In this chapter, I argue that Taha Abderrahmane’s concept of trusteeship (iʾtimāniyya) that I describe as worldly based, humanly shouldered and divinely led, is not only producing a discourse within the realm of Islamic discursivity, but it is nurturing conceptually the “anthropology of Islam” by defining the “correct model.” Abderrahmane’s “original unity” between taʿabbud (worship) and tadbīr (management) gives a clear definition of the source of ethical practice. I would illustrate how the concept of iʾtimāniyya is a necessary philosophical base to study some crucial aspects of the reality of faith that are downplayed by the works of Talal Asad (b. 1932), Saba Mahmood (1962–2018) and others who belong to the so called “ethical turn” in anthropological studies. In other words, in the absence of the “trusteeship paradigm” (al-unmūdhaj al-iʾtimānī) as a tool for analysis, MacIntyre’s (b. 1929) Aristotelian moral philosophy and the Foucauldian understanding of ethics, power and discourse that Asad and Mahmood based their framework on remain insufficient and to a certain extent misleading to the understanding of Muslim subjectivities.
While various Arab-Islamic modernist projects have proclaimed issues like politics and political authority, education, public culture, religious thought and institutions as the starting points for reforms, other projects have taken ethics as the starting point for any possible renewal, be it theoretical or practical, intellectual or political. This introductory chapter contextualises this discussion, following this outline. First, it briefly refers to the place of ethics in classical and early modern Arab-Islamic thought, touches on the reformist thought of the so-called Arab renaissance (nahḍa) of the late 19th century, focuses on the scholarship of the first half of the 20th century, and discusses the new trajectories of ethical thought and studies in the second half of the 20th century, i.e. the post-1967 era. Second, four major reflective notes on the trusteeship paradigm of Taha Abderrahmane as a modern robust theory of ethics are made. This in order to clarify the scope of the paradigm, to open new scopes of reflection and research around the issue of ethics and modernity. The chapter ends by presenting a summary of the book content.
This chapter explores the central role that Sufism plays in the works of the Moroccan philosopher Taha Abderrahmane. Starting from the notion that in order to properly understand any thinker one needs to give particular attention to the questions that he wants to answer and the context that gives rise to these questions, it compares Abderrahmane’s Sufism with other modern articulations of Sufism by very different Arab intellectuals like Abdurrahman Badawi (1917–2002) and Adonis (b. 1930). The aim is to show structural similarities in their respective views on Sufism and to use these similarities to pinpoint a shared modern problematic that moves these thinkers. It will be shown how Sufism appeals to the modern sensibilities of these authors by providing an ethic founded on the individual, which allows the person living in a modern society to discover meaning in an increasingly impersonal and meaningless world. By bringing out the individualistic, modern side of his philosophy this article challenges common facile perceptions of Abderrahmane as a traditionalist Islamic thinker. The contextual approach to Abderrahmane not only allows us to better understand his ideas, but it will also give us a better understanding of his appeal to a modern readership. Moreover, given the intimate relationship between the view of the self and ethics generally, the exploration of the role of the individual in Abderrahmane’s work will have important consequences for how we ought to conceive of his entire project for philosophical and ethical renewal.
As a scripture revealed in a historical moment, the Qurʾan calls to matters of eternal significance. Muslims seeking to apply its ethical message in the contemporary world need to be aware of both the imaginal leap to its age and the perpetual presence of its moral values. In this chapter, I will explore the idea of reading Qurʾanic values within modernity through the work of two significant figures: Taha Abderrahmane and Fazlur Rahman (1919–1988). While both seek to elucidate extrahistorical values from the Qurʾan in order to ensure revelation remains meaningful today, comparing the ways in which they theoretically frame their projects shines a light on the particularities of each, and engenders a more coherent conversation between Islamic ethics in Arabic and English. I also locate the discussion with respect to recent forays into Islamic ethical thought which respond to and develop their ideas.
Calls for reforms in Islam have been made repeatedly and they address different domains where changes are regarded as necessary. While some proponents of this need argue, for example, for the necessity of reform strictly in the area of Islamic law, others think that the complete understanding of the Islamic worldview needs to be reconsidered. There are certain scholars and thinkers today who are seen as reformers and by whose contributions a step towards an appropriate understanding and interpretation of Islam is hoped to be taken. This chapter discusses the contribution of two such scholars. In the field of ethics the Moroccan philosopher Taha Abderrahmane (b. 1944) and his ethical-philosophical concept of iʾtimāniyya will be presented. In the discipline of law and legal philosophy the famous Mālikī scholar Abū Isḥāq al-Shāṭibī (d. 790/1388) and his maqāṣid-thinking are considered as indispensible in the current legal discussion. Since both are viewed as reformers in the modern age, and because of similarities but also differences in their ethical and legal thinking, this chapter aims to discuss the ideas and considerations of these two major scholars. Because Abderrahmane addresses the maqāṣid and their reform, and refers to al-Shāṭibī, the chapter will also shed light on this connection and Abderrahmane’s interpretation.
The trusteeship paradigm critiques both modernity and the tradition, and in doing so it navigates between what is commonly referred to as the “religious” and the “secular.” As a critique, it proposes itself as an alternative to both. This chapter traces the development of the paradigm by outlining its major themes and intellectual stages as developed by Taha Abderrahmane since the 1970s. First, it provides a biographical-intellectual sketch of Abderrahmane. Then it synthetically outlines the following five stages: 1) logic, 2) philosophy of language, 3) assessing the tradition, 4) spiritual modernity and moral philosophy, 5) political theology and political philosophy. Finally it presents a review of the scholarly reception of this project. The chapter concludes with three reflective notes on language, Sufism, and ethics.
In this chapter, I explore some aspects of the trusteeship paradigm (nasaq al-iʾtimāniyya), as constructed by the acclaimed Moroccan philosopher Taha Abderrahmane, and how they relate to some concepts and new intellectual paths in the social sciences. This will be done based on this question: How can we establish a dialogue between the philosophical trusteeship paradigm, rooted in the Islamic tradition, and other contemporary philosophical and anthropological theories of morality and religion? For this purpose, two major figures, representatives of the “ethical turn” new line of thought, are studied for comparative purposes; i.e., the philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre (b. 1929) and the anthropologist Talal Asad (b. 1932). The aim is to demonstrate how Taha Abderrahmane’s ethical theory belongs to the so-called “ethical turn” scholarship of religious belief in modern societies; or, otherwise said, the aim is to show how “the ethical turn” scholarship coincides with the philosophical advances of trusteeship paradigm.
في كتابه ”تأريخ الجنسانية“ قدَّم فوكو رؤية فلسفية تقوم على أن الاعتراف بالرغبات الجنسية الطوعي يحرر الذات ويؤدي إلى معرفة الذات بنفسها، الأمر الذي يؤدي إلى بناء سلطة جديدة لا يبدأ مسارها من الأعلى (السلطة الفعلية أوالمجتمع) بل من الأسفل (الفرد). يحرر هذا الاعتراف الذات الإنسانية ويبني لها وعياً محيطاً بعالمها لا خوف معه من المراقبة السلطوية العلوية. فالاعتراف محرِّر والسلطة مكمِّمة. إن إرادة وعي الإنسان بجسده وحواسه ورغباته النفسانية والاعتراف بها في المجال العام، يغلق المجال لسلطة المراقبة الآتية من أعلى (المجتمع، الدولة، الدين)، ومن ثم يقود إلى التحرر وتشكيل السلطة الجديدة، إلا أن هذا الاعتراف كوسيلة مضادة للقمع—بالنسبة لفوكو—مضلل أيضاً؛ إذ ربما يكون أداة خفية من أدوات السلطة السفلية المجتمعية.
يسعى هذا الفصل إلى تحليل مفهوم فوكو حول إرادة المعرفة ومغزى الاعتراف الذي يتمثل في تشكل السلطة ومعرفة الذات وفهم البنية الأخلاقية، ومن ثم فحص بنية التسيد الكامنة فيه وفق النسق الائتماني الذي قدمه طه في مفهومه حول ”الآمرية،“ المتجسِّد في الفقه الأخلاقي والحقيقة العرفانية وتبين الممارسات الفقهية والإحسانية (التزكوية) عبر التاريخ الإسلامي.