that became a critical and important milestone for renewed aspiration for Muslim umma to continue espoused his philosophical tradition of reform in modern context.


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Dr Ahmad Nabil Amir is Head of Abduh Study Group, Islamic Renaissance Front. He has a PhD in Usuluddin from the University of Malaya. This essay was first published in Hermeneutik: Jurnal Ilmu Al-Qur’an dan Tafsir 2021; 15(1):61-92. ISSN 2354-6205.