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Author: Harald Viersen

Abstract

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.

Open Access
In: Islamic Ethics and the Trusteeship Paradigm: Taha Abderrahmane’s Philosophy in Comparative Perspectives
Author: Harald Viersen

Abstract

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.

Open Access
In: Islamic Ethics and the Trusteeship Paradigm: Taha Abderrahmane’s Philosophy in Comparative Perspectives