By: Mohamed Elhachmi Hamdi, PhD, SOAS, University of London
Introduction. The starting point of this book is that the focus on the theories of Machiavelli, Hobbes and Russo in the study of modern political thought, and considering them the basis for it, is academically incorrect and has serious disadvantages.
To consider the views and theories of Greek philosophers before the birth of Christ, and those of the thinkers of the last six centuries in Europe, the starting point in the study of theories of government and politics, is only a manifestation of Eurocentrism. The truth is that the world is wider and larger than Europe, and with this diversity, it is richer and more interesting.
On the particular point of modernity, although Machiavelli, who was born in 1469, is seen as the pioneer of modern political thought, it must be stated that, at the beginning of the same century, in 1406, Abdurrahman Ibn Khaldun, the great Arab historian, and the author of the renowned “al-Muqaddimah” (The Introduction), and perhaps the real founder of modern sociology, died. Ibn Khaldun’s theory of governance was far more superior, intellectually and morally, to that of Machiavelli.
But there is another reality that remains fundamental in determining the meaning and conditions of what is modern and contemporary, more important than the birth and death dates of the great philosophers and thinkers who shaped modern views on the issues of state, government and politics. It is the fact that in the Muslim world in particular, religious ideas remain very much alive and enduring in the minds of many of their followers, as vivid and powerful as during the time they were revealed or manifested to Prophet Muhammad.
What I want to say here is that all those interested in the studies of modern political thought, wherever they are in the world, will benefit greatly from the study of political theories based on Islamic teachings. There are great important ideas in Ibn Khaldun’s “Introduction” on justice as a basis for the progress and prosperity of states and societies, and injustice as a decisive factor in their fall and collapse. There are other important books and documents, much closer to our times, most notably the book “On the Political System of the Islamic State” written by the Egyptian thinker, lawyer and politician, Mohammad Salim Al-Awwa, and there are documents published by the Islamic Council in London under the leadership of Ambassador Salim Azzam, on the principles of human rights in Islam and the Islamic political system of government. What I intend to write here is a modest addition to these theories, inspired by the age in which I live, the knowledge I have acquired at the universities of Tunisia and Britain, and my experiences in the fields of media and politics.