Written Assignments

Islamic Republicanism


Web Resources for This Assignment

Selections from the Qur'an
A collection of selections from the Qur'an.
Shi'a
A learning module on Shi'a tradition and history.
Velayat-i faqih
A glossary essay on the concept of "rule by jurisprudence" or Islamic Republicanism

Islamic Republicanism   Islamic Republicanism is perhaps the single most important political theory to come out of the Islamic world in the last several centuries. The theory itself, velayat-i faqih , or "rule by jurisprudence," may revolutionize the entire Islamic world. Since the Iranian Revolution and the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the movement has spawned several revolutionary movements throughout the Islamic world, from Egypt to Afghanistan. You find yourselves at a crossroads in history, one that may fully play itself out in your lifetimes, and the figure of Ayatullah Ruhu'llah Khumayni may become, in the Islamic world, the equivalent of Thomas Jefferson in the European and American worlds. Maybe. Or maybe Islamic Republicanism is just a blip on the radar of Islamic history as the Islamic world comes closer and closer to Western styles of government.

Debate   I want you to debate Islamic Republicanism—should the Islamic world adopt velayat-i faqih or should it adopt Western, secular forms of government, as the Republic of Turkey did in 1922? I want you, however, to debate the issue solely from the perspective of Islam . In order to do this, you need to base your arguments on an understanding of the Islamic world view as it is represented in the Qur'an .

Interpreting Ottoman Culture   In your second paragraph, describe the painting, calligraphy, tile-work, architecture, music, or whatever, that you're trying to explain from the film you saw. Then, in as much detail as you can, apply your explanation of the Qur'an in the first part to the visual, aural, or performance attributes of the artifact from the film that you're explaining. The purpose of this paragraph is to show how a Muslim would look at or hear the cultural artifact that you've described.

Using the Qur'an    You know the drill. I want you to state your position in an opening paragraph and how you're going to support that position using the Qur'an . You will take one of two positions: either the Qur'an allows for a secular republic or it supports an Islamic Republic built on velayat-i faqih . In a second paragraph, select a verse from the Qur'an and explain its meaning. Use one other verse from the Qur'an to support this interpretation. In a third paragraph, apply your explanation to the theory of Islamic Republicanism—it is either a good idea or a bad idea—or to the idea of a completely secular Republic.

Discussion   Since this is a debate, you must respond to someone who disagrees with your position. Refer to that person by name. You can disagree in one of two ways: either they misinterpreted the passage from the Qur'an that they selected or they misapplied it to theories of government. Work this disagreement into the relevant paragraph in your own essay. There is extra credit, substantial extra credit, for responding back to someone who has disagreed with you.


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