The golden time in Islamic history, according to a majority of Muslims, was the time of the prophet Muhammad and the first few generations that followed him. However, moving further away from that golden time, the Muslim world began to fall behind the West, that is, the Europeans, who began to gain more and more strength and power as time progressed. At this time, the Europeans were dominating, and the Ottoman empire was losing important battles leading to decline in their strength and power. This lead to some of the intellectuals in the Muslim community to question why this was happening. How can the Muslim world return again to the time when they were prosperous? It became clear that something had to change. The attempt at reformation came in two waves. The first generation reformers include the Ottoman Sultans, the Young Ottomans, and al-Tahtawi, while the second generation reformers include Muhammad Abduh and Jamal al-Din al-Afghani. Both, the first and the second generation reformers, realized urgency for reformat...
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...y lived. In other words, the first generation reformers were encouraging nationalism as part of their reform, while the second generation reformers were encouraging unity of all Muslims. As Dr. Zehr mentioned in the lecture, Pan-Islamism is the idea used to describe this notion that Muslims are a community no matter what is their nationality (). Abduh was explaining how Muslims must unite in order to truly push back the European dominance.
As the power of Ottoman empire started declining, it made the Muslim intellectuals question why this was occurring, and how it could be changed? Need for change was evident. Thus, both, the first and the second generation reformers, realized urgency for reformation and both proposed going back to the root of Islam. However, they differed in their approach to returning to the roots of the Islam, and level of unity among Muslims.
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