Arab liberal thought in the modern age

By Meir Hatina

Arab liberal thought in the modern age


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-4291-7
  • Pages: 272
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: January 2020
  • BIC Category: POLITICAL SCIENCE / World / Middle Eastern, Islamic & Arabic Philosophy, Humanities / Religion & politics, Middle East, Religion & politics, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Ideologies / Conservatism & Liberalism, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Islamic Studies
  • Series: Manchester University Press


Combining a historical perspective that traces lines of continuity and change in Arab liberalism, an integrative discussion of cross-sectional themes, and a comparative analysis of the West, Turkey and Iran, this book seeks to enrich our knowledge of liberal thought in the Arab Middle East. In intertwining these dimensions-the historic, integrative and comparative, Arab liberal thought in the modern age responds to a tendency to overlook the significance of Middle Eastern liberalism in favour of more powerful and assertive forces embodied by authoritarian regimes and Islamic movements.

The study focuses on the second half of the twentieth century and the early twenty-first century. Post-1967 liberals, as their predecessors, confronted old dilemmas, socio-economic upheavals, political instability and cultural disorientation, but also demonstrated ideological rejuvenation and provided liberal thought with new emphases and visions. Arab liberals' ongoing debates over freedom of religion, secularism, individualism, democracy and human rights were aimed at formulating of a comprehensive liberal project seeking to enact an Arab Enlightenment.


'An extraordinary accomplishment that is original and thought-provoking. In the late 20th century and early 21st century, during what appeared to be the hegemony of political Islamic radicalism and the authoritarian state in the Arab Middle East, Hatina masterfully reconstructs Arab liberalism and liberal political thought. Analyzing in detail, liberal voices and actions by courageous public-intellectuals, they challenged the overriding authoritarianism with trenchant criticism, speaking truth to power and providing an alternative agenda for freedom of thought and speech, human rights, social equality, women's emancipation, and genuine liberal democracy. Hatina demonstrates that Arab liberalism is still a vital force in both intellectual and practical spheres, and stands to influence political life in the future. '
Professor Israel Gershoni, Tel Aviv University

'Arab Liberal Thought in the Modern Age offers a theoretically informed and fair-minded reading of an Arab liberalism that is not so easy to pin down. The analysis of major thinkers is convincing, and the three themes of scepticism, ecumenism and confidence in Arab advancement provide a novel and stimulating approach to varieties of liberalism which go well beyond political or economic doctrine.'
Professor Jakob Skovgaard-Petersen, University of Copenhagen


Introduction: Debating Arab Liberalism
1 Historical Endurance, Ideological Fervor
2 Revisiting Islam: Toward a Humanist Vision
3 Arab Politics: Oriental Despotism
4 The West and Israel: An Inspiring Model
5 The 2011 Arab Revolutions


Meir Hatina is Lecturer in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem

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