Expedient Historicity; a Critique of the Thought and Opinions of Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd and Mohammed Arkoun


1 PhD Student of Political Thought, Tehran University, Tehran, Iran

2 Assistant Professor of Political Sciences, Tehran University, Tehran, Iran



We may consider Abu Zayd and Arkoun as the pioneers of the methodic and detailed idea of historicity of religion and theology in contemporary Islamic thought. Making use of the achievements of humanities and social sciences, especially epistemology, hermeneutics and other new methodologies are the prominent features of the works written by these two authors. However, by a more precise investigation of these two thinkers’ works, it seems that there is a kind of expediency or conservatism in the statement and pursuing the logical succession of their opinions.  In this article, we aim at dealing with and exploring this very aspect in Abu Zayd and Arkoun’s thought. Accordingly, the main question in the present inquiry is as follows: “Does such a conservative aspect exist in the works of these two thinkers?” and, in the next stage, “What are the reasons and causes for it?” The research hypothesis is as follows: “Some evidence, ambiguities and inconsistencies show the existence of such an aspect in those works and the role of mental clichés and psychological backgrounds, on the one hand, and social requisites and dilemmas, on the other hand, can be considered as the most important factors.” The research approach is text-based and our method is descriptive-analytical. Besides, we have used Leo Strauss’s theory, called ‘esotericism’, to understand those aspects based on the writers’ conservatism. Fear of ‘persecution’ and fanatic reactions, considering some expedient considerations aiming at more gradual influence on the audience, and the effects – even unconscious – of some psychological-mental clichés and images can be regarded as the most important reasons and causes for the existence of inconsistent and conservative aspects in Abu Zayd and Arkoun’s thought.


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