Taha Abderrahmane’s Trusteeship Paradigm: Spiritual Modernity and the Islamic Contribution to the Formation of a Renewed Universal Civilization of Ethos, Oriente Moderno, 95 (2015), pp. 67-105.

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  © 󰁫󰁯󰁮󰁩󰁮󰁫󰁬󰁩󰁪󰁫󰁥 󰁢󰁲󰁩󰁬󰁬 󰁮󰁶, 󰁬󰁥󰁩󰁤󰁥󰁮, 􏿽󿿽�󰀵 | 󰁤󰁯󰁩   �󰀰.��󰀶󰀳/􏿽􏿽�󰀳󰀸󰀶�󰀷-�􏿽󰀳󰀴󰀰󰀰󰀷󰀷 󰁏󰁲󰁩󰁥󰁮󰁴󰁥 󰁍󰁯󰁤󰁥󰁲󰁮󰁯 󰀹󰀵 (􏿽󰀰�󰀵) �-󰀳󰀹 brill.com/ormo ORIENTEMODERNO Taha Abderrahmane’s Trusteeship Paradigm Spiritual Modernity and the Islamic Contribution to the Formation of a Renewed Universal Civilization of Ethos  Mohammed Hashas Luiss University – Roma  Abstract This paper synthetically introduces “trusteeship paradigm” of Taha Abderrahmane (b. 1944), a leading philosopher of language, logic, ethics and metaphysics in the Arab-Islamic world. The core of his argument is that the four entities of revelation, reason, ethics and doing (or practice) are neither separable nor antagonistic to each other in the Islamic philosophy he aims at re-grounding; their centripetal force is essentially ethical. Islamic philosophy is primarily ethical. It is only this ethical force that can regenerate the politico-philosophical awakening of the Arab-Islamic world in particu-lar, and can contribute to the formation of a pluralist civilization of ethos in general. Otherwise put, Abderrahmane envisions an ontological-epistemological revisionary revolution in the Arab-Islamic tradition to overcome what may be referred to as “clas-sical dichotomous thought” that dominates some classical and contemporary Islamic thinking as well as much of the Greek heritage and Western modern thought. This ethical revolution is summarized in what he has developed as trusteeship paradigm ( al-iʾtimāniyyah ) or trusteeship critique ( al-naqd al-iʾtimānī  ), a paradigm the heart of  which is a theory of ethics that overcomes dichotomies like religion vs. politics, divine  vs. secular, physical vs. metaphysical. Keywords Taha Abderrahmane – trusteeship paradigm – re-grounding Arab-Islamic philosophy – spiritual modernity – civilization of ethos – awakening ORMO_095_01_F3-Hashas.indd 15/27/2015 9:54:23 AM  󰀲 󰁈󰁡󰁳󰁨󰁡󰁳󰁏󰁲󰁩󰁥󰁮󰁴󰁥 󰁍󰁯󰁤󰁥󰁲󰁮󰁯 󰀹󰀵 (󰀲󰀰󰀱󰀵) 󰀱-󰀳󰀹  Introduction The moral dilemmas of modernity and the political predicaments of the  Arab-Islamic world have turned substantial attention to the question of eth-ics. The proclaimed success of modernity, as channeled through the modern nation state apparatus, in the West and its inability to fare well elsewhere have impacted this direction of thought. Various aspects of global injustices and environmental catastrophes have shed doubts on the ethical grounds on  which what could be called “Euro-modernity” stands. Simultaneously, and more particularly, the ongoing socio-cultural and economic-political malaise in the Arab-Islamic world focalize the question further and make the issue of change largely an ethical endeavor. “Renewal and innovation can be only ethical!”—this seems to be the dominant voice. What appears to have domi-nated the intellectual debate in the region for the last two centuries (since the Napoleonic invasion of Egypt in 1798) is that neither modernity worldview à l’Européenne  nor the Arab-Islamic classical-and-dominant interpretation of ethics has triumphed; the ongoing predicament on all levels srcinates from this indecisiveness, but not only. Simply put, the former considers reason the “only” source of ethical values, while the latter considers revelation their “not only” source, because reason and revelation do not contradict each other, even  when they seem to; contradictions are the result of human di󰁦fering interpre-tations. The di󰁦􀁦􀁩culty with this second view of ethics is that it keeps the door open for what may turn out to be “only” revelational, at the expense of the rational that may be needed in di󰁦ferent times and spaces. The current literal-ist interpretations of Islamic law fall within this scope—these literalists range from paci􀁦􀁩st movements to violent ones. Therefore, if the classically dominant interpretation of ethics 􀁦􀁩rst had issues mostly with their modern counterparts, it now has issues also with the literalists within its own camp. While this can-not be taken to be the “only” source of the overall malaise, to which other inter-nal and external factors contribute, it is no doubt a controversial—not to say a weakening—point in the intellectual debate in the vast Arab-Islamic region. This has costs on the politico-economic spheres as well, directly or indirectly.Otherwise said, and apart from external and economic factors, it seems that the major internal factor that contemporary Arab–Muslim scholars 􀁦􀁩nd extremely di󰁦􀁦􀁩cult to agree on for what concerns the type of change to endorse is the one deeply related to the core of the Islamic  weltanschauung : ethics. How to re-appropriate ethical values for cultural and civilizational renewal seems the main question around which revolve (all) other socio-political issues. What is the source of ethics: reason, revelation, or both? What is the place of ethics in the modern age and in state formations and institutions in ORMO_095_01_F3-Hashas.indd 25/27/2015 9:54:23 AM   󰀳 󰁔󰁡󰁨󰁡 󰁁󰁢󰁤󰁥󰁲󰁲󰁡󰁨󰁭󰁡󰁮󰁥’󰁳 󰁔󰁲󰁵󰁳󰁴󰁥󰁥󰁳󰁨󰁩󰁰 󰁐󰁡󰁲󰁡󰁤󰁩󰁧󰁭󰁏󰁲󰁩󰁥󰁮󰁴󰁥 󰁍󰁯󰁤󰁥󰁲󰁮󰁯 󰀹󰀵 (󰀲󰀰󰀱󰀵) 󰀱-󰀳󰀹 particular? What is its place also in international relations? Alternatively, can modernity be ethical? Can religion still contribute to modernity through its ethical dictum, or does modernity create its own ethics? If modern ethics are possible, which implies that there are pre-modern ethics, are they not then historical and changeable? Where has Euro-modernity failed to be corrected by religious ethics? Alike questions are treated here.This paper synthetically􀀱 introduces trusteeship paradigm of Taha  Abderrahmane (b. 1944), a leading philosopher of language, logic, ethics and metaphysics in the Arab-Islamic world. The bulk of his argument is that (the four of) revelation, reason, ethics and doing (or practice) are neither sepa-rable nor antagonistic to each other in the Islamic philosophy he aims at re- grounding; their centripetal force is essentially ethical; this ethical force is  what can regenerate the politico-philosophical awakening of the Arab-Islamic  world in particular, and can contribute to the formation of a pluralist civiliza-tion of ethos worldwide in general. Otherwise put, Abderrahmane envisions an ontological-epistemological revisionary revolution in the Arab-Islamic tradition to overcome what may be referred to as “classical dichotomous thought” that dominates some classical and contemporary Islamic thought as  well as much of the Greek heritage and Western modern thought. This revi-sionary revolution is summarized in what he has developed as trusteeship paradigm ( al-iʾtimāniyyah ) or trusteeship critique ( al-naqd al-iʾtimānī  ), a para-digm the heart of which is a theory of ethics.This conclusion is achieved through following this outline. First, I present his view of the modern task of philosophy, or what he refers to as “the respon-sible question.” I read his idea of The Arab right to philosophical di􀁦ference  as a means of localizing philosophy, in opposition to universalizing it, and thus depriving other cultures and nations from their intellectual freedoms and dif-ference. His three critiques of the in󐁦󰁬uences and mimicry of Greekization,  Westernization-Europeanization, and Judaization, will be presented. Second, as part of his work on “the Islamic right to intellectual di󰁦ference,” I introduce the main aspects of his conceptualization of Islamic ethics, and their capacity to contribute to the making of a shared civilization of ethos. Four principles of these ethics will be highlighted: the principles of obligation, reproduction, organization, and expansion. Third, the features of Islamic ethics outlined in the second section of this paper pave the way for the critique of Western modernity that is presented in this section. Here, I exemplify for his theory 󐀱 The paper does not intend to be analytical or comparative; it is introductory to a philosophi-cal project that needs to be examined. It is in other “forthcoming papers” that Abderrahmane is examined analytically and comparatively, with some re󐁦󰁬ective remarks at the closure. ORMO_095_01_F3-Hashas.indd 35/27/2015 9:54:23 AM  󰀴 󰁈󰁡󰁳󰁨󰁡󰁳󰁏󰁲󰁩󰁥󰁮󰁴󰁥 󰁍󰁯󰁤󰁥󰁲󰁮󰁯 󰀹󰀵 (󰀲󰀰󰀱󰀵) 󰀱-󰀳󰀹 of ethics through his three principles, bolstered by six pillars, of what he calls spiritual or ethical modernity, two pillars for each principle: the principles of majority (and its two pillars autonomy and creativity), the principle of criti-cism (and its two pillars rationalization and di󰁦ferentiation), and the principle of universality (with its two pillars extensibility and generality). The paper ends  with re󐁦󰁬ections on the place of Abderrahmane’s theory of ethics as presented in trusteeship paradigm within especially contemporary Islamic scholarship. A preliminary sketch of the author’s work precedes this outline.􀀲 󐀲 Up to the writing of this article, Abderrahmane does not seem to be studied yet in Western academia, by the English and French scholarship, to name these, unlike his two other com-patriots Muḥammad ʿĀbid al-Ǧabrī (d. 2010) and ʿAbd Allāh al-ʿArawī (b. 1933), for instance. English works that could be considered “classics” on (contemporary) Arab-Islamic thought still do not refer to his work. I cite some examples of voluminous scholarly works that still do not mention him: the third edition of Majid Fakhry (  A History of Islamic Philosophy , New  York, Columbia 󰁕󰁐, 2004), the two volumes of Charles Kurzman (  Liberal Islam: A Sourcebook  . Oxford 󰁕󰁐, 1998,  Modernist Islam 1840-1940: A Sourcebook  . Oxford 󰁕󰁐, 2000); the two vol-umes of Ibrahim Abu Rabi’ ( Contemporary Islamic Thought  , Malden and Oxford, Blackwell Publishing, 2006, and Contemporary Arab Thought: Studies Post-1967 Arab Intellectual History , London and Sterling, Pluto Press, 2004); the 􀁦􀁩ve volumes of Vincent Cornell, et al  . eds ( Voices of Islam , Wesport and London, Praeger Perspectives, 2007); the volume of Esposito, John and Voll, John eds (  Makers of Contemporary Islam , Oxford 󰁕󰁐, 2001), and Hunter, Shiriin ed. (  Reformist Voices of Islam: Mediating Islam and Modernity , New York and London, M.E. Sharpe, 2009), to list these. To my knowledge, he is referred to in two main works: Lelly Lahoud devotes three pages to parts of his works in her  Political Thought in Islam: A Study in  Intellectual Boundaries , London and New York, Routledge 2005, p. 36-39; Wael Hallaq refers to him as a modern example of what he refers to as “Sharia ethic” in a footnote in his The  Impossible State: Islam, Politics, and Modernity’s Predicament   (Columbia 󰁕󰁐, 2013). See also this author’s (M.H.) unpublished PhD Dissertation which uses Abderrahmane’s framework of reading contemporary approaches to the study of the Qurʾān in examining the concept of European Islam: “On the Idea of European Islam: Voices of Perpetual Modernity,” 󰁌󰁕󰁉󰁓󰁓 University of Rome, 2013 (Part 󰁉󰁖, Sections 2 a-c.). Only few chapters of the studies scholar are available in English: “Essence of Modernity and Right to Creativity”,  󰁉󰁓󰁅󰁓󰁃󰁏 Journal of Islam Today  N. 21: 2004, 1-42; “Renewing Religious Thought in Islam: Prerequisites and Impediments”,  󰁉󰁓󰁅󰁓󰁃󰁏 Journal of Islam Today , N. 25: 2008, 1-13; these two 󰁉󰁓󰁅󰁓󰁃󰁏 papers were but now no longer available online; “A Global Ethic: Its Scope and Limits,” Abu Dhabi Tahab Paper Series, N.1 June 2008; “Language Matters:  A Dialogue on Language and Logic”, Tabah Foundation of Abu Dhabi Paper Series , N. 1, 2010, 1-34. Karim Crow has translated one chapter of his work, “Pluralism of Values: Its Scope and Limitations”,  Journal of Islamic Civilizational Renewal  , 1.1: 2009, 74-98. In an online trilogy of articles on Islamic Philosophy, I summarized his in the following: “The Question of Ethics: Taha Abderrahmane’s Praxeology and Trusteeship Paradigm,” 17 November 2014, http://www  .resetdoc.org/story/00000022452. ORMO_095_01_F3-Hashas.indd 45/27/2015 9:54:24 AM   󰀵 󰁔󰁡󰁨󰁡 󰁁󰁢󰁤󰁥󰁲󰁲󰁡󰁨󰁭󰁡󰁮󰁥’󰁳 󰁔󰁲󰁵󰁳󰁴󰁥󰁥󰁳󰁨󰁩󰁰 󰁐󰁡󰁲󰁡󰁤󰁩󰁧󰁭󰁏󰁲󰁩󰁥󰁮󰁴󰁥 󰁍󰁯󰁤󰁥󰁲󰁮󰁯 󰀹󰀵 (󰀲󰀰󰀱󰀵) 󰀱-󰀳󰀹  Taha Abderrahmane: Biographical Sketch  After his primary school in al-Ǧadīdah, high school in Casablanca, and Bachelor degree in philosophy from Muḥammad 󰁖 University in Rabat, Morocco, Taha Abderrahmane went to receive his doctorate of the third cycle (in the French old educational system) from La Sorbonne in 1972, with a thesis that was published in French in 1979 as  Language and Philosophy: An Essay on the Linguistic Structures of Ontology , and a PhD in 1985, which was pub-lished also in French as Treatise on Deductive and Natural Argumentation and  Its Models . Abderrahmane served as a professor of philosophy of language and logic at Muḥammad 󰁖 University from 1970 until his retirement in 2005. He In French, the work of the Moroccan scholar Abdou Filali-Ansari also does not include any hint to Abderrahmane.  Réformer l’islam? Une introduction aux débats contemporains  [Reforming Islam? An Introduction to Contemporary Debates ] . Paris, La Découverte, 2005. In Arabic, at least 􀁦􀁩ve major works have recently been devoted to his thought, besides  various journal articles, book chapters and PhD theses in a number of Maghrebi universities: Mashruh, Ibrahim. Ṭāhā ʿAbd al-Raḥmān: qirāʿah fī mašrūʿihi al-󰁦󰁩qrī   [Taha Abderrahmane:  A Reading in His Intellectual Project ] . Beirut, markaz al-ḥaḍārah li-tanmiyyat al-􀁦􀁩kr al-islāmī, 2009; Abdessalam, Bouzebra. Ṭāhā ʿAbd al-Raḥmān wa-naqd al-ḥadāṯah  [Taha  Abderrahmane and the Critique of Modernity  ] . Riyad, Jadawel, 2011; Ben Adi, Youssef.  Mašrūʿ al-ibdāʾ al-falsafī al-ʿarabī: qirāʾat󰁵󰁮 fī aʿmāl Ṭāhā ʿAbd al-Raḥmān  [The Project of Arabic Philosophical Creativity: Reading Taha Abderrahmane]. Beirut, Aṣḥabaka al-ʿarabiyyah li-l-abḥāṯ wa-l-našr, 2011; Arhila, ʿAbbās.  Faylasūf󰁵󰁮 fī l-wāǧiḥah: qirāʾat󰁵󰁮 fī 󰁦󰁩kr Ṭāhā ʿAbd al-Raḥmān  [A Philosopher at the Front: Reading Taha Abderrahmane]. Casablanca and Beirut, al-Markaz al-ṯaqāfī al-ʿarabī, 2012; Humam, Muḥammad.  Jadalu l-falsafah al- ʿ arabiyya bayna Muḥammad ʿĀbid al-Ǧabrī wa Ṭāhā ʿAbd al-Raḥmān—al-baḥṯ al-luġawī namūḏaǧ󰁡󰁮   [Dialogy in Arab Philosophy: Mohamed Abed al-Jabri and Taha Abderrahmane—Linguistic Inquiry in Focus]. Beirut—Rabat, al-Markaz al-ṯaqāfī al-ʿarabī, and Mominoun Without Borders, 2013. ʿAbd al-Nabī al Hārī, Ṭāhā ʿAbd al-Raḥmān wa-Muḥammad ʿĀbid al-Ǧabrī: ṣirāʿu l-mašrūʿayn ʿalà arḍ al-ḥikmati al-rušdiyyah  [Taha Abderrahmane and Mohamed Abed al-Jabri: Dissent over the Averroist Wisdom]. Beirut, Aṣḥabaka al-ʿarabiyyah li-l-abḥāṯ wa-l-našr, 2014). On the media, Abderrahmane appeared on Aljazeera 󰁔󰁖, and was interviewed by Malek Triqi, for 􀁦􀁩ve episodes in which they discussed the various aspects of his project. The 􀁦􀁩rst episode appeared on line on May 2006, at: http://www.aljazeera.net/programs/pages/e9627dd5-ef7f-43a8-a430-f3258f54dd24; some of his students have established in 2014 a  webpage to collect his works, and discuss his ideas: http://www.tahaphilo.com/. On 26-27 February 2014, the 􀁦􀁩rst international conference in homage to his work was organized in Ibn Zuhr University in Agadir, Morocco, and was attended by international scholars following his  work. Maghareb Center for the Humanities, established in Rabat in 2013, is led by scholars that are in󐁦󰁬uenced by the philosophical project of Abderrahmane; the center honored him by a keynote inaugural speech, on 18 May 2013. ORMO_095_01_F3-Hashas.indd 55/27/2015 9:54:24 AM
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