Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Department of Politics and Government: Political Science

First Advisor

Ali Riaz


Sovereignty is a contested issue in Islamist political thought. Although Islamists practically accepted liberal democracy in various forms across the world, they are yet to solve the normative paradox: how to reconcile Islam’s divine sovereignty to nation-state’s popular sovereignty. Normatively, Islamists advocating the divine sovereignty reject any human-constructed system that intervenes in the divine order and distorts God’s divine design. Some Islamists, however, attempt to move away from this interpretation of absolute sovereignty of God and consequently reinterpret Islamic thoughts and practices in a manner that is compatible with the ethos of liberal democracy. This study examines this shifting concept of sovereignty in Sunni Islamist political thought, particularly the transformation from the divine sovereignty to the sovereignty of ummah. Analyzing the theoretical underpinnings of divine sovereignty propagated by Abul A’la Mawdudi and Sayyid Qutb, on the one hand, and Islamist sovereignty propagated by Rachid Ghannouchi, on the other, the thesis discusses the continuity in modern Islamist thoughts on sovereignty and emergent changes. It demonstrates how Mawdudi and Qutb utilizing the Quranic concept tawhid, the oneness of God, argue that not only the religious authority but all temporal-political authorities are exclusively bestowed to God. The thesis further argues that Ghannouchi’s argument for the sovereignty of ummah (community/people) is based on metaphysical understanding of Islam and siyasa shariiyya tradition of Islamic governance. Ghannouchi insists that people own political-temporal authority while keeping God’s ultimate sovereignty sacred. The thesis, situating the transforming thoughts of Islamist sovereignty vis-à-vis the popular sovereignty, contends that this shift can have a significant normative contribution to the understanding of Islamist thought on democracy.


Imported from ProQuest Rahman_ilstu_0092N_11447.pdf


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