Classical Islamic Political Thought: A Perspective on Al-Âdāb As-Sulṭāniyya (Review)


Fadi Zatari


From the raw egalitarian Quranic narratives on the idea of justice to the varied aspects of the prophetic idea of the polis, the genre of political thought has emerged as an extension of the larger epistemic worldview of Islam. The relationship between the ruler and the ruled has remained, for long, a part of a larger political project of Muslim imagination a nd a theoretical framework for political thinking. Yet, sub-genres like al-Âdāb As-Sulṭāniyya (literature of Sultanic ethics) and other concepts such as Hisba have not been generally well served by scholarship except within rather narrow constraints of the political history insofar as only a small number of individual thinkers have been the focus of particular interest. Basic research and monographic studies in the field of al-Âdāb As-Sulṭāniyya have generally been rather sparse. Consequently, systematic and synthetic studies – as opposed to summary statements – have been few and far between. This review article is part of the researcher’s larger project to excavate a few works in the genre of al-Âdāb As-Sulṭāniyya and investigate the development of this field in the classical period.

Classical Islamic political thought was not an independent field of study, and its contributions can be found in different types of writing that span three disciplines with distinct methods, aims, orientations and conclusions. These disciplines are: fiqh, such as al-Ahkam As-Sulṭāniyya w’al-Wilayat al-Diniyya by al-Māwardī; Islamic philosophy such as al-Madina al-Fadila by al-Farabi; and al-Âdāb As-Sulṭāniyya (the main focus of this article). For instance, unlike al-Ahkām As-Sulṭāniyya books, al-Âdāb As-Sulṭāniyya does not deal with fiqh and legal issues related to the legitimacy of authority i.e., when a sultan should be removed from his position, and how he can be appointed. And unlike the philosophy concentration on the city like in al-Mādīna al-Fādila


How to Cite
Zatari, Fadi. 2022. “Classical Islamic Political Thought: A Perspective on Al-Âdāb As-Sulṭāniyya (Review)”. Journal of Islamic Thought and Civilization 12 (1), 247-52.


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