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Afsaruddin, Asma

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Asma Afsaruddin


This chapter looks at a broad range of exegeses of Qurʾān 3:113 which refers to an “upright community” (umma qāʾima) from among the People of the Book (ahl al-kitāb), the Qurʾānic appellation for Jews and Christians. Considered together with Qurʾān 5:66 which refers to a “moderate community” (umma muqtaṣida) from among them, this verse clearly suggests that it is subscription to some common standard of righteousness and ethical conduct that determines the salvific nature of a religious community, and not the denominational label it chooses to wear. The principal exegetes consulted are Muqātil b. Sulaymān, al-Ṭabarī, al-Rāzī, al-Qurṭubī, Ibn Kathīr, and Muḥammad ʿAbduh, among others. A diachronic survey of their exegetical works reveals significant transformations in the understanding of this key verse, which had considerable implications for interfaith relations in the pre-modern world, as they do in the contemporary period.

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Excellence and Precedence

Medieval Islamic Discourse on Legitimate Leadership

Asma Afsaruddin

This volume focuses on how legitimate leadership came to be defined in the formative period of Islam in terms of two key Qur'anic concepts: moral excellence ( faḍl/faḍīla) and precedence ( sābiqa). These two concepts undergirded a specific discourse on leadership which developed in the first century of Islam. This discourse is reconstructed through careful scrutiny of the manāqib literature in particular, which contains detailed accounts of the excellences attributed to the Rāshidūn caliphs. This book stresses that all early factions, including the proto-Shī‘a, subscribed to the Qur'ānically-mandated vision of a righteous polity guided by its most morally excellent members. Such a conclusion forces us to rethink the nature of leadership in the earliest period and reconsider the criteria invoked to establish its legitimacy.

Afsaruddin, Asma and Melchert, Christopher

Asma Afsaruddin and Christopher Melchert