Arab liberal thought in the modern age

Author: Meir Hatina

Arab liberal thought in the modern age provides in-depth analysis of Arab liberalism, which, although lacking public appeal and a compelling political underpinning, sustained viability over time and remains a constant part of the Arab landscape. The study focuses on the second half of the twentieth century and the early twenty-first century, a period that witnessed continuity as well as change in liberal thinking. Post-1967 liberals, like their predecessors, confronted old dilemmas, socioeconomic upheavals, political instability, and cultural disorientation, but also demonstrated ideological rejuvenation and provided liberal thought with new emphases and visions. Arab liberals contributed to public debate on cultural, social, and political issues, and triggered debates against their adversaries. Displaying such attributes as skepticism, ecumenism, and confidence in Arab advancement, they burst onto the public scene in questioning the Arab status quo and advocating alternative visions for their countries. Their struggle for freedom of religion, secularism, individualism, democracy, and human rights meant more than a rethinking of Islamic tradition and Arab political culture. It aimed rather at formulating a full-fledged liberal project to seek an Arab Enlightenment. This book fills a major gap in the research literature, which has tended to overlook Middle Eastern liberalism in favor of more powerful and assertive forces embodied by authoritarian regimes and Islamic movements. The book is essential reading for scholars and students in the fields of Islamic and Middle Eastern studies, intellectual history, political ideologies, comparative religion, and cultural studies.

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