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Fazlur Rahman


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(d. 1988)

Pakistani philosopher, educator, and liberal reformer of Islam. Director of Pakistan's Central Institute of Islamic Research (1962–68). Educated at the University of Punjab and Oxford University, he taught Islamic studies at McGill University and the University of Chicago. Believed that those who try to maintain the status quo in religious tradition and interpret the Quran literally are as misguided as secularists who deny Islam's relevance to political and economic spheres. Believed in the necessity of going beyond a literal or traditional interpretation of the Quran to understand its spirit, requiring the study of the historical context in which each verse was revealed. Promoted the study of the specific circumstances of one's own time in order to apply principles derived from revelation. Devoted to educational reform and the revival of ijtihad (independent reasoning). Respected by Islamic reformers but criticized by conservatives as being overly liberal in his interpretation of the Quran, Sunnah, and classical Islamic law and his insistence on judging the weight of hadith reports in light of the overall spirit of the Quran.

Subjects: Religion

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