Islam, Postmodernism, and Other Futures: A Ziauddin Sardar Reader (Book Info, 2003)

Edited by Sohail Inayatullah and Gail Boxwell

London and Sterling VA, Pluto Press, March 2003

ISBN: 0 7453 1985 8


A collection of Sardar’s writings that offer a comprehensive introduction to his thought. Selections are in three parts:

(1) Islam: rethinking Islam (“a serious attempt at jihad, at reasoned struggle and rethinking, to reform Islam”), reconstructing Muslim civilization as a dynamic problem-solving methodology, permanence and change in Islam, the Shari’ah as the core worldview of Islam (a system of ethics and values providing the major means of adjusting to change, but it has been abused and misunderstood), Islam and nationalism as contradictory terms, the potential of new information technologies for remaking Muslim societies and culture, reformist ideas and Muslim intellectuals; (2) Postmodernism: modernity playing havoc with traditional cultures, the next 50 years to be dominated by violent pendulum swings between modernism and postmodernism (the world cannot be ruled by either extreme), Walt Disney as the fast food of modern cinema (where we take on a refashioned, predigested history, as in Pocahontas), Christian-Muslim relations in the postmodern age, aliens and others in postmodern thought, Bosnia and the postmodern embrace of evil (“today’s victims of the west will become tomorrow’s demons of the west, and evil will have triumphed totally“), the Rushdie affair as a clash of worldviews (militant and dogmatic secularism vs. the religious worldview where freedom of thought and expression arise from the sacred); (3) Other Futures: the futures studies problem (it has been colonized by the west and “has become big business”), Asian cultures between programmed and desired futures (three possible cultural scenarios for the next 20 years: more-of-the-same, fossilization of alternatives, and balkanization in China, India, and elsewhere), non-western cultures in futures studies (bashing Francis Fukuyama, Paul Kennedy, and the World Future Society), medicine in a multicultural society, an Islamic perspective on development, a non-western view of chaos theory.

The 23-page introduction by the editors, entitled “The Other Futurist,” notes that “more than any other scholar of our time, Sardar has shaped and led the renaissance in Islamic intellectual thought, the project of rescuing Islamic epistemology from tyrants and traditionalists, modernists and secularists, postmodernists and political opportunists.”

The editors go on to describe Sardar’s dislike of disciplines as artificial social constructions, his constructive approach to rebuilding Muslim civilization and viewing Islam as an ethical framework, his call for Islam to be reinterpreted for every epoch, his response to Salmon Rushdie, and his goal to create intellectual and cultural space for the non-west. Gail Boxwell concludes with an impressive 12-page bibliography of Sardar’s extensive writings in the 1976-2002 period.

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