Muhammad Rashid Rida
محمد رشید رضا
|Born|| or 17 October 186523 September 1865|
|Died||22 August 1935 (aged 69)|
|Notable work(s)||Tafsir al-Manar|
Muhammad Rashid Rida (Arabic: محمد رشيد رضا, romanized: Muḥammad Rashīd Riḍā; Ottoman Syria, 23 September 1865 or 18 October 1865 – Egypt, 22 August 1935) was an early Islamic reformer, whose ideas would later influence 20th-century Islamist thinkers in developing a political philosophy of an "Islamic state". Rida is said to have been one of the most influential and controversial scholars of his generation and was deeply influenced by the early Salafi Movement and the movement for Islamic Modernism founded in Cairo by Muhammad Abduh.
Rida was born near Tripoli in Al-Qalamoun, (now in Lebanon but then part of Ottoman Syria within the Ottoman Empire). His early education consisted of training in "traditional Islamic subjects". In 1884–5 he was first exposed to al-`Urwa al-wuthqa, the journal of Jamal al-Din al-Afghani and Muhammad Abduh. In 1897 he left Syria for Cairo to collaborate with Abduh. The following year Rida launched al-Manar, a weekly and then monthly journal comprising Quranic commentary at which he worked until his death in 1935, gradually distancing himself from the teachings of Abduh and adopting the methodology of the Salaf.
Rashid Rida, was a leading exponent of Salafism  and was especially critical of what he termed "blind following" of traditional Islam. He encouraged both laymen and scholars to interpret the primary sources of Islam themselves. Applying this principle enabled Rida to tackle a number of subjects in a modern way and sometimes led to him holding unorthodox ideas that were considered controversial by some and progressive by others.
One of his controversial views was his support of Darwin's theory of evolution. To justify Darwinism, Rida considered it permissible to "interpret certain stories of the Qur'an in an allegorical manner, as, for example, the story of Adam.". He also believed that the origin of the human race from Adam is a history derived from the Hebrews and that Muslims are not obliged to believe in this account.
Other controversial beliefs held by Rida included:
- His view that usury (riba) may be permitted in certain cases 
- His idea that building statues is permissible in Islam as long as there is no danger of their being devoted to improper religious uses.
- His support of the British against the Ottomans 
- His view that "the minute living bodies which today have been made known by the microscope and are called microbes, may possibly be a species of Jinn"
Rida focused on the relative weakness of Muslim societies vis-à-vis Western colonialism, blaming Sufi excesses, the blind imitation of the past (taqlid), the stagnation of the ulama, and the resulting failure to achieve progress in science and technology. He held that these flaws could be alleviated by a return to what he saw as the true principles of Islam albeit interpreted (ijtihad) to suit modern realities. This alone could, he believed, save Muslims from subordination to the colonial powers.
Despite some controversial ideas held by Rida, his works and in particular his magazine al-Manar spread throughout the Muslim world influencing many individuals including the popular Salafi writer Muhammad Nasiruddin al-Albani.
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The corruption and tyranny of Muslim rulers ("caliphs", sultans, etc.) throughout history was a central theme in Rida's criticisms. Rida, however, celebrated the rule of the Prophet Mohammad and the Rightly Guided Caliphs, and leveled his attacks at subsequent rulers who could not maintain Prophet Mohammad's example. He also criticized the clergy ("ulama") for compromising their integrity - and the integrity of the Islamic law ("sharia") they were meant to uphold - by associating with worldly corrupt powers.
Rida's ideas were foundational to the development of the modern "Islamic state". He "was an important link between classical theories of the caliphate, such as al-Mawardi's, and 20th-century notions of the Islamic state".
Rida promoted a restoration or rejuvenation of the Caliphate for Islamic unity, and "democratic consultation on the part of the government, which he called "shura"." In theology, his reformist ideas, like those of Abduh, were "based on the argument that:
shari'a consists of `ibadat (worship) and mu'amalat (social relations). Human reason has little scope in the former and Muslims should adhere to the dictates of the Qur'an and hadith. The laws governing mu'amalat should conform to Islamic ethics but on specific points may be continually reassessed according to changing conditions of different generations and societies.
Although he did not call for the revolutionary establishment of an Islamic state, rather advocating only gradual reform of the existing Ottoman government, Rida preceded Abul Ala Maududi, Sayyid Qutb, and later Islamists in declaring adherence to Sharia law as essential for Islam and Muslims, saying
Koran 5:44 applies to `...whomsoever thinks it distasteful to rule in accordance with the just rules which God sent down, and does not rule by them because he has different views, or because he has worldly interests. According to these verses, they are unbelievers; because true faith requires obedience. Obedience requires deeds, and is not consistent with omission'
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