Islamic foundations for a social contract in non-muslim liberal democracies

In this article I take up John Rawls's invitation to investigate the capacity of a given comprehensive ethical doctrine to endorse on principled grounds the liberal terms of social cooperation. In the case of Islamic political ethics, however, far more is at stake in affirming citizenship in a (non-Muslim) liberal democracy than state neutrality and individual autonomy. Islamic legal and political traditions have traditionally held that submission to non-Muslim political authority and bonds of loyalty and solidarity with non-Muslim societies are to be avoided. In this article, I examine the Islamic foundations for affirming on principled grounds residence, political obligation and loyalty to a non-Muslim state. My research shows not only that such grounds exist even in classical Islamic legal discourses, but also that the concerns of Islamic scholars vindicate political liberalism's claim to successfully accommodate the adherents of certain non-liberal doctrines by refraining from proclaiming controversial metaphysical truth-claims.
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