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Muslims Against the Islamic State

Arab Critics and Supporters of Ali Abdarraziq’s Islamic Laicism

Luay Radhan

The central thesis of this study is that there are religious Muslims who are against the Islamic State for Islamic reasons. Its main goal is to explain Ali Abdarraziq’s (1888–1966) Islamic Laicism and to show the arguments of some of his Arab critics and supporters. Abdarraziq’s Islamic Laicism is based on his Arabic work Islam and the Foundations of Governance: A Research of the Caliphate and Government in Islam (1925). In order to protect the people and the religion from the abuse of power by the state or the mosque, the Islamic Laicists Nasr Abu Zayd, Jamal al-Banna, Faraj Fodah, Abdullahi al-Na’im, and Turki al-Hamad want to separate the religious institutions (the mosque) from the political institutions (the state).
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4. Supporters of ʿAbdarrāziq’s Islamic Laicism


There should not be any compromise with the separation between the state and religion. I cannot really accept – after this experience of time, after the time I have lived – this constitutional article that says: “Islam is the religion of the state.” State has no religion. To put it in a funny way, and I did this in one of my lectures in Egypt: the state does not go to the mosque; the state does not pray five times a day; the state does not pay alms; the state does not go to ḥajj.878

Abū Zayd’s life

Naṣr Ḥāmid Abū Zayd was born in Quḥāfah, Egypt around July 10, 1943.879 He had already memorized the Quran when he was only eight years old.880 While working as a radio operator, he studied the Arabic language and Islam at Cairo University.881 Abū Zayd continued his research at the University of Philadelphia for two years and received his PhD from Cairo University in 1981.882 Afterwards, Abū Zayd taught at the University of Khartoum in Sudan and spent four years at Osaka University in Japan.883 When he returned to Egypt in 1989, he had almost completed his “mafhūm al-naṣṣ” (“The Concept of the Text,” 1991)884 and written most of “naqd al-khiṭāb al-dīnī” (“Critique of the Religious Discourse,” 1994)885. When Abū Zayd was about to be promoted from associate to full professor in ← 179 | 180 → 1993, one of his three reviewers, ʿAbdaṣṣabūr Sh...

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