Islamic doctrines of citizenship in liberal democracies : the search for an overlapping consensus
This thesis examines whether Muslims qua Muslims can regard as legitimate the demands of citizenship in a non-Muslim liberal democracy. This involves asking whether requirements such as living in and being loyal to a non-Muslim state, regarding non- Muslims as political equals with whom one might co-operate socially and politically, contributing to non-Muslim welfare and participating in non-Muslim political systems can be regarded as legitimate practices. It is an exercise in what John Rawls referred to as 'conjecture', or the attempt to examine and argue for the existence of an overlapping consensus between a liberal political conception of justice or citizenship and a particular comprehensive ethical doctrine. Chapter One examines the status of conjecture in political theory and the place of the idea of an overlapping consensus in liberal justification, followed by a proposal for a methodology for this type of comparative political theory. Chapter Two deals with the precise demands liberalism places on citizens, and the particular concerns of Muslims living in non-Muslim states. I show that before we can discuss the central liberal concerns of justifying state neutrality and individual freedoms to revise one's conception of the good, it is necessary to look at a series of questions related to Muslim belonging, loyalty and solidarity in a non-Muslim state. I then present and defend a conception of liberal citizenship in response to certain challenges and concerns of Islamic political ethics. Chapters Three through Five then deal with the range of Islamic responses to the demands of liberal citizenship as I presented them. Chapter Three considers the question of residence in a non-Muslim state and whether the most common justifications for such residence can be considered compatible with liberal conceptions of a well-ordered society. Chapter Four examines the problems of political obligation and loyalty - whether Muslims can in good faith meet their obligations of loyalty to both the global community of fellow believers and their state of citizenship. Chapter Five deals with questions of recognition and solidarity - whether Muslims can recognise non-Muslims as political equals, form relationships based on justice, contribute to their welfare and participate in a common political system. All three chapters demonstrate that very strong and authentically Islamic arguments exist for accepting all of the above demands of citizenship, many being found even in medieval works of Islamic jurisprudence. Crucially, Islamic arguments shown to support the idea of an overlapping consensus also vindicate many of the claims of Rawlsian political liberalism to be a more appealing form of liberalism to non-liberals precisely because of its abstention from claims to metaphysical truth.