Is Islam an imperial idea, forever beholden to the perpetuation of a historical order to which ‘conquering the world’ is intrinsic? For all the absurdity of this claim, it remains indisputable that a number of non-Muslim critics and some of our own ‘rightly misguided’ zealots subscribe to this fantasy, albeit for different reasons. I intend to provide a rebuttal to this calumny. The ultimate stake in this bid to refute the charge of ‘Islamic imperialism’ is not merely the ideology of ‘Islamism’ and its anti-politics of nihilistic and suicidal jihad but the very notion of ‘Islamic’ rule. Perhaps I should make it clear that I am not questioning the necessity of ‘Muslim power’, the Muslims’ right to act politically in the historical world, nor the legitimacy of their just struggle (jihad) for self-preservation, the right of the Community (ummah) to ensure its survival. What are being rejected are the reified conceptions of ‘Islam’ as ‘state’, its faith as coercive order, its universalist spirit as imperial body-politic, its search for a human community as the subjugation of the other, its utopian dream as perpetual hegemony!

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