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The revival and power of religious feelings among Muslims since the Iranian revolution presents a complicated and often perplexing picture of the politics of modern Islam. What are the ideas which have influenced the direction of these trends? Here, Hamis Enayat provides an answer by describing and interpreting some of the major Islamic political ideas, especially those expressed by Iranians and Egyptians, as well as thinkers from Pakistan, India, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq.
He examines the political differences between the two main schools in Islam - Shi'ism and Sunnism. If you belong to such an institution, please log in or find out more about how to order. For Islamic thought, the problem of modernity is inseparable from the problem of the relative power imbalance between the West and the lands of Islam.
Political aspects of Islam
All of the main debates which form the contours of modern Islamic political thought — the relative status of reason versus revelation, the immutability versus the reformability of Islamic law, the moral status of national or regional versus pan-Islamic political membership, the status of non-Muslim states and relationships with non-Muslims, the legitimacy of democratic forms of rule, the laws of warfare and political violence, the place of technology — have taken place in reaction to Western ascendancy and hegemony.
For the purposes of studying Islamic political thought it is therefore appropriate to date the onset of modernity as late as the mid-nineteenth century. We may thus mark the beginning of a distinctly modern Islamic political intellectual tradition with the school of Islamic Modernism. This movement represents the first attempt to deal with the challenge of Western ascendancy in a non-traditionalist or purely conservative manner.
While Islamic Modernism never succeeded in creating a mass political consciousness or defending a coherent intellectual and political position between outright secularism and Islamic revivalism, it marks the break between late medieval traditionalism and twentieth-century Islamic fundamentalism. Islamic Modernism emerged as an elite movement in the later part of the nineteenth century as an attempt to bridge Islamic theological and epistemological commitments with Western modernity.
It was an attempt both to rehabilitate Islam as a source of knowledge, identity and inspiration for Muslims, and to allow Muslims to incorporate those cultural and intellectual aspects of European modernity seen as necessary for competing with Western political and economic power. East Asian Studies Ph.
Modern Islamic Political Thought
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