Islamic Civilization and Theological Causes of the Social Underdevelopment: A Traditionalist Reading of Modernist Theses

Asim Delibašić


This paper analyzes the theory of Islam as a religion that could have formed a rationalistic civilization, based on scientific progress, individualism and democracy. One of the representative studies on this topic is the work of Mustafa Akyol Reopening of Muslim Minds, in which the author uses the method of counterfactual analysis, posing the fundamental question: what would Islamic civilization look like if in the Sunni majority had not prevailed Ash’ari theology, but rationalistic, Mu’tazili theology? Although it could be said that the author of this study does not err when he concludes that Ash’ari occasionalism stopped the development of science in Islam, he nevertheless errs when he claims that the doctrines of voluntarism, predestination, and uncreatedness of the Qur’an, were generators of injustice in Islamic society. In this paper we tried to analyze the metaphysical foundations of these doctrines, re-examine the validity of the hypothesis about their harmfulness, and re-examine whether the observed harmful effects come from Islamic tradition or from the more recent attempts of modernization of Islam.


Islam; democracy; dictatorship; human rights; rationalism; theology; Ash’arism; Mu’tazilism

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