The article explores the works and the thought of Muhammed Arkoun, one of the most prominent Muslim intellectuals in the West, and a representative of liberal Islam. Since the 1970s, Arkoun’s major intellectual critique was directed at “Islamic reason.” He endeavored to deconstruct the “regimes of truth” of Islamic medievalist dogmas, which still function as orthodoxies among contemporary Muslims (Sunni, Shiʿi and Khariji). According to his analysis, this medievalist perception of Islam fulfills a function in the modern era of political ideology. His works not only deconstruct and reassess Islamic traditional epistemology but also posit a counterpoint to the common perception of Islam among both Muslim believers and western scholars.
The article contextualizes Arkoun’s works in the intellectual and political history of the Arab-Muslim countries of the southern and eastern Mediterranean. The first section presents a general overview of Arkoun’s oeuvre since the 1960s, with special emphasis on the foundation of his political critique. The second section sheds light on the role of the Mediterranean as a concept of mental and geo-cultural space in Arkoun’s thought.