Murad Idris

Assistant Professor of Political Science

University of Virginia

Fellow, Society of Fellows in the Humanities 

Murad Idris received his PhD in Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania in 2012. His current research focuses on issues of war and peace in ancient, modern, and contemporary thought, in both Euro-American and Islamic traditions.

Idris is currently completing two book-length studies. The first, titled War for Peace: A Global and Historical Critique, examines competing idealizations of “peace” across canonical works of ancient and modern political thought, from Plato to Immanuel Kant and Sayyid Qutb. It considers variations of the recurrent claim that “war is for the sake of peace,” to extend an idea often acknowledged but perpetually under-explored by theorists—namely, that the discursive boundary between war and peace is unstable and fluid. Across the histories of political thought, the insistence on peace opposes it to war but, paradoxically, also authorizes war. Guided by instances of ‘war for peace,’ this book tracks the ways in which idealizations of peace are grounded in eclipsed antagonisms and also facilitate hostility, taking up Plato, al-Farabi, Aquinas, al-Mas‘udi, Ibn Khaldun, Erasmus, Gentili, Grotius, Hobbes, Kant, and Qutb. Idris’ second study focuses on constructions of “Islam” in language, particularly contention over its meaning in relation to peace, war, violence, and submission in Euro-American and Arabic thought. This study brings comparative medieval and early modern thought to bear on contemporary discourses in which ‘Islam is (or is not) a religion of peace,’ in light of questions about language and politics, political theology and secularism, and postcolonial Islam.

Idris’ work on Ibn Tufayl’s twelfth-century epistle, Risalat Hayy ibn Yaqzan, has appeared in The Journal of Islamic Philosophy and The State of Nature in Comparative Political Thought (Lexington Books, 2013). In 2012-14, he was a Mellon Postdoctoral Diversity Fellow at Cornell University, where he taught seminars on Islamic political thought and comparative political theory. In Fall 2015, Idris will join the University of Virginia’s faculty as Assistant Professor of Political Science.