In Translation: Modern Muslim Thinkers​

Series Editor: Abdou Filali-Ansary

In Translation: Modern Muslim Thinkers aims to broaden the current debate around Muslim civilisations. Although global in scope, academic and media conversations about Muslims often overlook works of new and original thinking produced in non-European languages. 

This series aims to identify and translate some of these works, which have engendered important debates within their own indigenous settings, thereby introducing them into the domain of the larger discussion about Muslim civilisations taking place on the world stage. 

In addition, the remarkable scope of modern scholarship in the Muslim world spans a multitude of languages: not just Arabic and Persian, but also Indonesian, Bengali, Swahili, Russian, Turkish, Urdu and so forth. 

Muslims, who seek new ways of thinking about social, political, and economic conflicts, therefore often lack access to the works of academics or scholars due to language barriers. 

By translating and making available in English (the lingua franca of the academic world) important contributions to the contemporary debates of the Muslim world, this series hopes to encourage greater dialogue and understanding among Muslim and non-Muslim thinkers.

The texts chosen for the series represent some of the most important, new, and cutting edge thinking from the Muslim world over the past century (1900-2013).

Volume 2: Islam and the Foundations of Political Power

Author: Ali Abdel Razek

Translated by Maryam Loutfi

Edited by Abdou Filali-Ansary 

ISBN: 9780748639786​ (HB)  ISBN: 9780748689835​ (PB)  

Publication date: 2012 and 2013

Co-publisher: Edinburgh University Press

The publication of this essay in Egypt in 1925 took the contemporaries of Ali Abdel Razek by storm.

At a time when there was widespread turmoil over the abolition of the caliphate by Ataturk in Turkey, Ali Abdel Razek, a religious cleric trained at Al-Azhar University, argued in favour of secularism. 

The abolition of the caliphate had re-ignited the question of Islam and its relationship to political power. This essay unleashed the Arab world’s first great public debate published in the press with polemics supporting or refuting Ali Abdel Razek’s ideas. 

Ali Abdel Razek graduated from Al-Azhar University in 1915 as an ‘alim and went on to travel to Britain to study for a short period at Oxford University. The outbreak of World War I compelled him to return to Egypt where he undertook further study at the newly founded Egypt University. Following this, he served as an Al-Azhar alim, a judge in the traditional Islamic Courts of Alexandria, and as a teacher of Arabic. 

Volume 1:​ Islam: Between Message and History

Author: Abdelmadjid Charfi

Translated by David Bond

Edited by Abdou Filali-Ansary and Sikeena Karmali Ahmed

ISBN: 9780748639670​ (HB) ​

Publication Date: 2009

Co-publisher: Edinburgh University Press

This book could easily be called “A Guide for the Modern Muslim”, someone for whom the sentiments of his or her ancestors resonate but who cannot accept the canonised formulas of a prescriptive education. 

Charfi spells out what for him is the essential message of Islam, followed by a history of its unfolding through the person of the Prophet Muhammad, whom he perceives as a visionary seeking to change the ideals, attitudes and behaviours of the society in which he lived. Charfi delineates the message and its history as two separate elements, conflated by tradition.

Charfi confronts with great lucidity the difficult questions with which Muslims are struggling, attempting to reconsider them from a moral and political perspective independent of traditional frameworks.

Abdelmadjid Charfi was Professor of Arabic Civilisation and Islamic Thought at the University of Manouba until his retirement in 2002.