The Qur’an vs The Prince
1. Summarize the Quran
The Qur’an is Islam’s religious text. Muslims believe that the Qur’an is Allah’s (God’s) revelation to his prophet Mohammed through Jibril (angel Gabriel). This revelation took place gradually starting on December 609 CE up to 632 CE when Muhammad died, a period of nearly 23 years (The Quran 11). Accordingly, Muslims all over the world view the Quran as a proof of Muhammad’s prophethood and his most significant miracle. Muslims also regard the Quran as the climax of a sequence of divine messages that began with messages that God revealed to Adam and came to an end with Muhammad.
2. Summarize The Prince
The Prince is an Italian political treatise written in the 16th-century by Niccolo Machiavelli, a political theorist and diplomat. The Prince, often highly regarded as the maiden works of modern philosophy, has however been shown to directly conflict with dominant scholastic and Catholic doctrines of the time on issues of ethics and politics (Machiavelli and Bull 29). The Prince is thus regarded as a practical guide to aid in ruling, especially because Machiavelli dedicates his book to Lorenzo de’ Medici, who ruled Florence at the time. The Prince has a straightforward logic and is simple. It is hence not especially abstract or theoretical. These are important traits of Machiavelli that underscore his willingness to offer easily understandable and practical advice.
3. The Theme of “tradition vs. change” in both the Quran and The Prince.
The theme of tradition vs. change is best exemplified in The Prince by analyzing power. During the Middle Ages and Renaissance, rulers who were on the cusp of assuming power would often be counseled to behave in line with the conventional ethical standards of goodness. This was aimed at inculcating morally upright and virtuous leaders. However, Machiavelli seeks to criticize this moralistic views of authority by arguing that no moral compass exists with which to one can judge between illegitimate and legitimate uses of power. Machiavelli views power and authority as being co-equal so that those in power also command; on the other hand, goodness is not a guarantee of power, while a good person is not a guarantee that he/she will have additional authority. Machiavelli contends that the idea of legitimate rights as regards rulership does not contribute anything in as far as the possession of power is concerned. This view is in stark contrast to the conventional practice of following the set rules of moral standards as a means of becoming a leader.
On the other hand, the Quran affords religious authority and validity to all other religious source in Islam. The Quran is a timeless constituent of Allah’s revelation to his prophet Muhammad and as such, its teachings do not change with the times but instead, the contexts of events have to suit the teachings of the Quran. While Islam which is an eternal and universal religion underscores the importance of “reformation” of mankind, it is defined by inner and outward meanings. In other words, the Quran contains external laws that are aimed at benefiting the society, as well as simple doctrines that act as the preservers and guardians of these laws.
4. Thesis Statement
The Quran and The Prince, though written at different historical settings and for different audiences, nevertheless share something in common; they both are characterized by the theme of Tradition vs. Change.
5. Why do The Quran and The Prince work best in exploring the theme of Tradition vs.
The Qur’an and The Prince work best in exploring the theme of Tradition vs. Change because even though they were written more than hundreds of years ago, their teachings are still relevant and hence, the two books are examples of classic publications whose lessons are still relevant today.
Machiavelli, Niccolo and George, Bull. The Prince. Rev Edition. London: Longman, 2003.
The Quran (Oxford World’s Classics). Trans. M. A. S. Abdel Haleem. USA: Oxford
University Press, 2008. Print.