REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, By: Ahmad Syafii Maarif
REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, Invitation by e-mail from Prof Alparslan Açikgenç (senior at the University of Chicago), I received on January 21, 2016 to attend a symposium on Fazlur Rahman’s thinking (1919-1988) in the subject of philosophy, religion and moral-ethical held in the Inonu University, Malatya, Turkey, on 5-6 May 2016.
Considering my age, I was doubt to attend. But because the committee expects to come up with papers, I come to Turkey. Moreover, I have not been to Turkey. It added with emotional and intellectual relationship with Fazlur Rahman who guided me during my doctoral studies in Islamic Studies at the University of Chicago. The second symposium was held in the Turkish language; The first symposium was held in 1997 at the Istanbul, when Recep Tayyip Erdogan was city mayor.
Why Fazlur Rahman’s thinking about the Koran, Islam, and humanitarian issues still need to be explored and discussed? From his masterworks, we can conclude that Fazlur Rahman is a serious investigator, sharp, and brave about the Koran and other Islamic disciplines, such as philosophy, theology, Sufism, education, classical and modern.
Deep concern about this problem are encouraged by the fact (according to the results of his reading) because so far there has been no Muslim scholars who has attempted seriously knowing into the principles of moral-ethical Koran as part of a world view that is thorough and comprehensive, in systematic or otherwise. (See Fazlur Rahman, Islam and Modernity. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1982, pages 154).
Claiming Qur'an as a guide (hudan) for humans must be understood correctly as something that is functional and has practical values in guiding collective life as the Book of Revelation "is a document that is aimed for [the benefit of] men." (See Fazlur Rahman Major Themes of the Qur'an. Minneapolis-Chicago: Bibliotheca Islamica, 1980, page 1).
Or the expression of Muhammad Asad, the Koran has given a comprehensive answer to the question, "How should I behave in order to achieve the good life in this world and happiness in the life in the future?" (See Muhammad Asad, The Message of the Koran. Gibraltar: Dar al-Andalus, 1980, page 1).
In a lecture in Chicago, Fazlur Rahman once said, "Whatever you learn, weigh it with the Koran." Perhaps that is the main difference between Fazlur Rahman and contemporary Muslim thinkers.
Furthermore, Fazlur Rahman not only seek to impeach Islamic conservatism that is so prevalent in the Islamic world, "He also denied a lot of Western efforts to understand Islam ... which is described as a being fatalistic, old-fashioned, and static." (See Donald L Berry, Fazlur Rahman: A Life in Riview in H Earle Waugh and Frederick M Denny (ed), The Shaping of an American Islamic Discourse:
A Memorial to Fazlur Rahman, Atlanta, Georgia: Scholars Press, 1998, pages 41).
And the unknown reason, some of the former students of his Western in Chicago became Muslim, but Fazlur Rahman is not the kind of an evangelist.
Back to the symposium. There are seven speakers invited from various universities; four from Turkey, three from outside: Alparslan Açikgenç (Turkey), Ahmad Syafii Maarif (Indonesia), Ernest Wofl-Gazo (America University, Cairo), Mustafa Öztürk (Turkey), Ibrahim Özdemir (Turkey), Imtiyaz Yusuf (Thailand), and Bekir Demirkol (Turkey).
The Symposium was opened by rector of İnönü University Prof. Cemil Celik. Only three papers presented in English with translation in Turkish language display on the screen: "Fazlur Rahman, the Qur'anic Moral-Ethical Fervor and the Process of the Revelation" (Ahmad Syafii Maarif), "Fazlur Rahman and the Moral Life in the Early 21st Century "(Ernest Wolf-Gazo)," Ismail al-Faruqi and Fazlur Rahman: Two Academic Friends United But Not Fully Parted in Addressing Modern Age Problems Facing the Muslim World "(Imtiyaz Yusuf).
Four papers in Turkish with the title of the English translation: "My Experiences with Fazlur Rahman: An Intellectual Biography" (Bekir Demirkol), "Fazlur Rahman on Turkey" (Mustafa Öztürk), "Fazlur Rahman on the Morality-Law Relationship in the Tradition of Islamic Thought "(Alparslan Açikgenç)," The Concept of Morality in Fazlur Rahman "(Ibrahim Özdemir). During symposium, all papers have been presented and discussed regularly and vigorously.