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Vali Nasr's book and Daniel Pipes' Review

Reader comment on item: Mawdudi and the Making of Islamic Revivalism

Submitted by Syed Faisal Nahri (Pakistan), Mar 12, 2006 at 00:34

I have had the opportunity to read a number of books authored by Mawdudi himself. While I was reading Vali Reza Nasr's book "Mawdudi and the making of Islamic Revivalism", I tried to compare my views about Mawdudi and the claims made by Vali Reza Nasr in his book. I have found a large number of claims that have not been substantiated with reasons and evidence by the author, although generally he is being rational in admiring or criticising Mawdudi and his movement.

Overall the author seems impressed by Mawdudi, and so, at times he has made claims without much reasons that exalt Mawdudi. At other times he pretends to be critical and his criticism lacks substance; in such instances, it appears as if he is seeking acceptance among the western readers who readily label a writer as biased if he doesn't criticize at all and continues to admire his biographee.

Daniel Pipes' review is even more opinionated. First, he criticizes that Nasr has made large claims about Mawdudi and then in the very next paragraph he pronounces Nasr's evaluation as sophisticated probably because he is amused by Nasr's claim that Mawdudi has drawn a lot from the west for his ideas about the islamic state. Nasr's claim about Mawdudi's dependence on western concepts of state itself is not evidence-based.

And then Daniel Pipes makes a comment about the use of Mawdudi's ideas by Khomeini and fundamentalists (I assume that he means extremist militants by fundamentalists as I have reservations against the term "fundamentalism"). Here I want to point out that not only Mawdudi's ideas but also the ideas of many other ideologues and even Quran have been used (I would say misused) by the extremists and militants to justify their activities. But whether their interpretations and use of Quran, Mawdudi's ideas or other ideologies are jusitifiable or not remains a question. Can we criticize the Quran or an ideology and make assumptions about them just because some extremist militia claim to draw from Quran or the ideology? I think that Quran, Mawdudi's ideas and any other ideology should be evaluated for substance within them. And then the claims of extremist militia or other misusers should be evaluated to see whether or not they are truly justified in claiming to have drawn from the said sources.
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