Murad Idris

Murad Idris teaches political theory at the University of Virginia. He has wide-ranging interests in political theory and the history of political thought, including war and peace, language and politics, critical theory and conceptual history, empire and postcolonialism, political theology and secularism, comparative political theory, and Arabic and Islamic political thought.

Idris’s first book, War for Peace: Genealogies of a Violent Ideal in Western and Islamic Thought (Oxford University Press, 2019), examines idealizations of “peace” across canonical works of ancient and modern political thought, from Plato to Immanuel Kant and Sayyid Qutb. Idris argues that the dominant, moralized ideal of peace sanitizes violence, reinscribes global hierarchy, and facilitates hostility. War for Peace won the David Easton Award from the American Political Science Association, Foundations of Political Theory Section (2020). The award is given for a book that “broadens the horizons of contemporary political science by engaging issues of philosophical significance in political life through any of a variety of approaches in the social sciences and humanities.” The book also won the IETHICS Best Book Award from the International Studies Association, International Ethics Section (2020).

Idris was co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Political Theory (Oxford University Press, 2020), with Leigh K. Jenco and Megan C. Thomas. He has written articles and chapters on Kazanistan in John Rawls’s Papers (which won the Best Paper Prize from the APSA Foundations of Political Theory Section, 2020), Erasmus’s political theology, Ibn Tufayl’s twelfth-century allegory, Qasim Amin and empire, the politics of comparison in political theory, Sayyid Qutb and Du Bois on peace, and the political horizons of anticolonial thought. His work has been published or is forthcoming in Perspectives on Politics, Modern Intellectual History, European Journal of Political Theory, Journal of Islamic Philosophy, Political Theory, and Theory & Event, among others.

Idris is currently working on a number of book projects. He is writing a book on Sayyid Qutb’s international political thought (with accompanying translations), titled Theorizing an Islamic International (Cambridge University Press, under contract). He is also working on Islam in Language: Genealogies of Political Order and Linguistic Disorder, which gives the genealogies of such claims as “Islam is peace,” “Islam means submission,” “Islam needs a Luther,” and “In Islam, jihad is holy war.” This project disentangles the politics of naming Islam in popular culture, European and American thought, classical and modern Islamic thought, and political thought in the Global South. Finally, Idris is writing Inventing Islamic Philosophy: Ibn Tufayl’s Global Afterlives, which is a critical assessment of Ibn Tufayl’s twelfth-century allegory, Hayy ibn Yaqzan. It analyzes the politics of this text’s multilingual reception history as a window into the formation of “Islamic thought” as a tradition in early modern Europe, the colonial and postcolonial Middle East, and today, in the global humanities.

Professor Idris teaches courses on war and violence, contemporary political theory, critical theory, Islamic political thought, constructions of Islam, the politics of colonized and anticolonial thought, and law, empire, and humanity. He has held fellowships at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ, the Society of Fellows in the Humanities at Columbia University, the Department of Government at Cornell University, and the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard University. He received his PhD in Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania.