For he was a scholar, a thinker first; a man who did not seek power or leadership for his ideas. Nor did it interest him to belong to any political or ideological group that might promote his thinking.
But I was privileged, together with my fellow Sisters in Islam, to have known him and to have spent months with him and his wife, Aida, in weekly classes in their apartment in Kuala Lumpur in those two summers in the s when he taught at the International Islamic University. And to meet him again and again in various conferences organised by Sisters in Islam and other organisations. What Dr Fathi taught us most was how to think critically about Islam and how we as Muslims can live a life according to the teachings of Islam in the modern world.
He was concerned that in a world of dramatic change, Muslim thinking had stagnated, unable to embrace change, nor cope with it or grasp imaginatively its momentum.
We are now heirs to a history of centuries of stagnation. We have become outsiders in a world of change, he said, because our thoughts have not evolved with changing circumstances. But he passionately believed that the Quran, in taking humankind beyond the age of jahiliyyah or ignorance, oriented human thinking towards change and led Muslims to base their lives in an awareness of change, a receptivity towards possibilities of change.
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If we fail to create the kind of thinking which gives us the ability to recognise what faces us, the Muslim world will be mired in hopelessness, he said 16 years ago. What we all must imbibe is his indefatigable belief that change is possible and why it is possible. The divine guidance and the human mind, both as invaluable gifts of God, must interact with one another and complement one another and not contradict one another or ignore one another. We are now heirs to a history of centuries of stagnation. We have become outsiders in a world of change, he said, because our thoughts have not evolved with changing circumstances.
But he passionately believed that the Quran, in taking humankind beyond the age of jahiliyyah or ignorance, oriented human thinking towards change and led Muslims to base their lives in an awareness of change, a receptivity towards possibilities of change. If we fail to create the kind of thinking which gives us the ability to recognise what faces us, the Muslim world will be mired in hopelessness, he said 16 years ago. What we all must imbibe is his indefatigable belief that change is possible and why it is possible.
The divine guidance and the human mind, both as invaluable gifts of God, must interact with one another and complement one another and not contradict one another or ignore one another.
The human mind is always changing within the individual, the society, and the entire humanity; and thus the interaction between what is changeable with the permanent divine text cannot be anything, except changeable, he said. He saw ijtihad reinterpretation as a public responsibility for all to engage in to enable us to live in a fair, just and kind society.
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He believed in a modern country, every citizen being equal, Muslims and non-Muslims, men and women. He feared that if the Text did not engage with reality, it would become a dead Text. Dr Fathi was a great fan of Malaysia.
Journey in Islamic Thought, A: The Life of Fathi Osman 
Given the level of development in the country, the relative peace and prosperity, the modernisation, democratisation, and pluralism, he felt that more than any other Muslim country, Malaysia was the place where the progressive, dynamic Islam that he envisioned could see reality. Caring for travelers who lost their way or their possessions is repeatedly stressed in the Quran. Even in war, those who leave the enemies' front to seek the Muslims' protection, have to be granted this protection, in addition to a safe passage to the destination they choose Prisoners of war, who have to be set free as soon as possible, and all prisoners, should be taken care of in their various needs: physical, intellectual and spiritual-moral Such a genuine understanding, sympathy and cooperation ought to be the outcome of the belief in the All-Merciful, who offers His limitless mercy and grace to all of His creation Since the Lord and Cherisher of all human beings "makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust," believers in Him ought to reflect God's mercy and grace in their relations with others: "For if you love them which love you, what reward have you?
And if you salute your brethren only, what do you do more than others?
The Quran endorses the moral commandments of the Torah , and describes the Torah as containing "guidance and light" , and as "clearly spelling out everything, and [thus providing] guidance and grace" As for God's message revealed in the Gospel, the Quran states that in it "there is guidance and light, confirming the truth of the Torah that has preceded it, and [it was revealed] as a guidance and admonition unto the God-conscious" The Quran urges the Jews to follow the Torah , as it urges the Christians to follow the Gospel , and has promised the good of this world's life if they do , in addition to the greatest reward of God in the eternal life to come.
As Jesus had emphasized in earlier times that he had not come to destroy the law of the Torah and the teaching of the prophets, but had come to fulfill them, so Muhammad emphasized that he was merely sent to fulfill what is virtuous. Justice and kindness, "al-adl wal-ihsan", concisely represent all virtues, as the Quran sometimes indicates e.
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It is significant that early Muslims sought shelter from persecution in Abyssinia with its Christian just king, and were granted asylum there. Ibn Taymiyya, the prominent Muslim jurist d. He has written extensively about the process of change in Islamic concepts, human and gender rights in Islamic and Western perspectives, the Islamic approach to pluralism, the analysis of Islamic history and its interpretation. He has published more than 30 books in Arabic and English which represent new approaches in Islamic thinking.
Many of his books, including "Reflections" in "Arabia: the Islamic World Review" published in London , have been translated into several languages. These are offered as a means for IslamiCity to stimulate dialogue and discussion in our continuing mission of being an educational organization.
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