The purpose of this research is to examine the Qur'anic conception of khiläfah from selected Sunni and ShiCI points of view, in both the classical and modern periods. The term khiläfah, widely used by the Sunnis, is inseparable from imämah, the term which the ShiCis prefer. The concept arose very early in Islam and has continued to provoke discussion into the modern period. Yet, while the thought of Muslim political theorists on the subject has received much scholarly attention, far less notice has been\ud taken of the ideas of Qur'anic exegetes. For this reason it has been judged worthwhile to seek to throw light on some relatively neglected interpretations of khiläfah by\ud examining the views of certain major commentators on the Qur'an. These are principally scholars of the 9th-14th centuries who are regarded as having made substantial contributions to thought on this issue. However, some consideration is also given to the ideas of three modern writers who have adapted and revised the concept of\ud khiläfah to a considerable extent.\ud \ud The thesis begins with a discussion of the historical development and nature of the khiläfah in Islam, providing a general overview of the concept of the khiläfah, its\ud necessity, functional role and duties, from many Muslim scholars' viewpoints. As the main discussion concerns the Qur'anic interpretation, the commentators' approaches to\ud exegesis and their backgrounds, which may have influenced their interpretation of the concept, are examined in the second chapter. The main discussion and argument are\ud presented in chapters three to six. These chapters provide a close textual analysis of selected Qur'anic verses, which contain various terms relevant to the concept of khiläfah (imämah for the Shi`is) as interpreted by commentators from the two major Muslim communities, the Sunni and ShiCi, particularly the Ithnä `ashariyyah (the Twelver). Some modem interpretations of the khiläfah and the influence on them of the classical works are discussed in the seventh chapter. This is of great importance, since some aspects of classical teaching have been changed in response to twentieth-century conditions. The conclusion brings together and clarifies the arguments and findings of\ud the previous chapters in order to explain the significant contributions of the various Qur'anic interpretations considered in the main part of the study
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