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Thaha Abdurrahman's Modernity Reform: Turats Revision Discourse

Reformation has become an integral part in Islamic history. From time to time, the revelation and world the conditions have inspired religious reformers (mujaddid) to carry out reforms in Islam. In fact, now a few who think revelation is the answer to improve the construction of Islamic society to become a modern and advanced society. So, it gave the Muslim intellectuals a motivation to review and reinterpret the verses of the al-Quran. These efforts present a variety of views and ideas. Thaha Abdurrahman is one of the reformers in Islam who thinks that the structure of the al-Qur’an text must be re-understood through modernity. This paradigm built by him was aimed to find how Universal Islam stems from the criticism of the values of the modern spirit rediscovery. In this case, he distinguishes between the spirit of modernity (ruh al-Hadatsah) and the reality of modernity (Waqi' al-Hadatsah). In Thaha's view, Western modernity is proceeding at a rate of ethical failure. So, Islam needs to evoke the spirit of modernity which is based on ethical traditions.

Wael B. Hallaq in his book Reforming Modernity explains that Thaha Abdurahman separates the elements of theoretical thought from the ethical activity which is his sharp criticism towards the development of the Western thought basic constructs which Thaha considers to ignore the approach of ethical activity. Not only that, Thaha also criticizes the constructs of Islamic thought, both classical and contemporary, because they do not use ethical philosophy theories. Hallaq describes Thaha as a philosopher of ethics and morality. Based on these realities. Thaha tries to dialecticize the two elements in one framework to build a new construct of ethical modernism in order to improve both approaches deficiencies. In other words, he tries to construct an ethical Islamic theory. In the midst of the West's movement toward progress, the Islamic Ummah has stagnated. Not only in the intellectual scope, but also in the economic and political scopes, especially the crisis experienced by the majority of the Arab-Islamic community. In the first two centuries of the era of European colonialism, in the 17th and 18th centuries to be precise, the Islamic Ummah was reactive towards Western modernity. Scholars advise Muslims to stay away from anything that are related to Western.

At the end of the 19th century, Muslim intellectuals actively dialoguing between the Muslims and European culture with various attempts at translating Western texts and rediscovering turats. They emphasized the importance of openness and acknowledgment of the progress of the European Nation. However, Taha rejected the offer of partial and semi-negative turats readings, like those that were introduced by Abid al-Jabiri. According to Taha, the reading of the Arab epistemological framework by al-Jabiri (Bayani-Irfani-Burhani) is a reductive effort because it is stuck in dichotomization. Even though these three reasonings intersect in the body of turats, for example, Usul al-Fiqh al-Syafi' is an operation of the Bayani-Burhani episteme, Taha believes that the three epistemologies, apart from being tajzi' (separatist) in nature, are also tafadhuli (differential), especially the fact that al-Jabiri judgments reveals that Burhani outperformed Bayani and so on. In this regard, Thaha offers the integration of Islamic epistemology in reading turats without any dichotomization and differentiation. Through this Integration Theory, Taha emphasizes to strengthening the intertwining of the Islamic turats science methodologies in a binding manner and simultaneously. Because all of the epistemology in Taha's reading complement each other in the sciences formation. As explained by Hallaq in his book, the development of Thaha's theory rests on four elements that must be thoroughly understood, which are turats, nazhar, tajdid and kayfiyah.

According to Thaha, to understand turats, it is necessary to use the term nazhar, not the term qira'ah. Because the term qira’ah is an absorption word that has no original meaning. Apart from that, Qira'ah also tends to lead the reader to a meaning interpretation. While nazhar is a word that has an original meaning. Therefore, to find the originality of turats, one must use the nazhar method. The next method is Tajdid, which is an effort to change but also maintaining the originality of turats, not bringing new things and then eliminating existing turats by judging and adjudicating the past. Because the principle of tajdid here is a creative and reactive change. Finally, the last method is kayfiyah which is closely related to how tajdid is realized in dealing with turats. This kayfiyah is based on two basic foundations, which are knowing the reasons for the obsolescence of previous understandings and knowing the principles of nazhar as a method of reading turats. In order to make the turats reading became integralistic, a mujaddid must understand turats as both a cultural product and a thinking mechanism that emphasizes the discovery of the mechanism, not the product itself. The integration of universal values contained in Islamic turats will be realized when the mechanism of Islamic turats is successfully explored.

Based on the four methods above, it can be said that the mechanism of the Thaha Integration Theory operates through three main principles, which are al-tadawul, al-tadakhul and al-taqrib. In shorts, al-tadawul means that the Islamic khazanah turats cannot be separated from charity as a form of practice. Al-tadakhul means that every knowledge contained in the turats has an interrelated methodological mechanism. The last one is al-taqrib, meaning that all knowledge is not necessarily compatible and acceptable with the original identity. For Thaha, the Integral Theory is the provision for the Muslims to move into the modern world. This is what is known as Reformative Modernity. There are two main values that become the modernity spirit in Hallaq's reading of Taha. The first is the increasing critical reasoning and human awareness as the dynamic historical executant. The second is the comprehensive change that covers all aspects of human life. The spirit of modernity that Taha tries to propagate is the spirit that comes from from characteristics that are hidden in the civilization khazanah, especially the khazanah of Islamic turats. Through exploring the universality of Islamic religious values in the Integration Theory paradigm, at least one is able to summarize and actualize the meaning of modernity that are accordance with the character of Muslims.

Based on the explanation aboce that are related to the concept of modernity, that Abdurahman's framework of thought wants to strengthen an alternative modernity from the Islamic tradition. Thaha thinks that there are many ways to be something new and not only based on the Western views or what they have described. Hallaq in his book tries to look critically at Thaha's concept of "modernity". He explains how the epistemology of discursive traditions in the Islamic world is broken when it enters the modernity. Then he explained the importance of turats as an epistemic bridge to connect between past and future discursive as well as criticism of progress or an improvement that was biased by Western philosophy. It seems that Thaha voiced Shmuel Eisenstadt's theory of modernity which explained that the classical view of modernity that were based on Western experience could not be practiced in all people from other cultures who had the same right to embrace the modernity. Unfortunately, Hallaq in his book Reforming Modernity does not explain or mention any of this regards to find out in more detail about Thaha's thoughts whether he was influenced by other figures or not. Knowing and exploring the background of his thoughts is important to know his thoughts comprehensively.

Shofiatul Jannah
Shofiatul Jannah Akademisi & Kader Ulama Perempuan Indonesia (KUPI)

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