Abū Ḥāmid Muḥammad Al-Ghazālī
Excerpt from al-Munqidh min al-Ḍalāl, (“Deliverance from Error”) trans. By R.J McCarthy (Louisville, 2000):
“Subsequently I consulted on that matter a number of those skilled in me to abandon my seclusion and to emerge from my religious retirement. In addition to that, certain godly men had many recurrent dreams attesting that this move of mine would be a source of good and a right procedure, and that it had been decreed by God – Praised be He!- for the beginning of this century. For God – Praised be He! - has indeed promised to revivify His religion at the beginning of each century (wa qad waʿadʾLlah subhānahu bi iḥyāʾ dīniha ʿalā raʾsi kulli miʾah)1. So my hope was strengthened and I became quite optimistic because of these testimonies.”
“...But now I invite men to the knowledge by which glory is renounced and its lowly rank recognized. This is now my intention (niyyatī), my aim (qaṣadī), my desire (umniyyatī). God knows that to be true of me. I now earnestly desire to reform myself and others (iṣlahi nafsī wa ghayrī), but I do not know whether I shall attain my desire or be cut off by death short of my goal. Yet I believe with a faith as certain as direct vision that there is no might for me and no power save in God, the Sublime, the Mighty; and that it was not I who moved, but He moved me; and that I did not act, but He acted through me. I ask Him, then, to reform me first (yaṣliḥnī awwalā), then to use me as an instrument of reform (thumma yuṣlihu bī); to guide me, then to use me as an instrument of guidance (wa yahdinī thumma yahdī bī); to show me the true as true (al-ḥaqq ḥaqqān), and to grant me the grace to follow it; and to show me the false as false (al-bāṭila bāṭilān), and to grant me the grace to eschew it.”
Syed Muhammad Naquib Al-Attas
a) Excerpt from Islam & Secularism, 2nd ed, (Kuala Lumpur, 1993), pg. xii-xiii:
“Muslims must be warned that plagiarists and pretenders as well as ignorant imitators affect great mischief by debasing values, imposing upon the ignorant, and encouraging the rise of mediocrity. They appropriate original ideas for hasty implementation and make false claims for themselves. Original ideas cannot be implemented when vulgarized; on the contrary, what is praiseworthy in them will turn out to become blameworthy, and their rejection will follow with the dissatisfaction that will emerge. So in this way authentic and creative intellectual effort will continually be sabotaged. It is not surprising that the situation arising out of the loss of adab also provides the breeding ground for the emergence of extremists who make ignorance their capital.
Since the value and validity of new ideas can best be developed and clarified along logical lines by their original source I have by means of my own thought, initiative and creative effort, and with God's succour and the aid of those whom God has guided to render their support, conceived and established an international Insititute aligned to the purpose of the further development, clarification and correct implementation of these ideas until they may come to full realization.”
b) Excerpt from The Concept of Education in Islam (Petaling Jaya, 1980), pg. viii-ix :
“These definitions are based on personal reflection and conceptual analysis viewed in the context of the Islamic intelletual and religious tradition. With the exception perhaps of the concept of justice, the definitions are original and, to the best of my knowledge, they are also new; born as they are out of the present need for creative thinking and clairfiication of the basic concepts pertaining to knowledge and education. Moreover, the formulation of these key concepts and the way they are brought together in meaningful pattern, both in the paper and in this book, are perhaps the first formulation and conceptualization of its kind found in the context of Muslim intellectual and religious thinking of our times.
“Already in the paper I have put forward some new ideas: the idea that the purpose of seeking knowledge and of education in Islam is to produce a good man and not a good citizen;”
“Now in this little book I present some other new ideas: the concept of methodology of scientific research and study of nature along the lines of Quranic inteprretation (tafsīr and taʾwīl); the concept of Islamic language; the role of the Holy Qurʾān in the islamiation of the languages of Muslim people including the Arabic language; finally that education and the educational process in the Islamic sense is in reality defined by the concept of taʾdīb and not by that of tarbiyah.”
“I make no apology for making claims to originality in the conception of new ideas and definitions as specified and formulated herein and in my earlier writings, because the necessity for such claims has now arisen.”
“The purpose of acknowledging the source of an important ideas is – to point those who pursue the subject for the sake of the Community to the right direction; so that they might not be misled concerning the value and validity of that idea, and its further development and clarification along logical lines which only the original source is justly capably of doing. But if Muslim writers, whether in English, Arabic, or other languages, are in the habit of either pointing to themselves or to others in respect of significant ideas not really originated by them, then they obliterate thereby the real source and deprieve the Community of knowledge of the right direction.”
Surely we cannot attribute to both of these great scholars as mubtadi'. They themselves very much from their own expositions and elucidations implied their endeavour as something new, original with regard to important ideas and effort.
The meaning of new and originality as presented by them are not the same as understood by modern mind instead very much associated to the notion of renewal and revival in Islamic tradition.
For someone who mastered the cardinal concept of religion of Islam – as well as the highest level of Islamic metaphysics as expounded by the ḥukāmaʾ and awliyaʾLlah; practiced and embodied their lives with the right knowledge with formidable conviction and istiqamah, the evidences – if we were to assess holistically – are clear enough.
1. Full version: “inna allāh yabʿath li-hadhihi al-umma ʿala raʾs kulli miʾah sana man yujaddid lahā amr dīnihā” - (God will send to this community at the turn of every century someone who will restore religion). Abū Dāʾūd, Sunan 4/156