A Religion, Not a State: Ali 'Abd al-Raziq's Islamic justification of Political Secularism

A Religion, Not a State: Ali 'Abd al-Raziq's Islamic justification of Political Secularism

by Souad T Ali

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Utah Series in Middle East Studies

In this notable work, Souad T. Ali examines the seminal writings of Egyptian reformist scholar Ali'Abd al-Raziq, often regarded as the intellectual father of Islamic secularism, and his controversial argument that the caliphate should be considered a human innovation, rather than a religious imperative. 'Abd al Raziq contended that Islam is "a religion, not a state; a message, not a government," a major departure from the traditional view that religious and political spheres are intertwined and inseparable in Islam.

Opponents denounced 'Abd al-Raziq's ideas as a foreign corruption imported from the West.  Ali's careful, objective, and scholarly examination of 'Abd al-Raziq's work, however, reveals that his arguments are not based in Western thought.  Rather, they sit firmly within the dictates of Islam's sacred texts, particularly the Quran and Hadith, and also enjoy considerable support from the historical record.

This analysis critically challenges prevalent misinterpretations of Islam that have endured for centuries.  Ali recognizes the varied models and discourses that have arisen throughout different epochs, especially so the role that Western intervention has played in placing the question of Islam's modernity at the forefront of intellectual debate.  Throughout, the study emphasizes the atmosphere of openness and tolerance that is a requisite for free, intelligent debate.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781607819516
Publisher: University of Utah Press
Publication date: 08/31/2010
Series: Utah Series in Turkish and Islamic Stud
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 192
File size: 17 MB
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About the Author

Souad T. Ali is an assistant professor of Arabic and Middle East and Islamic Studies and head of Classics and Middle East Letters and Cultures at the School of International Letters and Cultures at Arizona State University. She has recently been named a Fulbright Scholar. 

Table of Contents

Table of Contents:

Note on Transliteration
1. Introduction: Background and Overview
2. Classical Juristic Theories of the Caliphate: From Idealism to Accommodationism
3. The Caliphate in the Colonial Era
4. Ali ‘Abd al-Raziq’s Position
5. The Central Argument
6. The Ruling System in the Time of the Prophet
7. Critiques of ‘Abd al-Raziqu’s Position
8. The Implications of ‘Abd al-Raziq’s Study for the Debate over Islam and Politics
Selected Bibliography

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