Black History Month – Ali Abd al-Raziq

Ali Abdel Raziq (1888-1966) was an Egyptian Islamic scholar and sharia judge. 

An early modernist he was chiefly concerned with the role and nature of the caliphate in Muslim society.

His main work is called “Islam and the Foundations of Governance” (Al-Islam Wa Usul Al-Hukm) and was first published in 1925. Due to its controversial standpoints regarding the necessity of the caliphate and religious government, the book triggered an intellectual and political battle in Egypt.

He concludes that since there was no basis for the caliphate in either the Qur’an or in the Hadith there may not be anything un-Islamic about not having it either (but nor is there anything un-Islamic about having a caliphate). In essence he claims that the Muslims may agree on any kind of government, be it religious or worldly, as long as it serves the interest and common welfare of their society.  

Ali Abd al-Raziq went a bit further than this, however, and recounting the horrors of the caliphate, among other things, also argued that religion should not be involved in government or politics. It is exactly this separation that is supposed to protect the religion from political misuse and to enforce morals.

He thus adopted what was essentially a secular approach to politics – there might not be a problem with religious values forming the backdrop to political debate, but he opposed the use of religion as the sole determining factor in political decisions. He was thus a defender of the separation of mosque and state for Islamic nations, a fact which earned him a great deal of opposition from traditionalist scholars and jurists.

From Wikipedia (I know!) and About.com

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