Ijtihad and its relevance to Muslims in Australia

Rawaa El Ayoubi Gebara

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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In recent times, especially with immigration and large-scale movements of refugees, the existence of Muslims in Western secular societies has forced them to revive ijtihād in the face of new problems. Australian Muslims have had to endure challenges associated with migrant settlement and to adapt to problems resulting from how their faith is perceived in a predominantly secular society.

This thesis undertakes a study of some important challenges faced by the Muslim community in Australia and the way in which ijtihād can assist in resolving them. Ijtihād or independent legal reasoning is an important process for deriving the laws of Sharīʿah from its sources. Ijtihād is an activity, a struggle and a process of endeavouring to deduce the divine laws of Sharīʿah from the texts (the Qurʾan and sunnah) and apply it to new situations and problems. Yet, for centuries, due to several reasons that will be discussed in this thesis, the neglect of this dynamism, or Muslims’ inability to employ ijtihād, has left a number of unattended problems and urgent challenges in the Muslim community.

This thesis draws upon the essential writings of three Muslim scholars⎯Tariq
Ramadan, Khaled Abou El Fadl and Nilüfer Göle⎯using the inductive-analytical
method in the crafting of ijtihād in the modern world. Also, their attempts to adjust their social and intellectual positions to their societies will be analysed. In particular, it draws upon the solutions used by these scholars to overcome the challenges that Muslims face in their societies. In order to overcome the urgent challenges facing the Muslim community in Australia, it will require a total commitment to ijtihād from Muslim scholars. This is a slow process that will eventually lead to a new and authentic Australian Muslim identity, neither completely dissolved in the Australian environment nor reacting against it, but rather resting on its own foundations according to its own Islamic sources. In this sense, ijtihād continues to be the main instrument of interpreting
the divine message and relating it to the changing conditions of the Muslim community.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Charles Sturt University
  • Emilsen, William, Principal Supervisor
  • Dogan, Recep, Co-Supervisor
Award date01 Jul 2015
Place of PublicationAustralia
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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