The Muslim question continues to vex the world. The answers to this question come in many forms: public policy, academic analysis as well as sensationalist headlines. This book presents a philosophical take on the Muslim question. In doing so, it explores some of the philosophical assumptions that frame the way in which the rise of Muslim political identity throughout the planet presents challenges which are not only cultural and geopolitical but also conceptual. In a series of reflections, Islamism as Philosophy teases out some of the complexities of the emergence of Muslim political identities, complexities which are often covered up by the latest screaming headline. This book argues that a world in which a quarter of the population seems increasingly conscious of its "Muslimness" cannot be peaceful or harmonious or just without careful attention being paid to the Muslim question. Islamism as Philosophy's opening gambit is that increasing consciousness of the Muslim is neither superficial nor transitory and as such requires rigorous and serious consideration. If the Muslim Awakening is a wave of world historical import akin to the emergence of nationalism in the 19th and 20th century, then the choices that present themselves are either to try and roll back the tide or learn to surf.
This book deals with the concept of post-Islamism from a mainly philosophical perspective, using political liberalism as elaborated by John Rawls as the key interpretive tool. What distinguishes this book from most scholarship in Iranian studies is that it primarily deals with the projects of Iranian intellectuals from a normative perspective as the concept is understood by analytical philosophers. The volume includes analyses of the strengths and weakness of the arguments underlying each thinker’s ideas, rather than looking for their historical and sociological origins, genealogy, etc. Each chapter develops a particular conjectural argument for the possibility of an overlapping consensus between Islam and political liberalism, though the arguments presented draw upon different Islamic, particularly Shia, resources. Thus, while Shabestari and Soroush primarily reason from a modernist theological or kalami perspective, M.H.Tabatabai and Mehdi Haeri Yazdi’s arguments are mainly based on traditional Islamic philosophy and Quranic exegesis. While Kadivar, An-Naim and Fanaei are post-Islamist in the exact sense of the term, Malekian goes beyond typical post-Islamism by proposing a theory for spirituality that constrains religion within the boundaries of enlightenment thought. Throughout the book, specific attention is given to Ferrara and March’s readings of political liberalism. Although the book’s chapters constitute a whole, they can also be read independently if the reader is only curious about particular intellectuals whose political theories are discussed.
This comprehensive survey of contemporary Islam provides a philosophical and theological approach to the issues faced by Muslims and the question of global secularisation. Engaging with critics of modern Islam, Shabbir Akhtar sets out an agenda of what his religion is and could be as a political entity. Exploring the views and arguments of philosophical, religious and political thinkers, the author covers a raft of issues faced by Muslims in an increasingly secular society. Chapters are devoted to the Qur’an and Islamic literature; the history of Islam; Sharia law; political Islam; Islamic ethics; and political Islam’s evolving relationship with the West. Recommending changes which enable Muslims to move from their imperial past to a modest role in the power structures of today’s society, Akhtar offers a detailed assessment of the limitations and possibilities of Islam in the modern world. Providing a vision for an empowered yet rational Islam that distances itself from both Islamist factions and Western secularism, this book is an essential read for students and scholars of Islamic studies, religion, philosophy and politics.
This book reflects upon the political philosophy of Muhammad Iqbal, a towering intellectual figure in South Asian history, revered by many for his poetry and his thought. He lived in India in the twilight years of the British Empire and, apart from a short but significant period studying in the West, he remained in Punjab until his death in 1938. The book studies Iqbal's critique of nationalist ideology and his attempts to chart a path for the development of the 'nation' by liberating it from the centralizing and homogenizing tendencies of the modern state structure. Iqbal frequently clashed with his contemporaries over his view of nationalism as 'the greatest enemy of Islam'. He constructed his own particular interpretation of Islam - forged through an interaction with Muslim thinkers and Western intellectual traditions - that was ahead of its time, and since his death both modernists and Islamists have continued to champion his legacy.
This book advances an Islamic political philosophy based on the concept of Ihsan, which means to do beautiful things. The author moves beyond the dominant model of Islamic governance advanced by modern day Islamists. The political philosophy of Ihsan privileges process over structure, deeds over identity, love over law and mercy and forgiveness over retribution. The work invites Muslims to move away from thinking about the form of Islamic government and to strive to create a self-critical society that defends national virtue and generates institutions and practices that provide good governance.
An incisive analysis of Islamist movements in the Middle East A political, social, and cultural battle is currently raging in the Middle East. On one side are the Islamists, those who believe Islam should be the region's primary identity. In opposition are nationalists, secularists, royal families, military establishments, and others who view Islamism as a serious threat to national security, historical identity, and a cohesive society. This provocative, vitally important work explores the development of the largest, most influential Islamic groups in the Middle East over the past century. Tarek Osman examines why political Islam managed to win successive elections and how Islamist groups in various nations have responded after ascending to power. He dissects the alliances that have formed among Islamist factions and against them, addressing the important issues of Islamism's compatibility with modernity, with the region's experiences in the twentieth century, and its impact on social contracts and minorities. He explains what Salafism means, its evolution, and connections to jihadist groups in the Middle East. Osman speculates on what the Islamists' prospects for the future will mean for the region and the rest of the world.
The Symbolic Scenarios of Islamism initiates a dialogue between the discourse of three of the most discussed figures in the history of the Sunni Islamic movement - Hasan al-Banna, Sayyid Qutb and Osama bin Laden - and contemporary debates across religion and political theory. Redressing the inefficiency of the terms in which the debate on Islam and Islamism is generally conducted, the book examines the role played by tradition, modernity, and transmodernity as major ‘symbolic scenarios’ of Islamist discourses, highlighting the internal complexity and dynamism of Islamism.
The Power of Sovereigntyexplores the religio-political and philosophical concepts of Sayyid Qutb, one of the most influential political thinkers for contemporary Islamists and who has greatly influenced the likes of Osama Bin Laden. Executed by the Egyptian state in 1966, his books continue to be read and his theory of jahiliyya ‘ignorance’ is still of prime importance for radical Islamic groups. Providing a detailed perspective of Sayyid Qutb’s writings, this book examines: the relation between the specifics of the concept of hakimiyyah and that of jahiliyyah the force and intent of these two concepts how Qutb employs their specifics to critically assess the political establishments like nationalism and capitalism the influence of the two concepts on Egypt’s radical Islamic movements, where many of al’Qa’ida’s lieutenants, officers, ideologues and conspirators were fomented Shedding light on Islamic radicalism and its intellectual origins The Power of Sovereigntypresents new analysis on the intellectual legacy of one of the most important thinkers of modern Islamic revival.