'In a sweeping survey of political ideas from early Islam until now, from Ibn Taymiyya to Shariati and Shahrur, this book makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of how the Middle East has discussed such fundamental notions as authority, individual, society, and the state. Navigating between political history and political ideas, this is an engaging exercise in the Middle Eastern sociology of knowledge.'
Asef Bayat, Leiden University
'There is no doubt that this book is essential reading for anyone studying the history of intellectual thought in the Middle East.'
Nicola Pratt, editor of Women and War in the Middle East
'Shahrough Akhavi masterfully examines the political thought of the Middle East in this lucid and illuminating book. He makes the critical point that, while ''traditionalists'' invoke modern concepts and ''modernists'' rely on traditional concepts to validate their views, both ignore the historical circumstances in which ideas arise and exert influence. Understanding the interplaying of political theory and context, which this work so compellingly documents, will help us to appreciate that religious and secular ideas have subtly interacted over the centuries, but also that current intellectuals in the Middle East risk deteriorating into mere apologists if they offer nostrums based on ahistorical essences.'
James Piscatori, The Australian National University