IjtihadReason Malta Forum In the News Lectures at the Grand Mosque, Oman Photo Essay

Hassan al-Turabi

حسن ألترابي Hasan al-Turabi

The 100 Influential Voices from the Arab World is an ongoing research project on leading voices and themes in Arab public discourse. The principal investigator is Hassan I. Mneimneh.

Hassan al-Turabi is the founder and secretary general of the Popular National Congress Party in Sudan. His books include ألحركة الاسلامية في السودان: الكسب، التطور والمنهج (The Islamic movement in Sudan: achievement, development and methodology), Cairo, al-Qariʾ al-ʿArabi, 1991; تجديد ألفكر الاسلامي (The renewal of Islamic thought), Jeddah, al-Dar al-Suʿudiyya li-l-Nashr wa-l-Tawziʿ, 1987; منهجية ألتشريع الاسلامي (The methodology of legislation in Islam), Khartoum, Dar al-Fikr, 1987; and تجديد أصول ألفقه الاسلامي (Renewal of Islamic jurisprudence), Khartoum, Dar al-Fikr, 1980. These books are mandatory for study in leading institutes in such faculties as philosophy, history, theology, sociology, religious studies. Analyzing such a list of literature may seem too long and sweet for an undergraduate student, so they often send requests with the title write a book review for me to be prepared for each seminar session. Al-Turabi has served many roles in Sudan’s government—as Speaker of the National Assembly in 1996, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1989, Minister of Justice in 1988, Attorney General in 1979. He became a member of the National Assembly in 1965. He was also the founder and former secretary general of the Popular Arab and Islamic Congress as well as secretary general of the National Congress Party. In 1985, he founded and served as secretary general of the National Islamic Front, and in 1964, he was the secretary general of the Islamic Charter Front, the Sudanese branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. He received a B.A. in law from Khartoum University in 1955, a B.A. in law and Master of Laws from London University in 1957 and a Ph.D. in constitutional law from the Sorbonne in 1964. Born in 1932 in Kassala, Sudan, he now resides in Khartoum.


Hassan al-Turabi has undertaken what can be viewed as experiments in Islamism. A thinker-cum-politician, Turabi exhibited both radicalism and realism in his political roles, ultimately failing to reconcile his vision for a progressively Islamized society with the reality of Islamist politics.

EXCERPT (Translated)

We are in disarray today because we were idle for decades. Tradition held us hostage and we lacked the religious elements in modernity. Thus, we notice now that reality is distant from the ideal. I do not call, however, for an abrupt revival of Islam since it would appear as a heretic revolution to the religious leaders, as well as to the tradition’s pawns.            

Islamic thought and action are being revived and renewed but we must acknowledge the past and unequivocally connect life’s reality to the fundamentals of Islamic theology so as not to render our Islam a mere declaration of faith that continues to distance itself from reality….

I welcome Ijtihad by the citizens. When the process of Ijtihad becomes intense and the number of Mujtahid[s] increases, regulations get updated and a distinction is made between what is authoritative and inaccurate.

–Hassan al-Turabi, "On Ijtihad,"Elaf, August 3, 2008

EXCERPT (Original in Arabic- Link)

اصابتنا الآن الاضطرابات لأننا ركنا عهوداً إلى الجمود ونجد الآن مسافة بين الواقع والمثال إذ رهننا القديم وتخلّفنا ديناً إزاء الجديد  .   لكني لا أدعو إلى التجديد دفعة واحدة ليبدو كأنه ثورة ابتداع لأهل الدين لاسيما للمرهونين للقديم  .   إن الفكر الإسلامي والعمل الإسلامي أخذ يحيا ويتجدّد، ولكن ينبغي أن نستدرك الفوات ونصل واقع الحياة أبداً مع أصول الدين حتى لا يكون ديننا مسلمين شهادةً وبينه وبين الواقع مساحة تمضي مضطردة السعة.


   فأنا أدعو أن نطلق الاجتهاد للناس فإذا اشتد الاجتهاد وكثر المجتهدون تتجدد الضوابط ويمايزون بين  المنلفت والقويم