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Muslim views of the ‘international’

Author : Nassef Manabilang Adiong

Program : Islamic Studies Program

Abstract : Muslim views on citizenry, authority, territoriality, and sovereignty represent paradigmatic understandings of how Muslims relate to the overarching influence of the modern state system, especially in their international sphere of everyday lives. It does form part of how they visualize a modern understanding of the ‘international.’ In the Islamic jurisprudential understanding of citizenry, some attempt to explain it by going back to historical sources, while others use ummah as a means for social identification despite its perceived ambiguity. Thus, it overlaps between membership to the Islamic faith and affiliation to juristic-territorial abode of Islam (dar al-Islam). Territoriality has differing conceptualizations between Sunni and Shi’a scholars. The Sunnis frame it with endless demarcation of the abodes of Islam and war, while the Shi’a utilize Qur’anic prescription as a structure of opposing dimensions between the oppressed and the oppressor. Authority, on the other hand, is a contested concept. Some scholars would argue for the absolute rule of the omnipotent God, while others argue for temporal authority of man imbued oftentimes with spiritual authority. Humans legislate laws that are not addressed by sources of Islam, the Quran (God’s message) and the Sunnah (sayings and practices of the Prophet). The last view pertains to sovereignty. Islamists, political and violent dissidents, hijacked sovereignty by promoting it as an innate attribute of God alone, instead of aiming for the sovereign goal of Shari’ah, i.e. maslaha or public welfare and common good for the entire creation.

Keywords : Islamic International Relations, ummah, nation-state, dar al-Islam, Muslims, dar al-harb