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Liberal critics, ʿUlamaʾ and the debate on Islam in the contemporary arab world

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Chapter Summary

The objective of this chapter is to examine the involvement of the ʿulamaʾ in dealing with liberal religious arguments in contemporary Arab societies. It concentrates mainly on establishment and high-ranking ʿulamaʾ, their patterns of behavior and the strategies employed by them in dealing with a social and cultural phenomenon. The debate against liberal texts has been undertaken by a variety of actors: official and independent ʿulamaʾ, journalists, lawyers, Islamists, advanced students and even secular state courts. Most of the famous cases of banning of liberal texts in the Arab world have not originated within the ministries of Information, Interior or Culture. Suits have been filed against several liberal critics in different Arab countries. Most of what can be classified as fatwas of takfir, denouncing liberal critics or declaring some of them apostates, have been issued by Islamists and in a few cases by low-ranking or peripheral ʿulamaʾ.

Keywords: ʿulamaʾ; contemporary Arab world; Islamists



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