This paper constitutes an attempt to show the large diversity of Arab culture and the various stages through which Arab political thought has developed since the reign of Muhammad Ali in Egypt in the early 19th century up to the present. This panorama of the various schools of political thought shows the impact of the constantly changing geopolitical environment on Arab thinkers. It also shows that essentialist attempts to analyze and grasp the ‘Arab mind’ through a single factor and, namely, through the structure of Muslim theology and laws (sharia) are not successful and lead to impoverishing the richness of both Arab culture and political thought.

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