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Faith or Reason?: The Shi'ite Tradition of Political Ideas in the Light of the Theological Debate
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
2010 (English)In: European Journal of Economic and Political Studies, ISSN 1307-6000, Vol. 3, no 1, 143-161 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The 11th February, 2010 marked the commemoration of the thirty-first anniversary of the Islamic revolution in Iran. In 1979, the Shi‛ite Islamists assumed power there. Since then, Shi‛a politics has played a dominant role in the development of both Iran and several other countries in the Middle East. This has included the restructuring of the political map in Iraq since the fall of the dictator Saddam Hussein, which has meant that Shi‛ite political parties and leading Shi‛ite scribes play a decisive role in the politics of the country, as well as the dominant role of Hizbollah in the Lebanon. Shi‛ite groups in a number of countries supporting a Sunni majority have also moved more to the fore.

 

The development that has taken place in Shi‛a dominated areas over the last three decades is seen to be based on a Shi‛ite tradition of political ideas which has emerged during the 1400 year history of Shi‛a Islam. One feature of this development has been the predominant role of the scribes in politics, and their regard for a tradition of political ideas which excludes any sharp distinction between the state/politics and religion. The question is whether this picture agrees with the view held by Shi‛ite thinkers regarding the relationship between the state and religion. A backward glance at Shi‛a history reveals that no shared view exists among Shi‛ite scholars on the subject of politics and this particular relationship. Seen from a history of ideas perspective, it is not possible to speak about an unchanged metahistorical-political discourse which must have coloured all political thought throughout Shi‛a history. We find, rather, a broad spectrum of different views among Shi‛ite scholars, whose most apparent feature has been that of being shaped and changed by way of interaction with social and political conditions in Shi‛a dominated regions. These views include revolutionary radicalism, realpolitik thought and political quietism, or abstinence. The differences between them can be found in the prevailing political and historical circumstances of long ago, but the question is whether this model of explanation suffices for making clear why one group of Shi‛ite scholars should be drawn towards revolutionary radicalism while another sought out quietism - abstinence from politics - and yet another pursued realpolitik thought. Another question is whether, aside from the influence of social, historical and political structures and relations, a closer look should also be taken at the importance of the tradition of theological interpretation. Did, for example, the view of the relationship between faith and reason play any part in this context?

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Istanbul: Fatih University, The Graduate School of Social Sciences , 2010. Vol. 3, no 1, 143-161 p.
Keyword [en]
Shi'ite Political Theory, Islamic Law, Jurists, Muslim Politics
National Category
History of Ideas
Research subject
History Of Sciences and Ideas
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-38845OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-38845DiVA: diva2:382954
Available from: 2011-02-15 Created: 2011-01-03 Last updated: 2011-02-15Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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