Islam and the Foundations of Political Power, by Ali Abdel Razek

Ali Abdel Razek, Islam and the Foundations of Political Power, translated by Maryam Loutfi, edited by Abdou Filali-Ansary, Edinburgh University Press, 2012 and 2013.

The publication of this essay in Egypt in 1925 took the contemporaries of Ali Abdel Razek by storm. At a time when there was widespread turmoil over the abolition of the caliphate by Ataturk in Turkey, Ali Abdel Razek, a religious cleric trained at Al-Azhar University, argued in favour of secularism. The abolition of the caliphate had re-ignited the question of Islam and its relationship to political power. This essay unleashed the Arab world’s first great public debate published in the press with polemics supporting or refuting Ali Abdel Razek’s ideas.
Ali Abdel Razek graduated from Al-Azhar University in 1915 as an ‘alim and went on to travel to Britain to study for a short period at Oxford University. The outbreak of World War I compelled him to return to Egypt where he undertook further study at the newly founded Egypt University. Following this, he served as an Al-Azhar alim, a judge in the traditional Islamic Courts of Alexandria, and as a teacher of Arabic.

 


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