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A conversation between Harvard Kennedy School Professor Tarek Masoud and Dalal Saeb Iriqat, a columnist and Palestinian academic. The event, held Thursday, was part of a series of dialogues on the Middle East hosted by Masoud.


Newspaper Article - The Boston Globe

After Backlash, Harvard Professor Holds Tense Conversation on Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

| Mar. 07, 2024

Tarek Masoud, who questioned Iriqat’s views of Oct. 7 and how a two-state solution could be achieved during the event, said in an interview later on Thursday that he was “reasonably confident and hopeful” the discussion was an opportunity for learning, and added he appreciated that Iriqat “did not deny the atrocities of Oct. 7.” Understanding the Palestinian perspective is critical for moving toward peace and a two-state solution, Masoud said. Masoud and Iriqat agreed to discuss her controversial social media posts during the dialogue. Iriqat said that she did not intend to justify the violence on Oct. 7, which included kidnappings of children and elderly, beheadings, and massacres of civilians, but meant to place the attack in the context of a decades-long conflict. She was intensely critical of Israel throughout the conversation, saying the “settler-colonial project started 76 years ago.”

Book - Harvard University Press

The Caliphate of Man: Popular Sovereignty in Modern Islamic Thought

| Sep. 17, 2019

A political theorist teases out the century-old ideological transformation at the heart of contemporary discourse in Muslim nations undergoing political change.

The Arab Spring precipitated a crisis in political Islam. In Egypt Islamists have been crushed. In Turkey they have descended into authoritarianism. In Tunisia they govern but without the label of “political Islam.” Andrew March explores how, before this crisis, Islamists developed a unique theory of popular sovereignty, one that promised to determine the future of democracy in the Middle East.

This began with the claim of divine sovereignty, the demand to restore the sharīʿa in modern societies. But prominent theorists of political Islam also advanced another principle, the Quranic notion that God’s authority on earth rests not with sultans or with scholars’ interpretation of written law but with the entirety of the Muslim people, the umma. Drawing on this argument, utopian theorists such as Abū’l-Aʿlā Mawdūdī and Sayyid Quṭb released into the intellectual bloodstream the doctrine of the caliphate of man: while God is sovereign, He has appointed the multitude of believers as His vicegerent. The Caliphate of Man argues that the doctrine of the universal human caliphate underpins a specific democratic theory, a kind of Islamic republic of virtue in which the people have authority over the government and religious leaders. But is this an ideal regime destined to survive only as theory?