A democratic education

Myself, and several other members of the islamicate Collective, have been getting lots of requests for books. Specifically, if we were choose a selection of books to represent the highest ideals of liberal democracy, what would they be? In addition, what are some of the key texts representing the richness of Islamic thought that we would include. The work has been proposed for both Iraq and Afghanistan.

The endeavor is separate from Juan Cole’s Americana Translation Project (more details here and here), another worthwhile effort.

Many of the requests we’ve received so far have been time sensitive. However, going through the process, I found it extremely challenging to limit it to a few texts. I also thought it would be fun to challenge the readers of this site to suggest their ideas, and perhaps explain why. My suggestions continue in the extended body. Please post yours in the comments and be as verbose or tacit as you’d like.

Islam: (it’s hard to pick books as many authors think across works)
Autobiography of Malcolm X
To be a European Muslim
Hayy Ibn Yaqzan (both Ibn Sina and Ibn Tufayl’s versions)
Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan’s works
Second Message of Islam (Mahmud Taha)
Works by al-Beruni
Works by Ibn Sina
Works by Nasr Khusraw (particularly wajh-i din and jamiat al-hikmatayn)
Muqaddimah by Ibn Khaldun
Works by ar-Razi
Works by al-Farabi
Works by Muhammad Iqbal
Works by Muhammad Abduh
Works by Jamal al-Din Afghani
Works by Ali Shariati

Liberal democracy:
Common Sense, Thomas Paine
Federalist Papers
Lincoln’s speeches, including the Lincoln-Douglas debates
Selections from Locke, Hobbes, Rousseau on government
FDR’s speeches
On Liberty, JS Mill

2 thoughts on “A democratic education

  1. Thank you for this reading list! Of the authors you cite under “Islam,” I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve only read Malcolm X.
    Maybe I will form a book group, in the fall, and see whether I can get friends and colleagues to read some of these with me. If there are particular works you recommend by the authors you list, let me know…

  2. I would add any books on Mohammed Ali. Two I would recommend are:
    The Fight
    King of the World
    They both give a good understanding of the sixties, the Nation of Islam, and the power of one truly beautiful man with all his faults and flaws

Comments are closed.