The question of ethics (al-akhlāq (pl.) in Arabic) in the field of Islamic Studies is nascent. The dominance of the study of jurisprudence and law in approaching Islam and Sharia has eclipsed the message of ethics in the whole tradition. The study of the formative period of Islamic scholarship in general hardly examines ethics as an independent branch of scholarship; ethics hardly appear as an explored discipline or theme in the exegeses of the Quran, the science of the hadith, the study of legal theories and schools, kalam theology, philosophy, and mysticism; it often appears within these major fields of scholarship on the margin. That is, ethics never managed to be an independent field of study in Islamic scholarship, most probably for at least two major reasons: first, ethics have been considered part and parcel of Sharia in general, and Islamic law in particular, and scholars apparently did not see a need in developing an independent discipline to treat the subject; second, because ethics were bound to the legal, and since the legal was bound to the political apparatus that was bound by it in a way or another, there appeared no “intellectual” nor “political” need to develop ethics into an independent discipline that could reply to opposing intellectual or political trends; the early formative period of Islamic kalam experienced this politico-intellectual need, and thanks to it developed the known theological schools that have different ethical attitudes, but this experience did not last long, because a particular school of creed dominated the intellectual and political scene, and erased the need for such a debate on ethics afterwards.
This situation has continued in modern Islamic scholarship, and in Islamic Studies as well, until very recent times in which the topic has come back as a need and not as a luxury, as a reply to the encounter with a modern worldview, and a modern state apparatus and its various manifestations in Muslim majority societies. The nation state in these societies has monopolized religious scholarship by annexing its institutions and nationalizing them, and has consequently appropriated and controlled the voice of many scholars. Besides this intellectual tutelage, some other scholars and political activists have turned Islamic Sharia prescriptions, which is the epitome and the bearer of ethics as seen above by dominant Islamic scholarship, into positive law, and State law to seek to implant through the means of political power and modern nation state apparatus. Outside this politically tarnished reading of the Sharia and Islamic legal theories, critical modern Muslim scholars, some of them trained in classical religious seminaries and institutions and most others trained in modern (secular) universities, besides non-Muslim scholars, have started to look at the sources of ethical theories in Islamic scholarship again, based on modern methodologies in textual analysis and hermeneutics, besides taking into account the historical, and socio-cultural conditions of their revelation, pronouncement, and evolution over time. Ethics, according to this new trend of Islamic scholarships, can have multiple interpretations, even when they are considered the core of the Islamic message, and they are considered so by a major trend of these scholars. Distinguished among these is the Moroccan philosopher Taha Abderrahmane (b. 1944) and his theory of ethics that has developed into what he calls “Trusteeship Paradigm” or “Trusteeship-based Critique” (al-i´timāniyya, or al-naqd al-i´timāni). Trusteeship Paradigm (TP for short) aims at re-grounding Arab-Islamic philosophy on the ethical message that Abderrahmane considers central and dominant in the Islamic worldview, expressed in the Quran and the Prophetic sayings and teachings, and Islamic jurisprudence (usūl al-fiqh). The gist of the paradigm is that the essence of being human is practical ethics (and not abstract reason). Through a series of works from the 1970s, Abderrahmane proposes Trusteeship as an innovative epistemological paradigm that can rehabilitate Islamic scholarship and critically engage with modernity for innovative approaches to other disciplines in the social and exact sciences (politics, education, environment, media, medicine, psychology, etc.).
The Journal of Islamic Ethics (JIE)- sponsored by the Research Center of Islamic Legislation and Ethics (CILE) in Doha (Qatar), which is affiliated to the Faculty of Islamic Studies, Hamad Bin Khalifa University, and published by Brill – launches a Call for Papers that takes the under-researched Trusteeship Paradigm as a background to revisit the question of ethics in Islamic thought. Three major lines of work will be addressed:
This comprehensive approach aims at understanding as well as contextualizing the propositions of this modern Islamic ethical theory, and how it tackles various sub-topics and converses with other disciplines inside and outside Islamic scholarship.
This Call for Paper-Seminar invites scholars and academics expert in or familiar with the arguments of Trusteeship Paradim of ethics to submit a paper in which they critically deal with how one of the below outlined topics is examined by this paradigm, and how it differs, or not, from the way it has been studied by other Islamic and non-Islamic theories of ethics. The questions corresponding to each topic are not exclusive:
Interested scholars and academics are invited to send:
Authors of a limited number of accepted leading papers will be invited to participate in a seminar on the topic under study.
Their accommodation and travel expenses will be covered by CILE.
The seminar papers as well as the rest of accepted papers will be published as a thematic in the peer-reviewed Journal of Islamic Ethics or as an edited volume in the book-series Studies in Islamic Ethics (Brill).
The published proceedings will be available via Open Access for wider readership.
Submissions of abstracts and papers can be in English or/and Arabic. The seminar will be conducted in these two languages as well.
Accepted papers will be translated by the publishers into Arabic/English.
Submissions should be sent to: this email
For any inquiries regarding this Call for Papers, please contact Dr Mohammed Hashas, LUISS University of Rome, at: this email , and Dr Mutaz al-Khatib, CILE-Hamad Bin Khalifa University, at this email .
For inquiries about the Journal of Islamic Ethics, please contact this email.
About the Research Center for Islamic Legislation and Ethics (CILE):
CILE aims to contribute to the reform and renew the Islamic thought by developing a contemporary vision guided by the fundamental principles of the Holy Qur’an, Sunnah and the higher objectives of Islamic Shariah. For more information, please contact: CILE Office.