Institut für den Nahen und Mittleren Osten



Reading Taha Abderrahmane from a Postcolonial Perspective

Orientalism as a Western style does not only focus in dominating, restructuring and having authority over the state, economy and the culture of the “Orient” but also in it’s production and transfer of knowledge. In Michel Foucault’s opinion the “European culture gained in strength and identity by setting itself off against the Orient as a sort of surrogate and even underground self”. Edward Said explains that Orientalists have “created” the Orient with their Orientalist discourse. “Texts,” can create not only knowledge but also the very reality they appear to describe. In time such knowledge and reality produce a tradition, or what Foucault calls a discourse. So while the “Orient” does not exist as a place, it does exist as a discursive formation, one which is subject to the whims and fancies of those exterior to it. In this respect also the production of knowledge lies upon a revolutionary struggle. As for Franz Fanon violence is the necessary mechanism for the colonised to restore their self-respect, self-esteem and level of equality. Because through violence and revolting towards suppression “the colonised subject discovers that his life, his breathing and his heartbeats are the same as the colonist’s”. But resistance to colonial and postcolonial powers does not only restrict itself to forms of violence; resistance can also be expressed in the power of knowledge and circulating knowledge.

One of the best examples to express resistance in form of the circulating knowledge is the contemporary research of Taha Abderrahmane. Instead of adopting to western concept and transforming them one to one into the Arab context; he created a unique and innovative approach in the production of knowledge and its transfer. Having completed his philosophical degree and Phd in Morocco and in France, he engages in his work on logic, philosophy of language, philosophy of morality and contemporary Islamic jurisprudence and ethics. In his work he reflects on western and arabic philosophical ideas and Philosophers. He reflects and criticises them with an Islamic problem-solving approach. One of Abderrahmane’s main critique is based on the marginalisation of religion and ethics. The separation of religion from state, law, science and art constitute for him the main causes for moral depravation. Therefore for Abderrahmane rationality, religion, ethics and actions share an ontological relationship.

Taha Abderrahmane speaks from the East and for the East. He does not try to immediate Western principles but instead creates philosophical concepts upon Islamic principles. Hence his work is creating an own Arab-Islamic identity. His research is a revolutionary work that aims for renewal and reform of contemporary arabic, Islamic and western systems of thoughts by the means of an Islamic problem-solving method. For Abderrahmane resistance to power relations and the reformation of the Arab societies and its political process lies in the return to Islam. He speaks of a returning call to Islamic ethics (daʻwā al- ʻawda ilā akhlāq al-islām). The call to Islam is on one hand an enlightening process (at-tanwīr) and on the other hand the way to freedom (at-taḥrīr). It is an enlightening process as it calls people from darkness to light and frees people from slavery and brings them back to freedom. But the accomplishment of the obstacles and the return to the fundamental principles of Islam are essentially based on actions. Political, religious and cultural change can only be achieved by the means of organised social and political movements. Abdurrahman traces this argument back on a report of the Prophet Muḥammad: “Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then (let him change it) with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart and that is the weakest of faith.”

Abdurrahman, Taha, Suʾāl al-aḫlāq musāhm fī an-nuqud al-aḫlāq li-ḥadaṯ al-ġarbīa, Beirut 2015
Abdurrahman, Taha, Suʾāl al-manhaǧ fī ufuq at-tāsīs li-anmuḏaǧ fikrī ǧadīd, Beirut 2015
Abdurrahman, Taha, Suʾāl al-ʿamal baḥṯ ʿan al-uṣūl al-ʿamaliyya fi al-fikr wa-al-ʿulum, Casablanca 2012
Abdurrahman, Taha, Rūḥ al-ḥadāṯa: al-mudḫal ila tāsīs al-ḥadāṯa islāmiyya, Casablanca 2006