Authority in Islam 2

Prof. Marcia Hermansen
Islamic Studies
Department of Religious Studies
Loyola University

In the second of a series of related lectures, Marcia Hermansen continues her discussion on the authority in Islam. She focuses on reformist movements in Islam and also discusses the topic of charismatic authority. Is it still possible to change or add to Islamic law? What is the scope of reform, or ijtihad available in Islam today? Some Sunni scholars believe that the conversation on reform continues. There are two schools of fairly modern reformers who call for a new ijtihad. The first are the literalists or conservatives, who believe that the decisions of the past should not bare weight, and that we should go back to the Qurâ’anic sources, interpret them literally, and make change outside of the formation of the legal schools. The well-known Wahabi movement belongs to this school. The second group is the liberal or reformist. Using human reason in their interpretation of the Qurâ’an, they believe that it one should take spiritual interpretations of Qurâ’anic sources to relate it to modern day issues. Concluding the discussion on Charismatic Authority, Hermansen mentions saints, Sufis, and sheiks, imams, and walids, and the roles these figures hold in Islamic tradition.