In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Grande Strategy

The Question of Ideas in the Muslim World

The Question of Ideas in the Muslim World

By Malek Bennabi

Editor’s Note

While attempting to teach some friends the contents of Malek Bennabi’s The Question of Ideas in the Muslim World, I quickly found that most of my friends had a hard time reading the book. They found the language to be difficult to understand and the concepts hard to grasp. Given the obvious importance of Bennabi’s message, it became pertinent to make the message more accessible. I have therefore undertaken to simplify, re-translate and rework the book. There is some abridgment involved and I fear like Bennabi’s thoughts on how original ideas echo across history and lose their original notes, that his message in turn may be distorted by my own colored prism. 

After actually trying to make it easier to read, I've realized the book is too condensed and perhaps I've not made much progress trying to make it any simpler. I'm now trying to take bits and pieces of the book and see if I can elaborate on those sections in a simpler, allegorical manner.

While I have reservations about some of Bennabi’s thoughts and ideas, I have (or hope I have, insh’Allah) left my baggage behind. I intend to undertake this task insh’Allah from a neutral perspective. I hope this work goes some way in making Bennabi’s work more accessible to the Muslim world, particularly to our younger generations.

Please note that these page are in constant flux as we continue to further simplify the work. We consider this an open source project and would request and appreciate any help. Please email us at for getting involved with the edits. If you find any errors or edits and are in a hurry, please use the comments section to advise us on edits. We are also working on using Malek Bennabi's work as a framework for an Islamic social sciences. Please email us if you are interested to join such an effort. 

The purpose of this project is to simplify and spread the thoughts and ideas of Malek Bennabi in as simple an English and as concisely as possible.



I began this work one decade ago, when I was in Cairo. As I had just gathered within and around myself all the necessary material for its completion, some abrupt circumstances the mentioning of which is beyond the special context of this preface diverted me from it. It would, however, suffice to just indicate that they had to do with the ideological struggle. This compelled me to change my work plan. Indeed, I immediately embarked on another work related to those circumstances[1]. The resumption of this work was postponed constantly until recently, when my friend Dr. Ammar Talbi visited me upon his return from his studies in Egypt. Knowing, since his student days in Cairo, the state in which I had abandoned this study, this dear friend now insisted that I should resume it. Finally, he persuaded me to do so.

As I decided to undertake this task, I became aware of what was irremediably lost in the old rough sketch I had hastily outlined in Cairo. Going back to my notes, I could not rediscover the content I had initially hoped to create, although I could still recognize the very words I had written. In fact, those notes were strewn on the sheets merely as guide marks or markers that would help me recollect what was inherent in me. Other elements derived either from a bookshelf or elsewhere would merely complement these elements.

In short, my notes were as dead as the bones one may discover by turning over an old grave. Thus, their content looks distant, hazy and uncertain; I would rather leave them as a memory... and perhaps the patient reader will one day discover in their yellowed pages the torn thread that may become for him, in the pages of this book as well as beyond, Ariadne's thread[2] which would guide him with more certainty in "the problem of ideas in the Muslim world".

We are far from presenting here an exhaustive study of this problem. However, I believe that by throwing light on both its topography and particular structure, this book will provide a relatively accurate idea, not only with regard to Muslim society, but also with regard to any other society. In so far as we succeed to express that idea, the aim of this book would be achieved.

Algiers: 21 Ramadan 1390 A.H.
21 November 1970 A.D.

[1] The author refers here to his book The Ideological Struggle in Colonized Countries.
[2] Ariadne. Character in Greek mythology who helped her lover to escape using a ball of thread. 

NOTE: The edits are presently light and a more comprehensively edited version will insh'Allah be available soon.

Chapter Two: The Child and Ideas
Vision Without Glasses


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