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The Political Language of Islam pdf

The Political Language of Islam by Bernard Lewis
Book Title The Political Language Of Islam
Book AuthorBernard Lewis
Total Pages171
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The Political Language of Islam by Bernard Lewis

The Political Language of Islam

Book Contents

  • Note on Transcription
  • Metaphor and Allusion
  • The Politic
  • The Rulers and the Ruled
  • War and Peace
  • The Limits of Obedience
  • Notes

For centuries, one of the most notable aspects of Islamic civilization has been the fusion of religion and politics. Unlike in the Western world, where there is a clear separation between church and state, this distinction did not exist in classical Islam. Instead, Islam encompassed all aspects of life, including governance. This unique feature of Islamic civilization has left an indelible mark on the Muslim world and continues to shape its political landscape today.

The Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979 serves as a vivid example of the inseparability of religion and politics in the Muslim world. This revolution was not merely a political upheaval; it was a religious movement led by clerics who aimed to establish a true Islamic order. For Muslims, the revolution was not just a change in government; it was a profound transformation of their entire society, deeply rooted in their faith.

The influence of such revolutions extends far beyond the borders of the countries where they occur. Just as the French and Russian Revolutions resonated with people across Europe and the Christian world, the Iranian Revolution had a global impact within the broader Islamic culture. Muslims in distant regions, from Southeast Asia to western Africa, watched with keen interest and often expressed solidarity with the Iranian revolutionaries. This demonstrates the interconnectedness of the Muslim world and the power of Islam as a unifying force.

To understand this phenomenon, we must recognize that in Islam, there is no dichotomy between the spiritual and the temporal. Unlike in Christendom, where there has always been a distinction between church and state, Islam traditionally recognized a single authority that governed both religious and secular matters. This fusion of religious and political authority was so profound that, in classical Arabic and related languages, there were no distinct words for “spiritual” and “temporal,” “lay” and “ecclesiastical,” or “religious” and “secular.”

It was only in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, under Western influence, that Muslims began to introduce new terminology to express the concept of the secular. Even today, there is no direct Muslim equivalent to “the Church” as an ecclesiastical organization. The terms used for places of worship, such as “mosque,” denote physical buildings rather than abstract institutions.

This fundamental difference in the conceptualization of religion and governance has significant implications for the political identity and loyalty of Muslims. The idea of a secular jurisdiction, a realm beyond the scope of religious law and authority, is viewed as a betrayal of Islam by many. Islamic revolutionaries and fundamentalists are driven by a mission to rectify what they perceive as a deviation from true Islamic principles.

This worldview is not limited to revolutionaries; it also characterizes the political landscape of many Muslim-majority countries. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), an international group of more than forty Muslim governments, exemplifies this shared identity. Despite their differences in governance, ideology, and alignment with Western or Eastern powers, these countries come together under the banner of Islam to address common concerns and advocate for their shared values on the international stage.

In contrast to other religious groups, Muslims have a unique political relevance that transcends national borders. Their shared religious identity and sense of political purpose make them a potent force in global politics. This is a testament to the enduring impact of Islam on the intersection of religion and politics, a legacy that continues to shape the Muslim world’s political landscape in the twenty-first century.

Bernard Lewis, a renowned historian and Islamicist, explores these intricate dynamics in “The Political Language of Islam.” Drawing on his deep expertise, Lewis delves into the historical roots of Islam’s political language, shedding light on how religion and politics have been intertwined throughout Islamic history. He examines the terminology, metaphors, and allusions used in the Islamic political discourse, providing valuable insights for both specialists in Islam and those interested in the broader topics of history and politics.

In the following chapters of this book, Lewis takes readers on a journey through the multifaceted relationship between religion and politics in Islam. He explores the metaphorical expressions and allusions that have shaped Islamic political thought and actions over the centuries. These concepts touch upon crucial aspects of governance, including the structure of authority, the relationship between rulers and the ruled, the conduct of war and peace, and the limits of obedience.

As you delve deeper into the pages of “The Political Language of Islam,” you will gain a profound understanding of how religion and politics have been inextricably linked in the Islamic world. Whether you are a historian, a political scientist, or simply curious about the intricate interplay of faith and governance, this book offers a comprehensive exploration of a topic that continues to shape our world today.

Bernard Lewis, the Cleveland B. Dodge Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University and Director of the Annenberg Research Institute, brings his unparalleled expertise to illuminate the complex terrain where religion and politics converge in Islam. With meticulous research and insightful analysis, Lewis provides a valuable resource for anyone seeking to comprehend the intricate tapestry of Islamic political thought and practice.

The terms discussed in this book are taken from the three major languages of Middle Eastern Islam, Arabic, Persian, and Turkish. Many of them, most but not all of Arabic origin are shared by more than one language. Like the Greco-Roman words used in the languages of Europe, these terms have changed form, pronunciation, and sometimes even meaning in their migration from one language to another. In transcribing Arabic and Persian, the author used the system of transliteration of the Encyclopedia of Islam..

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