islam and utopians

The concept of an ideal world as envisioned by Islamic Utopians has a curious allure for humans. Another more common epithet is Islamic Humanists, which Makdisi, Arkoun, and others have popularized. People generally have diverse opinions on Islamic utopia-thinkers. Ibn ufayl, Ibn al-Nafs, Ibn Sn, Yahya ibn Habash Suhrawardi, and Ibn al-‘Arabi can come to mind first. They wholeheartedly support human perfection by Islam’s teachings. This notion brought them to the conclusion that there was little suitable about the world order other than the ideal life found in Islam. The paper argues that the Islamic Utopians’ spiritual approach to society is impossible because the ideal Islamic community with perfect people appears to be out of reach. Ibn Ṭufayl defines utopia as happiness and wellbeing. He dismisses the idea of a society entirely because of imperfect individuals. Ibn al-Nafīs endorses the reality of society as it is because of the hope in the prophets. Ibn Ṭufayl and Ibn al-Nafīs define utopian interest in three thematic areas; education, the city, and transcendence. Education comes first because it does not exist in a real sense. Utopians are self-taught and disregard the former authority. They leave their flock to follow them blindly. The city is a presentation of an actual society ruled by the prophetic law. Al-Farabi presented religion as a symbol rendering truth. He argues that Medina was an ideal city-state under Prophet Muhammad’s leadership. His work paved the way for Ibn Sīnā who formulated a philosophical theory to conform to the teachings of the Quran. Ibn Sina, also known as Avicenna argued that a prophet fulfills the perfection of human imagination and intelligence. No one can challenge a prophet’s law or improve the city. Yahya ibn Habash Suhrawardi was an illuminate philosopher. He transitioned Islamic philosophy from Avicenna’s Aristotelianism to mystical oriental philosophies. His illumination philosophy was about the concrete discretion of things. God, human beings, and intellects are distinct, unitary and particular. The particularity and concreteness of something make it real. In general, all the utopians present a rationally organized society that mirrors Islamic communities. However, this plan is an exaggeration since a perfect society is an illusion in the modern society. The regimes of discursive power in the contemporary world fail the critical purpose of Islamic utopian philosophies. They all have selfless experience and actualization of truth about Islam and the society.


Black, A. (2011). History of Islamic Political Thought: From the Prophet to the Present: From the Prophet to the Present. Edinburgh University Press.

Gutas, D. (1994). Ibn Ṭufayl on Ibn Sīnā’s Eastern Philosophy. Oriens, 222-241.

Heath, P. (1998). The World of Ibn Tufayl: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Hayy ibn Yaqzan. The Journal of the American Oriental Society, 118(3), 413-416.

Mahdi, M. (1970). Remarks on the” Theologus Autodidactus” of Ibn Al-Nafīs. Studia Islamica, 197-209.

Razavi, M. A. (2003). How Ibn Sinian is Suhrawardi’s theory of knowledge?. Philosophy East and West, 53(2), 203-214.

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