Power Legitimacy in Islamic Political Thought

12 September, 2021

The Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies has published Power Legitimacy in Islamic Political Thought by Samir Sassi under its PhD Theses series. The book approaches the issue of power legitimacy in Islamic political thought and investigates how jurists established legitimate politics in the medieval Islamic era. It scrutinizes the limits and effects of this issue on both historical and contemporary Islamic thought and its impact on the experience of the Islamic political society and system of governance.

The issue of the system of governance in Islam has been a topic of huge importance, saturated with jurisprudential research. Different theories have emerged about the organization of power in the Islamic state, and about power between the founding text and real history. However, the angles of study, sectarian and political differences, and the problematic relationship between the text and history have all prevented these issues from being once more brought to the fore. The subject has remained - and will continue to be - controversial, despite the almost incalculable contributions. Although separate chapters have been devoted in theology books to talk about authority, the conditions for its establishment, and its protocol, and that a significant number of jurists and thinkers have written independent books for this purpose, the subject is still up for serious discussion.

The book is divided into seven chapters, divided into three sections. The first section explores institutional concepts of legitimacy across three chapters, the first of which deals with Sunni institutional concepts legitimacy. The second chapter investigates Shi’i institutional concepts of legitimacy, while the third looks at shared concepts of legitimacy between the Sunni and Shi’i institutions.

The second section explores the marja’ or religious source across two chapters. The first looks at the Sunni marja,’ based on the principle of governance and the second looks at the Shi’i marja,’ based on the principle of the Imam. The third section looks at ways in which legitimacy is applied, with chapter 6 investigating the manifestations justifications of authoritative applications of legitimacy and chapter 7 scrutinising the manifestations and intent of the way in which legitimacy is applied by the opposition. The author thus discusses one of the most important dilemmas within Islamic political society, which is the problem of the opposition's relationship with power. This is because actors following different principles agree on the supreme marja’, and everyone shows their adherence to the principle of unity that transcends political organization. Within the topic of the opposition’s application of legitimacy is the goal of achieving justice, which is essential to jurisprudence.

Read Also