Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Middle Eastern Studies


Samira Haj

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities | History | Intellectual History | Islamic World and Near East History | Near and Middle Eastern Studies


Caliphate, Ali Abd al-Raziq, Prophet Muhammad, Islamic Reform, and Modernity.


The demise of the Ottoman Caliphate in 1924 generated vigorous debates throughout the Muslim world regarding the political future of the Ummah. While several prominent Muslim thinkers contributed to this “Caliphate debate,” none left as contested a legacy as the Egyptian intellectual, ‘Ali ‘Abd al-Raziq(1888-1966). In his scholarly publication, Islam and Foundations of Governance,Abd al-Raziq argued against the revival and resurrection of the Caliphate by redefining it as coercive, monarchal, and as the antithesis of the community first established by Prophet Muhammad. While Abd al-Raziq’s book attracted tremendous criticisms in 1925, numerous scholars today have commended and hailed him as the father of Secularism, Liberalism, and Laicism. This thesis, however strongly rejects such labels by investigating how Abd al-Raziq imbued the Caliphate with a modern definition and relied upon authoritative evidence from the Islamic tradition to bolster his analyses. By situating his criticisms within the Islamic tradition, this thesis demands that we reconfigure Abd al-Raziq’s ideas and legacy, without the aid of limiting and misleading Western-centric categories. Additionally, by making use of Urdu language primary sources, this thesis brings forth reception of South Asian Muslims on Abd al-Raziq’s work, to emphasize cross-cultural debates and disagreements amongst Muslims on the significance of the Caliphate, which continue to persist today