chapter  2
55 Pages


Mut.ahhari preferred to be generally known as a philosopher, but his works and tasks seem to be more those of a modern theologian. The term ‘modern Islamic theology’ covers a branch of the Islamic sciences which deals with social and political matters. It is concerned with the new problems raised by modern developments within Islamic societies. On the other hand, it deals, as a part of Islamic theology (‘Ilm-i kala¯m), with the questions advanced by the modern scientists and philosophers about the function of religion and the truth of religious principles. As Mut.ahhari pointed out, it argues, explains, and defends the Islamic belief system and Islamic ordinances and edicts as its main task.1 Although the roots of modernity and the extent of modernization are completely different in Western countries and Islamic societies, yet because of similarities in its philosophical and theological consequences, modern Islamic theology is in some ways very similar to that of modern Western theology, which deals fundamentally with theoretical issues.2 On the other hand, it is similar to Latin America’s liberation theology in particular, which is largely concerned with justifying the struggles against the social and political problems of that area.3 In this respect, evidence from his academic works and political activities, which is presented in this and the following chapters, clearly supports the aforementioned view about Mut.ahhari:

From about twenty years ago, when I took a pen and started to write an article or a book, the only thing that I was always considering, as the purpose of all my writings, was to solve problems or respond to questions propounded on the subject of present Islamic theological issues. Some of my writings are related to philosophy and others to ethics, jurisprudence, history and social phenomena. Although the subject matter of each of these writings is completely different, nevertheless, they all spring from one common factor, which is the fact that Holy Islam is an unknown religion. The reality of this

religion has gradually become misrepresented to the people. The essential cause of the people’s estrangement [from Islam] is due to false teachings which occur under the heading of ‘Islamic teachings’. This religion is at present harmed more by persons who claim they are defenders than by any other group. The pressure of Western colonialism, with its visible and invisible agents on the one side, and the shortcomings and faults of many Mulla¯s claiming to be defenders of Islam on the other, has caused Islamic thought to be regularly under attack for its different principles, be they primary or secondary. It is for these reasons that I see it as my duty to act responsibly, in so far as I am capable, in this area.4