State and Religion in the Formative Stage of Islam (7th–11th Centuries C.E.)

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Questions related to state and religion, in the formative centuries of Islam, are often viewed through the “opposition paradigm,” which asserts that the relations between the rulers and the scholars were primarily a protracted struggle over religious authority. However, recent studies point to a more collaborative relationship between these two pillars of Muslim societies. This essay brings together the assessments of several studies that undermine the “opposition paradigm.” After pointing to its flaws, the essay suggests that an additional venue of scholarship, governance, will shed much light on the relations between the state and men of religion. It argues that from what we know about governance, the state was free of detailed religious injunctions and was, therefore, capable of adapting itself to historical circumstances, from its inception to the present. Furthermore, it asserts that deepening our understanding of political practice is critical to improve our understanding of state and religion in Muslim societies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-320
Number of pages10
JournalHistory Compass
Issue number7
StatePublished - 27 Jul 2015


  • Historical analysis
  • Islam
  • Religion & politics
  • Religious history

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History


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