King Faisal Prize laureate calls for review of Islamic political thought

Professor Ridwan Al-Sayyid delivering a lecture at King Faisal Foundation auditorium in Riyadh.
Professor Ridwan Al-Sayyid delivering a lecture at King Faisal Foundation auditorium in Riyadh.

Saudi Gazette report

RIYADH — The winner of King Faisal International Prize 2017 for Islamic Studies, Professor Ridwan Al-Sayyid, has underscored the importance of revisiting the Islamic political thought and heritage in historic sources. He called for adherence to moderate Salafism.

Al-Sayyid made the remarks during a lecture on "Working with Islamic political thinking and the issue of the scientific reference," organized by the General Secretariat of King Faisal International Prize at King Faisal Foundation auditorium. The lecture was attended by senior academics, political experts and ambassadors.

Al-Sayyid won the King Faisal International Prize 2017, which this year was on the topic of Muslim Political Thought, for his research contributions and his thorough knowledge of Islamic jurisprudential and political heritage based on modern research methodology.

The lecture reflected the General Secretariat’s efforts to provide innovative platforms to exchange ideas with prominent scientists and researchers and shed light on achievements that have enriched mankind.

During the lecture, Al-Sayyid highlighted the obstacles encountered in the Islamic political thinking, pointing out that many Muslims today believe strongly in an Islamic theocratic state when in fact the main task of any state is to manage the public affairs of its people.

He criticized the Sunni doctrine adopted by the self-proclaimed Islamic State, which is also known as ISIS, stressing that there is not much difference between the ISIS's extreme doctrine and that of the Shiite ideology as both contradict the principles of moderate Salafism, which in his opinion has a promising future for Muslims. Salafism needs to be revived, not radicalized, he stressed.

Al-Sayyid wondered why the Muslim world failed to establish a global scientific reference institution for Islamic studies and humanities. He expressed surprise at the failure of Arab universities to expand their capabilities to act as reference entities, which led to the reliance on British, American and even Japanese and Chinese universities. The universities in these four countries have become centers of scientific reference for Islamic studies and humanities and their degrees in these fields have gained tremendous respect, he added.

Al-Sayyid’s academic research is characterized by its accuracy and successful integration of traditional Islamic political thought and current Arab-Muslim reality. He has also conducted multiple studies on Muslim political thought, including issues of governance, authority, state, society and nation as related to historic Islamic reality.