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Title: Religious dialogue, pluralism, and historical interpretation : the work of Mohamed Talbi
Author: Al-Dakkak, Kelly
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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This dissertation examines the work of Tunisian Islamic intellectual Mohamed Talbi. Islamic thought in the Arab world has progressed in recent decades beyond the simple modernist / Islamist dichotomy to reflect a wide range of nuanced approaches to the question of religious text and modern socio-political questions. At the same time, Islamic intellectuals continue to find themselves caught between competing intellectual influences -traditional and modern, Western and Eastern - and many have sought to reconcile these approaches into a single body of thought applicable to their societies. Among these thinkers, Mohamed Talbi offers a methodology in which the religious core of the Qur'an, which he defines as a set of eternal ethical principles, may be separated from timebound injunctions using the crucible of history. He defines a methodology that is at its core modern, stating however that it is a project in the tradition of the classical asbab al-nuziil, by which the God's intended outcomes (maqa$;d) are identified through a detailed analysis of the circumstances surrounding the revelation. This thesis traces Talbi's methodology and its application to a number of social questions in the Arab world to evaluate its internal coh~i;iveri'ess and to situate it vis-a-vis the classical traditions that it invokes. It locates a number of methodological difficulties in Talbi's thought, most importantly a frequent anachronistic back-projection - the attribution of modern ideas and discourse to early Islamic history. While such shortcomings have been traced throughout Talbi's scholarly output, they do not ultimately undermine his project, as evidenced by the respect lent to Talbi by both his detractors and his disciples. In the post-revolutionary period, it is likely that the influence of his corpus will continue to grow, as additional scholars, many from beyond Tunisia, offer refinements of his approach and apply it to social questions within their own societies.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available