Advancing theological and scientific literacy for today’s ʿulamāʾ
2.3.6 Hierarchy and Islamic Ethics
“Tumanba Khan, His Wife, and His Nine Sons”, Folio from a Chingiznama (Book of Genghis Khan) ca. 1596. The Met, Public Domain.
Classical Islamic scholars such as Abu Hamid Muhammad al-Ghazali and Nasr-ad Din Tusi had a profound impact on Islamic ethics today. Yet, as we continue to mine the richness of their contributions, we are also faced with questions about whom they were writing for—and whose subordination was required for the kind of society they envisioned.
In the following essay, Saadia Yacoob, Assistant Professor of Religion at Williams College, considers the hierarchies and inequities built into key texts in classical Islamic ethical discourse. In her response to Zahra Ayubi’s Gendered Morality, Yacoob notes that these intersecting hierarchies around gender to enslavement, age, social status, and religion determine who has a clear path to spiritual refinement.
The Madrasa Discourses project proposes that a conciliation of traditional Islamic thought with contemporary scientific and philosophical worldviews can result in orthodox affirmations of human dignity essential for peaceful coexistence in a pluralistic world.