Revival, reform, and reason in Islam : Alfarabi on the proper relationship between religion and politics

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2018-10-09

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Siddiqi, Ahmed Ali

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Abstract

This dissertation applies the teachings of Alfarabi to the debate between Muslim revivalists and reformists. Reviewing selected works of Khomeini, Maududi, and Qutb, I argue that Islamist revivalism constitutes a fundamental challenge to rational political science insofar as the former demands subordinating reason to revelation. Next, through a critical analysis of several liberal Muslim theorists, I show that these leading reformists fail to vindicate the role of reason in political matters and therefore leave the Islamist challenge unmet. I subsequently turn to Alfarabi's "Book of Religion" (Kitāb al-Milla) with an emphasis on the philosopher's treatment of political science. In doing so, I find that Alfarabi is able to offer a far more compelling response than the liberals to that view of piety on which the Islamist position depends. I therefore suggest that it is Alfarabi, above all, who points modern scholars toward the necessary theoretical foundations of any successful intellectual engagement with Islamism.

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