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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
March 2023
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Book description

Ahmad Qābel (1954–2012) was one of the key figures in the 'New Religious Thinking' trend of reformist thought, whose radical views were some of the most daring of his generation, seeking to rationalize and modernize Islamic law. In this comprehensively researched and accessibly written book, Lloyd Ridgeon offers an original examination of Qābel's writings, including his seminal work Shari'at-e 'Aqlāni (Rational Shariah). Throughout his career, Qābel crossed many political and religious redlines, resulting in several prison terms and hastening his premature death while under hospital arrest. Chapters covering topics from jurisprudence and politics to gender relations and society unravel Qābel's worldview, introducing and illuminating his work for all readers. With extended translations from Qābel's compositions, including two whole chapters from Shari'at-e 'Aqlāni, Ridgeon offers the necessary context to understand the resounding significance of Qābel's ideas and arguments.


‘This absorbing, carefully researched book provides an unparalleled account of the life, legacy, and intellectual development of Ahmad Qābel. Drawing on an array of primary sources, Lloyd Ridgeon has demonstrated a high level of mastery, adding immensely to our understanding of the religious reform movement.’Naser Ghobadzadeh, Australian Catholic University

‘Ahmad Qābel was one of the most daring dissident Islamic jurists of post-revolutionary Iran. Prominent but unable to publish in Iran, virtually unknown outside his country. The first systematic study of Qābel’s ideas and writings, Ridgeon’s excellent, engaging exposition locates them in the context of Iranian reformist thought within the clerical intellectual tradition.’Ziba Mir-Hosseini, SOAS, University of London

‘This book, tracing the lesser-known trends in contemporary Iranian intellectual history, stands out as an original inspiration to give a relatively obscure jurist-reformer an honorary standing in the line of influential jurists of Iran. Ridgeon makes it self-evident that Qābel deserves to be introduced to the Western audience as one of the most serious religious voices of young reformers.’Abdulaziz Sachedina, George Mason University

‘Lloyd Ridgeon has brilliantly captured the thoughts of Ahmed Qābel, a reformist Muslim thinker who has received scant attention in the West. Qābel’s views on the rationalist Shariah are especially illuminating and compelling. The book will be of great benefit to all scholars of contemporary Islam, especially those interested in an Islamic reformation.’Liyakat Takim, McMaster University

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