“Surely, Allah will send for this Ummah at the beginning of every century a person(s) who will renew (yujaddid) its religion for it.”
The Muslim sphere is in crisis. Muslims, East and West, find themselves consistently overrepresented in negative social issues such as poverty, unemployment, mental health difficulties, conflict, sexual dysfunction, and political instability; and consistently underrepresented in indicators of social progress such as education, development, well-being, scientific advancement, and leadership in key sectors such as politics, media and culture.
The causes of this crisis are varied, complex, and interlinked.
perennial is a collective of Muslims in the West, of varying ethnicities and sectarian persuasions, who are engaged in scholarly research around Islam and Muslims, and who are together exploring and elucidating what Islam means to them.
perennial does not pretend to offer a comprehensive assessment or solution to the crisis of the Muslim sphere, but offers one important avenue to address this crisis, that of faith and spirituality.
perennial is based on the recognition that one of the biggest challenges facing diverse Muslim communities across the world is a deficit of ideas and vision by which to mobilise constructively and productively, as individuals and as multiple collectives, through the lens of the faith that defines Muslim identity: Islam.
perennial is an independent educational initiative for the exploration and elucidation of Islam, using digital tools, social media, and in-depth interdisciplinary research, to advance a holistic and authentic Islamic vision that makes the nuances of credible scholarship on Islam accessible to the English-speaking world.
perennial explores authentic Islamic faith traditions in a trans-sectarian context to uncover what Islam truly means, by developing online resources on key issues, based on rigorous tafsir (exegesis) of the Qur'an, application of advanced historical methods to traditional sciences of hadith (Prophetic traditions), and careful analysis of multiple Islamic and Western scholarly approaches.
perennial aims to utilise the best of traditional and modern methods, grounded in critical scrutiny of existing scholarly research, to create a go-to online resource for understanding Islam that facilitates learning, provokes reasoned debate, and opens-up widespread access to the scholarly traditions of Islam.
perennial aims to return to Islam's undistorted reality, to sift through the prism of history and culture, re-discover the Prophetic message in its most unadulterated form, and celebrate its diverse manifestations in different societies.
perennial is a project of the Institute for Policy Research & Development (IPRD), whose base materials are authored by Dr. Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed. Dr. Ahmed is Visiting Research Fellow at the Faculty of Science and Technology, Anglia Ruskin University, a Foundation Fellow at the Muslim Faculty of Advanced Studies (MFAS), and a former Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Sussex and Brunel University. He is trained in the social sciences, specialising in historical sociological approaches to the analysis of civilisational systems. He is the winner of the 2010 Routledge-GCPS Essay Prize.
The base materials at perennial covering key contentious issues around Islam are published as a springboard for further discussion and research amongst the perennial collective. In this spirit, readers are urged to think for themselves, approach the arguments here with an open mind, and to verify all claims for themselves.
There are currently few reliable, credible and comprehensive digital resources providing a rigorous, accessible and reliable source of information on Islam.
Yet Islam and Muslims are an almost perpetual subject of focus in national and international media, usually in a negative context linked with terrorism, draconian practices, repression of women and children, and general barbarism and backwardness. As this sort of media coverage accelerates, helped along by the unconscionable crimes of Muslim terrorists and dictatorships - all too often justified in the name of Islam - there is an urgent need for a comprehensive online resource on Islam that challenges these justifications, and communicates the realities and complexities of Islamic scholarship to a wider audience.
What PERENNIAL doES
perennial addresses this gap by establishing a beautiful, user-friendly online multimedia space that systematically explores Islam in a critical and open way, grounded in a rigorous scholarly approach.
This approach deploys a combination of authentic Islamic sources, traditional tools of scholarly analysis, new historical and sociological methods, as well as informed expert Muslim opinion across Sunni and Shi’a perspectives, to explore the Islamic faith.
perennial is inspired by the Prophetic tradition (hadith) quoted at the top of this page. The term used in the hadith, 'yujaddid,' derives from the verbal root jaddada, which literally means "to renew" something. The text thus refers to the necessity within Islam of an individual or group of individuals engaging in tajdeed (renewal) of Islam, with a view to restore the faith to its original purpose and nature, while eliminating accumulated distortions and misinterpretations. The term perennial means "everlasting, perpetual, eternal, enduring, or continually recurring." Hence, it is used for this project to underscore its goal of returning to Islam's essence.
Renewal and reform of Islamic thought is, in fact, recognised as mandatory within classical Islamic scholarship. As the much respected classical Egyptian jurist Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti stated (Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti, Al-Radd ‘ala man akhlada ila-l-ard wa jahila anna al-ijtihad fi kulli ‘asr fard, Beirut, Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyya, 1983, p. 67):
"... re-interpretation [of the Shari'ah] in every period is a religious obligation [upon all Muslims], and it is not permissible in Shari'ah for any generation and era to abandon reinterpretation. You should know that the legal texts of eminent scholars from all the schools of law [madhhabs] unanimously agree on this."