The Universal and the Particularistic. The philosophical projects of two Moroccan philosophers: Muhammad ´Abd al-Jabiri and Taha ´Abd al-Rahman

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Abstract

One of the main themes in modern Islamic debate has been the relationship between universal and cultural particularistic norms regulating human affairs, the sphere which in classical Islamic tradition is designated as mu´amalat. A recurrent topic of contest has been the universal character of international conventions on human rights.
In this paper I will discuss two attempts at accommodation by two Moroccan philosophers who will serve as exponents of two positions in this debate. Muhammad ´Abid al-Jabiri (1936-2010) justified a conception of democracy, human rights, and women’s rights substantially identical to that of contemporary international conventions by arguing for its foundation in the Islamic philosophical tradition, indeed by claiming that the European philosophical tradition had borrowed it from the former. Taha ´Abd al-Rahman (b. 1944) argues for a specifically Islamic reconceptualization of democracy and human rights and the task of the Islamic civilization to inject a spiritual dimension into what he considers Western materialistic notions. The iconic figure in al-Jabiri’s philophical discourse is the Andalusian Islamic scholar and philosopher Ibn Rushd’s (d. 1198) attempt to reconcile revelation and reason. ´Abd al-Rahman’s reference in Islamic tradition is Ibn Rushd’s contemporary Ibn ´Arabi’s (d. 1240) attempt to construct a coherent system of the Islamic mystical tradition.
The two Moroccan philosophers both try to safeguard a particular collective identity, in the case of al-Jabiri an national Moroccan one, and in the case of ´Abd al-Rahman a general Muslim one, while at the same time integrating this identity into a broader modern global culture. In order to analyze how these two philosophical projects articulate the relationship between religion, law, and ethics in modern societies I will depart from the originally Kantian distinction, as elaborated by the German philosopher Jürgen Habermas and Rainer Forst, between universally binding moral norms and ethical norms which define the good of particular lifeforms.

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Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Other Social Sciences

Keywords

  • Islam, Philosophy, Human Rights, Morocco, Middle East
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2011
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes
EventConference of the Middle East Studies Association - Washington
Duration: 2011 Dec 12011 Dec 4

Conference

ConferenceConference of the Middle East Studies Association
Period2011/12/012011/12/04