Islam and Postmodernism

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Islam, Postmodernism and Other Futures
A Ziauddin Sardar Reader

Edited by

Sohail Inayatullah and Gail Boxwell





First published 2003 by Pluto Press 345 Archway Road, London N6 5AA and 22883 Quicksilver Drive, Sterling, VA 20166–2012, USA Copyright © Ziauddin Sardar 2003 © Introduction and selection Sohail Inayatullah and Gail Boxwell 2003 The right of Ziauddin Sardar, Sohail Inayatullah and Gail Boxwell to be identified as the authors of this work has been asserted by them in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library ISBN 0 7453 1985 8 hardback ISBN 0 7453 1984 X paperback Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data Sardar, Ziauddin. Islam, postmodernism and other futures : a Ziauddin Sardar reader / edited by Sohail Inayatullah and Gail Boxwell. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0–7453–1985–8 (HB) –– ISBN 0–7453–1984–X (PB) 1. Islam––20th century. 2. Postmodernism––Religious aspects––Islam. 3. Islamic renewal. 4. Civilization, Islamic. I. Inayatullah, Sohail, 1958– II. Boxwell, Gail. III. Title. BP163 .S354 2003 297'.09'04––dc21 2002152367











Designed and produced for Pluto Press by Chase Publishing Services, Fortescue, Sidmouth, England Typeset from disk by Stanford DTP Services, Towcester Printed and bound in the European Union by Antony Rowe, Chippenham and Eastbourne, England


Introduction: The Other Futurist Sohail Inayatullah and Gail Boxwell I 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Islam Rethinking Islam Reconstructing Muslim Civilisation Permanence and Change in Islam The Shari’ah as a Problem-Solving Methodology Islam and Nationalism Paper, Printing and Compact Discs: The Making and Unmaking of Islamic Culture 7. Reformist Ideas and Muslim Intellectuals: The Demands of the Real World Postmodernism


27 35 48 64 81 89 106


8. When the Pendulum Comes to Rest 9. Walt Disney and the Double Victimisation of Pocahontas 10. The Ethical Connection: Christian–Muslim Relations in the Postmodern Age 11. Total Recall: Aliens, Others and Amnesia in Postmodern Thought 12. Bosnia and the Postmodern Embrace of Evil 13. Postmodern(ising) Qawwali 14. The End of Civilisation? III Other Futures

121 127 157 189 214 219 230

15. The Problem of Futures Studies 16. Asian Cultures: Between Programmed and Desired Futures 17. Other Futures: Non-Western Cultures in Futures Studies 18. Healing the Multiple Wounds: Medicine in a Multicultural Society

247 260 279 299


Islam, Postmodernism and Other Futures

19. Beyond Development: An Islamic Perspective 312 20. What Chaos? What Coherence? Across the River I Called 333 Ziauddin Sardar: A Working Bibliography Gail Boxwell Index 350


Introduction: The Other Futurist
Sohail Inayatullah and Gail Boxwell

I. The Project In late 1980, Ziauddin Sardar was invited to Ottawa by a group of Canadian Muslim scientists and professionals. The Canadian group was eager to meet the author of The Future of Muslim Civilisation; a writer who had put Islam on the covers of two of the most prestigious science journals in the world – New Scientist and Nature. So Sardar duly arrived at Ottawa airport: To my surprise there was no one to meet me. I waited for about half an hour and then rang the contact number. I was told that the whole group was there in force to greet me; and the members of the group were described in some detail. I spotted them relatively easily and introduced myself. But I was brushed aside with the remark: ‘Please excuse us, we are looking for someone.’ So I presented myself again. This time the gathering became a little irritated. ‘You don’t appear to understand,’ they said. ‘We are waiting for an important writer from London. We seem to have lost him; we will...
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