Original Research

Hasan Hanafi, New Theology, and Cultural Revolution: An Analysis of Cultural Intensification

Fadlil M. Manshur
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 77, No 4 | a6190 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v77i4.6190 | © 2021 Fadlil Munawwar Manshur | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 June 2020 | Published: 12 February 2021

About the author(s)

Fadlil M. Manshur, Department of Language and Literature, Faculty of Cultural Studies, Gadjah Mada Universitas, Yogyakarta, Indonesia


In the perspective of Hasan Hanafi, the renewal of Islamic thought in the Arab world must produce a new concept of theology and present a cultural revolution. A new theology must be developed through a progressive life perspective rooted in liberation and social justice. It is intended to free Arab–Islamic society from regression and fragmentation, producing a society that is just, prosperous, and civilized. The renewal of Islamic thought must be progressive to ensure it can produce a cultural revolution that can create a populistic social and ideological structure in Arab life, thereby ensuring that the faithful are intelligent, modern, and have a high level of social solidarity. This study is guided by the theory of cultural intensification, which emphasizes that the relations between individuals and society are rooted in sociological, psychological, and theological challenges, and holds that social and divine laws are intended to promote a personal/collective emotional involvement in social life. The analysis emphasizes the relationship between Hasan Hanafi, as an individual, with general Arab society, with a focus on his understanding of social challenges, the psychological condition of Arab society, and classical theology. This study indicates that the Arab–Islamic world requires a new theology, one that is anthropocentric, populistic, and transformative, which remains grounded and oriented towards the realization of prosperity and social justice. Cultural revolution, meanwhile, offers a liberational ideology for the subjugated as well as legitimization for every social struggle. It also holds that no entity that exists on its own, without any humanitarian context, has meaning; there is only a correlational truth connecting objective reality and universal human values. As such, new theology—in conjunction with cultural revolution—can radically transform the orientation of Arab–Islamic thought from static, passive, and traditional to progressive and oppositional. In doing so, it can offer liberation and social justice.

Contribution: This article provides intelectual framework to dissect Hasan Hanafi’s new theological ideas by using cultural perspective, particularly cultural intensification theory, as well as work praxis in effort to build democratic, egalitarian, just, equality before the law, and uphold human rights of Muslim society.


New theology; cultural revolution; liberation; social justice; populism; contemporary reality


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