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Political Islam and non-Muslim religions : a lesson from Lessing for the Arab transition.

Bohlander, Michael (2014) 'Political Islam and non-Muslim religions : a lesson from Lessing for the Arab transition.', Islam and Christian-Muslim relations., 25 (1). pp. 27-47.


Hardly any region has recently captured the global geopolitical imagination as much as the Arab world after the so-called Arab Spring and very likely no state more so than Egypt. Finally it seemed that democracy was coming to the region, that this would spell the end of radical Islam, and of any local aspirations of creating Islamic states, and mark the beginning of a rapprochement between East and West. This article analyses and links those dynamics, with particular reference to the transition process in the wake of the so-called Arab Revolution, and gauges what may be at stake for members of non-Muslim faiths. It particularly traces the rift between theoretical Muslim discourse about Islamic tolerance towards other faiths and its implementation or the absence thereof in practice. It concludes that so far no real progress has been made and that, for the relationship to evolve, Islam needs to proceed to a state in which it sees itself as no more than an equal to other religions. The recognition of its tradition-based nature and of the consequences that flow from such a realization for the treatment of its fundamental sources, the Qur'an and the Sunna, will be addressed. To evaluate the current situation and the outlook, we shall use the example of the famous eighteenth-century German play by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Nathan the Wise, about the occupation of Jerusalem by Saladin.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Ring Parable, Nathan the Wise, Lessing, Arab transition, Political Islam, Religious pluralism.
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
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Publisher statement:This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis Group in Islam and Christian–Muslim Relations on 10/01/2014, available online at:
Date accepted:13 September 2013
Date deposited:28 August 2014
Date of first online publication:10 January 2014
Date first made open access:No date available

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