The History of Islamic Political Thought: From the Prophet to the Present

The History of Islamic Political Thought: From the Prophet to the Present

The History of Islamic Political Thought: From the Prophet to the Present

The History of Islamic Political Thought: From the Prophet to the Present


This book provides a complete history of Islamic political thought from early Islam (c.622-661) to the present.

This comprehensive overview describes and interprets all schools of Islamic political thought, their origins, inter-connections and meaning. It examines the Qur'an, the early Caliphate, classical Islamic philosophy, and the political culture of the Ottoman and other empires. Major thinkers such as Averroes (Ibn Rushd) and Ibn Taymiyya are covered as well as numerous lesser authors, and Ibn Khaldun is presented as one of the most original political theorists ever. It draws on a wide range of sources including writings on religion, law, philosophy and statecraft expressed in treatises, handbooks and political rhetoric.

The new edition analyses the connections between religion and politics, covering the most recent developments in Islamic political thought and the current historical scholarship. It ends with a critical survey of reformism (or modernism) and Islamism (or fundamentalism) from the late nineteenth century up to the present day. In this, the only book to cover the whole of Islamic political thought, past and present.

Key Features of the Second Edition:-Revised and updated throughout-A new final section on Islam and the West-New bibliographies of primary and secondary sources


This aspires to be a complete history of Islamic political thought from the beginning (c.622) to the present. It aims to be both a description and an interpretation. I have explored the milieu, meaning and significance of thinkers, ideas and political cultures. This work encompasses religion, law, ethics, philosophy and statecraft. These have been expressed in systematic treatises, occasional writings, official rhetoric and popular slogans.

The history of Islamic political thought is a gripping story in its own right. Up to now it has been neglected by all but a few specialists. Islam was, and is, one of the most powerful means of explaining human life and giving meaning to our activity. As a political ideology, it has motivated, and still motivates, individuals and groups. It is especially important today because, rightly or wrongly, it is perceived as the antagonist of Western values. Yet little attention has been paid to the history of Islamic political thought. one cannot understand political Islam today without understanding where it is coming from. Political and social movements within contemporary Islam are at least partly grounded on ideas; ideas based on historical precedents and earlier models.

The present volume was conceived as the first stage in a systematic comparison between the histories of Western and Islamic political thought. This seemed to be the best way forward if one wanted to throw new light on why either tradition developed in the way that it did. The rationale, indeed urgency, of such comparison is further discussed in the Introduction (see also Black 2009). I have attempted to consummate this undertaking in The West and Islam: Religion and Political Thought in World History (2008). In recent years, comparative political thought has become increasingly popular. Sometimes it means little more than incorporating non-Western ideas and authors into the study of political theory (Dallmayr 2010) – an admirable enterprise, but not strictly comparative, ‘multi-cultural’ rather than inter-cultural.

There are several reasons why a second edition is necessary. The first edition was published in July 2001. Since the jihadist attack on the United States in September 2001, there have been developments in Muslim political thought that need to be seen in a broad historical context. I have attempted to incorporate the new trends in Islamic political thinking, reformist no less than Islamist. The relationship between Islamic and Western political thinking has become a matter of urgency.

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