Dr. Fanaei Eskhevari on Islamic Philosophy of Politics

November 20, 2008 at 9:06 am | Posted in Seminar-seminar | Leave a comment

picture-004In November 13, 2008, Dr. Fanaei Eshkevari, a scholar from Imam Khomeini Education and Research Institute, gave a public lecture in the University of Paramadina. This program is conducted by ACRoSS in a collaboration with Pusat Studi Islam dan Kenegaraan (PSIK) Universitas Paramadina. The theme of the lecture is “Relation between Religion and Politics: Islamic Perspective.”

In the lecture, Dr. Fanaei started with the explanation that before we elaborate politics from philosophical perspective or the political philosophy, we should understand what philosophy is; it is just because the political philosophy is a branch of the philosophy. Philosophy is, Dr Fanaei explained, rational thinking about everything. Science starts from empirical observation, but philosophy doesn’t. Philosophy is a rational analysis and logical argumentation.

picture-002After this explanation, Dr. Fanaei continued to elaborate what is political philosophy. Political philosophy is a branch of philosophy that deals with the question like ‘What is the source of legitimacy? What is the nature and limits of freedom? What is justice? What is relation between religion and politics? Etc.

Political philosophy is a kind of practical philosophy. Practical philosophy is a kind of philosophy that has relation to our social action. The other kind of philosophy is theoretical philosophy that focuses on contemplating of what is the essence of reality, what is the nature of universe, etc.

Even different in kind, but they can’t be separated. Every rational practical philosophy must be based on theoretical philosophy. The two of them should have a consistency, a logical connection. If not, practical philosophy will become irrational.

The principle of logical connection holds true for the relation between religion and politics. Religion is a kind of world-view, and based on this kinds of world-view, a kind of practical system emerges from and being consistent with that world-view.

For Dr. Fanaei, democracy does not contradict Islam because democracy is just a method to choose rulers and social and political institutions. Democracy is not liberalism, so both must be differentiated. Liberalism is not a method, but is a view of world that have opposite content with Islam. In the discussion, Dr. Fanaei underlined that we must not identify Islamic politics with extremist ideas and intolerant approaches that we see in some part of Islamic world.

In Iran, he said, religious minorities, like Jews or Christians, and Zoroastrians have their representatives in Parliament. They have their own schools and religious centers, and the Islamic government does not discriminate the minority. Iran government doesn’t coerce non-Muslim people to follow shariah or Islamic law. They are allowed to practicing what they believe.

In conclusion, Islam and politics can’t be separated, and the real Islamic politics can create a just and prosperous society.


Mohammad Fanaei Eshkevari received his PhD from the Faculty of Religious Studies at McGill University in Philosophy of Mysticism with dissertation entitled “Epistemology of Mystical Experience”.

Doing philosophy is different from studying philosophy. We should exercise critical thinking in studying any idea from any scholar. We should have independent thought.”

(One of Dr. Fanaei’s remarks in his class of philosophy at ICAS)


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