For more on this topic, see The Straight Path - Finding Guidance in an Age of Confusion


Renewal of religious discourse in Islam (tajdeed) has taken center stage due to the turmoil in Muslim lands nowadays. While the concept of tajdeed is legitimate, the implication (occasionally stated explicitly) that religious discourse is the root cause of the many problems from which Muslim-majority countries suffer is unfair. It deliberately overlooks a myriad of factors leading to these problems, which if examined, would show that these harms are partly self-inflicted and partly inflicted on Muslims by others. However, it would also be unreasonable to claim that the contemporary religious discourse is completely free of any guilt.
First, let me state here that it is only expected of any Muslim who believes that Prophet Muhammad ﷺ received a revelation from God to submit to that revelation and acknowledge its infallibility. After all, God is above any error. However, the religious discourse that is subject to this discussion is in part a human product that should not be conflated with the revelation itself nor treated as sacred. Infallibility is the characteristic only of the explicit text of the revelation (the Qur’an and the Sunnah) and of bona fide explicit scholarly consensus. Our understanding of the text may be far from what is intended. For example, our misunderstanding of some of our religious teachings may be contributing to the lack of righteous governance and the high level of corruption in the vast majority of Muslim countries. If, however, someone claimed that Islam itself is responsible for this situation, then the simple answer is that contemporary Muslim generations are not better Muslims than the Companions of the Messenger ﷺ who were successful in establishing righteous governance. In fact, the Columbia History of the World notes that ‘Umar established a system of government superior to the bureaucracy of the Roman Empire, which had preceded Muslim rule.[1]
Furthermore, tajdeed of religious discourse is not only a communal necessity, but it is a religious responsibility, as the Messenger ﷺ himself indicated:
إِنَّ اللَّهَ تَعَالَى يَبْعَثُ لِهَذِهِ الأُمَّةِ عَلَى رَأْسِ كُلِّ مِائَةِ سَنَةٍ مَنْ يُجَدِّدُ لَهَا دِينَهَا  
Indeed, Allah sends for this ummah, at the onset of every century, those who renew the religion for it.[2]
Most people will agree that renewal is needed. Nonetheless, many disagree on what renewal consists of and exactly what part or parts need to be renewed. Some accept the concept of tajdeed as long as it is limited to the techniques of delivering daʽwah. Once religious content is addressed, many ‘conservative’ Muslims feel instantly uncomfortable. For some this is due to fear of the unknown. This is partly because our ummah suffers from a great deal of weakness and disunity, which fosters an environment of defensiveness and mistrust. However, some of our fears of the call to tajdeed may be justified. After all, many of the callers to tajdeed of the deen are utterly unqualified for the job. They dismiss much of the established Sunnah and, with complete disregard for the cumulative tradition, defy the definitive implications of the text of revelation. They are quick to dismiss the great jurists of Islam, claiming that they were but a product of their culture and were blindfolded by their biases. It also seems to the ‘conservative’ Muslim that much of the proposed tajdeed is simply an act of unconditional surrender to the mainstream modern culture, making the Divine instruction subject to the influence of people’s changing thoughts and social constructs. However, the problem with our timidity in contributing to this discourse about tajdeed is that others may hijack its banner. Those who are frustrated with the condition of the ummah and are yearning for a change may well be tempted to follow unqualified “renewers.” 
This paper discusses certain aspects about the renewal of the religion, mainly the following points:
   1. The validity of the concept of tajdeed and its scope

Tajdeed is mainly about restoration and adaptation
   2. Do we need to renew the methodology of deduction itself (or the science of uṣool ul-fiqh)?

      a. Uṣool-related ijtihâd that may have impeded the renewal of religious discourse
          i. The problem of over-reporting consensus
          ii. Departure from the agreement of the four madhâhib and when a position outside them can be validated
      b. Existing flexibility in the discipline of uṣool ul-fiqh
          i. The role of maqâṣid (objectives) in the renewal of the religion
          ii. The role of human intellect
      c. Suggestions for incremental renewal within juridical theory
   3. Practical examples of intended and unintended tajdeed

The Validity of the Concept of Tajdeed (Renewal) and Its Scope

Do We Need to Renew Juridical Theory and the Methodology of Deduction?

Some Practical Examples of Tajdeed