Six Centuries of Medieval Islamic Political Thought
Patricia Crone's God's Rule is a fundamental reconstruction and analysis of Islamic political thought focusing on its intellectual development during the six centuries from the rise of Islam to the Mongol invasions. Based on a wide variety of primary sources--including some not previously considered from the point of view of political thought--this is the first book to examine the medieval Muslim answers to questions crucial to any Western understanding of Middle Eastern politics today, such as why states are necessary, what functions they are meant to fulfill, and whether or why they must be based on religious law.
The character of Muslim political thought differs fundamentally from its counterpart in the West. The Christian West started with the conviction that truth (both cognitive and moral) and political power belonged to separate spheres. Ultimately, both power and truth originated with God, but they had distinct historical trajectories and regulated different aspects of life. The Muslims started with the opposite conviction: truth and power appeared at the same time in history and regulated the same aspects of life. In medieval Europe, the disagreement over the relationship between religious authority and political power took the form of a protracted controversy regarding the roles of church and state. In the medieval Middle East, religious authority and political power were embedded in a single, divinely sanctioned Islamic community--a congregation and state made one. The disagreement, therefore, took the form of a protracted controversy over the nature and function of the leadership of Islam itself. Crone makes Islamic political thought accessible by relating it to the contexts in which it was formulated, analyzing it in terms familiar to today's reader, and, where possible, comparing it with medieval European and modern political thought. By examining the ideological point of departure for medieval Islamic political thought, Crone provides an invaluable foundation for a better understanding of contemporary Middle Eastern politics and current world events.
This rich and wide-ranging book... is stimulating and provocative... [Crone's] lucid style aims to make a complex, ostensibly alien, tradition intelligible to the general reader as well as to the Islamic specialist.
The book is a masterpiece on the history of the tension existing between religion and politics.
Peter von Sivers
The author, a distinguished Islamic scholar, cuts through a welter of misconceptions.
Patricia Crone gracefully covers the first six centuries of Islamic political thought.
Students today... will benefit greatly from this welcome study of early Islamic political thought.
Ronald J. Stansbury
Part One: The Beginnings 1. The Origins of Government2. The First Civil War and Sect Formation3. The UmayyadsPart Two: The Waning of the Tribal Tradition, c.700-900 4. General5. The Kharijites6. The Mu'tazilites7. The Shi'ites of the Umayyad Period8. The 'Abbasids and Shi'ism9. The Zaydis10. The Imamis11. The Hadith PartyPart Three Coping with a Fragmented World 12. General13. The Persian Tradition and Advice Literature14. The Greek Tradition and 'Political Science'15. The Ismailis16. The SunnisPart Four: Government and Society 17. The Nature of Government18. The Functions of Government19. Visions of Freedom20. The Social Order21. Muslims and Non-Muslims(a) Infidels(b) Muslims as Infidels22. Epilogue: Religion, Government and Society RevisitedBibliography, Abbreviations and ConventionsIndex and Glossary