Quest for Divinity A Critical Examination of the Thought of Mahmud Muhammad Taha by Mohamed A. Mahmoud (Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press, 2007. 309 pages.)

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Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban

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Abstract

This important book critically examines the religious and political thought
of Mahmud Muhammad Taha, a significant twentieth-century reformist
thinker who is hardly known outside of Sudanese studies. Other works in
English on Taha include Abdullahi al-Na`im’s translated The Second
Message of Islam (Syracuse University Press: 1987), written by a disciple
whose own reformist positions derive from Taha’s methodology and
thought. This study provides an introduction to Taha’s thought for scholars
of twentieth-centuryMuslim reformers. It highlights the radical nature of his
Sufi-grounded thought and the originality of his interpretations of the
Qur’an and the hadith based upon Muslim scholars as well as western
Darwinian and Marxist-Hegelian thought. The author stresses the importance
and originality of Taha’s thoughtwithin the broader context of the contemporary
Muslim world. His appearance on the scholarly “radar screen”
has not yet fully been realized; indeed, al`Na`im has drawn more attention
in theWest than his mentor Taha ever did.
As the founder of the nationalist al-Hizb al-Jamhuri in 1945, which
later became the Republican Brotherhood (al-Jamhouriyeen), Taha was
both a significant political figure and a controversial theologian who was
famously tried and executed for the “crime” of apostasy in 1985. His execution
is widely viewed as having sparked the democratic uprising (intifada)
that overthrew Numeiri’s military dictatorship, which had engineered his
execution ...

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