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Islamic Ethics and Politics

The topic of Islam, politics, Shari’a and Islamic state dominates (inter)national headlines as much as it does private discussions. It came to the forefront initially when, in their recently post-colonial societies, Muslims were attempting to find an alternative to a secular/western system. It continued to be a common and hotly contested issue throughout the 20th century and into today, especially in light of uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa in recent years.

This discussion remains central to the future of Muslim-majority countries and their political systems. Some still have aspirations for an Islamic state, for others having Shari’a as a “frame of reference” in building a new political model suffices and still many others now demand a “civil state”.

Beyond the historical models and debates on political structures, this is a question of politics and power. And here, Islamic ethics, principles and objectives invite Muslims around the world - whether they are a majority or minority in their societies- to consider how they conceive of and manage their citizenship, power and political structures. Islamic legislation and ethics should drive Muslims to ask: what are the relevant ethical values and how might ethics be reconciled with politics? What is good governance from an Islamic perspective? Can we think about ethics in politics, ethics of citizenship, even the civil society?

In considering these questions, Muslims are guided by the principles that exist in the scriptural sources and the higher objectives that ought to be achieved when it comes to governance. However, in a globalizing ever more interconnected world, the nation’s seat is no longer the only reference.

Moreover, specialists in diverse fields must cross their respective disciplinary boundaries and engage one another, if these critical issues of the day are to be addressed comprehensively. Muslims, therefore, have an ethical imperative to reassess some of the concepts and approaches that have been handed down to them as accepted religious tradition. This will enable them to address the current global situation within and between nations.

CILE endeavors to facilitate the collaborative deliberation of Muslim scholars of Shari’a, political experts, sociologists and specialists in human sciences to address these contemporary challenges within an Islamic ethical framework.