FREEDOM, JUSTICE, and the POWER of ADAB
© Copyright 2016 Cambridge University Press. This article analyzes in depth four main writings by the pioneering nahda intellectual Rifa'a Rafi'al-Tahtawi, who drew on classical kinds of adab to articulate new kinds of political subjectivities. He especially draws on the image of the body politic as a body with the king at its heart. But he reconfigures this image, instead placing the public, or the people, at the heart of politics, a "vanquishing sultan" that governs through public opinion. For al-Tahtawi, adab is a kind of virtuous comportment that governs self and soul and structures political relationships. In this, he does not diverge from classical conceptions of adab as righteous behavior organizing proper social and political relationships. But in his thought, disciplinary training in adab is crucial to the citizen-subject's capacity for self-rule, as he submits to the authority of his individual conscience, ensuring not only freedom, but also justice. These ideas have had lasting impact on Islamic thought, as they have been recycled for the political struggles of new generations.
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