Reflections on the Sacred and Secular Dimensions of Classical Islamic Thought


Wednesday, January 9, 2019, 5:30pm to 7:30pm


Tunisia Office Center for Middle Eastern Studies Harvard Université Immeuble Slim, Rue de l’Euro, Les jardins du Lac II, Tunis

Roy Mottahedeh Poster

The Tunisia Office of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University is pleased to present:

Roy Parviz Mottahedeh, Gurney Professor of Islamic History, Emeritus, Gurney Research Professor of History at Harvard University.

Professor Mottahedeh will give a lecture at the Harvard CMES Tunisia Office:

"Reflections on the Sacred and Secular Dimensions of Classical Islamic Thought"

Professor Roy Mottahedeh started his career at Princeton in 1970 and he has been a Professor of Islamic History at Harvard University since 1986. He was one of the first to receive the MacArthur award in 1981. He served as the Director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University from 1987 to 1990 and founded the Harvard Middle East and Islamic Review. His work covers the pre-modern social and intellectual history of the Islamic Middle East. His publications include:

  • Loyalty and Leadership in an Early Islamic Society (1980)
  • The Mantle of the Prophet: Religion and Politics in Iran (1985)
  • The Crusades from the Perspective of Byzantium and the Muslim World, co-edited with Angeliki Laiou, (2001)
  • Lessons in Islamic Jurisprudence (2003)
  • The Clash of Civilizations: An Islamicist's Critique (1995)

Find more about Pr. Mottahedeh carrier and publications on his personal university website or on the CMES website.

For this talk, Professor Roy Mottahedeh will discuss the sacred and secular in Islamic thought: Many have argued that classical Islamic thought allows no room for the secular. This claim is partly correct on the theological level, but it does not agree with legal and political thinking of the late 5th – 8th century A.H. In this period rulers made a distinction between "religion" and "the world," as can be seen in the titles of the Saljuk rulers. On a theoretical level jurists such as Shāṭibī also make a distinction between religion and the world. As this lecture will show, theologians, jurists and other thinkers of the period were not so much distinguishing between sacred and secular but rather between sacred and mundane, in which sphere humans were largely free to exercise their judgment.

Join us on:

Wednesday, January 09, 2019, 5:30 to 7:30 pm

Address: Third Floor, Immeuble Slim, Rue de l’Euro Les Jardins du Lac II Tunis


See also: 2018-19