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Attitudes Towards Government In Islam And Judaism

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Chapter Summary

The concept of state is alien to the political glossary of both Islam and Judaism. The concepts that are dealt with in this chapter, those that are native to Hebrew and Arabic, are: kingship (malkhut), rule (serārā), communal leadership (rabbdnut), the authorities (rāshūt), and equivalent Arabic terms, especially sulṭān. Jewish religious writings manifest a more active interest in public life and in the problem of authority than the corresponding Islamic writings. The chapter re-examines the theories of Judaism and Islam about the origin of authority, as well as the attitude of religion towards the state. In doing so, what we find are generalized precepts and ethical aphorisms more comparable to the rhetoric of a Seneca than to the definitions of an Ulpianus. Judaism and Islam are unanimous in their attitude towards those in authority, and in their objection to participation in government, a unanimity which is indeed surprising.

Keywords: Islamic government; Judaism; malkhut; rāshūt; rabbdnut; serārā; sulṭān



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