Dissertation, University of Kent (1995)

In this thesis, the political concepts of Nahj al-balāghah, a Shīte source of the eleventh century, is examined. The book contains books materials of political philosophy and evaluation of some political events which occurred in the caliphate of Rāshidūn especially 'Alī. However, the historical authenticity of the book is not the concern of this thesis and the main concentration is made on the early caliphal government and politics in the book with reference to the Islamic political initiatives of Islam in the prophetic society. The first step in our approach is to create awareness about the difficulties which appear in any attempt that deals with Islam and history. The different approaches of Muslims and non-Muslims to Islam and their different perceptions of religious politics are included in the first part. In addition, several political initiatives of Islam such as political economy, political activism, integration of society and so on are examined in the framework of the Qurān and Sunnah of the Prophet. This explanation enables us to observe the politics and government of the first successors of the Prophet in their ideological context. The second part is devoted to explain the major changes in Islamic politics and government after the Prophet. With this background, in the third part, the political contents of Nahj al-balāghah, or "the peak of eloquence", are analyzed without consideration as to whether 'Alī is its real author. There are some principles of political theory and philosophy, as well as a political account of several events in the book which are the main subjects of analysis of the present thesis. In its politico-theoretical dimension, the value of the world, the theological description of human freedom and responsibility, and the theoretical approach to society and history are explained. In its political capacity, issues such as the need for a government and the extent of toleration in it, the role of people, justice, leadership and its responsibilities are included in the third part.
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