RECOMMENDED READING: Coping With Political Theology


Professor Mark Liila, author of the “The Stillborn God: Religion, Politics, and the Modern West “, has written an essay for the Cato Institute publication in which he applies some of the analysis of his book to the Islamic world. In this passage, he points to some of the difficulties for West as it confronts the notion of Islamic Law as promulgated by the Muslim Brotherhood:

The challenge in the Islamic world ‘“ and in those Western nations that have large Muslim populations ‘“ is much greater. Our working assumptions ‘“ that democracy is the only legitimate form of government, that the institutional separation of church and state is necessary, that religion is essentially a private matter, that one should be free to enter or leave a religious congregation at will ‘“ are simply not the assumptions of millions of Muslims across the globe. This is not because they do not want good government, or decent societies, or that they are utterly intolerant of other faiths. It is because the political theology of the shari’a is still intact and commands the respect of all pious Muslims ‘“ just as the Torah is intact for ultra-orthodox Jews, many of whom reject the legitimacy of the Israeli democratic state. Torah and shari’a are comprehensive laws, and those who believe in their comprehensiveness are obliged to look to them for guidance in everything, including politics. Given the statelessness of diaspora Jews for two millennia, the political-theological potential of the Torah lay dormant, except for occasional outbursts of messianic dreaming, as in the case of Shabbtai Zvi (1626-76). But the political theology of shari’a is highly developed and has been put into practice in Muslim nations for over a thousand years. The Great Separation that eventually extinguished Christian political theology in the West has no counterpart in the Muslim world.

Both the essay and his book are worthwhile reading for those attempting to come to grips with Islamist concepts of government although the book deals almost entirely with “political theology” in the Judeo-Christian world.

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