The definition of Islam as submission, the claim that Islam needs a Luther, and the desire to identify jihād with private and spiritual struggle, all reflect a series of compulsions and elisions. The three idioms are fundamental to how Islam has been constituted in language as a subject and as a problem. They each also have forgotten genealogies. This project outlines these genealogies and their intersection through the politics of translating Islam as submission, peace, or salvation; of narrating its place and temporality in modernity; and of reinterpreting historical texts and exemplars through the prism of liberalism and toleration. These three moves take Islam out of history. The dislocation of Islam winds through three disciplinary moments that track political theory’s investments in philology, teleology, and philosophy. The seminar concludes by pointing toward critical possibilities and resources that emerge out of alternative discursive formations. In the process, it reflects on the implications of these genealogies for the project of decolonizing “Western thought” and “Islam”—whether as object or subject of discourse—and its limits.
Murad Idris is Associate Professor of Political Theory at the University of Michigan. Before coming to Michigan in 2021, he held positions and fellowships at Cornell University’s Department of Government, Columbia University’s Society of Fellows in the Humanities, the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton NJ, and the University of Virginia. He received his PhD in Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania.
Murad’s work focuses on Islamic political thought, Islam in political theory, empire and postcolonialism, global intellectual history, international political theory, the politics of comparison, and disciplinary history. He’s currently working on two books: one on constructions of Islam and another on Sayyid Qutb’s international political thought.
Murad is the author of War for Peace: Genealogies of a Violent Ideal in Western and Islamic Thought (2019), which won the David Easton Award from APSA and two Best Book Awards from the ISA. He co-edited The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Political Theory (2020) with Leigh Jenco and Megan Thomas.