Abstract

This article elucidates the place of domination, or subjection to another’s arbitrary power, in al-Ghazālī’s political thought, especially his Counsel for Kings. Scholars have long thought conceptions of liberty unimportant to or absent from medieval Islamic political thought but have neglected the possible presence of conceptions of liberty as non-domination. Drawing on recent work stressing his lifelong political engagement and self-understanding as his age’s “Reviver” (mujaddid), this article argues that al-Ghazālī is deeply concerned with domination and implicitly forwards a robust conception of liberty in terms of non-domination. In form and substance, Counsel for Kings would establish and publish theologically grounded relations of reciprocity and accountability by which political power would be constrained against arbitrariness. With others who conceive of liberty as non-domination, al-Ghazālī identifies flattery as a special threat to liberty and deploys his doctrine of “commanding right and forbidding wrong” (ḥisba) as an antidote to it and to domination more broadly. By it, and other means, he advances a non-dominating politics of mutual recognition, or can be read as doing so, even if other strands of his thought push in competing directions.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2161-6302
Print ISSN
0038-1861
Pages
pp. 260-288
Launched on MUSE
2015-08-06
Open Access
No
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