Islamic concept of sovereignty
Khīr, Busṭāmī Muḥammad S'aīd Muḥammad
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The purpose of this study is to analyse the modern trends among the Muslims concerning the problem of sovereignty. The question of sovereignty, which basically deals with political power, has become a matter of great concern to the Muslims since the nineteenth century especially those who are interested in the real principles of Islamic statehood as opposed to the western political concepts. There have been remarkable attempts by modern Muslim scholars to reconstruct early Islamic theories of rulership in cirumstances which have been entirely different to those in which the theories were born, chiefly due to the encounter between Islam and the West. These scholars have attempted to express these theories in modern terms amongst which the word sovereignty is in common use. Owing to the great impact of the Western notions of sovereignty, we shall also consider to what extent they have influenced the emergence of the new Muslim attitudes. It is advisable, therefore, to start the study with an examination of the origins of the Western theories in order to understand the Islamic concept of sovereignty as conceived by the modern Muslims. In Europe, sovereignty emerged as an important political concept after the religious wars of the sixteenth century and as a result of the creation of the territorial nation state. Though, it is generally an accepted working assumption up to the present time, yet it is an ambiguous term and lends itself to different interpretaions. In fact, it has been given a variety of forms in a number of theories which are all surrounded with much controversy. Nonetheless, all states of the modern world, including the Muslim countries, have been founded on the basis of these Western theories. After the Western sources the study looks into the early Islamic ideas of rulership from which the Muslims derive their inspirations. The survey of the modem Muslim views that follows covers the political thought of the Ottomans, the Arabs and the Muslims of the Indian sub-continent since the ninteenth century.