It seems as if there’s been an avalanche of inquiries into the precarious status of religious minorities in Muslim-majority societies in recent decades, much of it framed in terms of the incomplete secularization of Muslim states and/or the (in)compatibility of Islam with secularism, modernity, tolerance, and liberalism. Continual irruptions of interreligious tension and violence in the Middle East in particular have taken on an even more ominous cast in the shadow of ISIS/Da`ish, confirming the extent and depth, as well as the intractability, of “the Muslim problem” in the cottage industry of publications devoted to anatomizing it. In this context, the appearance of yet another excursus on religious minorities in a Muslim majority state seems little more than napworthy.
Posts Tagged ‘Islamism’
Given the close relationship, globally, between religious political action and religious charities, it should come as no surprise that there is a long tradition of cooperation between Islamist political parties and Islamic charitable organizations in Turkey. While this relationship has been the subject of considerable discussion in analyses of Turkish domestic politics, less noticed has been the savvy cooperation between the Turkish government and Turkish Islamic organizations in implementing the country’s increasingly assertive foreign policy under the ruling AKP, or Justice and Development Party. Two recent crises, the “Mavi Marmara” incident in 2010 and Turkey’s on-going aid mission to Libya, highlight the ways in which this cooperation has allowed Turkey to assert itself regionally and are suggestive of the sophistication of its efforts to become, in Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan’s words, “a regional power and a global player.”
Andrew Sullivan discusses the difference between Christianity and “Chritianism” in light of the recent terrorist attack in Norway.
A few days ago, the Al-Jazeera program Empire assembled a high-profile panel to discuss the future prospects of the Muslim Brotherhood movement. The 25-minute program is available online and worth watching for some background and a diverse array of views on this influential movement in Egypt and throughout the Middle East.
Gilles Kepel writes on a past encounter with Samuel Huntington and current events in the Middle East.
Writing in what is quickly becoming one of the prime sources of English-language cultural and political commentary on recent events throughout the Middle East—Jadaliyya—Asef Bayat analyzes the relationship between Islamism and the revolution in Egypt. Bayat argues against the voices characterizing the revolution as Islamic in nature, finding their arguments as well as their historical comparisons with the Iranian revolution of 1979 ill-founded. There is little evidence of a strong Islamist influence on the uprising, nor can the Muslim Brotherhood be expected to emerge as dominant. Not only that, Bayat sees signs of “a deeper transformation.”
Barry Rubin, director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs, posts a helpful piece at his blog, The Rubin Report, elucidating the differences and the affinities between Islam and political Islamism, and examining some of the ways in which they’ve been either conflated or unduly separated.
John Calvert, Professor of History at Creighton University and a specialist in political Islam, in hisforthcoming biography of Sayyid Qutb, “rescues Qutb from misrepresentation, tracing the evolution of his thought within the context of his time.” InSayyid Qutb and the Origins of Radical Islamism(2010), he does not look to absolve Qutb of his virulent rhetoric but pushes the reader to understand Qutb in his own setting and time and to delve deeper into the writing of the influential Islamist thinker. Qutb, who was executed in Egypt in 1966, has been studied extensively but Thomas Hegghammer from Harvard University states: “We are dealing with a rare book that is likely to become a classic in the field of political Islam.”
Nasr Abu Zayd, a liberal Egyptian Qur’anic scholar, died yesterday in a Cairo hospital. He had been living in exile in the Netherlands since 1995 after being declared an apostate and having his marriage annulled by an Egyptian court. In his work, Abu Zayd distinguished between the ‘Meccan verses’ and the ‘Medinan verses’ of the Qur’an. The ‘Medinan verses,’ he believed, should be read within their context and should not be used to establish an Islamic polity in the modern era; he argued against the atomistic approach to reading the Qur’an. Brian Whittaker draws on a 2008 interview he conducted with Abu Zayd to discuss modern interpretations of the Qur’an—as they relate to the Islamic polity—the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and the drama of Abu Zayd’s exile.
In the July/August issue of Foreign Affairs, Marc Lynch reviews Paul Berman’s The Flight of the Intellectuals, taking the opportunity to discuss reactions to non-violent Islamism.
In his recently published The Flight of the Intellectuals (Melville House Publishing, 2010), Paul Berman, writer in residence at New York University, sets out, via a reading of the thought of Tariq Ramadan, to investigate how Western liberals—especially journalists and intellectuals—speak about Islamism and Muslim dissent. Berman takes issue with the favor that Ramadan receives (seemingly at the expense of figures such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali or Ibn Warraq) amongst Western intellectuals, and attempts to dislodge that favor by presenting Ramadan’s links to Islamist thinkers and groups, and, by extension, association with anti-Semitism, Nazism, and fascism. As Carlin Romano, writing in The Chronicle of Higher Education, notes, “If it’s dangerous to zap Islamism these days, it’s not easy being a Muslim reformist thinker, either.”
I grew up in Bombay (now Mumbai) in the 1950s and early 1960s. I spoke Tamil with my mother, a combination of English and Tamil with my siblings and my father, and various brands of Gujarati, Marathi and Hindi with friends, domestic helpers, neighbors, bureaucrats and shopkeepers. […]
As the citizens of this vast metropolis seek to restore some semblance of normalcy to their lives, it is important to probe the possible reasons for this horrific episode and explore its ramifications for the future of India’s plural, democratic and secular state. […]
Abdullahi An-Na‘im’s Islam and the Secular State has rightfully received a great deal of attention and commentary. A prominent Muslim scholar and human rights activist, he brings to bear an impressive scholarship and candor in addressing a pivotal and hotly contested issue in contemporary Islam. Although An-Na‘im wishes to present his views from within the Islamic tradition, he also states early on that his arguments are not exegetical in nature and therefore do not aim to interpret traditional Islamic sources such as Qur’an, hadith, tafsir, or legal theory (usul al-fiqh). Rather, An-Na‘im desires to provide an “interpretative framework” upon which more substantive arguments and analysis can be built in the future. This reliance on theory rather than on textual sources or theology is flawed if one expects to foster broad-based reform rather than be read and celebrated by a small elite Muslim and non-Muslim readership. […]
Islam and The Secular State: Negotiating the Future of Shari`a is avowedly didactic, aiming to persuade Muslims in public debate that constitutional rule of law, human rights and democratic citizenship in a secular state represent the only form of political regime consistent with Islam in the modern world. Despite lengthy and repetitious exposition of the notions of democratic constitutionalism, “civic reason,” citizenship and human rights, An-Na`im fails in his explicit purpose of justifying and legitimizing them in Islamic terms, which appear somewhat incidentally and do not carry the primary charge of justification. In this regard, his preaching can only have an effect on those already converted.
Few books in Islamic studies have been as eagerly awaited or intensely debated prior to publication as Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na`im’s Islam and the Secular State: Negotiating the Future of Shari`a. Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law at Emory University, An-Na`im has for more than twenty years been a tireless proponent of a deeply religious but liberal-modernist reformation of Islamic politics and ethics. […]
The world will long remember Benazir Bhutto as a modern Muslim woman who served two terms as Pakistan’s first woman Prime Minister: bright, attractive, articulate, talented, courageous, charismatic, an astute politician and political leader who called for a secular democratic Pakistan. Benazir was all of these but – like her father Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and a number of other Pakistani political leaders – she also left a flawed political track record that both reflected and contributed to many of Pakistan’s problems. […]
Violence has been accepted, then, by jihadis, warriors defending Islam, as a necessary step in creating a purer Islamic society. They are motivated at least in part by Muslim teachings on tolerance, charity and service. Many Pakistanis, however, see violence legitimized by religion as signaling the demise of civil society, and it is hard to believe that violence, rooted in the fabric of society, can be uprooted without great turmoil and bloodshed. And this can only be accomplished by Pakistani leadership.