Halil Ibrahim Yenigun
openDemocracy, May 29, 2017.
Publication year: 2017

Khayruddin Pasha al-Tunisi (d. 1890) was in many ways a typical nineteenth century Ottoman statesman and reformist thinker, but indisputably unique in many other ways. Serving in the remote principality of Tunisia, he was an adamant advocate for a constitutional regime like his Young Ottoman counterparts in Istanbul. But he stood out in his quest to ground his views on a quite firm Islamic foundation.

His classical political treatise, The Surest Path (Aqwam al-Masalik) was no less than a modern comparative politics manuscript. He would quote an unlikely figure, Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya (d.1350) to justify his reformism: “any path where the road signs of justice are perceptible is the path of the shar’ and religion of God.” This not only opened up an immense space for rational deliberation in Islamic political thinking but placed him among the proto-Islamist political thinkers as well.