Historical Social Research

Neguin Yavari: The Political Regard in Medieval Islamic Thought [Abstract]

Global intellectual history has attracted traction in the past decade, but the field remains focused on the modern period and the diffusion of Western political concepts, ideologies, and methodologies. This paper suggests that juxtaposing political texts from the medieval Islamic world with their Christian counterparts will allow for a better understanding of the contours of the debate on the space for politics, framed in primary sources as the perennial tug of war between religious and lay authority. The implications of this line of inquiry for the history of European political thought are significant as well. Many of the premises and characteristics that are considered singularly European, such as continuity between past and present, as well as a strong performative regard to political thought, are equally present in non-European (in this instance Islamic) debates. It is more a matter of perspective than essence that distinguishes the history of European political thought, and a wider perspective through juxtaposition of texts and concepts would enhance the global debate by introducing new questions from rarely visited quarters.

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