Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Joint Ph.D. Program in Study of Religion

First Advisor

Claude d’Estree


International relations, Islam


This dissertation develops an Islamic Theory of International Relations (ITIR) based on modifying the classic Islamic categories of Dar al Harb and Dar al Salaam. The main purpose of this dissertation is to use categories of Islamic political thought not derived from Western International Relations theory to outline a theoretical framework upon which to engage Western and non-Western International Relations theories. The emphasis is on exploring a more universalist, as opposed to the current Euro-centric approach to the field of IR. The need for such an approach should be apparent from the recent wash of uprisings throughout the Middle East which came as a shocking surprise for many in the West.

Although the discipline of International Relations (IR) has created limited space for the expression of post-western discourses within the field, it continues to speak for, and to, the Western world. To develop a genuinely ‘‘post-Western’’ critical IR, we must go beyond the mere superficiality of the existing ‘‘derivative discourses’’ of the modern West by identifying critical discourses on political issues and incorporate the relevant material from non-Western traditions to build an ITIR which is capable of making a contribution to the discipline of IR. This Islamic IR theory incorporates both the essential and permanent parts of the Islamic law (Shari’ah) as well as the portion subject to modification. The binary structure of the resulting ITIR would determine the differences between the Islamic polity and the “other” (non-Islamic actor) and would be consistent with the classic Islamic binary categorizations of the Abode of Peace (dar al-Islam) and the Abode of War (dar al-Harb).

For the basis of an Islamic City State, the Madina Pact (C. M.) between Prophet Muhammad and the people of Madina is examined with from the perspective of content pertaining to interstate relations. An alternative perspective on the classical Islamic concepts of Dar al-Harb and Dar al-Islam is constructed, replacing the traditional rigid categories with concepts of constraints based upon policy actions that should be taken at the domestic and international levels. A deeper understanding of these categories allows a conception of international society based on solidarity compared to that offered by traditional Western post-Westphalian of IR.

The effect of the Islamic Revolution in Iran on the country’s polity and on global IR discourse and engagement is also considered. In sketching out this Islamic IR theory, I draw heavily on my research in Iran (summer 2011) and on first hand conversations with contemporary Iranian political thinkers and actors.

The resulting outline of an Islamic IR theory incorporates the necessary permanent components of Islamic law as well as those portions subject to modification. As a consequence, the inclusion of Islamic discourses in the current disciple of IR should contribute toward the creation of a more diverse and less hegemonic discipline.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. This work may only be accessed by members of the University of Denver community. The work is provided by permission of the author for individual research purposes only and may not be further copied or distributed. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Mohammad Ozlat


Received from author

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425 pgs


Religious studies, International relations