Reading Hegel’s Islam

  • M. A. R. Habib


This chapter considers the limitations and potential of Hegel’s characterizations of Islam. What threatens to unsettle Hegel’s dialectic, and indeed his entire system, is the degree to which Hegel’s “Islam” is a myth, based on second- and third-hand sources and conflicting with the actual ways in which Islam can be seen to have developed in historical terms. In other words, Hegel’s dialectic is sustained by a vision of Europe as developing rationally toward “freedom,” a Europe whose own identity is forged in contrast with, and by superseding or sublating, an otherness whose content is mythical, the product of a Eurocentric imagination—whether in the case of Islam, or the Orient in general, or India, or Africa. This chapter addresses some of the important issues and dilemmas arising from various assessments of Hegel’s treatment of Islam, and concludes by suggesting how we might make use of Hegel’s own methods in abrogating ethnocentrism.


Orientalism Islam as myth Europe vs. Islam Potential of Hegel’s dialectic 


  1. Almond, Ian. 2004. Sufism and Deconstruction: A Comparative Study of Derrida and Ibn ‘Arabi. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  2. ———. 2010. History of Islam in German Thought, 130. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  3. al-Azmeh, Aziz. 1993. Islams and Modernities, 18–24. London and New York: Verso.Google Scholar
  4. Bhatawadeker, Sai. 2014a. Islam in Hegel’s Triadic Philosophy of Religion. Journal of World History 25 (2–3): 397–424.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. ———. 2014b. Islam in Hegel’s Triadic Philosophy of Religion. 418.Google Scholar
  6. Curtis, Michael. 2009. Orientalism and Islam. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Derrida, Jacques, and Chérif, Mustapha. 2008. Islam and the West: A Conversation with Jacques Derrida. Trans. T.L. Fagan. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  8. Goux, Jean-Joseph. 2008. Untimely Islam: September 11th and the Philosophies of History. SubStance 37 (1): 60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Lukács, Georg. 1975. The Young Hegel: Studies in the Relations Between Dialectics and Economics. Trans. Rodney Livingstone, 429–447. London: Merlin Press.Google Scholar
  10. Tibebu, Teshale. 2008. Hegel and Anti-Semitism. Pretoria: Unisa Press.Google Scholar
  11. Žižek, Slavoj. 2002. Welcome to the Desert of the Real: Five Essays on September 11 and Related Dates. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  12. ———. 2006. A Glance into the Archives of Islam.
  13. Žižek, Slavoj, and Gunjević, Boris. 2012. God in Pain. Trans. Ellen Elias-Bursać. New York: Seven Stories Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. A. R. Habib
    • 1
  1. 1.Rutgers UniversityCamdenUSA

Personalised recommendations