The Between Politics And Religion

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1. Islam, as we saw early in this course, began with a fusion of religion and politics. How do the various approaches to Islam we 've studied—traditionalism as represented by the ‘ulama, Sufism, Islamism, and modernism—differ in conceiving of the relationship between the two? Does each necessarily have a vision of an Islamic engagement with politics and, if so, what does it look like?

The interaction between politics and religion in the Islamic context is one that descends from the model of the Prophet Muhammad, who served as a transcendental figure and as a community leader at the same time. Inevitably, then, these two aspects of Muhammad’s position interacted to some degree. Indeed, this intermingling of “the political” and “the religious” is seen in the very framework of Islam as we know it – the umma is at once a community defined around a religious identity and a political entity extant through that religious identity. Nevertheless, Islam remains a diverse religion encompassing a number of various “ideologies” – frameworks by which the textual and traditional material of the faith are interpreted and understood. This paper will examine a number of these ideological approaches to Islam – namely traditionalism, modernism, Islamism, and Sufism – and explain their visions of how Islam should relate with politics. Before I delve into this examination, however, it is worthwhile to spend a moment defining the two terms at the center of the analysis. Within this paper, I
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