Harun Nasution is an important name in the reformation of religious thought in Indonesia. His idea of reformation in religious thought is by introducting a new theology known as Islamic rationalism modeled along the lines of the classical rational thought of Mu’tazilah. His approach via education had to a certain extent exerted considerable influence on the development of contemporary religious thought.
This book examines the theology of Islamic rationalism, as promoted by Harun Nasution, as the only means to change the attitude of Muslims. Harun Nasution believes that the cause of the backwardness of Muslims is thelogical in nature and thus can be resolved by the introduction of a new theology called Islamic rationalism. Harun Nasution’s rationalism focuses on the relationship of human reason to human action, that is, while God gives the capacity, man has the freewill to determine the shapes and forms of his actions. A new system of values under a new theology in Islam is needed to enable Muslims to understand and interpret their environment and act accordingly. The book also examines the impact of Harun Nasution’s Islamic rationalism in religious education and the great influence theology had so far exerted in the development of intellectual and religious thoughts in Indonesia.
The book concludes that while Harun Nasution’s idea of rationalism has strong resemblances to Western liberalism, which presents itself conducively to the changes and demands of the contemporary world, his liberalism had opened the door for ideology of suspicion towards anything that comes from established doctrines, which can be dangerous and harmful as it tantamount to an absolute skepticism of Islam. Finally, Harun Nasution’s influence can be felt by the presence of a large network of liberal thinkers whose opinions and writings have had tremendous on Muslims in Indonesia.