Religion and Democracy

28.02.2013 | Program: Byblos Autumn School

Religion and Democracy: Paradoxes or Foundational Dialectic?[1]

Charles W. Amjad-Ali


“ The theme of the Byblos’ research project and the paper that my dear friend and colleague Prof. Theodor Hanf has asked me to produce is one which has been close to my heart for well nigh a quarter-century. Though Theo had set me a broad parameter in which to place my presentation, because of existential and contextual reasons, I have restricted my conversation.  I focus on political theory, rather than policy, and concentrate on the monotheistic religions, particularly Christianity in its Western manifestations, and Islam in a more global context, although mostly Sunni. I have dealt with these historically, but only insofar as that history is critical for laying out the context in which some of these discussions took place. The Byblos research project brings together two elements that until recently have been seen as mutually incompatible, viz. “religion and politics”. Indeed, for a long time, these two elements could not be brought together in any serious academic, theoretical or policy discussion, and was even considered to be inappropriate in theological discourse. The fact that this is now the topic under discussion is a major transformation, one that for me is a sign of epistemic honesty that has been needed in our fields for quite some time. So in order to proceed further, we must attempt what Michel Foucault so profoundly advocated, “to show that things are not as self-evident as one believed, to see that what is accepted as self-evident will no longer be accepted as such. Practicing criticism is a matter of making facile gestures difficult.” With this important imperative in mind, here are some of my initial reflections on these matters and their surrounding elements. These are not meant to be, nor must they be assumed to be, my final thoughts on these matters. Here I am only trying to look at the various aspects from a slightly different perspective and hope that this way of viewing may open some new possibilities to address these fundamentals”………


[1] ) English version - 2008