Macalester Islam Journal


The political basis of the religion of Islam can be considered both a centripetal and centrifugal force. The intrinsic connection between religion and the concepts of unity, order, and authority, which had initially transformed the disordered, primitive, underdeveloped Arabian territory into an ordered, urbanized empire, later led to the division of the community over issues of succession and leadership. While some form of separation of the spiritual and political spheres was accomplished, secularization in the Western sense never was attempted in this age. Initially, politics was thought to be only a part of the “larger quest for religious salvation” (Lapidus 153), and government was perceived as the “fulfillment of cosmic and divine purposes” (188). However, greed and worldly pursuits corrupted this Islamic view of the relationship between politics and religion and led to the decline of the unified Muslim society and the return to the point of origin in the cycle of history.