MAUDUDI, QUTB, AND
Humanity and History
If in conversation we wish to seek, as Gadamer describes, a “fusion of horizons,” we must understand each other as people who have reasons for thinking as we do. We must accept each other first and foremost as people who come from backgrounds with unique histories and traditions. We must see the other as having a human face. Humanizing the authors of foreign ideas minimizes the objectification that prevents genuine dialogue from occurring.
Although one can certainly read the works of Islamic religious scholars without knowledge of their individual histories or of the environments in which they write, awareness of their backgrounds and the issues of their times often results in a more profound reading of their texts. Situating the personal biographies of Maududi, Qutb, and Soroush within the larger context of politics, economics, and society reminds us of their very human concerns. Because they write to address problems facing Muslims, a grasp of relevant political, economic, and social crises helps to elucidate why they choose to write about specific topics and offer particular recommendations.
The writings of these contemporary Islamic thinkers concerning human rights draw implicitly on the history of Islamic thought and politics.1 The promise of human rights arises in large part due to the understanding of historical circumstance that leads up to contemporary