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Religious Freedom and Majority Rule: Marsilius of Padua “on” Abdullahi Ahmed an-Na‘im and the “Secular” Islamic State

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 February 2013

Bettina Koch*
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Bettina Koch, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Department of Political Science, 507 Major Williams Hall (0130) Blacksburg, VA 24061. E-mail:


This article discusses Abdullahi Ahmed an-Na‘im's Islam and the Secular State from the perspective of Marsilius of Padua's political theory. Both authors share similar concepts of the relationship between religion, state policy, and the state, and allow for the integration of religious doctrines into state law. Nonetheless, the Marsilian conception provides stronger protection of unbelievers' and religious dissenters' civic rights. In the broader discourse on political theory of rights, Marsilius argues in favors of individual rights and a protection of minority rights, while an-Na‘im's theory of Shari‘a reform suggests a preference for a people's self-determination.

Copyright © Religion and Politics Section of the American Political Science Association 2013 

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