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Islamic Political ThoughtAn Introduction$
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Gerhard Bowering

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780691164823

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691164823.001.0001

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Traditional Political Thought

Traditional Political Thought

(p.238) Traditional Political Thought
Islamic Political Thought

Patricia Crone

Princeton University Press

In terms of political thought, as in so many other respects, Muslims today could be said to be bilingual. On the one hand, they speak the global political language of Western derivation marked by key concepts such as democracy, freedom, human rights, and gender equality. On the other hand, they still have their traditional political idiom, formed over 1,400 years of Islamic history and marked by concepts such as prophecy, imamate, and commanding right and forbidding wrong. The Islamic tradition is alien to most Western readers. This chapter attempts to familiarize them with it to make it easier for them to follow the other entries in this volume. The single most important difference between contemporary Western political thinking and the Islamic tradition is that contemporary thought focuses on freedom and rights whereas the Islamic tradition focuses on authority and duties. This separates contemporary political thought from that of all premodern societies, not just that of the Islamic world.

Keywords:   Islam, Muslims, Islamic political thought, Islamic tradition

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