Religion and Public Reason in the United States and the Muslim World

18 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2010 Last revised: 25 Aug 2010

Date Written: June 28, 2006


In this paper, we study a theoretical aspect of the relationship between democracy and Islam. We examine to what extent defining democracy in terms of public reason facilitates the rooting of democracy in Islamic thought. To that end, we derive three different definitions of public reason, then we determine their respective relationship with the Islamic conception of public reason: the shura (consultation). This leads us to explain a possible connection between rational justification and religious justification. Finally, we specify the type of rationality required by democracy, and we examine whether it can find an echo in contemporary Islamic thought.

Note: Downloadable document is in French.

Keywords: Islam, democracy, public reason, religious justification, rational justification

Suggested Citation

Benhenda, Mostapha, Religion and Public Reason in the United States and the Muslim World (June 28, 2006). UCLA Journal of Islamic and Near Eastern Law, Vol. 6, No. 1, p. 401, 2007, Available at SSRN:

Mostapha Benhenda (Contact Author)

École Normale Supérieure (ENS) ( email )

45 rue d’Ulm
Paris Cedex 05, F-75230

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