In this paper, I explore the concept of applied Islamicethics, the facts, its challenges, and its future. I aim to highlight some of the deep-rooted issues that Muslims have faced historically and continue to experience today as they apply religious guidance to their daily lives. I consider the causes and rationale behind the current situation and look beyond to suggest ways in which this may evolve, calling for a radical reform. Muslims throughout the world are experiencing a (...) deepening crisis of identity and confusion about their faith's principles and practices. I suggest how improvements might be achieved, in order to gain more coherence and understanding. This approach recognizes the importance of inviting an in-depth, deliberate analysis of relevant dialogues between religious experts of the text (scholars) and practitioners, those working at the grassroots. This approach remains faithful to the fundamental principles of the Islamic sources but also considers our present context. I recommend a shift in authority from scholars alone to a more inclusive, critical engagement of practitioners. Through this more comprehensive methodology of applied Islamicethics, I suggest that Muslim communities, organizations, and individuals can remain faithful to their religious principles while, at the same time, actively participating in and contributing to our evolving societies. While I recognize that this will be a long process, I am confident that with applied Islamicethics, the current feelings of confusion, self-doubt, and even apathy, given the previous failed processes of adaptation and reform, will give way to a new confidence in knowing how to address contemporary challenges. (shrink)
This volume collects the published essays of the late Professor Hourani on Islamicethics in the earlier classical and formative periods of Islamic civilisation. Ethics was from the start at the core of Islam, and the construction of philosophical theories to support normative ethics made those centuries among the most profound and intensely active in the history of ethical thought. The book opens with two general and contextual pieces and thereafter it is organised by schools (...) of thought in a broadly chronological order. The essays centre around two related debates in Islamic philosophy: over the ontological status of value, and over the sources of our knowledge of value. The answers developed follow similar lines to the rational theology and philosophy of the West, and Professor Hourani brings out the frequent parallels. As a whole, the volume will introduce and establish the importance of the Islamic tradition of thought about ethics. (shrink)
As global business operations expand, managers need more knowledge of foreign cultures, in particular, information on the ethics of doing business across borders. The purpose of this paper is twofold: (1) to share the Islamic perspective on business ethics, little known in the west, which may stimulate further thinking and debate on the relationships between ethics and business, and (2) to provide some knowledge of Islamic philosophy in order to help managers do business in Muslim (...) cultures. The case of Egypt illustrates some divergence between Islamic philosophy and practice in economic life. The paper concludes with managerial implications and suggestions for further research. (shrink)
Lynn White’s seminal article on the historical roots of the ecological crisis, which inspired radical environmentalism, has cast suspicion upon religion as the source of modern anthropocentrism. To pave the way for a viable Islamic environmental ethics, charges of anthropocentrism need to be faced and rebutted. Therefore, the bulk of this paper will seek to establish the non- anthropocentric credentials of Islamic thought. Islam rejects all forms of anthropocentrism by insisting upon a transcendent God who is utterly (...) unlike His creation. Humans share the attribute of being God’s creations with all other beings, which makes them internally related to every other being, indeed to every single entity in this universe. This solves the problem that radical environmentalism has failed to solve, namely, how to define our relation with nature and other beings without dissolving our specificity. Furthermore, Islamicethics structures human relations strictly around the idea of limiting desires. The resulting ethico-legal synthesis, made workable by a pragmatic legal framework, can sustain a justifiable use of nature and its resources without exploiting them. The exploitation of nature is inherently linked to the exploitation of one’s self and of fellow human beings. Such exploitation, according to Qur’anic wisdom, is the direct result of ignoring the divine law and the ethics of dealing with self and “other.” Only by reverting to the divine law and ethics can exploitation be overcome. The paper ends by briefly considering possible objections and challenges vis-à-vis developing a philosophically viable yet religiously oriented environmental ethics. (shrink)
International marketing practices, embedded in a strong ethical doctrine, can play a vital role in raising the standards of business conduct worldwide, while in no way compromising the quality of services or products offered to customers, or surrendering the profit margins of businesses. Adherence to such ethical practices can help to elevate the standards of behavior and thus of living, of traders and consumers alike. Against this background, this paper endeavors to identify the salient features of the Islamic framework (...) of International Marketing Ethics. In particular, it highlights the capabilities and strengths of this framework in creating and sustaining a strong ethical international marketing culture. At the heart of Islamic marketing is the principle of value-maximization based on equity and justice (constituting just dealing and fair play) for the wider welfare of the society. Selected key international marketing issues are examined from an Islamic perspective which, it is argued, if adhered to, can help to create a value-loaded global ethical marketing framework for MNCs in general, and establish harmony and meaningful cooperation between international marketers and Muslim target markets in particular. (shrink)
Using the example of contemporary Islamic fundamentalism, and especially the writings of Sayyid Qutb, this article raises questions about discourse ethics as a mode of conflict resolution. It appears that discourse ethics is only relevant when all parties have already agreed to settle disputes deliberatively and already share the notions of rational deliberation and individual autonomy. This raises questions not only about the capability of discourse ethics to incorporate a deep plurality of worldviews, but also about (...) its capability to successfully solve disputes. When confronting situations where the willingness to deliberate is absent, discourse ethics is left standing empty handed. This, I argue, is due to both the conceptual distinction between communicative action and strategic action, as well as the abstracted nature of Habermas's discourse ethics. (shrink)
What kind of duty do we have to try to stop other people doing wrong? The question is intelligible in just about any culture, but few of them seek to answer it in a rigorous fashion. The most striking exception is found in the Islamic tradition, where 'commanding right' and 'forbidding wrong' is a central moral tenet already mentioned in the Koran. As an historian of Islam whose research has ranged widely over space and time, Michael Cook is well (...) placed to interpret this complex subject. His book represents the first sustained attempt to map the history of Islamic reflection on this obligation. It covers the origins of Muslim thinking about 'forbidding wrong', the relevant doctrinal developments over the centuries, and its significance in Sunni and Shi'ite thought today. In this way the book contributes to the understanding of Islamic thought, its relevance to contemporary Islamic politics and ideology, and raises fundamental questions for the comparative study of ethics. (shrink)
The role of the business leader is key to develop the culture of an enterprise. To exemplify its importance in the national and globalcontext, the Muslim author from Indonesia points with admiration to Konosuke Matsushita, founder of Matsushita Electric Corporation, who already in the 1930s set up the seven ethical principles for healthy business growth, which also are commended by the Islamic imperative. Due to the current dynamic business environment, Muslims find themselves confronted with serious dilemmas and need guidance (...) from a clearly developed Islamic business ethics. For this purpose the author offers, first, the essentials of such an ethics: the utmost importance of all sort of productive work and the distribution of wealth in society; the vocation of trade; the fundamental principles of freedom and justice for business conduct; the prescription of certain manners such as leniency, service-motive, and consciousness of Allah; and mutual consultation. He, then, presents his personal view on leadership in business. It involves three basic ingredients: an inspiring vision of high and achievable standards; a value system based on the principles of freedom and justice and promoting fairness, business integrity, and efficiency; and courage to face tough decisions while putting one’s complete trust in Allah. (shrink)
This essay focuses on three of Islam's best-known philosophers: Farabi, Avicenna, and Averroes. It sets forth and compares their ethical teaching on the following basic issues: (1) the relation of philosophy to religion, (2) the communal basis of ethics and the comcomitant role of statecraft, and (3) some specific charac- teristics of their ethical teaching. Throughout the essay the close connection of medieval Islamic with classical Greek philosophy is noted.
Machine generated contents note: 1. Spoken, intended and problematic divorce in Hanafi Fiqh; 2. Between person and property - slavery in Qudūrī's Mukhtasar; 3. Pig, purity and permission in Mālikī slaughter; 4. Islamic and other perspectives on evil; 5. The language of love in the Qur'ān; 6. Virtue and limits in the ethics of friendship 7. Drinking and drunkenness in Ibn Rushd.
In search of principles of health care in Islam -- Health and suffering -- Beginning of life -- Terminating early life -- Death and dying -- Organ donation and cosmetic enhancement -- Recent developments -- Epilogue.
Religion and work are seldom discussed. The two have caused scholars to question the religion’s role with work. This paper reviews research on the integrate between religion and work by examining issues of concept, definition, measurement, and reviewing research that examines the relationship of work and religion with respect to: different times, types of people, organize human interactions and sources of knowledge. We then discuss the methodological requirement for reintegrating work studies into social institutional theory and indicate what the conceptual (...) payoffs of such integration might be. These payoffs include breaking new conceptual ground, resolving theoretical puzzles and envisioning the nature of new social institutions. (shrink)
This essay focuses on the normative teachings of Islam. Justice, honesty, and public welfare are the pillars of Islamic business ethics. These values have two major roots: (1) belief in and devotion to Allah (God), and (2) the earthly trusteeship that grounds moral accountability. The business values of productivity, hard work, and excellence are encouraged. However, at the heart of various injunctions relating to business transactions are the imperatives of lawfulness, honesty, and fair play. Products or services must (...) be lawful, and produced in lawful ways causing no undue harm to others or to the environment. Competition, distribution, and consumption must be lawful as well. Lawful behavior is enforced by consciousness of Allah, supportive social norms, and government control. Islamic norms may not be uniformly or strictly followed, yet they provide a helpful background to practitioners andresearchers. (shrink)
The field of medicine provides an important window through which to examine the encounters between religion and science, and between modernity and tradition. While both religion and science consider health to be a ‘good’ that is to be preserved, and promoted, religious and science-based teachings may differ in their conception of what constitutes good health, and how that health is to be achieved. This paper analyzes the way the Islamic ethico-legal tradition assesses the permissibility of using vaccines that contain (...) porcine-derived components by referencing opinions of several Islamic authorities. In the Islamic ethico-legal tradition controversy surrounds the use of proteins from an animal (pig) that is considered to be impure by Islamic law. As we discuss the Islamic ethico-legal constructs used to argue for or against the use of porcine-based vaccines we will call attention to areas where modern medical data may make the arguments more precise. By highlighting areas where science can buttress and clarify the ethico-legal arguments we hope to spur an enhanced applied Islamic bioethics discourse where religious scholars and medical experts use modern science in a way that remains faithful to the epistemology of Islamicethics to clarify what Islam requires of Muslim patients and healthcare workers. (shrink)
Egypt, a less affluent, predominantly Muslim country, suffers from numerous forms of environmental pollution, some severe. This study investigates pro-environmental behaviors of citizens in Cairo, Egypt’s largest metropolis, and studies the relationship between pro-environmental behavior and demographic variables, beliefs, values, and religiosity. Analysis shows that three types of pro-environmental behavior are present: Public Sphere, Private Sphere, and Activist Behavior, with the latter occurring less frequently. Importantly, the study identifies an ecocentric value among respondents which is correlated with Public Sphere Behavior. (...) It also confirms earlier research that characterized Egyptians’ perceptions of the environment as being set in the context of health and cleanliness. Religious teachings and religiosity are shown to be associated with pro-environmental behavior, thus lending support to the presence of an Islamic environmental ethic. (shrink)
Recent political and social events as well as advances in science and technology have posed challenges to the traditional Muslim discourse on ethics. In this latest in the series of Occasional Papers produced by the Institute of Ismaili Studies, Amyn B. Sajoo examines these challenges, and through a critical analysis of the implications of emerging initiatives in political pluralism and civic culture, in bio-medicine and environmental conservatism, considers how the contours of public ethics in Islam may be redefined (...) to provide shared conceptions of the good in pluralist societies. (shrink)
I argue that Islam provides very efficient ethical principles for dealing with the present ecological crisis, a crisis rooted in moral deprivation. I reject the maximization of benefits from natural resources without giving due consideration to the adverse environmental impact of such actions, and argue that this practice is based on injustices generated by factors like greed, extravagance, and ignorance, among others. So far, Western solutions of such problems have generally been based purely on materialistic approaches which place emphasis (...) on secular technological models without any linkage with metaphysical doctrines. Islam recognizes that man by virtue of his creation is a superior being, one for the service of whom the Earth was created; but at the same time man has been made responsible for any departure inhis behavior from the ways laid down by Almighty Allah. Man’s activities, according to Islam, must be based on the idea that this world is a transitory abode, and that man has to gain God’s favor in order to be able to find a better place in the other world. Hence, man's actions, as manifestations of his faith, must be properly and effectively administered, requiring justice, Taqwa (piety), and appropriate knowledge and understanding of environmental problems. (shrink)
Islamic banking, based on the prohibition of interest, is well established throughout the Muslim world. Attention has now turned towards applying Islamic principles in equity markets. The search for alternatives to Western style markets has been given added impetus in Muslim countries by the turmoil in Asian financial markets in 1997. Common stocks are a legitimate form of instrument in Islam, but many of the practices associated with stock trading are not. In this paper the instruments traded and (...) the structure and practices of stock markets are examined from an Islamic perspective. Speculation is not acceptable in Islam and measures would have to be taken to control speculative trading. In addition short selling and margin trading are severely restricted. The use of stock index and equity futures and options are also unlikely to be acceptable within an Islamic market. Regulatory authorities in Muslim countries will therefore find a vast array of problems in attempting to structure a trading system that will be acceptable. (shrink)
Medieval Muslim scholars were challenged with squaring their conceptions of prophetic infallibility with reports that Muhammad disobeyed revelatory commands from God. The manner in which they rehabilitated the prophetic image in these cases had corresponding repercussions in the fields of jurisprudence, theology, and legal theory. The present article uses the case of Q. 8:67 to demonstrate the intertwined nature of the Islamic sciences and the stakes involved when delimiting the prophetic ability to err and/or disobey God.
The author examines the development of the concept of justice in Arabic philosophical ethics, which culminates in the attempt by Miskawayh to harmonize Plato's concept of what it means to be just with Aristotle's concept of acting justly. Miskawayh's contribution, which draws upon Neo-Platonic and Stoic authors of late antiquity, is shown to shed light on possible modes of interpreting the ethical doctrines of Plato and Aristotle and even to point the way to the solution of some exegetical problems (...) raised by contemporary scholars. (shrink)
We survey the meta-ethical tools and institutional processes that traditional Islamic ethicists apply when deliberating on bioethical issues. We present a typology of these methodological elements, giving particular attention to the meta-ethical techniques and devices that traditional Islamic ethicists employ in the absence of decisive or univocal authoritative texts or in the absence of established transmitted cases. In describing how traditional Islamic ethicists work, we demonstrate that these experts possess a variety of discursive tools. We find that (...) the ethical responsa—i.e., the products of the application of the tools that we describe—are generally characterized by internal consistency. We also conclude that Islamic ethical reasoning on bioethical issues, while clearly scripture-based, is also characterized by strong consequentialist elements and possesses clear principles-based characteristics. The paper contributes to the study of bioethics by familiarizing non-specialists in Islamicethics with the role, scope, and applicability of key Islamic ethical concepts, such as “aims” (maqāṣid), “universals” (kulliyyāt), “interest” (maṣlaḥa), “maxims” (qawā`id), “controls” (ḍawābit), “differentiators” (furūq), “preponderization” (tarjīḥ), and “extension” (tafrī`). (shrink)
Juridical councils that render rulings on bioethical issues for Muslims living in non-Muslim lands may have limited familiarity with the foundational concept of wilāyah (authority and governance) and its implications for their authority and functioning. This paper delineates a Sunni Māturīdi perspective on the concept of wilāyah, describes how levels of wilāyah correlate to levels of responsibility and enforceability, and describes the implications of wilāyah when applied to Islamic bioethical decision making. Muslim health practitioners and patients living in the (...) absence of political wilāyah may be tempted to apply pragmatic and context-focused approaches to address bioethical dilemmas without a full appreciation of significant implications in the afterlife. Academic wilāyah requires believers to seek authentication of uncertain actions through scholarly opinions. Fulfilling this academic obligation naturally leads to additional mutually beneficial discussions between Islamic scholars, healthcare professionals, and patients. Furthermore, an understanding derived from a Māturīdi perspective provides a framework for Islamic scholars and Muslim health care professionals to generate original contributions to mainstream bioethics and public policy discussions. (shrink)
Introduction -- Al-Rāzī's theory of action -- Al-Rāzī on the ethics of action -- Al-Rāzī's perfectionist theory of virture -- Al-Rāzī's later pessimism: commentary on Risālat Dhamm al-ladhdhāt -- Appendix: Risālat Dhamm ladhdhāt al-dunyā.
After tracing the main features of the foundational ethical perspectives and their relationship to the rise of medical practice in early Islam, the paper focusses on the development of the moral concept of adab . This concept served as an important tool in defining and shaping an ethical tradition based on the integration of the Hippocratic tradition into Muslim medicine and its underlying moral values. The existence of plural therapeutic systems and their moral and theological sources are also noted and (...) an attempt is made to show how all of these diverse modes co-existed through most of the premodern history of medicine among Muslims. The paper ends by outlining the impact the European colonial and cultural encounter with the World of Islam had, in creating a duality in medical practice, education and institutions, thus limiting sustained and meaningful discourse between modern medical science and the ethical values of Islam. Keywords: Islam, adab , justice, colonialism CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
The study proposed to investigate the effect of the Islamic work ethic on the perception of justice among employees in Islamic microfinance institutions in Indonesia. The construct of organisational justice included three dimensions, namely distributive, procedural, and interactional justice. The sample consisted of 370 employees from 60 Islamic microfinance institutions in Central Java, Indonesia. The results suggest that the Islamic work ethic positively contributes to the aforementioned three dimensions of the perception of justice. Implications, limitations, and (...) suggestions for future research are discussed. (shrink)
A dialogical approach to understanding Islamicethics rejects objectivist methods in favor of a conversational model in which participants accept each other as rational moral agents. Hans-Georg Gadamer asserts the importance of agreement upon a subject matter through conversation as a means to gaining insight into other persons and cultures, and Jürgen Habermas stresses the importance of fairness in dialogue. Using human rights as a subject matter for engaging in dialogue with Islamic scholars, Muslim perspectives on issues (...) such as democracy, toleration, and freedom of conscience emerge. A capabilities approach to human rights, such as that developed by Martha Nussbaum, enables the coexistence of multiple religious ethical visions while insisting upon the need to protect and nurture essential human abilities. (shrink)
Al-Shafi'i (d. 820) is clearly one of the most important figures in the early history of Islamic jurisprudence. His Risala or "Treatise" on the "principles of jurisprudence" (usul al-fiqh) is also of interest as an example of an approach to ethics that focuses on divine commands. Following a brief introduction, I offer the reader a few comments about al-Shafi'i's context. I summarize the content of the Risala and then analyze it as an example of divine command reasoning in (...)ethics. Finally, I present some observations on the place of al-Shafi'i's theory in the history of Islamicethics, particularly with respect to his comments on ikhtilaf, "disagreement.". (shrink)
There is burgeoning interest in the field of “Islamic” bioethics within public and professional circles, and both healthcare practitioners and academic scholars deploy their respective expertise in attempts to cohere a discipline of inquiry that addresses the needs of contemporary bioethics stakeholders while using resources from within the Islamic ethico-legal tradition. This manuscript serves as an introduction to the present thematic issue dedicated to Islamic bioethics. Using the collection of papers as a guide the paper outlines several (...) critical questions that a comprehensive and cohesive Islamic bioethical theory must address: (i) What are the relationships between Islamic law (Sharīʿah), moral theology (uṣūl al-Fiqh), and Islamic bioethics? (ii) What is the relationship between an Islamic bioethics and the lived experiences of Muslims? and (iii) What is the relationship between Islamic bioethics and the state? This manuscript, and the papers in this special collection, provides insight into how Islamic bioethicists and Muslim communities are addressing some of these questions, and aims to spur further dialogue around these overaching questions as Islamic bioethics coalesces into a true field of scholarly and practical inquiry. (shrink)
Background Posthumous organ procurement is hindered by the consenting process. Several consenting systems have been proposed. There is limited information on public relative attitudes towards various consenting systems, especially in Middle Eastern/Islamic countries. Methods We surveyed 698 Saudi Adults attending outpatient clinics at a tertiary care hospital. Preference and perception of norm regarding consenting options for posthumous organ donation were explored. Participants ranked (1, most agreeable) the following, randomly-presented, options from 1 to 11: no-organ-donation, presumed consent, informed consent by (...) donor-only, informed consent by donor-or-surrogate, and mandatory choice; the last three options ± medical or financial incentive. Results Mean(SD) age was 32(9) year, 27% were males, 50% were patients’ companions, 60% had ≥ college education, and 20% and 32%, respectively, knew an organ donor or recipient. Mandated choice was among the top three choices for preference of 54% of respondents, with an overall median[25%,75%] ranking score of 3[2,6], and was preferred over donor-or-surrogate informed consent (4[2,7], p vs. 11[6,11], respectively, p = 0.002). Compared to females, males more perceived donor-or-surrogate informed consent as the norm (3[1,6] vs. 5[3,7], p vs. 8[4,9], p vs. 5[2,7], p Conclusions We conclude that: 1) most respondents were in favor of posthumous organ donation, 2) mandated choice system was the most preferred and presumed consent system was the least preferred, 3) there was no difference between preference and perception of norm in consenting systems ranking, and 4) financial (especially in females) and medical (especially in males) incentives reduced preference. (shrink)
Michael Cook's classic study, Commanding Right and Forbidding Wrong in Islamic Thought (Cambridge, 2001), reflected upon the Islamic injunction to forbid wrongdoing. This book is a short, accessible survey of the same material. Using Islamic history to illustrate his argument, Cook unravels the complexities of the subject by demonstrating how the past informs the present. At the book's core is an important message about the values of Islamic traditions and their relevance in the modern world.
This book analyzes for the first time in English the ethical theory that underpins Qur’anic legislation by providing a classification of specific verses in which Islam’s holy book discusses moral issues. The principal purpose of this book is to demonstrate the ways in which the Qur’an theoretically and practically provides the moral code to which Muslims around the world adhere. The author divides his analysis into a survey of Qur’anic attitudes towards the basic ethical issues of obligation and responsibility, issues (...) of moral psychology such as motivation and intention, as well as matters of social ethics such as the function of law in society. He then explores the meanings of individual morality, morality within the family and civil society, and the relationship of morality to the idea of the state. (shrink)
These have been passed down from generation to generation. This book invites readers of any religion or none to drink from the wellspring of Islamic spirituality and use its wisdom to nourish their own spiritual path.
Named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most important innovators of the century, Tariq Ramadan is a leading Muslim scholar, with a large following especially among young European and American Muslims. Now, in his first book written for a wide audience, he offers a marvelous biography of the Prophet Muhammad, one that highlights the spiritual and ethical teachings of one of the most influential figures in human history. Here is a fresh and perceptive look at Muhammad, capturing a (...) life that was often eventful, gripping, and highly charged. Ramadan provides both an intimate portrait of a man who was shy, kind, but determined, as well as a dramatic chronicle of a leader who launched a great religion and inspired a vast empire. More important, Ramadan presents the main events of the Prophet's life in a way that highlights his spiritual and ethical teachings. The book underscores the significance of the Prophet's example for some of today's most controversial issues, such as the treatment of the poor, the role of women, Islamic criminal punishments, war, racism, and relations with other religions. Selecting those facts and stories from which we can draw a profound and vivid spiritual picture, the author asks how can the Prophet's life remain--or become again--an example, a model, and an inspiration? And how can Muslims move from formalism--a fixation on ritual--toward a committed spiritual and social presence? In this thoughtful and engaging biography, Ramadan offers Muslims a new understanding of Muhammad's life and he introduces non-Muslims not just to the story of the Prophet, but to the spiritual and ethical riches of Islam. (shrink)
In spite of a renewed interest in the relationship between spirituality and managerial thinking, the literature covering the link between Islam and management has been sparse – especially in the area of ethics. One potential reason may be the cultural diversity of nearly 1.3 billion Muslims globally. Yet, one common element binding Muslim individuals and countries is normative Islam. Using all four sources of this religion’s teachings, we outline the parameters of an Islamic model of normative business (...) class='Hi'>ethics. We explain how this ethics model seeks to balance the needs of multiple stakeholders, and discuss its enforcement mechanisms. This Islamic approach to business ethics is centered around criteria that are in common with stakeholder theory such as justice and balance, and includes unique additional criteria such as trust and benevolence. (shrink)
Dialogue with three major Muslim authors shows that Islam can take a positive stance toward human rights while also presenting differing interpretations of the meaning and scope of rights. Because of their subordination of norms reached through reason to those drawn from faith, as well as negative experiences of the impact of Western colonization of parts of the Muslim world, Abul A‘la Maududi and Sayyid Qutb place significant restrictions on rights of conscience. 'Abdolkarim Soroush's positive support for the role of (...) reason in Islamic faith and his less-negative assessment of the West lead him to more vigorous support for the human rights agenda. This study raises the question of whether the humility needed in comparative ethics and the respect for others at the root of human rights are necessarily linked. (shrink)
This rare and important contribution to the field of Islamic studies, philosophy, and comparative religion achieves a twofold objective. First, it draws from a broad and authoritative well of sources, especially in the domain of Sufism, or Islamic mysticism. The scholarship is impeccable. Second, it is an in-depth meditation on the relationship between love and knowledge, multiplicity and unity, the example of the Prophet Muhammed viewed as Universal Man, spiritual union, heart and intellect, and other related themes--conveyed in (...) fresh, contemporary language. The book is as much a work of Sufism as it is a book about Sufism. Many of these themes have a universal appeal for students of mysticism; consequently, there are distinct resonances with other traditions, especially within certain schools of Christian mysticism dominated by the language of love. In our day, when the divisions between many Muslims and many Christians have broadened into chasms of suspicion and fear, books such as this one are especially important for the help they can offer in bridging these rifts. The capacity of scholars to understand these two religions, which stem from the same Abrahamic source, is of the utmost significance, and the best approach to better understanding may be through the mystical traditions, which tend to reflect more tolerance and to recognize a potential for seeing unity in a multiplicity of perspectives. This work conveys the beauty at the heart of the Islamic tradition in a language devoid of technical terminology. (shrink)
The Sulwan al-Muta' is an 800 year-old handbook for statesmen written by a Sicilian Arab who addressed this advice for a "just prince" based on Islamic morality, European realism and a broad-ranging knowledge of different cultures. The work is explicated using straight philosophical discourse as well as the narrative whirl of fables-within-fables so beloved of ancient and mediaeval Oriental literature. This is a work of practical political philosophy that combines penetrating contemporary analysis, the entertainment value of The Thousand and (...) One Nights , and the deep insight of Sun Tzu. (shrink)