Islamic Studies

Reforming The Logic Of Islamic Movement Part 3: The Three Tiered Basis For Revival: Education, Formation and Cultivation

The foundational moment of revival begins when we become conscious of the need to stand before the threshold of knowledge. When the human being struggles (mujahada) to traverse the path to overcome ignorance (jahil) in its various manifestations then revival (tajdid) begins, life is restored. The Prophetic model teaches us that knowledge, to be effective, must be accompanied by an “adaptive and radical change.” By definition an “adaptive change” is a radical but gradual transformation of attitude and behavior and purpose. So the reality of this change is one of being wherein life is reoriented and tied into “the ultimate purposes” (al maqasid al-kubra) of Shar’iah purposes defined and outlined by the Qur’an and clarified by the Sunnah (the Book of revelation) and indicated to by the Universe (the Book of the Universe) of which man is an integral part.

A transformation of understanding (fahm) is not only a transformation of intellectual perception. Rather, a transformation of understanding is one of consciousness and further a “re-formation of character” which entails a restructuring of habits and custom. Habits are varied. There are habits of the intellect, habits of the heart, habits peculiar to the self and social habits, the later manifest within the construct and practice of custom. Regardless of whether we are concerned with the habit of the heart or those of the intellect or those of the limbs revival is that habit in all its diversity comes in accord with the overarching values and realities of Shar’iah.  Revival then is that process of education, formation and cultivation which transforms the individual so that he or she reflects (incarnates) the purposes of the Shar’iah. What we gather about revival upon a study of the biographies and works of the sages and Imams of Islam is that revival is a science i.e., and activity that has principles, parameters, ends and spiritual dispositions that must be in effect.

When we compliment our study of the Prophetic biography (seerah) with the study of the biographies and works of the Sages and Imams of Islam we begin to uncover the manner in which transformation is capable of being realized. Revival in the Prophetic narrative reaches back to the Cave of Hira, or the threshold of knowledge wherein humanity stood between an existence of ignorance (al-jahilliyah al-kubra) and a way of life that was in sync with the purposes of existence as intended by Allah (swt). The Cave of Hira is a radical moment for it was a moment in which what Karl Jaspers calls “the Axial age” came to a close, Islam was proclaimed the last revelation and a way of life, Universal, to be inclusive of all of humanity. The Sages and Imams of Islam have aimed to re-activate those very principles which challenged humanity to cross the threshold of knowledge and to come to be as a community of brothers.

Revival begins with the transformation of the self, an empting of the self, and then learning will take place and knowledge will overcome ignorance. -”I’am illiterate”, is what the Prophet told Jibril in the Cave of Hira after empting himself of ego before Allah and it was here that Allah began to teach humanity in the person of Muhammad. Adaptive change is the end of revival effort anything short of that is deceptive if it is to be called an effort of revival.

Rabbi Aghfir Li Wa Arhamni Fi Inni Kuntu Min adh Dhalimeen

About the author

Yusuf Rios (Abul Hussein)

Yusuf Rios (Abul Hussein)

Yusuf Rios was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. While becoming a Catholic priest, Yusuf discovered the path to Islam. He studied Islamic sciences for a period of seven years, studying with scholars in Cleveland, Ohio before receiving a work-study contract with the Islamic American University. At the Islamic American University, he read Arabic and a limited number of Islamic sciences intensively for one year. He then traveled to Cairo, Egypt where he resided for five years. There, he attended a number of intensive courses at Arabic learning centers. After these courses, he joined various scholarly circles, reading Islamic sciences with a host of scholars of diverse expertise and orientations. Yusuf takes particular pride in having studied intimately with a number of scholars from al-Azhar University. Likewise, he has great love and attachment to Egypt and especially al-Azhar Mosque where he studied for the major portion of his residence in Egypt. Yusuf has a Bachelors in Western Philosophy and Sociology and is working on a Masters in Education. He serves as an instructor in Islamic Sciences with Islamic American University and in local mosques in Dearborn, Michigan and Cleveland, Ohio. His four main research areas in Islamic sciences are in the areas of Usul al-Fiqh, Maqasid ash Shar’ia, Hadith Sciences, and Fiqh.

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  • Salaam alaykum,

    If I could just summarize what I read for my own clarity, and if you could confirm this is the correct takeaway:

    1. The goal is revival of the Muslim Ummah.
    2. To revive the Ummah, we have to focus on ourselves
    3. In order to revive ourselves, we must seek knowledge of Islam.
    4. For that knowledge to be effective, we have to put it into practice.
    5. The way knowledge is acquired and the way it is put into practice is by modeling our methods of knowledge acquisition and habit-changing in accordance with the Seerah of the Prophet sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam and the seerah of other great imams.

    Please let me know what I missed, if anything.


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