April 11, 2007 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 339

Liberal Values in Tunisian Islamic Schoolbooks

April 11, 2007 | By M. Feki and N. Maruani*
North Africa, Tunisia | Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 339

Unlike Islamic curricula in some Arab states, the Islamic curricula in Tunisia consist of a compilation of articles and book excerpts from a variety of original sources. For example, the 11th-grade textbook on Islamic thought is a compilation of articles by 29 authors – including excerpts of books and essays by renowned scholars such as 14th-century North African scholar and historian Ibn Khaldun, 9th-10th century Iraqi theologian Abu Al-Hasan Al-Ash'ari, and luminary Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali, alongside Muslim reformist thinkers from the modern period, such as Rifa' Al-Tahtawi, Jamal Al-Din Al-Afghani, Muhammad 'Abduh, Ali 'Abd Al-Razeq, 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Kawakibi, Muhammad Rashid Rida, and Sa'd Al-Din Ibrahim.

An examination of the 11th and 12th grade schoolbooks shows that they focus on three aspects: the separation between religion and politics, individual freedom, and tolerance for the other.

In addition, the schoolbooks do not limit themselves to discussion of any one religious stream, but rather highlight the different schools within Islam. Thus, although Tunisia is overwhelmingly Sunni, the Islamic schoolbooks devote much space to Shi'ism.

This report examines two textbooks on Islamic thought for the 11th and 12th grades in Tunisia, and provides a general overview of some of the books' major themes: secular versus religious rule, the necessity of avoiding religious conflict, the need for education in order to attain freedom and harmonize between religion and modernity, the value of the European Enlightenment, and the importance of consultation, tolerance and dialogue.

In essence, the Islamic education curricula in Tunisia represent a continuation of the spirit of the early salafiyya (Islamic reformers). While in contemporary usage the word salafi has become a near-synonym for "radical Islamist," many of the original salafiyya, including those whose writings are included in the Tunisian textbooks, promoted a moderate form of Islam and openness to modernity. The movement was later largely subsumed into both Arab nationalism and Islamism, with Muslim liberalism being progressively relegated to the sidelines. Historically, Tunisia has been something of an exception to this trend, and this is reflected in the schoolbooks discussed here.

At the same time, some of the books' subject matter – like the chapter on knowledge as a remedy to despotism, or readings such as the one titled "Freedom is the Basis of Power" – may seem to be at odds with political realities in contemporary Tunisia under the autocratic Ben Ali regime, and one may wonder why they are still in use. This can be explained by the fact that the schoolbooks were written during the presidency of Habib Bourguiba, the founder of modern Tunisia, whose rule was both more popular and more liberal, if not entirely democratic, and whose reformist orientation remains the official ideology of the current regime.

The Contents of the Books: An Overview

The first part of the 11th-Grade Schoolbook of Islamic Thought deals with faith and the basic tenets of religion. The selected texts deal with monotheism, the limits of the human mind, the basics of religion, the Sunni creed, the oral teachings (hadith) and the concept of predestination. A complementary text presents the opinion of the Mu'tazilites, a medieval theological movement that attempted to harmonize between rationalism and revelation.

The second part is dedicated to renewal and the reform movements. It includes texts dealing with the Islamic Nahdha (renaissance),[1] and does not shy away from a discussion of European culture as an influence on the Nahdha; other texts deal with reform in the past versus contemporary reform. One text analyzes the causes of "backwardness" in the Islamic world; another contrasts scholars known for innovation with the observance of what are described as obsolete traditions (e.g. the veneration of saints).

In addition, the book discusses the various schools of Islam (Sunnis, Shi'ites, and Khawarij), and describes knowledge as a remedy to despotism. There are texts dealing with educational reform, cultural identity versus colonization, shari'a, and the umma. The final text deals with the "new awareness" experienced by contemporary Muslims. Complementary texts deal with law as a limit to the power of the ruler, the necessity of establishing a parliament, and the future of the reformist movement.

The third part includes excerpts from Islam and Christianity by Muhammad 'Abduh and an exposition on this prominent reformist thinker. Complementary texts comment on the traditional clerics' lack of innovating spirit – a standard theme of the modern reformers – the relation between science and religion (asserting that religion should be understood in light of science), and the spread of extremism.

The fourth and last part of this schoolbook consists of Surah 49 ("Al-Hujurat") of the Koran, followed by questions for the pupils. The choice of this surah is meant to underline the relevance of its content to contemporary religious thought, both in Tunisia and elsewhere.

The 12th-Grade Schoolbook on Islamic Thought is divided into three main parts. The first part deals with the different means of interpreting revelation (wahy), namely, traditional exegesis (tafsir) and interpretation (or "allegorical interpretation" – ta'wil). The section includes a text titled "The Dialectics of the Text and Reality" by Nasr Hamed Abu Zayd, a reformist Egyptian professor known for his historical and cultural approach to Koranic interpretation – views that led an Egyptian court to rule him an apostate in 1995 and to force him to separate from his wife.[2]

The second part deals with civilization, political issues in Islamic thought, and the development of the state in Islamic civilization. The texts present freedom as the basis of power, promote equality and justice, and focus on the moral values of the state.

The third part presents the relationship (or lack thereof) between Islam and government according to 'Ali 'Abd Al-Razeq (1888-1966), an Egyptian reformist Islamic scholar who argued that there was no inherently Islamic form of government, and that any form of government that served the common interest could be adopted. The texts are taken from 'Abd Al-Razeq's 1925 book Islam and the Principles of Government, in the introduction to which he states that there is no proof in the Koran or the Sunna that the establishment of the Caliphate is a religious obligation.[3] In the other texts cited he develops his argument that according to Islam government is a secular institution. Following the publication of "Islam and the Principles of Government," 'Abd Al-Razeq's Al-Azhar diploma was revoked; in its summary of the reception of the book, the schoolbook cites a contemporary newspaper article that compared the affair to the Scopes Trial in the U.S.[4]

The Secular State and Institutional Reforms

In its section on "Renewal and Reform Movements," the 11th-grade Schoolbook on Islamic Thought introduces the students to the thought of Islamic reformers who promoted a secular concept of government. One text, "The Critique of Reformist Thought" by Kamal 'Abd Al-Latif, discusses the ideas of Egyptian reformist Rifa' Al-Tahtawi (1801-1873), a founding father of the Nahdha movement whom some consider to have been a proponent of Islamic secularism, and those of Khayr Al-Din Al-Tunsi (1810-1890), a statesman whose writings helped introduce European political thought and practice to the Arabic-speaking public. The author points to a tension in their writings between enthusiasm for liberal secular concepts of state borrowed from Europe and the continued use of concepts borrowed and modified from medieval shari'a and Islamic thought.[5]

The textbook also cites an epistle by General Hussein (d. 1887), an Ottoman-Tunisian officer and statesman of Circassian origin: "One of the causes of anarchy, conspiracies and of disintegration in the ranks of the nation, and of the ensuing weakness and colonization, is the lack of constitutional institutions, one of whose mainstays is the existence of a legislative authority that would represent the people and promulgate laws that protect them and ensure their well-being."[6]

Religion as a Possible Cause of Conflict

The 12th-grade religious instruction textbook discusses religion as a possible source of conflict. One article[7] deals with the medieval conflict between the Mu'tazilites and other schools of Islam[8] regarding the question of whether the Koran was created or is eternal. The Mu'tazilites held that the Koran was created, whereas others (retrospectively considered "orthodox") consider the Koran to have been written by Allah before the creation of the world, and merely to have "descended" with the advent of Muhammad. "This controversy gave birth to a court of investigation, the nearest equivalent to the Christian Inquisition in Europe. People may wonder today how it is possible that this disagreement about such a purely theoretical [concept], which seems to have no practical significance, could lead to such violence and bitterness, hatred and even killing."[9]

Another article, by reformist Sheikh Muhammad 'Abduh,[10] attacks the traditional clerics' lack of innovating spirit: "Can anyone deny the shari'a clerics' lack of innovating spirit and be content with the language used by the authors, with their conflicting views and misunderstandings? In the cases where no opinion was expressed [i.e. where no precedent exists], they avoid making a decision and try to deviate from the meaning of the [primary] texts in order to fit it to such or such a [law]book."[11]

Another text by Muhammad 'Abduh, titled "The Relation between the Sciences and Religion, and the Spread of Extremism among Muslims"[12] attacks the observance of practices not mentioned in the Koran: "The great number of religious people in Islamic countries who are in charge of ensuring that everyone observe religious ceremonies never mentioned in the Koran, such as burials and other ceremonies linked to the various aspects of life – births, weddings, coronations, etc. – where do they come from? And what can Muslims say today about the great number of saints, righteous men and religious leaders who create [new] religious currents throughout the Muslim world? And how is it possible that believers pray to saints, to righteous men, and to religious leaders, perhaps even more than they pray to God?"[13]

It may be noted in this context that when they were originally published, these ideas of 'Abduh's found an especially receptive ear among the representatives of the salafiyya in North Africa; the latter became engaged in a bitter polemic with the proponents of Maraboutism, a popular form of Sufism widespread in North Africa that attached great importance to the veneration of saints.

"Knowledge Is the Enemy of Dictatorship"

Another work cited in the schoolbooks is Useful Words in the Display of Effort and Emulation[14] by Muhammad Bin Ali Al-Shawkani (1760-1831), a Yemenite Imam and Zaydi Shi'ite reformer. The text cited states that any attempt at reforming the Islamic world provoked negative reactions, since the population was highly attached to tradition. This state of affairs, it said, was so ingrained that if a tradition was be presented as a bid'a (an innovation forbidden by Islam), the population would rebel in defense of the tradition, denying that it was an innovation, rather than give it up: "Any reasonable [man] knows that if an Islamic scholar were to declare in an Islamic city, no matter in what circumstances, that blind imitation [taqlid] is a banned innovation..., he would be attacked by most of the residents, through insults and through violation of his property, his body, and his honor."[15]

On the other hand, knowledge is presented as the one condition for free thought and as the enemy of dictatorship. An article titled "Despotism and Science" by 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Kawakibi (1849-1903) reads: "Responsible and organized political freedom guarantees dialogue between the nation and the authorities." The author asks: "What looks more like despotism than a powerful [person]'s guardianship over the orphans of rich people, using their property and their souls as he wishes as long as they are minors? In the same way as the guardian has no interest in seeing the orphans reach maturity, the despot has no interest in seeing the people enlightened by knowledge. The autocrat knows that there can be no coercion and slavery unless the subjects remain in the obscurity of ignorance (...)."

"The despot does not fear the study of philology aimed at correcting language as long as this language does not include statements likely to trigger a popular uprising or enthusiasm that could weaken the armies. Likewise, the despot does not fear religious sciences pertaining to the world to come, since he believes that such sciences have no power over the stupidity of the masses... Generally speaking, the despot does not fear all sciences, but only those that open the mind and make people aware of their rights or their lack of rights, and of the ways of acquiring and preserving these rights. The despot is a robber and a deceiver, whereas knowledgeable people raise your level of awareness and warn you. The despot has affairs and interests that only the scholars can foil."[16]

An article by Muhammad 'Abduh contrasts knowledge and ignorance as follows: "Knowledge raises [the level] of the nations, whereas ignorance weakens them and makes them prey to the distractions of ideological, ethnic, or religious extremism."[17]

Europe as a Source of Enlightenment

As an example of the positive impact of knowledge on society, the same schoolbook mentions the results of Napoleon Bonaparte's campaign in Egypt, which it describes as having brought the sciences to Egypt and raised the level of knowledge of the population.

An excerpt from a book titled Reformist Thought in Arab [Countries] during the Nahdha by Tunisian university professors Muhammad Al-Qadi and 'Abdallah Sula reads: "[Napoleon's] campaign was not a mere military operation. It included a scientific and cultural aspect which kindled the light of the modern Arab Nahdha. This campaign brought to Egypt numerous well-equipped French scientists, who initiated research in the fields of mathematics, engineering, geography, astronomy, applied mathematics, geology, metallurgy, medicine, archeology, literature, and the arts. A magazine was published every three months to present the results of their research. They [the French scientists] also published a valuable book describing Egypt [Kitab Wasf Misr] in which they included pictures, maps and paintings. These things were new to the Egyptians and were amazing to them.

"This campaign developed printing [in the Arab world]: Napoleon brought with him printing presses in order to [spread] his call to the Egyptian people... And the first printing house in Egypt was the Eastern French printing house. Among its publications were a book on phonetics, a reading skills textbook, and a French-Arabic dictionary. Another printing house was later established, which published the Barid Misr [newspaper]. This reveals the interest in journalism that the [French] campaign nurtured, all the more so as it also gave birth to a second newspaper, Al-'Ashriyya Al-Misriyya (so called because it was published every 10 days).

"By examining the beginnings of the Nahdha in Egypt, we can see that it stems from one single source, Europe, thanks to its strong development in various fields."

However, the schoolbook does not defend French colonization: "If Napoleon relied on modern sciences during his campaign, his goal was not to instruct the [Egyptian] people, but to rally the elites in order to spread his power. Therefore, this short campaign – with the difficulties it met – did not welcome Egyptian participation."[18]

"It Is a Religious Duty to Use One's Mind"

An article by Kamal 'Abdallah Al-Mahdi defines freedom of thought as follows: "Freedom of thought means respect for the mind, granting it an honorable position, and enabling it to express itself in all fields – political, scientific and cultural. Cultural development in all fields is a sign that society is healthy. And freedom of thought is a component – and even the foundation – of freedom of expression. It is a religious duty to use your mind."[19]

The 11th-grade book praises individual freedom as a necessary framework for education. One section, titled "The Causes of Muslim Backwardness," includes a letter addressed to the Ottoman Sultan by Mustafa Fadel Pasha, the brother of the 19th-century Khedive of Egypt, Isma'il: "Freedom is the number one instructor of the nations; it shapes instructors. Nothing can take its place. The oppressed nation despises knowledge because it does not [feel it] needs it. The nations want knowledge when they enjoy the rights they believe in. Education enables them to make the most of their rights. Oppressed and ignorant nations are either cowards or traitors."[20]

Individual Freedom and Progress

The 11th-grade schoolbook insists on the right to individual freedom in an excerpt titled "Freedom is the Basis of Power," by Kamal 'Abdallah Al-Mahdi: "Certain vital needs go beyond food and dress, which are the basics of life. Among the essential needs is freedom. Man is born free and has no other Lord than God. Therefore he must be born free and die free. Freedom includes political freedom, freedom of thought, and even religious freedom."[21]

The author insists on political freedom, which derives from individual freedom: "Political freedom means first and foremost freedom of thought and expression. At the very beginning of the Islamic State, people were not prevented from expressing themselves, even when they criticized the governor. The Islamic state authorized the formation of groups and parties with different opinions and principles that were defended in an open and straightforward manner."[22]

The Shura

Another article, taken from the book Allah's Children by Tunisian Islamic reformer Mohamed Talbi (b. 1921),[23] underlines the importance of consultation prior to the making of decisions. Shura (consultation) is described as "a moral value pertaining to decision-making which enables [people] to reach a common view useful to society. This is true in politics, in tribes, in clans, and even in families where the wife and husband advise one another... We always need a minimum degree of consultation to find a way that guarantees the participation of all, or [at least] of the majority."[24]

In addition, binding decisions should be made in accordance with the opinion of the people: "Political freedom also includes consultation [with the people], as the Koran states: "Let them consult each other about their affairs..." (42:38) Shura implies and guarantees freedom of expression. In the [history of] Islam, there were no official institutions in charge of guaranteeing the plurality of views in political matters, such as a parliament or consultative assemblies. However, Islam approves of the principle of consultation, and even prescribes it... At a time when the scope of the state has widened and management problems are far more numerous, the plurality of opinions requires that one acknowledge the opposing opinion with a free and completely tolerant mind."[25]

Tolerance and Dialogue

The schoolbooks of religious instruction display a very open attitude toward Shi'ites, despite the fact that Tunisia is overwhelmingly Sunni. The 11th-grade textbook includes a text by the prominent 19th-century reformist theologian, Jamal Al-Din Al-Afghani (1839-1897), who was Muhammad 'Abduh's mentor and may be considered the father of the salafiyya movement. According to him, religious pluralism always existed in Islam. He states that the fact that Shi'ites preferred Muhammad's son-in-law 'Ali should not exclude them from the Muslim community. The text highlights the uselessness of vengeful attitudes between Sunnis and Shi'ites and stresses the positive impact of mutual acceptance.[26]


Following is a detailed listing of the contents of the two textbooks:

The 11th-Grade Schoolbook of Islamic Thought

Authors: Al-Saddiq Al-Khawni, Salim Al-Masahli, Zuhayr Al-Juwayni, Rashid Al-Qanuni, 'Izz Al-Din Al-Juwali. Supervision: Professor Kamal 'Amran.

Part 1 – The Basics of Islam

- Excerpt from The Dawn of Islam, by Ahmad Amin, Beirut: Dar Al-Kitab Al-'Arabi, pp.1-9.

- Excerpt from The Epistle of Allah's Unity, by Muhammad 'Abduh, Beirut, 1982, pp. 43-45.

- "The Limits of the Mind with Regard to the Unity of God," by Ibn Khaldun, Al-Muqaddima (Introduction to History), Tunis, 1989, pp. 557-559.

- "The Roots and the Branches of Religion," by Abu Al-Fath Al-Shahrastani, The Book of Religions and Sects (Al-Milal w'Al-Nihal), pp. 19-20.

- "The Fundamental Beliefs of the Sunnis," Abu Al-Hasan 'Ali ibn Ismail Al-Ash'ari, The Clarification of the Principles of Religion (Al-Ibana 'an Usul Al-Diyana), Damascus: Dar Al-Bayan.

- "Errors in [the Understanding of] Revelation," Al-Qadi 'Abd Al-Jabbar, The Explanation of the Five Principles (Sharh Al-Usul Al-Khamsa), Cairo: Maktabat Wahba, 1965, pp. 226-230.

- "The Historicity of the Study of Predestination," Dr. Muhammad Abd Al-Rahman Marhaba, From Greek Philosophy to Islamic Philosophy (Min Al-Falsafa Al-Yunaniyya ila Al-Falsafa Al-Islamiyya), pp. 282-285.

- "The Position of the Mu'tazilites Concerning Allah's Unity," Al-Ash'ari, The Opinions of Islamic [Thinkers] and the Different Views of Believers (Maqalat Al-Islamiyin wa-Ikhtilaf Al-Musallin), Tahqiq Writer, pp. 155-156.

- "The Emergence of the Theological Discussion of Predestination," Ibn Al-Qayyim, A Cure for the Sick in Matters of Predestination, Wisdom and Causality (Shifaa Al-'Alil fi Masa'il Al-Qada' wa-Al-Qadar), Beirut, 1978, pp. 3-4.

Part 2 – Renewal and Reform Movements

- Introductory texts include "Development of the Collapse [of Society]," Fahmi Jid'an, The Foundations of the Evolution of Islamic Thinkers in the Modern Arab World (Bawakir Al-Nahda), p. 15.

- "Reform in [Both] Ancient and Modern Times," Ali Umalil, Arab Reformism and the National State (Al-Islah Qadiman wa-Hadithan), pp. 18-21.

- "Some of the Causes of the Backwardness of the Muslims," Mustafa Fadel Pasha, Letter to the Sultan Abd Al-Aziz (Risala ila Al-Sultan 'Abd Al-'Aziz), Tunis: Kararis Tunis, No. 95-96, pp. 332-335.

- "The Protection of the Public Interest," Najm Al-Din Al-Tufi, The Public Interest in Islamic Legislation (Al-Maslaha fi Al-Tashri' Al-Islami), Mustafa Zayd, Supplement, pp. 35-41.

- "Two Types of Religious Scholar: Mujtahid vs. He Who is Bound by Tradition, Useful Words in the Demonstration of Intelligence Versus Emulation," Muhammad ibn 'Ali Al-Shawkani, A Useful Opinion Concerning the Evidence on Ijtihad and Imitation (Al-Qawl Al-Mufid fi Adillat Al-Ijtihad wa Al-Taqlid), Kuwait: Dar Al-Qalam, pp. 46-51.

- "The Effect of the Contacts with Europe on the Arab renaissance," Muhammad Al-Qadi and 'Abdallah Sulah, Arab Reformist Thought in the Age of the [Arab] Renascence (Al-Fikr Al-Islahi 'inda Al-'Arab fi 'Asr Al-Nahda), Tunis: Dar Al-Janub editions, 1992, pp. 15-24.

- "An Azharite Bumpkin in the City of Lights [Paris]," Muhammad 'Ammara, The Complete Works (Al-A'mal Al-Kamila), pp. 11-12.

- "Achieving the Goals to Administrative Reforms," Khayr Al-Din Al-Tunsi, The Best Ways Concerning the Knowledge of States (Aqwam Al-Masalik fi Ma'rifat Ahwal Al-Mamalik), pp. 92-98.

- "The Unification of [Islamic] Religious Schools," Jamal Al-Din Al-Afghani, The Complete Works (Al-A'mal Al-Kamila), pp. 324-325.

- "Despotism versus Knowledge," 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Kawakibi, The Nature of Despotism and the Destruction of Enslavement (Taba'i' Al-Istibdad wa Masari' Al-Isti'bad), pp. 28-33.

- "The Reform of Education," Muhammad 'Abduh, The Complete Works (Al-A'mal Al-Kamila), pp. 113-114.

- "Cultural Identity and Colonialism," 'Ammar Al-Talbi, The Works of Ben Badis (Athar Ben Badis), Algiers, 1968, pp. 309-310.

- "The Purpose of the Shari'a in [Setting Up] the System of the Islamic Nation," Muhammad Al-Taher ibn 'Ashur, The Purposes of the Shari'a (Maqasid Al-Shari'a), p. 139.

- "Islam Today: A New Awareness," Dr Muhammad 'Aziz Al-Hababi, Individualism in Islam (Al-Shakhsaniyya Al-Islamiyya), pp. 141-142.

- "The Common Interest is Bound by the Purposes [of the Law]," 'Allal Al-Fasi, The Purposes of Islamic Law and its Virtues (Maqasid Al-Shari'a Al-Islamiyya wa Makarimiha), pp. 177-179.

- "[About] Monarchy that is Limited by Law," Ibn Abi Al-Diaf, Providing the People of our Time with Information about the Kings of Tunis and the Promise of Safety (Ithaf Ahl Al-Zaman bi Ikhbar Muluk Tunis wa 'Ahd Al-Aman), Tunis, 1989, pp. 58-59.

- "A Call for [Establishing] a National Representative Council," General Hussein, From the Letters of General Hussein (Min Rasa'il Hussein), Al-'Ahd Al-Rutbi l'il-Risala, p. 146.

- "Criticism of Reformist Thought," Kamal 'Abd Al-Latif, Allegorical Interpretation and Paradox (Al-Ta'wil wa Al-Mufaraqa), p. 17.

- "Evaluating the Reformist Movement," 'Abd Al-Samad Belkabir, Studies on the Salafi Movement (Durus fi Al-Haraka Al-Salafiyya), pp. 122-123.

Part 3 – Tradition: Introducing Muhammad 'Abduh

Excerpts from Islam and Christianity in Relation to Science and Civilization (Al-Islam wa Al-Nasraniyya ma'a Al-'Ilm wa Al-Madaniyya), Muhammad 'Abduh, Cairo, 1938:

- "The Stagnation of the Islamic Jurists" (Jumud Al-Fuqaha'), pp. 107-108.

- "The Close Relation between Science and Religion and the Spread of Fanaticism among the Muslims" (Mulazamat Al-'Ilm l'il-Din wa 'Aswa Al-Ta'assub fi Al-Muslimin), pp. 150-151.

- "The State of Religious Sciences" (Hal 'Ulum Al-Din), pp. 152-153.

- "Taqlid" [Imitation of Religious Authorities], pp. 157-158.

Part 4 – Koran: Surat Al-Hujurat (49)

The 12th-Grade Schoolbook of Islamic Thought

Authors: 'Abd Al-Jalil Al-Missawi, Al-Hadi Al-Khudri, Ahmad Al-Mushriqi, 'Abd Al-Razeq Al-'Iyyari. Supervision: Professor 'Ali 'Abd Al-Jalil. Final revisions: 'Abd Al-Majid Al-Sharfi. 

Part 1 – Inspiration: Between Interpretation and Explanation

- "Regular Interpretation," Muhammad Rashid Rida, The Lighthouse Exegesis (Tafsir Al-Manar), pp. 24-26.

- "The Texts versus Reality," Nasr Hamed Abu-Zayd, The Notion of the Text (Mafhoum Al-Nass), Beirut: Al-Markaz Al-Thiqafi Al-'Arabi, 1990, pp. 8-9.

- "The Meaning of Revelation," Muhammad Rashid Rida, Muhammad's Revelation (Al-Wahy Al-Muhammadi), Beirut and Damascus: Dar Al-Maktab Al-Islami, 1985, p. 44.

- "The Significance of Revelation and its Connection with the Mind," Khalil Ahmad Khalil, The Dialectics of the Koran (Jadaliyat Al-Quran), Beirut, 1997.

- "The Creation of the Koran: The Idea and the Court of Investigation," Ahmad Mahmoud Subhi, The Science of Kalam [i.e. Islamic theology] (Fi 'Ilm Al-Kalam), Alexandria: Mu'assasat Al-Thaqafa Al-Jami'iyya, pp. 127-129.

- "The Philosophical Significance of the Issue of the Creation of the Koran," Hussein Ahmad Amin, The Guide for the Sad Muslim (Dalil Al-Muslim Al-Hazin), Tunis: Dar Al-Janub l'il-Nashr, 1993, pp. 133-134.

- "The Inimitability of the Koran," Muhammad 'Ali Al-Sabouni, The Exposition of the Koranic Sciences (Al-Tibyan fi 'Ulum Al-Quran), Cairo, 1980, pp. 86-125.

- "Intellect and Tradition," Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali, The Revival of the Sciences of Religion (Ma'arij Al-Quds fi Madarij Ma'rifat Al-Nafs), Cairo, 1927, p. 59.

- "Exegesis and Allegorical Interpretation," Muhammad Al-Tahir Ben 'Ashur, The Exegesis of Writing and of Enlightenment (Tafsir Al-Tahrir wa Al-Ta'wil), Tunis: Al-Dar Al-Tunisiyya l'il-Nashr, 1984, p. 12.

- "The Meaning of Allegorical Interpretation," 'Ali Harb, Innovation and Allegorical Interpretation (Al-Tajdid wa Al-Ta'wil), Majalat Dirasat 'Arabiyya, 1982, No. 8-12.

- "The Progressive Steps in [the Development of] Religion and Liferanic Exegesis," Al-Sayyed Ahmad Khalil, The Development of Exegesis of the Holy Books and the Koran (Nasha't Al-Tafsir fi Al-Kutub Al-Muqadassa wa Al-Quran), Alexandria: Al-Wikala Al-Sharqiyya l'il-Thaqafa, 1954, pp. 69-83.

- "The Intellect and the Rule of Tradition," Fu'ad Zakaria, Scientific Thinking (Al-Tafkir Al-'Ilmi), Kuwait: Silsalat 'Alam Al-Ma'aref, 1988, pp. 83-85.

- "Between Allegorical Interpretation and Fiqh," Nasr Hamed Abu-Zayd, The Notion of the [Sacred] Text (Mafhum Al-Nass), pp. 237-240.

Part 2 – Civilization: Political Issues in Islamic Thought

- "A Historicized Approach to Statehood in Islamic Civilization," Ahmad Amin, The Forenoon of Islam (Doha Al-Islam), Beirut: Dar Al-Kitab Al-'Arabi, pp. 4-6.

- "Freedom as the Basis of Power," Kamal 'Abdallah Al-Mahdi, Religion and Life (Al-Din wa Al-Hayat), Beirut: Dar Al-Jil, 1988, pp. 291-293.

- "The Shura [consultation in Islam]," Muhammad Al-Talbi, The Children of Allah ('Iyyal Allah), Dar Siras lil-Nashr, 1992, pp. 90-93.

- "Equality and Justice," Kamal 'Abdallah Al-Mahdi, Religion and Life (Al-Din wa Al-Hayat), pp. 293-295.

- "State and Values," Muhammad Iqbal, The Renewal of Religious Thought (Tajdid Al-Tafkir Al-Dini), Cairo, 1968, pp. 177-179.

- "Caliphate and Imamate," Ibn Khaldun, The Introduction to History (Al-Muqaddima), Tunis, 1989, pp. 1-244.

- "The Caliphate is a Civilian Institution," 'Ali Harb, The Secularism of the State in Islam ('Ilmaniyyat Al-Dawla), Majalat Al-Naqid.

- "Islamic Principles Concerning the Imamate," Abu Al-Hasan Al-'Ash'ari, The Principles of Islam and the Differences of Opinion among the Believers (Maqalat Al-Islamiyin wa Ikhtilaf Al-Musallin), Cairo: Maktabat Al-Nahda Al-Misriyya, 1954, pp. 132-136.

- "The Issue of Caliphate and Government in Modern Times," 'Abd Al-Majid Al-Sharafi, Islam and Modernity (Al-Islam wa Al-Hidatha), pp. 189-223.

- "Islam is a Religion which Offers Knowledge," 'Ali 'Abd Al-Razeq, Islam and the Principles of Government (Al-Islam wa Usul Al-Hukm), Beirut: Dar Maktabat Al-Hayat, pp. 143-153.

- "Was the Prophet a Political Leader?," Muhammad Al-Khidr Hussein, Refutation of ['Abd Al-Razeq's] Islam and the Principles of Government (Naqd Kitab Al-Islam wa Usul Al-Hukm), Cairo: Al-Matba'a Al-Salafiyya, 1923, pp. 135-137.

- "Constancy and Change in the Relation between Religion and Politics," Abd Al-Hamid Mutawalli, Islamic Legislation and [Secular] Legislation (Al-Tashri' Al-Islami wa Al-Nuzum Al-Qanunia), Cairo: Al-Hay'a Al-Misriyya Al-'Amma l'il-Kitab, 1978, pp. 85-86.

- "The Interaction between the Islamic Principles and the Knowledge of the [Modern] Era," Muhammad Rida Muharram, Modernization of Islamic Political Thought (Tahdith Al-'Aql Al-Siyasi Al-Islami), Cairo, Dar Al-Fikr lil-Dirasat wa Al-Nashr wa Al-Tawzi', 1986, pp. 155-159.

- "Islam Honors the Rights of Ownership," Ali 'Abd Al-Wahed Wafi, Islam Protects Life and Honor (Himayat Al-Islam l'il-Anfas wa Al-A'rad), Cairo: Matba'a Al-Sha'b, pp. 44-46.

- "The Prophet of Compassion and Fighting," Hassan Sa'b, Islam and the Challenges of the Current Age (Al-Islam wa Tahadiyyat Al-'Asr), Beirut: Dar Al-'Ilm lil-Malayin, pp. 39-41.

- "Social Solidarity," Sa'ad Al-Din Ibrahim, Majallat Al-Mustaqbal Al-'Arabi.

- "Imamate According to the Kharijites," Abu-Said Al-Qalhati, Exposition and Clarification (Al-Kashf wa Al-Bayan), Tunis, 1984, pp. 151-152.

- "Imamate According to the Mu'tazalites," Muhammad Hamud, Mu'tazalite Political Thought (Al-Fikr Al-Siyasi 'inda Al-Mu'tazala), Dirasa min Majallat Al-Fikr Al-'Arabi, 1981, p. 344.

- "Imamate According to the Ash'arites," Ahmad Mahmud Subhi, The Science of Kalam [i.e., Islamic theology] (Fi 'Ilm Al-Kalam), Alexandria, 1982, p. 90.

- "Islam Honors the Right of Owners to Use their Property as They Wish," Ali 'Abd Al-Wahed Wafi, Islam Protects Life and Honor (Himayat Al-Islam l'il-Anfas wa Al-A'rad), Cairo: Matba'a Al-Sha'b, pp. 48-58.

- "Economic Activity and the Value of Human Work," Ibn Khaldun, The Introduction to History (Al-Muqaddima), Beirut: Dar Al-Kitab Al-Lubnani, 1967, pp. 678-681.

Part 3 – The Tradition: Islam and the Principles of Government (by 'Ali 'Abd Al-Razeq)

- Sheikh 'Ali 'Abd Al-Razeq's biography [by the Ministry of Education].

- "Those in Power," Ali 'Abd Al-Razeq, Islam and the Principles of Government (Al-Islam wa Usul Al-Hukm), Beirut: Dar Maktabat Al-Hayat, pp. 122-123.

- "Caliphate and Force," Ali 'Abd Al-Razeq, Islam and the Principles of Government (Al-Islam wa Usul Al-Hukm), Beirut: Dar Maktabat Al-Hayat, pp. 73-75.

- "The Prophet and Political Power," Ali 'Abd Al-Razeq, Islam and the Principles of Government (Al-Islam wa Usul Al-Hukm), Beirut: Dar Maktabat Al-Hayat, pp. 151-154.

- "The Caliphate is not a Religious Position," Ali 'Abd Al-Razeq, Islam and the Principles of Government (Al-Islam wa Usul Al-Hukm), Beirut: Dar Maktabat Al-Hayat, pp. 181-182.

- "The Need for a Government Differs from the Need for the Caliphate," Ali 'Abd Al-Razeq, Islam and the Principles of Government (Al-Islam wa Usul Al-Hukm), Beirut: Dar Maktabat Al-Hayat, pp. 80-83.

*M. Feki and N. Maruani are Research Fellows at MEMRI.

[1] The Nahda (renaissance) was a cultural and intellectual trend in the Arab world in the late 19th century and early 20th century, initially based in modern-day Lebanon, then largely moving to Egypt.

[2] See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 208, "Accusing Muslim Intellectuals of Apostasy," February 18, 2005; Accusing Muslim Intellectuals of Apostasy.

[3] 'Abd Al-Razeq, Islam and the Principles of Government (Al-Islam wa-Usul Al-Hukm), Beirut: Dar Maktabat Al-Hayat, pp. 122-123; 12th-Grade Schoolbook of Islamic Thought, pp. 96-97.

[4] 12th-Grade Schoolbook of Islamic Thought, pp. 109-110.

[5] 11th-Grade Schoolbook of Islamic Thought, p. 86.

[6] 11th-Grade Schoolbook of Islamic Thought, p. 84.

[7] Hussein Ahmad Amin, Dalil Al-Muslim Al-Hazin, Tunis: Al-Janoub l'il-Nashr, 1993, pp. 133-134.

[8] The Mu'tazalite dogma on the createdness of the Koran was vigorously enforced under the Caliph Al-Ma'mun (d. 833). In the course of this mihna (often translated as "inquisition"), the traditionalist Ibn Hanbal, the eponym of the Hanbali school of Islam, was flogged and imprisoned.

[9] 12th-Grade Schoolbook of Islamic Thought, p. 18.

[10] Muhammad 'Abduh, Islam and Christianity, Cairo, 1938, pp. 107-108. 'Abduh (1849-1905) was one of the most important figures in the salafiyya movement. He advocated a return to primary religious, instead of the reliance on later compendia of jurisprudence; opposed what he saw as superstitious accretions to Islam, such as the veneration of saints; and argued for the compatibility of Islam and modernity.

[11] 11th-Grade Schoolbook of Islamic Thought, p. 98.

[12] Muhammad 'Abduh, Islam and Christianity, Cairo, 1938, pp. 150-151.

[13] 11th-Grade Schoolbook of Islamic Thought, p. 100.

[14] Muhammad Bin Ali Al-Shawkani, Useful Words in the Display of Effort and Emulation, Kuwait City: Al-Qalam, Tunis, pp. 46-51.

[15] 11th-Grade Schoolbook of Islamic Thought, p. 52

[16]Abd Al-Rahman Al-Kawakibi, The Features of Despotism and the End of Slavery, pp. 28-33; 11th-Grade Schoolbook of Islamic Thought, p. 67

[17] Muhammad 'Abduh, Islam and Christianity, Cairo, 1938, pp. 150-151.

[18] 11th-Grade Schoolbook of Islamic Thought, p. 54.

[19] 12th-Grade Schoolbook of Islamic Thought, p. 38.

[20] 11th-Grade Schoolbook of Islamic Thought, p. 48.

[21] Kamal 'Abdallah Al-Mahdi, Religion and Life, Beirut: Dar Al-Jil, 1988, pp. 291-293.

[22] 12th-Grade Schoolbook of Islamic Thought, p. 38

[23] Muhammad Al-Talbi, Allah's children, Dar Siras, 1992, pp. 90-93.

[24] 12th-Grade Schoolbook of Islamic Thought, p. 40.

[25] 12th-Grade Schoolbook of Islamic Thought, p. 38.

[26] Jamal Al-Din Al-Afghani, Al-A'amal Al-Kamila, pp. 324-325; 11th-Grade Schoolbook of Islamic Thought, p.65. Incidentally, there is currently an ongoing polemic, especially in Wahhabi circles, as to whether Al-Afghani himself was of Shi'ite origin.

Share this Report: