Secular and Religious Reason and Islam as a ‘Discursive Tradition’



This chapter begins by discussing the secular Enlightenment notion of ‘critique’ with reference to Asad’s comparison of the Islamic principle of nasiha (private advice to rulers) with Kant’s understanding of critique. Is the former a viable form of ‘traditional criticality’? The chapter then focuses on Asad’s suggestive but ambiguous notion of Islam as a ‘discursive tradition’. Here Asad was attempting to navigate between essentialist conceptions of Islam (there is only one authentic Islam) and relativist conceptions (there are multiple and equally valid local islams) to argue for the centrality of ‘orthodoxy’ in Islam and for the primacy of power in defining that orthodoxy. The problems with this understanding of Islam and its implications for defining ‘insiders’ and ‘outsiders’ are set out with reference to the analysis of Nasr Abu-Zayd case by Charles Hirschkind and Saba Mahmood.


Reason Tradition Orthodoxy Heremeneutics Islam 


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© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Aga Khan UniversityLondonUnited Kingdom

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