Distinguished Moroccan philosopher Mohammed Abed Al Jabri has died

May 4, 2010

Mohammed Abed Al Jabri, the distinguished Moroccan philosopher who has rejected a $100,000 prize from former Iraqi president and a $32,000 award from Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi, died on Monday. He will be recalled for his remarkable political and intellectual independence and his outstanding contributions to the Arab and Islamic thoughts.

Born in Fijij, near Oujda in Morocco on December 27, 1935, Al Jabri is one of the rare Arab thinkers to speak and write in three languages, Arabic, French and English.

He started his career as a teacher in 1962 and was promoted to school principal and to supervisor of philosophy teachers. In 1966 he, co-authored two textbooks on Islamic thought and on philosophy, designed for the final year of high schools.

Between 1967 and 2002, he took up teaching philosophy and Islamic thought at the University of Mohammad V in Rabat.

In the 1970s, he started publishing a series of papers on Islamic thought that immediately drew the attention of many intellectuals and academics in the Arab World

In 1980, he published “We and our Heritage”, followed in 1982 by “Contemporary Arab Discourse: A Critical and Analytical Study” and in 1984 by “Critique of Arab Reason.”

A national activist in the 1950s and a leader in the Socialist Union of Popular Forces where he was a political bureau member, Al Jabri eventually retired from political work to devote himself to his academic and intellectual work.

In his works, Al Jabri often looked at the status of Arab thought in the late 20th century. According to critics, he rejected what he called “the current polarization of Arab thought between an imported modernism that promotes its economic, scientific, technological, and military superiority and disregards Arab tradition and a fundamentalism that provided a reassurance that Arabs were not necessarily inferior in all areas and able to would reconstruct the present in the image of an idealized past.”

Al Jabri initially questioned the current philosophical positions of the liberals, the Marxists, and the fundamentalists. He then explored Arab philosophy in the 10th and 12th centuries, a time of political and ideological struggle, but which he saw as a prelude to the beginning of rationalism that characterized the 14th century and whose flagship is Ibn Khaldun.

He published four books in English: Contemporary Arab Views on Globalization, What Role for Non-Governmental Organization, Arab-Islamic Philosophy and Can Modern Rationality Shape a New Religiosity?

His last books, the 31st and 32nd, were Introduction to Quran (2006) and Understanding Quran (2008).

Al Jabri was accorded several awards, but has refused many of them.



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About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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