Islamic Ethics and the Trusteeship Paradigm
ISLAMIC ETHICS AND THE TRUSTEESHIP PARADIGM
A Reflective Contextualization
Mohammed Hashas and Mutaz al-Khatib
The question of whether there are theories in Islamic ethics1 does not differ much from the similar question of whether there is an Islamic philosophy.
This issue was first raised by some 18th and 19th-century European Orientalists—à la Johann Jakob Brucker (1696–1770), Wilhelm Gottlieb Tennemann (1761–1819), and Ern- est Renan (1823–1892) (ʿAbd al-Rāziq  2011, 8)—and has been revisited by a number of ongoing studies, particularly since the modern edition and publication of various manuscripts originally written in the classical period (before the 19th century) by various Muslim and non-Muslim scholars in and from different Islamic contexts—the Arabic, Persian, Ottoman, Indian and Malay contexts—where philosophy did not die out as a discipline, as the claim has gone for some good time (El-Rouayheb and Schmidtke 2017, 1–7).
A review of classical Qurʾanic exegeses shows that neither the exegetes have been concerned with building theories of ethics based on the Qurʾan (al-Khaṭīb 2017), nor have Muslim scholars in general, even though the sacred text is all about ethics (Rah- man 1982, 154–155).
It was the challenge of modernity that required revisiting the Islamic tradition in search of Islamic philosophy or Arab(ic) philosophy as some prefer to call it (Ṣalībā 1989, 9–11).
The avant-guardist thinkers of the so-called Arab-Islamic nahḍa (awakening or renaissance) of the 19th century, like Rifaʿa Rafiʿ al-Tahtawi (1801–1873), Jamal al-Din al-Afghani (1838–1897) and Muhammad Abduh (1849–1905), did not deal with this question of ethics as contemporary scholars do. Instead, they focalized the question of reason and rationality at the time.
The colonial context did not help them to develop modern theories of ethics, nor to delve into the vast heritage of the tradition to find ethical starting points from where to build and inspire ethical responses to the challenges of modern times.
However, new arguments to consider the Qurʾan to be a philosophical and ethical text have emerged from the mid-20th century