Hasan Hanafi

Dr. Hanafi chairs the philosophy department at Cairo University and is a leading figure among the currents of progressive Islamic thought. He has argued that Islam needs to be understood in way that facilitates human freedom and progress and calls for rebuilding the foundation of Arab Enlightenment and the rejection of the secular current’s domination of this term. His aim is to promote an intellectual current which conjoins Islam with contemporary modernity, a current which is able to accommodate the plurality of modernity’s intellectual currents and put an end to the constant conflict between the champions of religion, liberals and conservatives. He believes in giving humankind complete freedom of thought and full responsibility for his own actions – in contradistinction to the ideological starting points of the Salafists. He points to the Enlightenment currents within Islamic history, for instance among the school of the Mu‘tazila, and during the 19th century Nahda, arguing that therefore the roots of this new Enlightenment may be found in the process of religious reform and the resumption of ijtihad. His courageous standpoint has met with considerable opposition, and his liberal opinions about Islam have infuriated conservative Islamic scholars from al-Azhar. His recent book An Invitation for Dialogue has been accused as heresy and apostasy, and a fatwa issued against him arguing charges of apostasy.