ISLAMIC ENLIGHTENMENT IN PRINCIPLE AND PRACTICE: DIVINE SOVEREIGNTY AND HUMAN GOVERNANCE (التنوير الإسلامي تأصيلاً وتطبيقاً: مقدمة في سيادة الشرع وحوكمة البشر)

Jamal H. Al-Homsi

Abstract

Despite researchers’ interests in studying Divine Sovereignty and its link to democracy since the last quarter of the 20th century, this Islamic principle still need more clarification, particularly in view of rising Islamophobia and fear from political Islam since early 21th century. This research aims at reviewing and re-interpreting the Sovereignty (al-Hakimiyah) principle as well as defending its proper interpretation against critics. It aims also at uncovering its significance in steering meta-public policy within an integrated perspective that does not ignore the role of Shura, wisdom and good governance. To remove any theocratic shadow or bad man-made implementation of the Sovereignty principle, this research coined a more core, clear and representative term: Islamic Enlightenment (IE) as a high-level objective of Shari‘a. The new term emphasizes knowledge and mercy aspects of Shari‘a instead of pure politics and authority of al-Hakimiyah. The IE means the ability of Shari‘a to provide guidance to humanity (identifying ultimate good and bad, right and wrong) at both the individual and society levels, without impairing mankind delegated authority in legislation. This research also explores the normative link between Shari‘a and state, making the IE a substantial opportunity rather than a political challenge, particularly in reaching objective common good. This is critically significant in view of the deep Western moral skepticism as embodied in the so-called naturalistic fallacy and Hume's law in moral philosophy. The research adopts a multidisciplinary approach that combines modern Islamic studies with ethical and political theory, history and public policy analysis, based on a synthesis of different components of the topic. Finally, the research proposes a set of conclusions and recommendations, of which a key recommendation for future research to formulate a high-level Islamic normative theory of public governance and wisdom with directing principles and institutional applications. This is necessary to guarantee the successful execution of the divine IE through a fallible man-made praxis.

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