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date: 24 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Weber’s concept of Islam as a cultural configuration including religion, society, and political order was conceived against the backdrop of Europe’s supposed uniqueness and exemplary path to modernity. Yet his ambition of advancing transcultural understanding and exploring a plurality of developmental histories offers inspiration to this day also for the Islamic perspective. Repositioning his ideas about warrior Islam, Islamic beliefs, Islamic law, and patrimonialism in the context of contemporary postcolonial, postmodern, and global theory reveals details, correlations, and perspectives that Weber at the time ignored or omitted. Complementing theory with up-to-date historical research on the Middle East provides further corrections. A critical appraisal of Weber’s approach and the discussions it triggered allows recognition of the dynamics of Islamic history, such as the role of religion and religious authority in the evolution of state–society relations. It also assists in understanding Islamic features of modernity, including fundamentalism and the role of tradition, that inform the tension between moral values and politics. Going beyond the historical limitation of Weber’s assessment of prevalent features of Islam, the vitality of Islamic tradition and its particular pathway to modernity are recognizable in terms corresponding with the intention of Weber’s transcultural approach and its contemporary reinterpretations.

Keywords: analytic concept, comparative approach, transcultural approach, Western narrative, Islamic narrative, cultural specificity, warrior Islam, patrimonialism

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