Truth needs evidence, or some recourse to reality. Nowhere is this more evident than in the struggle to come to terms with incredible successes of the Trump presidential bid and the Brexit campaign. For this is a struggle with post-truth politics, where rhetoric matters more than proof. To many, post-truth is a venture reserved for the far-right. This is not quite the case if we consider Islamic utopianism. Impounded by imagination, and harping on hope, Islamic utopianism is nowhere near empirical. Yet it is its very post-truth feature that empowers.
We must first establish that utopia is a dirty word today. When a suggestion, an idea or a person is described as utopian, this is often a denigration that means unrealistic, unachievable or naive. Yet this has not always been the case. Thinkers of yore used utopia as a thought experiment to imagine not just a different reality, but more importantly, the good life. To them, imagining utopia was serious business. This was the practice of societies in the Western hemisphere, but it is also prevalent in Islamicate cultures. Think of the positive reception to Thomas More’s novel Utopia (1516) or Al-Farabi’s classical work, Al-Madina al-Fadila (The Virtuous City).