Geopolitics & International Relations

The geopolitics stream is one of the several streams of inquiry under the Ummatics Colloquium project, focused on thinking about the Muslim ummah from a global perspective.


The geopolitics stream was convened to act as a crucible for new and inventive ways of thinking about international affairs with the ummatic discourse at its core. We believe that the first step to reviving this ummatic thought is to develop thinking and thinkers that observe the world’s challenges using this unique lens. If Islamic history is replete with examples of leaders that attempted to create an Islamic world order, how can we revive this prophetic objective that is sometimes missing in current academic discourse? Furthermore, how can we generate thought about our current geopolitical challenges and move beyond the narrow nationalistic or secular approaches that hamstrings our thinking in this field and prevents them from generating new counter currents? 


Ummatic thinking is a particular type of activity. At its core, is the idea that as Muslim who embrace the timeless belief in Allah and his Messenger (saw), we acquire a unique view of the world, expanding our limited and parochial horizons to include the concerns of all the believers and the humankind. Rather than being divided or antagonized by the dazzling variety of our circumstances and perspectives, we are enriched by them as believers. Thinking systematically about the interests of all requires sustained engagement with global knowledge and discourse pursued in disciplines and bodies of growing and evolving human knowledge such as International Relations, Geopolitics, and what is now being called the Anthropocene. At the core of our thinking is the lived faith, experiences, concerns of Muslims qua Muslims worldwide, through which we seek to critique and engage with the larger bodies of knowledge.


Today, our opportunities as well as threats are colossal. As Muslim populations are targeted around the world to an unprecedented extent while Muslim-majority state-elites aggravate their plight rather than protect them and while the global economic, political, and ecological situation faces deep turmoil and restructuring, an Ummatic thinking that looks beyond the current ideational and political paradigms and marshals and harmonizes the tremendous resources at our disposal, including scholarship and achievement in all fields, is all the more urgent.


What do we do?


Currently we are working on a research project that looks at the current tumultuous world, focussing on the rise and decline of the liberal world order and what this portents for the Muslim world. If we are witnessing a period of power transition, can Muslim international relations thinkers develop a space to explore Ummatic thought? 


In future we plan to look at the following problems from an ummatic perspective:


  • How can the Muslim world navigate the current era of power transition and vacuum?
  • What trends in global politics must Muslim geopolitical thinkers be aware of in order to address the immediate challenges facing our countries?
  • How can we promote and build forums to create a new generation of Muslim scholars that looks beyond nationalism and thinks in an ummatic way when thinking about international politics?
  • Can we revive the classical ‘siyar’ literature to theorize about contemporary international relations?
  • What specific challenges do the Muslim world face in material and conceptual realms that hinder Muslim unity and how can these be addressed?

Click here to view the Geopolitics and International Relations Annotated Bibliography (periodically updated). 

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