Book Review of Hamid Enayet's 'Modern Islamic Political Thought' in which the author gives an account of Shi'ite political thought, and the differences between Shi'i and Sunni views on state, caliphate, and politics.
Modern Islamic Political Thought; Hamid Enayet, Macmillon Press Ltd., London and Basingstoke, 1982
This book is much talked about in the circles interested in the Islamic studies because of its subject. Hamid Enayet is one of the few Iranian writers known outside Iran. He was a professor of political science at Tehran University from 1971 to. 76.
He had also served at Khartoum University, Sudan, and St.. Antony College, England. He lectured on modern Middle Eastern history at Oxford University. His untimely death grieved the academic circles, for he was expected to do more valuable work in the field of Islamic political thought.
He is among a small coterie of scholars who are well versed in Western modes of thought and idiom with good knowledge of Arabic and Persian. His first book Sayri dar andishah ye siyasi `Arab was acclaimed as the best on. the subject all over Persian knowing world and secured him a place of eminence in the Muslim academic circles.
He translated Aristotle's Politics and Hegel's Reason in History into Persian along with many other books and articles. He contributed articles to Persian papers and journals besides writing dissertations on political and ideological trends in English. He seems to have a wide circle of friends and admirers in Iran.
Many letters that we received from his fans who defended him against adverse reviews published in Iranian and foreign journals showed that he enjoyed popularity among both the students and teachers. Modern Islamic Political Thought attracted much attention all over the world, for it dealt with a subject of burning interest, i.e. political thinking in the Muslim world.
His relation to Iran made the book more important. This is the first book which gives an authentic account of Shi'i thought regarding politics. All the books written so far have dealt with one aspect of Islamic thought only, i.e. the majority Sunni view. The Shi'i outlook was ignored both by the Muslim and Western scholars. Hamid Enayet compared and contrasted the Shi'i views on state and politics with those of Sunnis, both in historical perspective and the contemporary situation.
The book consists of five chapters and one long introduction dealing with the relevance of the past. The first chapter, under the title "Shi'ism and Sunnism: Conflict and Concord," explains the spirit of Shi'ism and gives a separate account of Shi'i‑Sunni polemics. The second chapter throws light on the controversy over the caliphate, with particular reference to Turkish caliphate. The concept of the Islamic state is discussed in the third chapter under two headings: "Muhammad Rashid Rida and fundamentalism".
The fourth chapter takes into account the development and impact of the concepts of nationalism, democracy, and socialism in the Muslim world. The fifth chapter is exclusively devoted to aspects of Shi'i modernism with special reference to the movement of constitutionalism in Iran and the notions of taqiyyah and martyrdom.
The discussions about the Shi'i milieu and its role in moulding special Shi'i concepts assume greater importance due to the Islamic Revolution of Iran and its influence on the contemporary Muslim world. Just a glance at the contents of the book is enough to realize its academic value.
At the very outset it is emphasized that any attempt to understand the true nature of political thought in the contemporary Muslim world ought to take into account two basic factors: the inherent link between Islam as a comprehensive scheme for ordering human life, and politics as an indispensable instrument to secure universal compliance with the scheme. It is also indicated that in no case Muslims have had a unified and monolithic perception of their faith. The main differences centre around the issue of the caliphate, which divided Muslims into two major schools, i.e. Sunni and Shi'ah.
It is rightly pointed out that Muslims, for the greater part of their history, lived under regimes which had only the most tenuous link with Islamic norms, and observed Shari'ah only to the extent that it legitimized their power in the eyes of the faithful. The author has given sufficient evidence of inseparability of religious faith and politics in Islam.
Firstly, jihad is one of the basic tenets of the Muslim faith‑which is wrongly translated as `holy war', for the term covers a wider range of meanings; secondly, the principle of `enjoining the good and forbidding the evil' (al‑ amr bi l‑ma`ruf wa al‑nahy `an al munkar) requires every Muslim to see that socio‑political justice is enforced in the society.
These principles not only politicized the Muslim mind, but also determined their attitude towards the rulers. The author explains the absence of independent political thought in Islamic history in the light of Muslim view which rarely treated politics in isolation from related disciplines. It is why the concept of secular state and society remained alien to the majority of Muslims, both literate and illiterate.
While giving a brief account of the basic strands of tradition, Hamid Enayet points out that, though always subsumed under some other discipline, classical Islamic thought represents a fascinating mosaic of divergent schools. The first and the most lasting controversy arose regarding the choice of the Prophet's successor.
Two opposing views were presented, but it would be an oversimplification if one credits one view to be democratic and the other to be undemocratic. There is a very big question mark yet now before all Muslims as to what is the proper method of selecting a ruler, and as to what is the place of what we call democratic method today.
Another related question: Can we apply modern Western criteria to medieval Muslim society? The book does not pass any judgement on any of the abovementioned two views. The author, though a Shi'i, has remained neutral. But it may be pointed out that his attempt to confine Shi'i view to Imamah, wilayah and `ismah, and Sunni view to khilafah, ijma` and bayah leads a student of Islamic thought nowhere, it rather creates a confusion.
This issue has been rightly discussed by the reviewer of the book in Jumhuri Islarni. Another point of contention is the author's description of the Khawarij as a revolutionary force in the body of Muslim polity.
Accepting the fact that the Khawarij were pious people, devoted to the ideals of Islam, one should not forget that their naivity combined with the lack of political insight paved the way for the defeat of Islamic political ideals, and proved to be instrumental in inflicting the heaviest blow to Islamic democratic values by martyring `Ali (A) and indirectly strengthening the hands of unscrupulous monarchical aspirations.
Thus their role was negative and retrogressive. Hamid Enayet, being a professor of political science, was expected to know the difference between a rebel and a revolutionary; while the former has no well thought out programme, the latter follows a well knit ideology.
The Khawarij, at the most, can be described as rebels without political insight. Moreover, their piety was also misconceived, for they refused to listen to `Abd Allah ibn `Abbas' argument in favour of arbitration (tahkim), and betrayed the man whom they had accepted as their Imam. Hamid Enayet describes the Khawarij as a third force or trend in the `first four decades of Islamic history'.
Apart from the ambiguity of `the first four decades of Islamic history', he seems to attach too much importance to a trend which soon died its natural death. The Mu'tazilite doctrine of tawhid, freedom and `aql is discussed by the author, but strangely the political implications of the doctrine of free will are not discussed, which are more relevant to political thought than other purely metaphysical notions. Anyhow, the author has rightly described Mu'tazilism and the movement of Ikhwan al Safa as intellectual catalytic agents in the politics of early Islam.
The most important part of the introduction concerns the development of the Sunni view of the caliphate, which he describes as `Sunni realism'. He selects three thinkers, Abu al‑Hasan al‑Mawardi (d. 450/1058), al‑Ghazali (d. 505/1111) and Badr al‑Din ibn Jama'ah (d. 732/1332) to discuss this realism.
At a time when the Sunni Ghaznavids wielded the real power, and the authority of Abbasid caliph was just nominal, al‑Mawardi defended the supremacy and indivisibility of the caliphate, but he justified the legitimacy of the transfer of power to rulers other than caliphs. Al‑Ghazali took the next step.
At a time when the caliphate had lost its credentials to confer authority on rulers, and was reduced to merely an instrument of legitimizing power acquired by force, he provided the powerful with a religious justification for gaining power by force with the condition that he ought to declare allegiance to the caliph. What was anticipated by al‑Mawardi was realized by al‑Ghazali.
With the overthrow of the Abbasid caliphate the stage was set for further change in the attitude of Sunni theologians, and Ibn Jama'ah fully legitimized the right of military power to rule. This realism or flexibility reached a point at which maintenance of security was considered to be the only function of the state. Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 728/1328) declared that even an unjust ruler could be accepted, if the alternative was chaos. Thus, what is called `realism' ends in legitimization of unjust rule too.
All the three‑thinkers, al‑Mawardi, al‑Ghazali and Ibn Jama'ah were high functionaries at one time or another in the administration of the `Abbasids, Saljuqs and Mamluks. For their masters they had to bend the yard‑stick of the caliphate to the extent of breaking it.
The development or rather deterioration of the concept of the caliphate virtually separated rulership from religious obligations. Hamid Enayet calls it conservative realism at another place, which means willingness to forgo all principles for the sake of adjusting to ephemeral conditions. This flexibility was criticized by some later Sunni scholars, who wished to adhere to the Islamic ideals of social justice.
This indignation was expressed in the writings of `Abd al‑`Aziz al‑Badri, himself a victim of official displeasure because of his fundamentalist views. H.A.R. Gibb says that `in the Sunni community there was no one universally accepted doctrine of the caliphate'. But he adds that Sunni thought `excludes the acceptance of any one theory as definitive and final.
What it does lay down is a principle: that the caliphate is that form of government which safeguards the ordinances of the Shari'ah and sees that they are put into practice'. Because of this disagreement among Sunnis, the Turks could abolish the caliphate, and all opposition to the abolition proved futile. Some Arab states, particularly Saudi Arabia and Egypt, tried to acquire the status of the caliphate, but in vain. The Saudis were supported by the British empire for its own ends.
As the Saudi kingdom was a creation of the imperialist interests, it could have served its cause faithfully. All such attempts to revive the caliphate were doomed to fail because of two reasons: firstly, the changing conditions rendered the caliphate redundant, and secondly, the very notion of the caliphate had been diluted so much that it had lost all religious and political relevance. In India the Khilafat Movement was not actually motivated by any genuine religious sentiment for the Turkish caliph, but was mainly directed against the British rule in India.
Hamid Enayet, in the second chapter of his book, has dealt with this issue in depth. The author says that Azad was in favour of retaining the caliphate for the sake of providing spiritual leadership to the Muslim Ummah, while Iqbal agreed with Mustafa Kamal and supported his arguments for the abolition of the caliphate. Hamid Enayet is of the view that Azad reproduced Mawardi's theory with some alterations, but he was aware of the necessity of the reconstruction of Islamic thought. On the whole, Enayet's comments are well thought out. The point which he misses is the basic difference between the approaches of the two Indian thinkers.
Azad was in the front rank of the nationalist leaders of the Indian freedom movement and subscribed to the secular policy of the Indian National Congress. His support for retaining the caliphate was determined by the policy of the Congress that used the issue of Khilifat as a platform for attacking the British involvement in the issue. Iqbal, on the other hand, supported the creation of a separate Muslim state in the Sub‑continent, and he, like many Muslims of his times, regarded the emergence of the new Turkey as a sign of Islamic resurgence.
Thus, in the context of Indian politics, the whole issue of Khilifat was confused due to extra‑Islamic considerations. Similarly, the response of the Egyptian and other Arab intellectuals was different, for most of them were convinced of the fact that the caliphate had become redundant in the present context.
Nevertheless, as Enayet indicates, some Arab thinkers were also guided by local or narrow national interests. The second chapter of the book brings the issue of the caliphate into focus in a broader perspective. It is obvious that the Shi'ah world, because of its different view of Islamic rulership, did not participate in the controversy.
With reference to the Shi'ah doctrine of rulership it may be pointed out that the Shi'ah believe that the choice of the successor of the Prophet (S) does not rest in the hands of the Ummah, for God Himself selects the successors of prophets.
According to them the Prophet (S) explicitly indicated his choice under the instruction of revelation that 'Ali would succeed him as the leader of Muslims. A group of the Prophet's Companions and most of his blood relations did not agree with the choice of the first caliph. But 'Ali (A) and his supporters, including 'Abbas, the Prophet's uncle, agreed to suppress their differences in order to maintain the unity of the Ummah.
At the time of the choice of the second and third caliphs also, 'Ali (A) considered himself to be the most qualified candidate for the office, but he readily cooperated with all the three caliphs despite his sharp differences, particularly with regard to the appointment of governors and the distribution of bayt al‑mal income. After `Ali (A) was compelled by the majority of the Muslim world to accept the caliphate, Mu'awiyah raised the issue of qisas of `Uthman and made it a powerful weapon for realizing his political ambitions.
Here we do not wish to dabble in this controversy, but it was at this juncture that the Muslims were divided into two fighting factions. Both were called `shi'ah', i.e. the shi'ah of `Uthman or Mu'awiyah and the shi'ah of `Ali (A). Mu'awiyah .and `Amr ibn al‑`As succeeded in dividing the supporters of 'Ali (A) into two factions at the pretext of arbitration (tahkim) by the Quran. Those who opposed arbitration separated from the ranks of `Ali's Shi'ah and were called `khawarij'.
Though after the tragedy of Karbala' no Imam of the Prophet's Family contended for the caliphate, some individuals of the family of the Prophet (S) and `Ali (A) led armed revolts against the tyrannical rule of Banu Umayyah and later Banu al‑`Abbas, and made unsuccessful attempts to establish the rule of God upon the earth. Imam' `All ibn Musa al‑Rida (A) was declared crown prince by al‑Ma'mun ibn al‑Rashid, but was poisoned later.
The Imams of the family of the Prophet (S) remained content with their work of developing Islamic sciences and providing spiritual guidance to Muslims, and did not consider time to be opportune for establishing a truly Islamic state.
Nevertheless, they were imprisoned and poisoned by the ruling families, which was an indication that they were regarded as potential threat to monarchies, as they were considered to be more qualified claimants to leadership. The common belief that the Imams were indifferent to politics is not true. Had they been neutral, what was the reason for being afraid of them?
The Shi'ah in general followed the footsteps of their Imams (A); they opposed unjust rule but supported the just rulers, and even cooperated with those whom they disliked when the cause of Islam was threatened by external forces.
Enayet, with reference to al‑Shaykh al‑Tusi (d. 460/1068) and al‑Shaykh al‑Mufid (337‑413/949‑1022) and Ibn Idris (d. 598/1202), writes that they recommended paying of allegiance to righteous rulers (al‑sultan al‑haqq al‑`adil) irrespective of their own allegiance to any school of Islamic faith.
Practically the Shi'ah also took into consideration political exigencies of the times, but they did not make any attempt to legitimize exigencies. It is only in this sense that the Sunnis showed greater flexibility and displayed a sense of political realism as compared to the Shi'ah. Most of other generalizations made by Enayet are controvertible.
At the end of the introduction, the author says that the present Islamic resurgence, Sunni as well as Shi`i; is focused on four themes: breaking the spell of the sanctity of status quo; rejecting the corrupting realism of medieval writers; historical criticism; and salvaging the democratic and socialistic elements of the past. Of course, many eyebrows would rise at the mention of the term `socialistic', but as Enayet has discussed socialistic elements of Islamic teachings in the fourth chapter of his book, we should not be afraid of using it.
Mutahhari and some other modern but orthodox thinkers maintain that all attempts of reconciliation between Islam and socialism are futile and deviate from true Islam. And this claim is not unjustified, for the craze of incorporating new terminology in the body of any older philosophy is often an exercise in futility. However, the values cherished by modern philosophies of democracy and socialism were introduced and implemented by true Muslims many centuries before these movements came into vogue.
"Shi'ism and Sunnism: Conflict and Concord" is a topic of both historical and ideological interest. Enayet gives a brief but comprehensive account of the development of the two sects in an objective manner. So far as the origin of Shi'ism is concerned, Enayet has referred to the view of Montgomery Watt, who holds that early Shi`is came mostly from south Arabian tribes among whom kings were treated as semi‑gods. Here lies the mischief of the famous Orientalist, and it is a matter of regret that Enayet, acquainted with Shi'i faith and its origin, has quoted him without any critical remark.
What M. Watt and likes of him impose upon Muslim scholars are their mental fabrications, knowing that whatever they utter would be accepted by many intellectually backward Easterners. Watt wants to establish a relationship between Shi'i belief in the infallible Imams and `semi‑divine kings.' On the other hand Louis Massignon traces back the origin of the Shi'ah faith in the aspirations of middle class artisans, and this sociological treatment finds more emphatic expression in the Marxist analysis of the Shi'ah faith.
A Russian history of the world advances the view that the supporters of `Ali and al‑Husayn (A) belonged to the class of landless soldiers camped at Kufah and Basrah cantonments. Even if the latter interpretation may hold some ground, the former, i.e. Watt's view,. is totally baseless. Shi`ism's origin can be traced back to the teachings of the Quran and the life of the Prophet (S).
As said earlier, in the beginning there were not two different versions of Islam but only one. Both the Shi'ah and the Sunnis trace back their origin to the Quran and the teachings of the Prophet (S). Why some Muslims took the side of 'Ali (A) against Mu'awiyah, apart from sociological reasons, can be explained only in the terms of Islamic teachings.
The majority of Muslims, who were later identified as Ahl al‑Sunnah wa al‑Jama'ah, owed their allegiance to 'Ali (A),. who was unanimously elected caliph after, `Uthman. The later differences have their origin in the interpretation and implementation of the tenets of the faith, which had, of course, socio‑political implications too. Enayet is justified in suggesting that the distinguishing features of Shi`ism, in relation to Sunnism, should be sought mainly in its ethos.
I would like to suggest that the fundamental principles of Shi'ism are the same as those of Sunnism. Emphasis on `ismah, wilayah and Imamah on the one hand, and on ijma` on the other is only of secondary importance. With this difference in emphasis emerged a unique ethos under the influence of socio‑politico‑cultural factors that distinguished Shi'ism from Sunnism.
This ethos is grounded in the remembrance of the martyrdom of al-Imam al‑Husayn (A). The author, in the second and the last chapter, has rightly given due importance to it. But his conjecture that Shi'ism nurses a particular emotionalism is a bit exaggerated, for he contends that it issues from the peculiar Shi'i philosophy of Imamate.
His assessment of Shi'i emotional attitude on the basis of elegia (marthiyyah) is also one‑sided. He has ignored other aspects of Shi'i literature, particularly poetry, which is rich in a deep sense of commitment to Islamic and human values of justice, selflessness, sacrifice, and love of truth.
These values of literature cannot be called eulogizing of suffering and asceticism, as Enayet has called them. He knows fully the significance of marthiyyah literature, but fails to appreciate its real value. Some of his observations regarding the Shi'i ethos are also subject to question; that, for instance, it is an attitude of mind that refuses to admit that majority opinion is necessarily true or right; or that the Shi'ah are usually concerned with personalities.
Both these observations are incorrect. The belief in infallibility of the Imams in no way can be explained in this way, for the Shi'ah faith also holds that prophets are equally infallible. They argue that a person prone to errors of judgement and sin cannot lead people spiritually.
The Mu'tazilites, known for their strict adherence to the dictates of reason, accepted the Shi'i belief in Imamate without questioning its much propagated `irrationality'. They rather advanced arguments in its favour. The statement that the Shi'i faith in the infallibility of the Imams is a perfect safeguard against the majority view is equally wrong.
Here the concern is not for personalities, but for certain fundamental principles and facts. Enayet's claim that the Shi'ah attitude is determined by `persons' is a distortion of facts. Similarly the statement that the Shi`ah usually abstained from politics is historically wrong, for the basic difference between the majority view and the Shi'i view originated in socio‑political attitudes and issues.
Moreover, it amounts to claiming that the Shi'ah had no interest in political affairs, which is denying the truth. Basically, the Shi'i‑Sunni difference is political, not religious in essence. The Shi'ah tried to uphold the values and norms of social and political life in strict adherence to the teachings of Islam. The author has quoted the criticism of Ibn Taymiyyah and al‑Amini without their critical evaluation. He himself has tried to discover some similarity between the Shi'i practice of taqiyyah and esoterism, which is again an over‑simplification.
The esoteric attitude is purely spiritual, while taqiyyah is an attitude determined by socio‑political conditions. During the later centuries this practice has proved to be more harmful than useful for the Shi'ah themselves. So far as the justification of taqiyyah is concerned, Amini, who levels many an objection against Shi'i practices, accepts the validity of taqiyyah, and even admits that the Sunnis also followed it to some extent, for it is an expedient method to ensure the survival of a faith under hostile regimes.
In the last chapter, Enayet deals with it separately. Sunni scholars have been critical of this notion and its practice, but actually it does not in any way affect the cause of Muslim unity; it is rather instrumental in acquiring it. In the modern Shi'i thought, the practice of taqiyyah has been critically examined. Taqiyyah comes from the root `waqa' in Arabic, which means `to shield' or `to guard' oneself, the same root from which the important word taqwa (piety, or fear of God) is also derived. In English it may be translated as `dissimulation' or `expedient concealment'.
All forms of concealment are not permissible in the Shi'i faith, but only four under particular conditions:
(1) the enforced (ikrahiyyah), under an oppressor;
(2) precautionary or apprehensive (khawfiyyah), related to performing acts and rituals according to fatwa's of Sunni theologians;
(3) arcane (kitmaniyyah), concealment of faith and number and strength of one's co‑religionists in times of weakness;
(4) symbiotic (mudaratiyyah), participation in the social and religious functions of the majority community for strengthening Islamic unity.
Hamid Enayet holds that in recent times there is an obvious attempt at bridging the gap between the Shi'ah and the Sunnis. He has surveyed a number of tendencies that have helped to attain the end of unity. In the new Shi'i books the role of the first three caliphs has been re‑evaluated. Abu Bakr and `Umar have been separated from the third caliph `Uthman.
The tone of criticizing the first two caliphs is less harsh than in the case of `Uthman. Enayet has referred to many modern Arabic and Persian books in this context, but I would like to refer to a controversy with regard to the caliphate of the Banu Umayyah initiated by a book Khilafat e Mu'awiyah wa Yazid, written by a fanatic Sunni Pakistani scholar, Mahmud `Abbasi, in which he inadvertently made baseless allegations against 'Ali (A) and al‑Husayn (A), quoting extensively from early sources. However, in most of the cases the quotations were taken and used out of the context with an ulterior motive. I do not consider any Shi`i work in refutation of this book worth mentioning.
Yet the two most convincing rebuttals came from Sunnis, one was written by the founder‑leader‑ideologue of the Jama'at‑eIslami, Abu al‑'A`la Mawdudi, under the title Khilafat wa mulukiyyat, and the other was written by the famous scholar of Urdu and man of encyclopaedic works, Niyaz Fatehpuri.
It would not be inapt to mention that these two critics of the above‑mentioned book held the third caliph responsible for the emergence of the monarchical rule of the Banu Umayyah. Enayet has referred to such critical appraisal of Islamic history by Arab Sunni scholars also, which paved the way for a better inter-sectarian understanding. The works of Taha Husayn and `Umar Abu al‑Nasr, Sunni Arab scholars, showed the same critical re‑evaluation of the rule of the first four caliphs.
Rewriting of Islamic history from a truly objective, unbiased viewpoint has been instrumental in bringing the two communities closer to each other. Modern Shi`ah historians have conceded that despite the questionable mode of the election of the first two caliphs, their political integrity could not be doubted. The Shi'ah have reshaped their arguments in support of extolling `Ali (A) and his descendants with emphasis on their human, down‑to‑earth qualities.
Both the sects, or more appropriately, schools, as called by some modern writers, are trying to play down their mutual differences and highlighting the points of agreement. For this trend of rewriting history, Enayet has used the term of historical revisionism, which is not a proper term to express the content carried by it. Another important departure from the past was marked by acceptance of the principle of ijtihad by Sunni scholars, particularly by Jamal al‑Din Asadabadi, `Abduh, and Iqbal.
The Sunnis accepted ijtihad as an important source of legislation, but they had practically blocked the road for any original thinking on the matters of reframing the laws in accordance with changing times. The Shi'ah, with their emphasis on `aql, kept the door of new thinking on legislation open, and they gave much scope to reason for exercising its power. In recent times, the Shi'i view of ijtihad has found many defenders and champions among Sunni theologians.
Similarly the notion of ijma` (consensus), which was emphasized much by the Sunnis and was given only a very minor role to play in legislation by the Shi'ah, came to be accepted as the basis of democratization by Shi'ah scholars. Thus, theoretically the scope of agreement was broadened and differences were minimized. Under the leadership of Shaykh Mahmud Shaltut of al‑'Azhar University was established an organization to promote unity among Shi`ah and Sunnis,
As a first step towards attaining it the Ja'fari school of fiqh was included in the curriculum of al‑'Azhar. Authorizing instruction in Shi'ah jurisprudence meant the recognition of Shi'ism on an equal footing with the four orthodox Sunni schools of fiqh.
The fatwa of Shaykh Mahmud Shaltut was published (in 1959) under the title "Islam: the religion of unity," and it was prefaced by two arguments: the historical argument reminded about mutual respect and tolerance between different legal schools of Sunnis as well as the Shi`i school; the pragmatic argument emphasized the harmful practical effects of blind prejudice against one another among Muslim schools of fiqh.
It was argued that the spirit of ijtihad, which could help in promoting unity and was meant to generate a feeling of mutual respect, and encouraged plurality, degenerated into antagonism, and new avenues of free dialogue were shut down. Shaltut holds that all schools of fiqh should be ready to accept from one another any idea which conforms to Islamic principles, and can together ensure the welfare of family and society.
By way of example he mentions his own fatwa in favour of the Shi'i rejection of the validity of suspended divorce and divorce by triple repudiation in one sitting. In another fatwa he confirmed the validity of worship according to the Imamiyyah Shi`i doctrine.
The old authentic Shi'i classics of fiqh and tafsir were published under the auspices of al'Azhar. The post‑revolutionary Iran launched a concerted movement of Islamic unity supported by a fatwa of Imam Khumayni, which permitted the Shi'ah to offer prayers behind a Sunni imam, for the sake of expressing solidarity with all the Muslims. Enayet has referred to this fatwa.
These and other moves towards attaining the goal of Islamic unity have paved the way for new creative thinking with immense possibilities to meet the political and social requirements of the modern age. In this respect, the radically new but truly Islamic concept of ijtihad can be applied to the current issues, and be made more relevant to contemporary Muslim politics.
It is but natural that while discussing modernism in the Shi'ah school the author has given a detailed account of the developments that took place in Iran during the last few centuries, with particular reference to the Usuli‑Akhbae controversy, which resulted in the ultimate victory of rationalism and decided the role of the `ulama' in socio‑political affairs.
Enayet himself has indicated that it would be wrong to construe that all Akhbari `ulama' were politically reactionary and all Usuli `ulama' were progressive. He has also referred to the view that held that this controversy was mainly directed towards establishing the ‘Ulama' as de facto regents of the Imam (A.F.) in social and political affairs.
Here it would be unnecessary to go into the details of this interpretation, which obviously seems to be hostile towards Usuli `ulama'. A reviewer's objection that Enayet failed to grasp this point is unfounded.
Enayet has rightly emphasized the significance of the Shi`i notions of taqiyyah and martyrdom. Taqiyyah, as he has pointed out, was not liked even by Shi'i thinkers of our age. Enayet's reference to the Islamic Revolution of Iran is passing. He refers to Murtada Mutahhari and Shari'ati as `semi‑revisionist' thinkers, despite acknowledging his indebtedness to Mutahhari for writing the present book.
In my humble view such terms and categories should be applied to Muslim thinkers with utmost caution, or rather must be avoided, for they lead to half baked, misconceived judgements. What is strange is the fact that the author has avoided expressing any view on the leadership and ideology of the present Iranian Revolution.
He seems to be over‑cautious, and thus betrays his fear of being dubbed a fundamentalist or a fanatic by the so‑called westernized critics in case he fully supports the Iranian conception of revolution.
In order to have a closer look at the content of the book, it would be appropriate to give a critical account of some of the reviews on the book.
I hereby give a resume of the main points of criticism contained in Muhammad Surush's review in Persian, published in the fortnightly `Sahifah' of the daily `Jumhurt Islami'. This review is based on the Persian translation of Hamid Enayet's book by Baha' al‑Din Khurramshahi.
(1) The author has confused usul al‑`aqa'id (fundamental doctrines of faith) with furu` (subsidiary rules). He says that the five pillars of the faith are: prayer, fasting, alms‑giving (zakat), pilgrimage to Ka'bah (Hajj), and al‑shahadatan (tawhid and nubuwwah).
(2)Islam, in the author's words, does not frame an integrated legal system. This shows his ignorance of the comprehensiveness of the Islamic Law.
(3) In the author's view woman's position is made vulnerable in Islam mainly because of the law of inheritance which favours men. The author does not take into consideration greater financial responsibility of men in managing family affairs, and also ignores the fact that husband has no right over wife's earnings, while wife has a rightful share in husband's earnings and property.
In defence of Hamid Enayet it can be pointed out that all these three objections arose because of reading the author's remarks out of the context. He did not refer to usul or furu`, he just mentioned the five `pillars' of Islam. The second point under criticism is with reference to a misconception, to which the author does not subscribe.
(4) Without any reference to authentic sources, he claims that the Sunnis believe that the Prophet (S) said that his followers were more well‑informed in the worldly affairs than himself.
(1) it is said that Muslims, throughout history, have been indifferent to political events, and they rarely revolted against unjust rulers. This sweeping remark is contrary to the historical facts with regard to Muslims in general, and the Shi`ah in particular. The author unwittingly contradicted himself by citing examples of the founders of the four schools of Sunni fiqh, who had to undergo all sorts of hardship and oppression at the hands of the rulers.
(2) He seems to accept the view of the Orientalists that the Prophet (S) did not lay down any guide‑lines and principles for political life of the future generations of Muslims.
(3) The author, while giving the meaning of khawarij (plural of khariji, derived from khuruj), has confused the Persian usage of the term with the Arabic connotation of the word. The reviewer's objection is not clear, for in both the languages the word means rebellion, revolt, secession or breaking away.
But so far as the fallacious statements made by the author in connection with the political and religious role of the Khawarij are concerned, the reviewer is justified in his criticism. These points would be discussed in some detail later.
(1) The author's distinction between the Shi'ah and the Sunnis is made on false grounds. For instance, the author writes that the key terms with regard to Shi'ism are Imamah., wilayah and `ismah, and with regard to Sunnism are khilafah, ijma ` and bay`ah. Bay`ah is acknowledged as an essential condition of accepting a leader's authority in both the sects, and ijma` is also accepted by the Shi'ah as one of the basic principles of ijtihad, but of course in a limited sense.
The author holds that the Sunnis believe that distance from the time of the Prophet (S) caused remoteness from the ideals of Islam, while the Shi'ah regard passage of time as a factor helping to attain the ideal.
In fact both the Sunnis and Shi'ah consider the Prophet's lifetime as the ideal epoch, and as to latter periods no general rule can be framed either according to the beliefs of Sunnis or Shi'ah, for each period is judged according to its deeds.
Similarly, both the sects believe in the establishment of an ideal State before the end of the world. The reviewer has quoted, extensively from both the Sunni and Shi'ah sources for substantiating his point. At another place, it is alleged that Hamid Enayet holds that while the Sunnis believe in the inherent goodness of man, the Shi'ah believe that man is essentially sinful and carries a sense of guilt. On this ground, the Sunnis regard man as superior to angels, and the Shi'ah regard him to be inferior to angels.
This controversy owes its origin to the beliefs of the Mu'tazilah and the Asha'irah, and has a long and complicated history, which in no way can be appended particularly to the Shi`i or Sunni beliefs. The reviewer's brief survey of the controversy, ending with `Allamah Tabataba'i's view on the issue, is quite scholarly. All Muslims unanimously accept that man is the cream of creation and there is no difference among them with regard to human nature and its great potentialities. The Nahj al‑balaghah, more than any other book, stresses upon the inherent virtue of human existence and the worth of the human self.
(2) The author gives an account of the Egyptian author Ahmad Amin's strictures against the Shi’i faith, but passes on without referring to their refutations by the Shi'ah scholars, which is against the basic principles of academic honesty required for research work, and gives an impression as if he is in agreement with the criticism.
For instance, it is narrated that the source of the Shi'i belief in Imamah and `ismah (the spiritual leadership of the twelve Imams and their infallibility) is based on the Sasani myth of the infallibility of the kings of ancient Persia, which was popularized among the Shi'ah as a result of the marriage of al‑Imam al‑Husayn (A) and Shahr Bano, an Iranian princess. The author's silence on this issue shows his susceptibility to the influence of some Orientalists like Count de Gobineau and Edward G. Brown, who propagated this myth.
It is also stated that the Iranians, in their attempt to make themselves distinct from Arabs, smuggled their old beliefs into Islam and moulded the Shiite faith according to them, for it served their cultural and political ends. It has not been pointed out by the author that almost all Iranians were Sunni for many centuries, and they embraced the Shi'i faith on mass scale only after Safawids came in power (1502 A.D.).
The early Shi'ah were all Arab with the only exception of Salman al‑Farisi. The reviewer has discussed the baselessness of Ahmad Amin's objections in a convincing manner, and pointed out that a number of great Sunni scholars, fuqaha ; mufassirun, and muhaddithun were Iranians. Abu Hanifah, al‑Bukhari (the greatest Sunni muhaddith), Sibawayh (one of the founders of al‑nahw) and al‑Zamakhshari (the author of al Kashshaf) were Iranian by origin. A long list of Sunni luminaries may be added to these names.
The author has written that the significance of the martyrdom of al‑Husayn (A) in the context of Iranian culture has its origin in the pre-Islamic myth of the assassination of Siyawash. The most startling statement quoted without any critical remark is that Iran was conquered during the reign of `Umar, the second caliph, and, therefore, Iranians became his staunch enemies and supported 'Ali (A) and his family.
Such a statement totally belies historical facts and perspective. Iranians had no reason to wait for centuries for smuggling ancient Iranian beliefs into Islam in the garb of the Shi'i faith. Why did Iranians not give vent to their supposedly anti‑Arab feelings for a long time and so devotedly served Islam and contributed richly to the development of Islamic sciences? All such issues have been logically raised and discussed in the review.
(3) Hamid Enayet is of the view that the Shi'ah invented ahadith to enhance the value of mourning on the martyrdom of al-Imam al‑Husayn (A) in addition to the ahadith praising weeping while reciting the Quran or offering prayer. He conveniently ignores all ahadith and traditions referring to the value of mourning on the martyrdom of al‑Husayn (A) recorded in the authentic Sunni collections of hadith.
(4) He similarly did not critically examine the allegations made by Ibn Taymiyyah against the Shi'i faith. He should have at least mentioned how Ibn Taymiyyah was severely criticized by his contemporary Sunni `ulama' and was not only dubbed a heretic but also an infidel, and a king had ordered his execution.
(5) Hamid Enayet writes that the martyrdom of al‑Imam al‑Husayn (A), at one level, is similar to the crucifixion of Christ. As Christ by his death on the cross guaranteed the salvation of his followers, in the same fashion al‑Imam al‑Husayn (A) purified the Muslim Ummah of all sins. This interpretation of the Imam's martyrdom is meant to belittle its political and social significance. Here again he uncritically accepted a false idea propagated by some Orientalists.
(6) The comparison of the Sunni and Shi'i concepts of the caliphate with that of the Khawarij's is misleading, and fails to give a correct account of the Shi'i position in this matter.
(7) The author's views on the attitude of the Shi'ah towards the rulers are also baseless. In his view, the Shi'ah were always in a passive state of waiting for the appearance of al‑Imam al‑Mahdi (A.F.); and as they regarded all the rulers and governments as illegitimate, they abstained from politics.
Enayet further writes that the Sunni realistic approach to this problem is preferable to the Shi'ah view. He also says in another place that because of the influence of Orientalists and non‑Shi'ah scholars the view is held that the Shi'ah consider all the rulers to be usurpers and they have been opposed to them.
The oldest Shi'i sources, like the works of al‑Shaykh al-Tusi (d. 461/1068) and Ibn Idris (d. 598/1202), suggest quite an opposite line of thought. The reviewer gives an account of the Shi'i views and beliefs, which could be derived from even a sketchy study of the history of tashayyu`. According to the Shi’i view:
(a) Islam is a perfect din which takes into consideration all aspects of life.
(b) As it is a comprehensive system of belief and action, it has also paid sufficient attention to the political problems of the Ummah during the period of the Twelfth Imam's occultation (ghaybah), and it actually laid down a course of action appropriate for it.
(c) As Islam is a religion meant for the whole society, it prescribes certain laws for ensuring social justice and proper utilization of taxes like zakat (alms) and khums (twenty percent Islamic tax levied on seven categories of property), which can be done under a just government only. It is impossible, therefore, that any Shi`i may be indifferent to the existing form of government, which eventually means indifference to the implementation of the Divine Law.
(d) There is no contradiction between the belief in the establishment of the ideal government under the guidance and leadership of the Twelfth Imam (A.F.) and a just government before that period. A just and ideal government may be of different degrees, and it is possible that just governments, much lower in degree than the ideal one, may exist in the form of the government of faqih‑e `adil or even of a sultan‑e `adil.
Hence, the Ayatullah Na'ini, in his book Tanbih al‑'ummah, says: `Though the reins of government should be in the hands of the fuqaha', but if the time is not opportune for this, it is better to have a constitutional government in preference to monarchical rule for the sake of achieving the targets made obligatory by Islam.'
At this juncture attention may be drawn to Hamid Enayet's another remark regarding the attitude of the `ulama' towards constitutional government. According to him, in the past the `ulama' supported monarchy but later changed their opinion in favour of constitutional government. It may be generally believed that the Usuli (rationalist) `ulama' supported constitutional government, while the Akhbari (traditionalist) `ulama' favoured tyrannical government.
This inference is certainly wrong, for the `ulama' are divided into the Usuli and the Akhbari groups on the basis of the method they employ in ijtihad, and not according to political ideology. Contrary to Hamid Enayet's conjecture, Shaykh Fadl Allah Nuri, an opponent of constitutional government, was an Usuli.
The author committed another error by labelling the anti‑monarchy movement of the spiritual leaders as a means of promoting the interests of the bourgeoisie, using the Marxist class‑analysis.
(8) The author considers the thought of Muslim philosophers, like Ibn Sina and Mulla Sadra to be purely deductive and unhistorical in content. This view, which holds speculative metaphysical thinking as unproductive and fruitless, is un‑Islamic as well as unphilosophical.
(9) The author's estimation of some great Shi'ah thinkers amounts to insolence. For instance his remarks about al‑`Allamah al‑Hilli's al Minhaj and Khwajah Nasir al‑Din al‑Tusi's ideals of justice are contemptuous. Moreover they are not based on serious study. Similarly, his estimation of al‑`Allamah al‑'Amini, describing him as an opponent of the Muslim unity, is totally unjustifiable. In order to estimate his position correctly, the reviewer suggests, one should analyze the meaning of unity. This term may be defined in three different ways:
(1) to select common elements of belief, and do away with all the ideas, derived from the basic tenets, which give rise to differences‑this amounts to inventing a faith, to which no one adheres in fact ;
(2) to select one of the various versions of faith and reject all other versions;
(3) all Muslims should unite as one community, retaining their specific beliefs, for meeting the challenge of hostile forces. The Muslim intellectuals accept the third definition, which emphasizes unity in diversity, i.e. unity on the basis of co‑existence of different interpretations of the Islamic faith.
The second alternative amounts to the suggestion that all the sects except one should be suppressed, and the first alternative logically results in the creation of a new faith rejecting all the existing faiths. Al‑`Allamah al‑'Amini took into consideration all the above‑mentioned possibilities in his magnum opus, al‑Ghadir, and critically evaluated the strictures passed against the Shi'ah by Ibn Taymiyyah, al‑Alusi and alQasimi.
He holds such criticism not only as malicious but also responsible for sowing the seeds of difference and enmity between the Shi'ah and other Muslims. He particularly takes Rashid Rida to task for making an extremely absurd statement saying that the Shi'ah are happy whenever Muslims are defeated in any field.
In reality the Shi'ah always held Muslim interests in high esteem irrespective of inter‑sectarian differences, and never confined Islamic fraternity to their own sect. Al-Ghadir played a positive role in attaining Muslim unity by highlighting the following facts about Shi'ism: It is proved logically and conclusively that the emergence of the Shi'ah does not owe its origin to any political or racial movement; many prejudices against the Shi'ah are products of the gulf created among them and other Muslim sects, such as the charge of jubilation over the defeat of Muslims, or the popular notion that the Shi'ah pay visit to the tombs of the Imams in preference to the Hajj; it explained the real character and role of 'Ali (A) in Islam.
It is for this reason that the honest Sunni `ulama' like `Abd al‑Ghani Hasan al-Misri and `Adil Ghadban paid rich tributes to the book al‑Ghadir.
(10) The author writes that the Shi'is' indulgence in mourning (marthiyyah, rawdah khwani) has been a powerful ally of the forces of tyranny, for it valued defeat and grief, and encouraged a sense of oppressedness more than active rejection and defiance of injustice and tyranny.
The review justly proves that the case is quite opposite by pointing out the political role that the Shi`i emotionalism played in Muslim history. But the reviewer ignored those passages in the book which bring to light the revolutionary role played by the ceremonial mourning. Hamid Enayet, with reference to F. Bagley, says that the Shi'i emotionalism carries with it a more humanistic message. (F. Bagley,"The Azhar and Shi'ism", Muslim World, vol. L2, 1960, pp. 65 ff.)
He also holds that this factor produced great literature which enriched the emotional content of the Shi'i culture. At another place, he writes that "The memory of Husayn's martyrdom serves as an everlasting exhortation to the Shi`is of all times to brave their numerical inferiority in the face of firmly established majorities." (p. 20)
Hamid Enayet explains both the positive and negative effects of the mourning ceremonies observed by the Shi'ah. There is no doubt that what the author calls the Shi'i emotionalism in its ritualized form has lost the true spirit of the memory of the martyrdom and put undue emphasis on the virtue of suffering and deprivation, which dulled the spirit of dynamism among the majority of the Shi`i masses, or the Shi'ah ruhaniyyun could not exploit the potentiality of the saga of the martyrdom to the advantage of their followers.
There is no doubt that `azadari (mourning ceremonies) was started by Zaynab (A), the sister of al‑Imam al‑Husayn (A), and `Ali ibn al‑Husayn (A), the fourth Imam, with a view to reviving the spirit of martyrdom and to prepare Muslims emotionally to overthrow the tyrannical rule of the Banu Umayyah. It was essentially a revolutionary movement aimed at establishing the true Islamic State in conformity with the Quranic teachings.
Later, when the Imams of the Prophet's Family realized that the time was not opportune for attaining this goal, they concentrated on educating and training their followers in Islamic sciences, and the mourning ceremonies were used as a vehicle of religious and political training so that Muslims might not be alienated from the socio‑political realities.
It was the institution of keeping alive the legacy of al‑Husayn's martyrdom that brought the Banu al‑`Abbas to power, for they wore black robes and raised black flag and standard in memory of the martyrs of Karbala', and their slogan was: "Avenge the martyrdom of al‑Husayn (A)." Had this memory not been kept alive as an effective weapon against the assassins of al‑Husayn (A), the Banu Umayyah would not have been routed so decisively.
In the history of Islam, the legacy of Karbala' has been a vital force, with which all the unjust and tyrannical powers had to reckon. In later epochs, with the deterioration setting in all Islamic institutions, `azadari also lost its spirit and became an instrument of blunting the sharp sense of protest and agitation against injustice.
But this spirit, however, remained effective in the Shi'ah ethos, and if one analyzes the role of different sects and factions in the movements of protest and revolution in various garbs, one can easily find the Shi`ah in the forefront of them in the Muslim world, even in countries which are not predominantly Muslim. Hamid Enayet played down this aspect of `azadari and unwittingly emphasized its negative aspect.
Had he not tried to avoid any discussion on the Islamic Revolution of Iran, he would have had to deal with the vital role played in the Revolution by the living legacy of the martyrdom of al‑Husayn(A). There is no other way to explain the great passion for martyrdom among the Iranian youth except by giving fullest credit to the Shi`i passion for Karbala'.
At another occasion when the author, perhaps unconsciously, plays into the hands of the Western political analysts and is trapped in their jargon is his estimation of the Iran‑Iraq war, which he describes as a, struggle between Arab and Persian nationalisms, and on this basis regards it as harmful to Muslim unity.
Five years of the war imposed on the newly‑born Islamic Republic of Iran by Iraq at the instance of the U.S.A. have falsified the myth of `Arab‑`Ajam enmity, and proved it to be an ideological war in which Iran is supported by the progressive Arab powers. Iran has launched a programme of Islamic unity on both the national and international planes. The `Sahifah' review has justifiably taken exception to the author's statement regarding the nature of Iran‑Iraq war.
One more point that needs to be discussed in some. detail is the statement that the Shi'ah are more concerned with personalities than principles, while the Sunnis are concerned with beliefs and principles. In the reviewer's view, this statement is totally false and misleading. Hamid Enayet expresses this view in connection with the Shi'ah conception of Imamah, according to which the office of the caliphate could not be treated as elective, for it was a matter of Divine choice like that of prophethood. Hamid Enayet has discussed the significance of the notions of Imamah and `ismah (infallibility of the Imams) treating them as complementary to each other.
The belief that the Prophet (S), Fatimah (A), and the Twelve Imams (A) are infallible does not logically lead to the inference made by the author. They are infallible because they are the embodiments of the principles taught by Islam and willed by God. The reviewer has aptly quoted `Ali's (A) saying that: "Don't determine the truth with reference to personalities. On the contrary, know the truth, so that persons can be judged accordingly."
Hamid Enayet's judgement implies that the Shi’i criterion of Imamah revolves around certain personalities and is not based on any principle. As we do not like to indulge in the controversy of the caliphate, we leave it as it is.
At the end of this brief account of the Sahifah's review I would make a few brief critical remarks. Firstly, the review highlights only the weak points or errors made by the author. The reviewer himself says in another context that when the critical remarks against any faith are quoted, it is the duty of the writer to state how those objections were met by the defenders of the said faith. It would have been better if the reviewer had also applied the same criterion with regard to the book under review.
The book, undoubtedly, has some commendable points, which are not at all discussed. The reason for this lapse may be that the review is mainly concerned with defending the Shi'i faith and aims to counteract the popular notions about Shi'ism propagated by the Orientalists, who totally rely upon the Sunni sources and interpretations, or distortions in some cases, and the Muslim scholar also falls in their trap and uses the borrowed glasses to view Shl'i Islam.
At the beginning of the review it is stated that great importance is attached to this book because it is written by an Iranian Shi'i after the –Islamic Revolution of Iran. It is, therefore, treated as an inside's view of the Shi'i political thought and faith, and is credited to be the most authentic and scholarly work on the subject. It is also said that the aim of the review is not to assess the author and his work in the light of his total contribution to Islamic studies. The book is reviewed for the following reasons:
(1) Every book written about ‑ Islam and possessing overt or covert distortions ought to be critically evaluated, so that the genuine searchers of truth should be in a position to separate facts from fiction and truth from falsehood Other papers usually ignore or avoid reviewing books that are in conflict with Islam.
(2) It is desired that the readers, instead of accepting such books uncritically, should themselves research and investigate the truth. It is thus obvious that the book is regarded as misleading, which it is, of course, in some parts. But that cannot be said of the whole book. At least some credit should be given to the author, for his is the first attempt, in spite of all his lapses, to project the Shi'i faith in the proper perspective with justified emphasis on characteristic Shi'ah ethos.
I feel that some objections have arisen because of the inadequacy of the translation, which at many places leaves gaps, and it is not fully ascertainable which statement or idea belongs to whom, the author, the scholar whom he is quoting, or the general Orientalist view. Sometime the translation, however faithful it may be, strays away from the original.
It would have been safer if the reviewer had compared the translation with the original. In most of the Eastern languages English terminology cannot be translated accurately due to the paucity of standardized terms. Despite these remarks, the translation by Khurramshahi is quite good and faithful to a great extent.
Now we can have a critical look at two English reviews published in two Western journals. It is interesting to note how a piece of writing is viewed by different reviewers in different colours, despite all the claims of objectivity and academic honesty.
It may, therefore, be held that ideological bias plays a dominant role in social sciences, humanities and philosophy, which is veiled under the pretext of scientific attitude in the writings of the Western trained social scientists and critics, and particularly Orientalists.
But the poor Orientals lacking training in hiding their beliefs and convictions under the pretext of scientific objectivity are dubbed as dogmatic or unscientific just because they are unfamiliar with the high sounding technical jargon of modern social sciences. Those who would consider the Jumhuri Islami's review as dogmatic and fundamentalist, I believe, would swallow the worst type of biased criticism of the so‑called Western educated scholars without even realizing that they are given a dose of lies and prejudices in the name of intellectual treat.
Martin Kramer reviewed Hamid Enayet's book in the Middle Eastern Studies. His review begins with a resumably, funny anecdote, which seeks to indicate that Muslim theologians are no more `simple mullas'. They have become politically conscious, have general ideas, and are familiar with Western political thinkers.
Kramer seems to lament over the supposed demise of the `simple mullas' in the Muslim world. I have enough reason to believe that no non‑Muslim scholar or politician is happy with the emergence of the new types of `mullas', who are familiar with Western thinkers, ideas, and jargon, and who are products of `what some call ferment'.
They are not even prepared to accept that a `mulla' can acquire knowledge and insight into the Western modes of thought, which they consider to be the sole property of Western trained scholars. An evidence of this type of belief is provided by Kramer himself, who describes Martyr Mutahhari as "a professor of philosophy at Tehran University, who secured the rank of ayatullah after the Revolution". It is further added that "so convincingly did he embrace the [new] role that in May 1979, anti‑clericalist guerillas elected to assassinate him."
This shows the nature of the so called scholarship of a budding Orientalist, who instead of gathering correct information about such an eminent personality of modern Revolutionary Iran as Mutahhari relies upon his own ignorance and conjectures, and at the same time hopes to have a right to write on the most complex and intriguing issues pertaining to Islamic political thought, which is, on the one hand, related to Islamic metaphysics, and on the other, is related to the contemporary realities and ideals of the Muslim World and the Muslim psyche.
The complacence of the reviewer is amazing or rather alarming. He says that he is "again in the familiar company of Muslim thinkers", as if he is fully acquainted with all the Muslim political thinkers in general, and the Shi'i modernism in particular.
In fact, the Shi'i Imamiyyah Islam is still something unfamiliar to Orientalists, and even the most knowledgeable of them cannot claim to be familiar with the Shi’i thinkers.
Kramer is not pleased with Hamid Enayet for his omission to discuss the motives of the thinkers. His displeasure issues from his own habit of imputing ulterior motives to all the moves of reform and modernism in the Muslim World. His brief review is full of such attempts.
For instance, in his view, 'Ali `Abd al‑Raziq's al‑Islam wa usul al‑hukm was written to thwart a scheme of the Egyptian royal house to claim the caliphate; a group of leading al‑'Azhar `ulama' under the leadership of Shaykh al‑'Azhar altlizawi and the president of .the religious court, al‑Maraghi, were accomplices of the Royal (Egyptian) Palace in supporting the move for abolition of the Ottoman caliphate; the famous ecumenical fatwd by Shaykh al‑'Azhar Shaltut, which recognized the validity of worship according to Twelver Shi'i doctrine and denied the existence of sects within Islam, and paved the way for Sunni‑Shi'i unity, had been issued with the approval of `a calculating' President Nassir.
Kramer imputes ulterior motives to all these efforts in order to prove the validity of his thesis; i.e. mullas are not so `simple' as they appear to be. And this means that all reform movements and all attempts towards the unity of Muslim Ummah were motivated by some ulterior designs. He uses words like `political exigency' and `guile' for all political thinking in the modern Muslim world.
Poor late Hamid Enayet, may God forgive him, in Kramer's view, wanted to dispense with `that higher criticism which has interpreted the writings of Muslim reformists through their mundane transactions' in such a simplistic way.
The higher criticism, referred to by Kramer, is exemplified by his own criticism, which requires nothing but slandering in high sounding technical terms. Hamid Enayet tries to give an account of the development of modern political thought in Islam, but Kramer describes modern Islamic political ideas as `mutations of Islamic political thought' ‑and `attempts of striking balance between authenticity and accommodation'.
He finds only Enayet's doubts and fears acceptable, but readily rejects all his claims indicating hope for the Sunni‑Shi’i unity. He views Shi'i appeals for conformity to majority norms as futile or worthless, because he cannot prepare himself for giving any credit to the `troublesome Iranians'. Kramer ends his `higher criticism' with a reference to Lord Cromer's comment on too‑well‑read al‑Shaykh al‑Bakri: `Was this fin de siecle Sheikh, this curious compound of Mecca and the Paris boulevards, the latest development in Islamism? I should add that the combination produced no results of any importance'.
This observation seems to give the reviewer a hope that all modern thought in Islam would fail to produce `results of any importance'. Such self-consoling remarks save him from facing the realities of modern revolutionary Islam. In short; Kramer's review throws light only on his own fears and hopes, and fails to give any idea of the book reviewed by him.
Another review, published in the Iranian Studies (Winter 1984) by Mangol Bayat, is less hostile. The reviewer's restraint is due to Hamid Enayet's sudden and untimely death a few months after the publication of this book.
Nevertheless, she has not spared the book, and, despite giving credit to the author for his vast knowledge of contemporary political polemics in Persian, Arabic and English, considers the book another apology for recent developments in Islamic thought. The reviewer, a research associate at the Centre of Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University, feels that the book lacks consistency in historical detachment and objectivity.
Here again, a reviewer seems to be obsessed by the myth of objectivity, without realizing that what one considers to be objective is his or her own subjective response to an issue. For instance, she regards ijtihad as `originally a minor legal device' which was `transformed by the force of circumstance into an important function'; while Hamid Enayet explains it in its correct perspective.
But for the reviewer what is her notion of ijtihad is an objective reality, and what others think of it `lacks objectivity'. Hamid Enayet defined ijtihad as `the logical and imperative concomitant of the Shi`i creed, as much part of the Shi'i concept of the law as the doctrine of the Imamate'. Hamid Enayet also concedes the right of leadership to a mujtahid, as it is inherent in the Shi'ah doctrine.
The reviewer criticizes the author for neglecting `the fact that centuries of religious institutional development accompanied by fierce power struggle led to the mujtahid's rise to prominence'. Enayet claims that, as a natural corollary, ijtihad led to a system of government which was, if not democratic, then at least accountable to people.
Bayat demands evidence for this claim. On the one hand, she wants to study ideas in the light of historical changes, and on the other, she denies the role of the Usulis in bringing about progressive changes in Iranian politics, and concludes that `the Usuli concern was not to reformulate rigidified legal formulae' or restore `the true function of ijtihad', or adapt the law to changing social conditions, but rather to consolidate the jurisconsult's authority over the religious dissidents.
Her view may be her own subjective response to the Usuli Akhbari controversy, and lacks both objectivity and consistency. However, she calls Enayet's interpretation `an unfortunate historical misconception', and goes on to remark that the book is replete with such `misconceptions.'
Bayat is worried that Enayet nowhere advocated separation of temporal from religious affairs. And perhaps because of this alleged lapse on the part of the author his treatment of the issues seems to her `not thoroughly thought out'. At the end the reviewer condescendingly consoles the author that `future historians who will study the role of the modern educated lay intellectuals in the Islamic revivalism will find in his book an ideal primary source.' This left‑handed compliment negates all that the reviewer wrote earlier in praise of the book.
A balanced review of Hamid Enayet's Modern Islamic Political Thought appeared in the Nashr‑e Danish, the journal of the Markaz‑e Nashr‑e Danishgahi, Tehran. The editor of the journal, Nasr Allah Pur Jawadi, reviewed the book sympathetically in spite of his ideological differences with the author on many points. He compares this book with Hamid Enayet's earlier work, Sayri dar andisheh‑ye siyasi‑ye `Arab (A survey of Arab political thought), and recognizes its importance in the present context.
Though he concedes that the major part of the contents of the two books is not much different, the present work is different in approach. The first book concentrated on the Arab world, while this one covers a much wider scope, for it deals with Islamic political thought beyond the confines of the Arab world, including the Indian Sub‑continent.
But the reviewer, I am afraid; was misled by the title of the first book, for its coverage of Indo‑Muslim thought is more comprehensive than that of the book under review. For example, the Sayre dar andisheh‑ye siyasi `Arab deals with the religious and political ideas of Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan at some length in the context of Sayyid Jamal al‑Din al‑'Afghani (Asadabadi) and his criticism of Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan, while there is no mention of his name in the present book in spite of his influence on the modern Islamic thought in India and Pakistan.
Of course, Modern Islamic Political Thought has discussed the ideological positions of many Muslim leaders and intellectuals of the Sub‑continent with reference to the issue of Khilafah, and has also paid due importance to Abu al‑'A'la Mawdudi's political thought in the context of recent developments in the Islamic world. Anyhow, in some respects the earlier book is more comprehensive than the present one.
The real worth of the present book lies in its approach, which is different from that of the first one. Sayri dar andisheh‑ye siydsi‑ye `Arab concentrated on the individual thinkers, while, as rightly pointed out by Nasr Allah Pur Jawadi, the book under review is concerned with issues. In this book Enayet's approach is problem‑oriented, but he has not ignored the historical development of the ideas also.
Another and probably the most distinguishing feature of this book is its exposition of Shi'i thought, which has been till recently completely ignored by the Orientalists. The reviewer has highlighted this distinction of the book, which has greatly enhanced its value as the first authentic exposition of Shi'i thought, both metaphysical and political. It is also acknowledged that the author's strength lies in his direct acquaintance with the original Sunni and Shi`i sources.
The book is recommended as a must for all persons interested in Islamic thought. This review is brief, and the reviewer has not gone into details and has also abstained from indulging in ideological discussion of some controversial conceptions or misconceptions regarding the Shi'ah faith and Shi'i attitude towards politics.
Towards the end of this review article I would like to sum up my impressions of the book. In my view, the book has succeeded in generating sufficient interest in Islamic political thought. Its main drawback seems to be its reliance on some books written by the Orientalists. Some of the ideas, for instance those regarding the origin of Shi'ism and the Shi'i concept of the Imamate, are uncritically borrowed from Montgomery Watt's book Islamic Political Thought.
Watt's book is biased against the Shi'ah. Not only the Shi'ah but also other sects of Muslims are maligned at many places by M. Watt. Enayet, being well versed in Arabic and Persian, had access to the original sources, and he could have avoided banking upon unreliable sources. However, his own views reveal a transparent sincerity and loyalty to Islam.
Some of the weaknesses of the book may be attributed to his not so well thought out, hasty general judgements. But the strength of the book lies in the author's full grasp of the material with which he had to cope for reconstructing a systematic and methodical political philosophy of Islam.
From the Shi`i viewpoint, however, the book falls short of being considered as an `insider's view' of the Shi'ah faith, for Hamid Enayet has more than often relied upon the views and judgements fabricated by the `outsiders' unfamiliar with or hostile towards the Shi'i political philosophy.
Though the book attracted considerable attention of the academic circles by virtue of the author's relation to Iran, the author conspicuously avoided to discuss those notions in detail which were particularly relevant to contemporary Iranian thought.
It can be said in the defence of Enayat that he was familiar with the names of such important thinkers as Mirza‑yi Muhammad Qummi, Shaykh Murtada al‑'Ansari, Mulla Muhammad Kazim Khurasani and Muhammad Husayn Na'ini, but he discussed their views on democracy and state within the framework of constitutionalism (mashrutiyyah).
Even Enayet's passing references to Ayatullah Na'ini's work the Tanbih al‑'ummah wa tanzih al‑millah, which he considers to be the only systematic work on Islamic conception of state and democracy produced during the constitutional movement, failed to throw light on Na'ini's political theory.
Enayet confines his comments to just quoting one superficial remark made by `Abd al‑Hadi al‑Ha'iri in the Shi`ism and Constitutionalism in Iran, i.e. Na'ini was unfamiliar with the Western concept of freedom, equality and separation of power.
Enayet's reference to Imam Khumayni's conception of the wilayat al- faqih is still more inadequate, and falls short of the expectations of a reader who wishes to gain insight into this conception, which has evolved in the course of time on the basis of the ideas inherent in the teachings of‑the Quran and the tradition of the Infallibles (A). Most probably Enayet had some reservations due to which he evaded the issue.
He referred to Mulla Muhammad al‑Naraqi's notion of salvation through grief, but did not say anything about his interpretation of the wilayat al-faqih, of which he might be unaware. These conspicuous omissions did not make his book, in any way, more acceptable to the so‑called westernized liberals, but diminished its authenticity and comprehensiveness by impairing its status as an up‑to date document of recent Shi’i political thinking.