Another Road to Damascus
An Integrative Approach to 'Abd al-Qadir al-Jaza'iri (1808-1883)
Aims and Scope
This text challenges existing writing on ‘Abd al-Qādir al-Jazā'irī which divides his life into two juxtaposed phases separated by narratives of conversion: from Francophobia to Francophilia, from militarism to pacifism, from activism to quietism, from Islamism to pluralism, from politics to religion. This work's interdisciplinary approach demonstrates that these narratives cannot be sustained in light of the evidence. Rather, they can be shown to originate in specific historical, cultural, and methodological tendencies within western societies and academies. Drawing on primary materials including archival documents and selections from his own writing, it constructively critiques his reception in the literature while advancing a continuous and contextualised account of his life and ideas. These include the relating of his ethico-religious and jurisprudential concerns to his political decision-making, and a resituating of his mystical writings within a definite moral, epistemological, and political context. By problematising these interpretive issues, this thesis aims at opening new avenues for understanding even as it offers its own solutions. In so doing, this study contributes to discussions on Sufism, political Islam, and east-west relations.