Islam and the Foundations of Political Power Ali Abdel Razek Translated by Maryam Loutfi Edited by Abdou Filali-Ansary
The publication of this essay in Egypt in 1925 took the contemporaries of Ali Abdel Razek by storm. Challenging fundamental ideas about political power, it was the focus of much attention and the seed of a heated debate. It was especially potent as at this time the Muslim world was in great turmoil over the question of the abolition of the caliphate by Mustapha Kamal Ataturk in Turkey. The essay gave rise to a series of 'refutations' and unleashed the Arab world's first great public debate with polemics supporting or refuting Ali Abdel Razek's ideas published all over the press. Eventually he was tried by the Al-Azhar court, denounced, stripped of his title of 'alim and barred from future employment in education and the judiciary. Ali Abdel Razek graduated from Al-Azhar University in 1915 and went on to study for a short period at Oxford University. After returning to Egypt he served as an Al-Azhar 'alim, a judge in the traditional Islamic Courts of Alexandria and as a teacher of Arabic. Maryam Loutfi has worked as a freelance translator both in Morocco and in Europe.
Abdou Filali-Ansary was the founding director of the Aga Khan University Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilizations (2002-2009). He is author of several books including Is Islam Hostile to Secularism? and Reforming Islam? An Introduction to Contemporary Debates. Egypt, 1925: the Muslim world is in turmoil over Mustapha Kamal Ataturk's proposed abolition of the caliphate in Turkey. The tension surrounding Islam and politics re-ignites as traditional political systems dissolve under pressure from European powers and most Muslim countries lose their sovereignty. Into this debate enters Ali Abdel Razek, a religious cleric trained at Al-Azhar University, arguing in favour of secularism in his essay 'Islam and the Foundations of Political Power', translated here for the first time. This edition includes a contextualising introduction, Razek's original footnotes and new explanatory notes, additional notes about particular people, events and vocabulary that may be unfamiliar to modern readers, and an appendix with a list of Razek's sources and their full publication details.