The Middle East

The Politics of the Sacred and Secular

Shahrough Akhavi

Description

Focuses on the universal concepts of the individual, civil society, the state, justice, authority and obligation and how these have been interpreted by Middle Eastern thinkers in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
Amidst recent hype about events in the Middle East, there have been few attempts to get below the surface and develop a fuller understanding of what politics means there. The Middle East: The Politics of the Sacred and Secular redresses this balance and provides essential historical and theoretical context.

In this book, Shahrough Akhavi shows that the way people think about politics in the Middle East has developed in response to historical experience. Islam has obviously played a pivotal role and the book does much to disentangle myth and reality about Islamic responses to politics. Refreshingly, however, the book focuses on the universal concepts of the individual, civil society, the state, justice, authority and obligation and how these have been interpreted by Middle Eastern thinkers in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Akhavi builds a dynamic picture of a politically exciting and engaged region. The fresh perspective this book brings to global political theory, and the background it gives students of politics in the Middle East make it an important addition to the World Political Theories series.

Author Bio

Shahrough Akhavi is Professor of Political Science at the University of South Carolina, Columbia. His research focuses on the sociology of Islam and social theory, particularly in Iran and Egypt. He was President of the International Society for Iranian Studies from 2002-2003. He is the author of Religion and Politics in Contemporary Iran and many related articles and book chapters. He has also edited several book series, dictionaries and resources on Islam.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgements
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. The Sacred and the Secular
  • 3. History and Social Change
  • 4. The Individual
  • 5. Society
  • 6. The State
  • 7. Conclusions
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index

Reviews

'In a sweeping survey of political ideas from early Islam until now, from Ibn Taymiyya to Shariati and Shahrur, this book makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of how the Middle East has discussed such fundamental notions as authority, individual, society, and the state. Navigating between political history and political ideas, this is an engaging exercise in the Middle Eastern sociology of knowledge.'
Asef Bayat, Leiden University

'There is no doubt that this book is essential reading for anyone studying the history of intellectual thought in the Middle East.'
Nicola Pratt, editor of Women and War in the Middle East

'Shahrough Akhavi masterfully examines the political thought of the Middle East in this lucid and illuminating book. He makes the critical point that, while ''traditionalists'' invoke modern concepts and ''modernists'' rely on traditional concepts to validate their views, both ignore the historical circumstances in which ideas arise and exert influence. Understanding the interplaying of political theory and context, which this work so compellingly documents, will help us to appreciate that religious and secular ideas have subtly interacted over the centuries, but also that current intellectuals in the Middle East risk deteriorating into mere apologists if they offer nostrums based on ahistorical essences.'
James Piscatori, The Australian National University

Details

Publication Date: 13 August 2009
304 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781842778975
eBook ePub: 9781848137349
eBook PDF: 9781848135512
eBook Kindle: 9781780327044
Library Edition: 9781842778968

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