Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Islamic Political Philosophy
Charles E. Butterworth
Political philosophy is the attempt to replace opinion about political affairs with knowledge. For sound rhetorical reasons, it may adopt and adapt the speech and images of the dominant religion. Even so, it remains independent of religion. Thus, political philosophy in the medieval Arabic-Islamic tradition of the Middle East differs from that in the medieval Arabic-Jewish or Arabic-Christian traditions mainly in this rhetorical aspect. Political thought, always limited by the opinions that dominate the setting and time, replaces political philosophy in the modern and contemporary eras. Political philosophers in the medieval Arabic-Islamic tradition agree that Plato and Aristotle achieved the highest level of knowledge about the universe and its parts. That the revealed religions known through Moses and Muhammad also claim to possess ultimate truth about these very things poses no conflict. As Abu Nasr al-Farabi (870–950 CE) points out, the meaning of philosopher, lawgiver, imam, and king is one. ...