Textually layered, theoretically vivacious, and historically grounded, Forging Ideal Muslim Subjects marks a major intervention in the study of Muslim ethics and moral philosophy. How have Muslim thinkers wrestled with the foundational question of what constitutes a normatively good life and subjectivity? Faraz Sheikh examines this question, combining brilliance with deep reflection, through an unprecedented exploration of the religious thought and career of two major though less explored scholars from the 9th and 20th centuries: al-Harith al-Muhasibi (d.856) and Said Nursi (d.1960). Faraz successfully demonstrates that while distinctive and separated by many centuries, these thinkers present us with particularly effective examples of the enduring yet variegated significance of moral discipline and subjectivity in Muslim thought and practice. This book should and will be widely read and debated.
Living in the modern world demands subservience to the gods of materialism, tribalism, and efficiency. How may one escape this iron cage? Faraz Sheikh investigates the writings of al-Harith al-Muhasibi and Said Nursi to find out and discovers that these two thinkers have plenty to say. Both thinkers drew exquisitely detailed portraits of the ideal subjectivity and wrote incisively about how one may fashion it. This beautifully written book is an exemplary constructive and conceptual contribution to the field of religious ethics that puts Islamic thought in dialogue with ethicists concerned with secularism, pluralism, and the place of religion in the modern world.