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Ovamir AnjumPolitics, Law, and Community in Islamic Thought: The Taymiyyan Moment

Cambridge University Press, 2012

by Elliott Bazzano on August 22, 2014

Ovamir Anjum

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[Cross-posted from New Books in Islamic Studies] In Politics, Law, and Community in Islamic Thought: The Taymiyyan Moment (Cambridge University Press, 2012), Ovamir Anjum explores a timely topic, even though his focus is hundreds of years in the past. In order to present his topic Professor Anjum asks a series of foundational questions, such as: How have Muslims understood ideal government and political theology? What is the role of rulers in those politics? And what does it even mean to talk about “politics” as a category? In Anjum’s words “the relationship between Islam and politics in the classical age can neither be described as a formal divorce nor a honeymoon, but rather a tenuous and unstable separation of spheres of religious authority from political power that was neither justified in theory nor wholeheartedly accepted” (136). The “Taymiyyan Moment,” a rephrasing of the “Machiavellian Moment” comes during the life of the prodigious author, theologian, and jurist Ibn Taymiyya (1263-1328). By honing in on Ibn Taymiyya’s magnum opus, Dar’ Ta‘arud al-‘aql wa-l-naql (The Repulsion of Opposing Reason and Revelation)—not a political work, per se, but a theological one—Anjum reflects on, among other things, tensions between “community-centered” and “ruler-centered” visions of politics, and how scholars before Ibn Taymiyya had understood these ideas. Based on meticulous research of primary and secondary sources, Anjum’s monograph will likely encourage new scholarship on the post-classical era, including the impact of Ibn Taymiyya’s ideas on later generations, as well as interest among scholars from a variety of disciplines, ranging from History and Religious Studies, to Political Science and Law.

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