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The Political Thoery of Ibn Khaldun

Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406) was an outlier of his time. A statesman of Maliki rite, he spent his life in different city states of Northern Africa and Spain. He lived through the era of transition. Based on his observation of rise of fall of states, he came up with a general principle related to power and governance of a society. In his book Universal History (Kitab al-‘ibar), he formulated the concept of umran(civilization) based on madaniya and hadara (settled urban life) in contrast with badawa (rural life). Hadara is synonymous with tamaddun or way of organized life in a city (madina), just as polis. His “new science of history” addresses the dynamics within groups. A significant thing to notice is that his ideas were influenced by religious values of Islam and the concepts umma as well as jama’a hold great importance for him. However, he has also includes modern concepts like humanitas and citizenship. All in all, he was way ahead of his time yet remained ignored for centuries.

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Al-Farabi – A Political Theologian or Political Philosopher

Al-Farabi’s work, due to its extensive philosophical and religious nature – is not easy to comprehend. Scholars have contradicting opinion about what could be the nature of his political understanding. For intellectuals like Massimo Campanini, al-Farabi is a theologian and his political ideas are influenced by the religion to a greater extent. He perceives the former’s understanding about politics as political theology. Contrary to that Charles E. Butterworth comes up with a different point of view; for him al-Farabi is a political philosopher. The issue arises from the close interaction of political science, religion and philosophy in the works of al-Farabi. Though both authors are able to find a lot of commonalities about the concepts, they have a conflict about the source of his political theory. This essay will follow a linear pattern: first by explaining the common assumptions then presenting the viewpoints of authors and coming up with a personal conclusion/opinion.

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Understanding Shariah and Fiqh – with Maqasid al-Shariah

The legal system defined by Islam has an exclusive nature when we look at the legal systems that govern the modern states. The base of this system is the divine revelation and reason, presented in the form ofShariah and Fiqh. Shariah being derived from the divine sources itself, defines the righteous path while Fiqh, which is the product of human reason, set paths for the solutions of particular and unprecedented issues in the light of already defined core principles. Shriah is derived from the basic sources, Quran and Sunnah. Nusus, the fundamental principle of Shariah, are however small in number. Only 3 percent of the verses of Quran directly deal with the legal matters of diverse nature; from crime to commerce and from marriage to divorce. Most of the Shariah as a wider concept is not limited to laws but it includes theology and moral teachings. It regulates of the whole society as well as individuals. However, Fiqh is more like positive law concerning – mainly – the individual conduct. Although it shares common grounds with Shariah, the rules defined are not legally enforceable. In short, Shariah has the higher authority in Islamic Legal System and at the same time, Fiqh is the pragmatic legal principles to enforce the rules defined by Islam. What follows is the contrast of Shariah and Fiqh, a brief history of development of Islam legal system and the objectives of Shariah/ Maqasid al-Shariah.

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