Following in the footsteps of the leaders of Arab thought: an Algerian thesis looks at Mohamed Othman Elkhosht the philosopher, his approach and the concept of enlightenment

Following in the footsteps of the leaders of Arab thought: an Algerian thesis looks at Mohamed Othman Elkhosht the philosopher, his approach and the concept of enlightenment

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Following in the footsteps of the leaders of Arab thought: an Algerian thesis looks at Mohamed Othman Elkhosht the philosopher, his approach and the concept of enlightenment

Algerian study says: Dr. Elkhosht has presented a new, modern vision of the Holy Qur’an as a sacred divine book capable of new and renewable interpretation in all eras.

Thesis: Dr. Elkhosht is Philosopher and jurisprudent he refuses to be an imitator of Western philosophers.

Elkhosht has managed to construct a system of rational thinking par excellence, and succeeded in dismantling the structure of human obfuscation that arose around religion.

Critical rationalism represents the cornerstone on which Elkhosht’s philosophy was built. His writings are distinguished by combining the rational approach with a faith background.

An encyclopedic thinker who combines a profound knowledge of both Islamic heritage and Western thought, Elkhosht’s writings reveal the profundity of his encyclopedic knowledge and creativity and the extent of his research into the humanities and Islamic jurisprudence.

Dr. Elkhosht has built his intellectual doctrine on in-depth research into seldom-examinedissues.

Study dubs Elkhosht “a moderate jurist, a civil politician, an enlightened reformist, and an excellent logician with a back-to-basics ideology” which are characteristics only attained by the minority.

Following in the footsteps of the leaders of Arab thought: for the first time, a study in Algeria on the philosopher Dr. Mohamed Othman Elkhosht, an enlightened thinker, deals with his life, biography, writings, approach, philosophy, and his own concept of enlightenment and the reasons for it. It also examines his philosophy of renewing our thinking and his criticism of fanaticism, both radical secular extremism and religious extremism.

The study also deals with the renewal of religious thought according to Elkhosht, the concept of religion, its origins, and the renewal of religious discourse, emphasizing that Dr. Elkhosht has an encyclopedic knowledge of culture and combines profound knowledge of both Islamic heritage and Western thought. His works are distinctive due to a combination of the rational approach with abackground of faith, leading him to be dubbed“The Philosopher and Islamic jurisprudent”.

The study was written by Algerian researcher Cyrine Bousalem; her viva voce committee was composed of Prof. Ahmed Zighmi, supervisor, Prof. Muhammad Al-Siddiq bin Ghazala, examiner, and Prof. Omar bin Rabah, examiner and chair, in a viva voce, or dissertation defense, for a master’s degree at Kasdi Merbah University in Algeria. The thesis dealt with the writings and philosophy of Dr. Elkhosht, noting that his writings are taught in many universities and address many branches of science, such as the foundations of religion, Islamic jurisprudence, comparative religion, philosophy of religion, political science, civil society, the philosophy of citizenship, and other branches of the humanities. His writings, says the thesis, reveal the depth of his encyclopedic knowledge, his creativity, the extent of his expertise in the human and legal sciences, and his focus on qualitative rather than quantitative thinking. His writings, according to the study, also work to establish a new understanding and enlightened vision for many contemporary issues based on a rational and logical approach.

The MA thesis indicated that extrapolating from Dr. Elkhosht’s books will reveal his intellectual diversity, demonstrating him to be a moderate Islamic jurisprudent, a civil politician, an enlightened reformist, and a superior logician who has an intellectual dimension and a fundamentalist doctrine, and these characteristics are only attained by a minority. His intellectual doctrine was built on in-depth study of rarely-frequented topics andissues, a key to his character. He is not afraid to engage in political debates and skirmishes, nor does he fear to confront those claiming infallibility and those speaking in the name of religion. He has managed to study most, if not all, branches of philosophy in depth; as a result, he has taken upon himself the task of spreading enlightenment, rejecting extremism, and encouraging freedom of opinion.

The researcher added that Dr. Elkhosht had set change in motion by seeking an enlightenment capable of elevating the nation by effecting intellectual, critical reform and enlightenment in various fields of society, politics, jurisprudence, and academia. He rejects wholesale imitation ofWestern philosophers; rather, he sets out to study their legacy, giving equal parts to criticism and praise. Elkhosht does not apply a narrow-minded criticism to Western philosophy based on his ownfaith and Arab-Islamic affiliation; instead, he offers his objective opinion on various issues in an objective manner. His criticism of Western philosophy may be seen in his works The Masks of Descartes, Rationality and Fanaticism, Reasonand Absurdity in Religion, and Reason and Metaphysics.

According to the study, Dr. Elkhosht’s thought establishes principles that scholars would do well to heed: namely, establishing a trend of enlightened Islamic jurisprudence to eliminatestagnation, fanaticism, and tyranny of opinion, taking into account contemporary circumstances and changes in our current era and seekingsolutions that eliminate confusion, in light of the unfortunate reality of Muslims’ life and thought in this day and age. Elkhosht calls for enlightenedphilosophical and jurisprudential reforms which adhere to the pillars and constants of religion instead of placing undue emphasis on trivialities.Elkhosht uses both reason and religion as the foundation for his intellectual and doctrinal stances, which can be seen in his works, The Development of Religion, Comparative Religion, Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion, and Religion and Metaphysics in Hume’s Philosophy.

According to the thesis, Dr. Elkhosht’s call for the establishment of a new religious discourse, instead of renewing the old, means examining theology with a critical eye and a rational approach by means of implementing the pure and true Islam that existed during the era of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The Islam we live in today is a significant departure from this, since terrorist groups and cultural backwardness have spreadeverywhere one looks. The problem, Elkhoshtbelieves, lies not in Islam, but in the minds of Muslims: it is their understanding and interpretation of their faith which has resulted injurisprudential and intellectual stagnation and confused what is sacred with what is temporal and profane.

The thesis deals with the major debate in Al-Azhar between Dr. Elkhosht, President of Cairo University, and Dr. Ahmed Al-Tayeb, Sheikh of Al-Azhar, at the Al-Azhar International Conference for Renewal of Islamic Thought, due to Elkhosht’s call for the necessity of reexamining [Islamic religious] heritage, since portions of our heritage constitute an obstacle to progress and civilization, and the necessity of forging a new heritage, through his book, Establishing a New Religious Era. The thesis praises Dr. Elkhosht’scourage and fortitude in sticking to his view thatthe foundations of religion need to be renewed by returning to the pure sources, namely the Holy Qur’an and what can be incontrovertibly authenticated of the vetted Sunnah of the Prophet. Renewal, Elkhosht states, requires changing our ways of thinking and worldview. It must be based on a new approach to the Holy Qur’an as a divine and sacred book that is subject to new, and renewable, interpretation at all times. Therefore, he calls for the development – not the revival – of the theological disciplines.

The study concluded that critical rationalism represents the cornerstone upon which Dr. Mohamed Othman Elkhosht bases his philosophy of enlightenment. The study affirms that he managed to dismantle the usual thinking around religion, espousing instead a philosophy based primarily on rationality and criticism based on logic, scientific observation, analysis, and philosophical criticism of the various issues of our era and beyond. His call to establish a new religious era seeks to correct the myths, false perceptions, and irrational ideas of traditional religious discourse, with an emphasis on confronting extremism whether religious or secular, and warning against Arab-Islamic societies falling into the trap of fanaticism.

Kasdi Merbah University is one of the three top universities in Algeria, at the forefront ofinternational rankings, ranked second nationally in the Spanish classification Webometrics and 193 in a classification of 3922 universities for 2023. It also topped the list of Algerian universities for two years running.

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Following in the footsteps of the leaders of Arab thought: an Algerian thesis looks at Mohamed Othman Elkhosht the philosopher, his approach and the concept of enlightenment - Cairo University