In Egypt, Muhammad Abduh is now generally remembered as a great scholar and a patriot, a great renewer of Islam, one of those who awakened the nation–though the details of this greatness have grown somewhat fuzzy with time. Among scholars, in the Muslim world and the West, he is known as Islam’s leading modernist. For some, his modernism consisted of creating a synthesis of Islam and modern thought; for others, it consisted of the bridge he built between the old world and the new. Some see him as having revived true Islam, and some see him as having proposed an alternative to true Islam. One question that Muhammad Abduh (Oxford: Oneworld, 2009) attempts to answer, then, is quite what his modernism consisted of. Another question is where his modernism came from, and a final question is what happened to it after his death.
© Mark Sedgwick, 2009