Conference of Gonzalo VILLAGRAN, at the Second International Congress of PLURIEL in ROME
Recently, Afifi Al-Akiti and Joshua Horden proposed the development of a new field of study called “A Comparative Approach to Muslim and Christian Political Thought”. Given the fact that the object of study of such a field of two explicitly religious traditions, it is clear that they are proposing something that is beyond the mere study of political theory and leans more to the field of theology. Such an approach could be extremely helpful in order to have a better knowledge of both political traditions and their connections as well as to put them dialogue with secular political thought. The Christian theologian Robin Lovin offers us a more detailed method for such a study.
In such an approach, a very important point of study is each religion’s understanding of the ethical end of social life. A clarification in this point will help to face other problematic issues between both traditions of thought. In the case of the Catholic Church the concept used to express exactly that point is that of the common good, a concept with a long history in western thought and in Catholic social thinking. In the Islamic tradition, we cannot find an exact correspondence to this but we do find a similar concept called ‘maslaha’ or public welfare. The Islamic concept is a more of a juridical term integrated in the tradition of fiqh, however it may offer us a Muslim understanding of the same idea.
Both concepts covers overlapping conceptual spaces and can be considered, in Robin Lovin’s terms, as bridge concepts in order to compare both traditions. Without forcing an artificial connection between them, we want to study their similarities and differences. Such a study may provide us with some clues on the way to think together the ultimate objective of our life in modern societies. This clarification may give us good orientation for future debates on Christian and Islamic relationships on social life.