Change And Changeability: Ethics Of Disagreement And Public Space In Islamic Thought

Bulent Senay


The paper advocates that a middle ground between the many theories attempting to explain Islam and its view on the relationship between politics and religion is provided by the textual and discursive approaches. Islamist and/or Islamic revivalist movements are essentially concerned with the relationship between religion and social reality in the context of change. Worldly politics and the hermeneutics of disagreement also essentially deal with change and public space. What is changeable and what is unchangeable is a question of hermeneutics. Understanding a text is a human enterprise, and as such it is likely to create difference of opinion. But while disagreement triggers conflict, proper understanding and application of a systematic hermeneutics leads to an ethics of disagreement which eventually allows for a modus vivendi in the public space. It is thus important for any tradition to have a hermeneutical framework towards an ethics of disagreement. In the particular case of Islam it is not difficult to find such a hermeneutical methodology that allows for differences and otherness to live side by side, towards unity in diversity. It only needs to be reappraised.


Ethics, hermeneutics, disagreement, Islam, reflexivity, phronesis, con- textualization, historicism,fiqh, ma roof, maqasid, adab al-ikhtilaaf, public reason, common good

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