Where is political authority to be grounded – in claims of revelation, or in claims of human reason? The relationship and tension between religion and politics was called by the German-American philosopher Leo Strauss the “theologico-political” problem. Advocates of secularization theory, such as Karl Marx, Max Weber, and others saw the rise of religious diversity and attacks against religious belief, coupled with the fall political authority that drew on claims of divine appointment as conditions that would ultimately lead to the disappearance or at the very least the privatization of religion. However, their prediction has not come to fruition. Moreover, the context in which secularization arose in Western Europe is a specific one that has given rise to falsely generalized assumptions about the relationship between religion and politics, many of which do not apply in the Islamic context.
Topics addressed in this episode include the Islamic conception of what religion is, the role religion plays in politics, whether secularism is compatible with Islam, and brief remarks about the development of political thought in the Islamic tradition.