Why an Islamic State – the Life Projects of Two Great European Muslims

Both Muhammad Asad and Alija Izetbegovic were men of wisdom and vision blessed with long and productive lives. Asad is best remembered today for the gripping travel adventure ‘Road to Mecca’ and the translation and commentary of the Qur’an; Izetbegovic of course was the Muslim hero who became the first president of Bosnia-Herzegovina and led his people with courage and dignity during the wars with the Serbs and Croats in the early to mid 1990s.

The twentieth century has seen many visionaries who have articulated the concept of an Islamic socio-political order. There have also been many false dawns leading to a re-evaluation of strategies within Muslim circles. Asad and Izetbegovic, whose lives straddle the twentieth century, were persistent proponents of Islam’s political dimension and the vision of establishing a society where the moral and ethical teachings of the religion would find practical expression. They were far from unsophisticated sofa intellectuals and their vision was not shaken by the disappointments. There is need to understand their aspirations, appreciate their rationales, and absorb their assessments, particularly in a period when there are misgivings about the vision of an Islamic state.