Muḥammad Bāqir al-Ṣadr and Epistemic Decolonisation: al-Tafsīr al-Mawḍūʿī, the Islamic Alternative in Iqtiṣādunā and the Struggle for Cultural Hegemony

Document Type : Research Paper


PhD Candidate, Global History and Governance, Scuola Superiore Meridionale, University of Naples “Federico II”, Italy


The Lebanese scholar Chibli Mallat, analysing Muḥammad Bāqir al-Ṣadr’s work, affirms that the Iraqi intellectual proposed a completely new comprehensive theory of the Islamic State, focusing on constitutionalism and economics. Following Mallat’s intuition, this paper will focus on the second aspect of al-Ṣadr’s work. It will deal with the use of thematic Quranic exegesis (al-tafsīr al-mawḍūʿī) in al-Ṣadr’s main work on economics, Iqtiṣādunā. The article will argue that al-Ṣadr’s use of this kind of exegesis is determined by his will to provide a comprehensive understanding of the Islamic vision of economics as a central part of a new Islamic society. Furthermore, the paper will argue that in al-Ṣadr’s work, this new conception of Islamic society is also voted to propose a valid alternative to capitalism and Marxism, both as economic systems and conceptions of society, fighting Western cultural influences and Epistemic colonisation. Henceforth, the article will frame al-Ṣadr’s effort to build a comprehensive critique of Western Epistemic colonisation within the concept of Cultural Hegemony and Counter-hegemony as defined by Asef Bayat and Antonio Gramsci and analyse his endeavours within this framework. To highlight these points, the presentation will provide an overview of the use of al-tafsīr al-mawḍūʿī in a short selection of passages from Iqtiṣādunā, drawing on the methodological framework provided by Gramsci, Bayat, and other scholars.