MEEZAN RESEARCH INSTITUTE pursues high calibre research on Islam in contemporary context, with the aim of elaborating ethical and intellectual principles of ‘Islam Hadhari’ or Civilisational Islam from authentic Islamic perspectives. The Institute seeks to renew mainstream values and teachings of Islam—faith and piety, just and trustworthy government, cultural and moral integrity, the rigorous pursuit and mastery of knowledge, and balanced socio-economic development.
The Institute advances moderation and social harmony within the multi-religious environment of PAKISTN, while promoting constructive engagement with other world civilizations. As a uniquely Pakistani initiative, Islam Hadhari helps equip the Ummah with needed intellectual and cultural resources to negotiate the challenges of globalization and claims by dominant powers to global pre-eminence. With its refreshing focus on a cluster of primary values, Civilizational Islam works to re-center the Shari’ah-driven legalist discourse of Islamic revivalism over recent decades, upon deeper universal Islamic principles.
The civilisational momentum generated by Islam arises out of the Qur’anic master idea of Human Trusteeship on earth mediating a social order founded on moral virtue, compassion, beneficence, human dignity and justice. The Qur’an teaches Muslims to respect liberty of conscience and religious existance, to promote what is just and prohibit what is reprehensible, and work for realising human welfare. It is emphatic about preserving ties of kinship, honoring one’s neighbors, helping the needy and destitute by means of obligatory taxes and charity, and earning one’s living through lawful work and equitable trade. Furthermore, the Qur’an vigorously insists upon the pursuit and mastery of knowledge as pre-requisite for social progress and cultural flourishing.
The Qur’an is a narrative in common humanity, which also characterizes Islam and its civilizational outlook. While the Qur’an was revealed in an Arabian milieu, yet its call and message are universal from beginning to end. The principle of Tawhid (divine Oneness), fundamental in Islam, is reflected in a unitarian vision of humanity without discrimination of any kind – moral excellence being the only criterion of distinction in the eyes of God. Mutual recognition among nations, cooperation in good works and fraternity constitute the conceptual framework of man’s vicegerency on earth. These are all integral, according to our reading of the Qur’an, to Islam’s view of itself as both a religion and a ‘civilization’ – which may be rendered as ‘a way of life.’
The Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) received his prophetic call in the environment of Makkah. From it he subsequently migrated to Yathrib, renaming it Madinah; from the same verbal root is derived the concept of madaniyyah or civilization, as well as the term din or religion. The nascent Muslim community thus marked its departure from a tribal nomadic existence to urbanity and civilization, the latter term being synonymous with madaniyyah. Abdullah Badawi’s call for the regeneration and renewal of Islam’s civilizational values under the rubric of Islam Hadhari captures this often neglected yet vitally important aspect of our tradition. Islam Hadhari reminds both Muslims and non-Muslims that Islam is not merely a religion of ritual performances and worship but also a profound civilization. Civilizational Islam invites the ummah to make a fresh effort to revitalise and reinvigorate the most cherished aspects of our ethical and spiritual tradition and intellectual heritage.
Islam calls for the renewal and reform of society and civilization through the modalities of such of its principles as tajdid, islah, fatwa, shura, ijtihad, and ijma’. Islam Hadhari, inspired by the spirit of renewal and reform, focuses on values through which the ummah can overcome the challenges of globalization, crass secularism and the materialist culture that have become so prevalent in our societies.
The success of this Institute will naturally be measured by the caliber of its staff and the quality of its work. This will be informed by the desire to develop an atmosphere of harmonious exchange of ideas with the public, academic institutions, think tanks, and government agencies engaged in the study of Islam in Malaysia and abroad. As Chairman of MRI, being able to share this vision and participate in its development is a source of personal enrichment for which I am truly grateful.
Muhammad Umer Raheel