Ijtihad, Rethinking Islam
In an interview to New Age Islam, Ziauddin Sardar talks at length on various aspects of social change and Islamic reforms.
He says, “I see change is normal; indeed, a natural part of life. And social change follows the patterns of overall change. It is normal and an integral part of life. However, the term social change is itself part of the western jargon of sociology and as such it reflects the values of the West. Whatever the value of Comte, Durkheim and Mannheim, it is Marx who has, more than anyone else, shaped western sociology. Indeed, Weber can be considered to be nothing more than a gloss on Marx. As such, I believe, western sociology assumes the Marxian dimension to a very large degree. The basic assumptions can be identified as: stratification of society (in classes), and the influence of economics on all spheres of society. Other cultures do not (necessarily) subscribe to these notions of society and hence sociology. In Islam, for example, society is structured not on the basis of class but piety (so the ideal theory goes). Furthermore, in western sociology change is itself a positive value. Again, other cultures do not see change itself as good. In Islam, change is not a value in itself. It can be blameworthy or praiseworthy and the society is supposed to exert and work towards positive change in Islamic terms. The value of change as perpetual and permanent is equated with the idea of progress; which is by definition good. All progress is progress and innately good. The binary opposite of progress is stagnation. Thus nothing should be allowed to impede change; and all obstacles to change are necessarily bad leading to reaction, decadence and death.”