The Qur’an and Religious Pluralism: Fazlur Rahman’s Perspective

Title : THE QUR’AN AND RELIGIOUS PLURALISM (Fazlur Rahman’s Perspective)
Author : Ahmad Zainal Abidin
Keywords : Rahman, the Qur’an, and Religious Pluralism.
This research aims at comprehensively understanding Fazlur Rahman’s thought on religious pluralism based on the Qur’an. His position as a pioneer of neo-modernism living in Islamic country, Pakistan and in the west, USA made him easyly access both traditions. This background in some extent influences the development of Rahman’s thought.

Rahman’s thought is primarily based on his attention to reassert Islamic renewal. His concern is how to understand the Qur’an properly as the primary source of ethics. For him, basic elan of the Qur’an is monotheism and social justice. He then developed his systematic methodology to sustain by firstly asserting some basic assumptions. He saw the importance of of finding the ethical-universal values. It is a way to avoid the contradictional-individual verses.

He then developed his systematic methodology. His methodology to understand the Qur’an consists of two movements, we called it ‘the double movement theory’: from present situation to the time of revelation and from the time of revelation back to the present contect. Some additional sciences are needed to do so.

There are several groups mentioned in the Qur’an as a different entities: the Muslims, the Arab Pagans, the Jews, the Christians, Sabeans, and Majus with different treatment by the Qur’an because of different attitude they do toward Muslims. For rahman, when the situation changed, the law guiding their interrelations could be changed.

From the Qur’anis ethics, he saw the roots of religious pluralism: religious freedom, the equality of humankind, and the unity of God and messengers. These principles, seen from historical fact surrounding it, should be the moral-universal standard to understand and treat the fenomenon of religious diversity in the Qur’an. From this, he emphasized on a fair competition between these groups save the Pagans; to compete each other in doing the goodness and the rightious in the basis of belief in God and the Last day. This is really the common platform of religions provided by the Qur’an. This is to say that the good community can be found anywhere. There is no claim of chosenness and salvation for just one community. Qur’anic critics againt people of the book as not to claim to be ‘the chosen” is really also the critics againts Muslims. For Muslim, there is no warranty to be under God’s guidance except they implement God’s injunctions.

Finally, there is a critical analysis for Rahman. A part from his great contribution, Rahman seems to be more focusing on methodology rather on its application. This is particulary related to the lack of particularising his basic principles he asserted in order to be suitable to recent situation. This lacuna is really our task today.

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