Shah Wali Allah: Father Of Muslim Modernism

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Dr.Ghulam Shabbir , Dr.Muhammad Ibrahim


Shah Wali Allah serves as a lighthouse for evolution of Islamic thought and reforms in the subcontinent and beyond. Be it the modernists like Sir Syed Ahmad khan or the revivalists like Maududi or the traditionalists’ troika of Deoband, Barailvi and Salfi, all owe allegiance to him as his constructs are a marvelous blend of reason, intuition, and tradition, but with a few exceptions all hold a sectional view of him which suits their particular inclinations and sectarian cult. His methodology of Tatbiq Principle is both his strength as well as weakness and though his broad-gauged scholarship outdid his predecessors like al-Ghazali, Ibn Taimiyya and Sheikh Ahmad Sirhindi, the utmost respect and subtlety he showed in his critique of and departure from the predecessors created such an optical illusion for his heirs that as a confused lot they fell back on Asharite Kalam, Razi’s determinism, al-Ghazali’s personalism and Ibn al-Arabi’s theosophic and pantheistic Sufism. However, his Irtifaqat and Iqtirabat theories are his singular achievement wherein not only the applied monotheism of the Quran with its socio-economic and political connotations recovers its genuine elan but the fully-developed sociology, psychology and cosmology of the Quran and its scientific treatment of life, nature and history come alive in his theories with the props of his mystic metaphysics. The continuity of tradition is so close to his heart that sometimes a tradition, despite being tapered off by his sharp critique, necessarily retains its existence as is evident in his stand on “juristic doctrine of abrogation” and his infatuation with “quantified action”, which is so strong that he considers even zakat rate -- which is subject to changing socio-economic conditions and a main source for meeting state expenditure in Islam – as fixed for all times. However, all constitutive elements of Islam come alive in a systematic, properly juxtaposed logical order if not as an organic whole in his thought process and entire endeavor.  This paper is based on qualitative research and it intends to bring out Shah Wali Allah’s legacy in modern scholarship.

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