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For both formats the functionality available will depend on how you access the ebook via Bookshelf Online in your browser or via the Bookshelf app on your PC or mobile device. An eBook version of this title already exists in your shopping cart. Yet, there are examples of more practical minded theologians, such as Al-Ghazali of the eleventh and twelfth centuries who openly advocated a division of labor between the caliph and the sultan. There are numerous reasons for this, which are beyond the scope of this essay to discuss, one of them being the diffuse nature of religious power in Islam and the lack of a corresponding hierarchical institution like the priesthood and the papacy.

This too is the product of several factors; in the next section, we explore the impact of colonialism and capitalism which led to secular and modernizing reforms from above, as well as national liberation struggles from below led by secular nationalist forces. These, as well as other factors, would play a role in leading the transition toward the secularization of Muslim majority countries. In fact, it was only during the era of capitalist development that Islam finally ceased to play a central role in social organization.

The future of political Islam: Trends and prospects

In response to the loss of their territories to European colonial powers, the Muslim rulers of the Ottoman, Egyptian, and Persian empires introduced programs of modernization, capitalistic reforms, and Westernization. While the goal of the various despots was to find ways to develop their military, they also transformed their economic and political systems.

The result was a series of military, administrative, educational, economic, legal, and social reforms, strongly influenced and inspired by the West, that gradually displaced Islam as the basis of Muslim society and put secularism in its place. The first efforts at modernization were initiated from above. The monarchs who presided over Turkey, Egypt, and Iran looked to the West to find ways to develop their military in order to better defend themselves from colonial conquest.

The Albanian-born ruler of Egypt, Mehmet Ali, for instance, made a push toward industrial and military development in first half of the nineteenth century. As historians Arthur Goldschmidt Jr. He realized that a modernized army would need textile factories to make its tents and uniforms, dockyards to build its ships, and munitions plants to turn out guns and bayonets.


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The Ottomans in Turkey similarly carried out a series of reforms—they built schools, roads, and canals, curbed excessive taxation, and set up a modern financial system. Persia under the Qajar dynasty in the eighteenth and nineteenth century attempted to pass similar reforms, but had less success than their Egyptian and Ottoman counterparts. In all three cases, there was also a move to establish modern states.

One of the outcomes of these early modernizing reforms was the creation as mentioned above of a new class of people: the secular middle class. The setting up of schools based on the European model gave rise to a new intellectual elite that was modern and Western in its orientation.

As stated earlier, this new secular-minded middle class assumed positions of power within the government and in law and began to displace the ulama. It is also this class that would go on to lead the early national liberation struggles in various countries. These early struggles, despite their popular appeal, would have few successes beyond Turkey.

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Yet Turkey is significant. In , Turkey became the first republic in the modern Middle East. His key battle was against the old order based on Islamic law and practices. To consolidate his own authoritarian rule, he had to destroy the ability of the old ruling classes whose power and authority were tied to Islam.

In , he abolished the caliphate, closed down the madrassas or religious schools, replaced Sharia with the Swiss civil code, and expunged the reference to Islam as the state religion of Turkey in its constitution. Ataturk was fiercely secularist, and the Kemalist legacy was carried on by the Turkish army after his death.

This did not, however, occur in other countries until after the Second World War. Prior to this, where nationalist parties did come to power for brief periods, they failed to not only carry out significant reforms that would ease the conditions under which the majority lived, but they also failed to decisively rid their countries of colonial domination, being satisfied instead with power-sharing agreements. The early nationalist leadership vacillated between collaboration with imperial powers and protest of imperial domination, conditions that created an opening for radical secular nationalism.

The failures of Islamic revivalism While the response at the top of society to colonialism was a move toward modernization and secularization, some turned to the fundamentals of Islam—the Quran, the life of the prophet and his followers, the early Islamic community—to offer a solution and a model of Islamic reform.

These revivalists saw European colonialism and imperialism, particularly in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century—when European powers started to make significant incursions into Africa, Asia, and the Middle East—as a vital threat to Muslim political and religious identity. Together, they laid the basis for the Salafiya school of thought.

However, even at this stage Islamic revivalism, and Salafist thought in particular, had little to say about the state beyond its role in applying Sharia. There was no wholesale condemnation of Muslim governments and therefore not a call to overthrow these governments—such a turn within Salafism would occur only later in the twentieth century. At around the same time, Mawlana Mawdudi published his Islamist doctrine in the Indian subcontinent. Mawdudi called for the creation of an Islamic state in all of India based on Sharia law. Similarly, the Muslim Brotherhood rejected the demands of the Egyptian nationalists who called for an end to British rule and the creation a modern state with a constitution.

Yet, all these revivalist movements and groups discussed above were minor players on the political stage in the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century. The dominant trend in the Middle East and North Africa during this period, as discussed above, was toward secularism and modernization. Similarly, the secular nationalists in India and Egypt had the support of the vast majority of the population and Islamist currents were marginal.

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After the Second World War, a new generation of radical anti-colonial secular nationalists would take the place of their predecessors. The previous generation had failed to end colonization, and colonial conditions had become unbearable for the vast majority. Even though by many Middle Eastern and North African countries were granted formal independence, in reality they were not free.

The League of Arab States, formed in , consisted of the supposedly independent countries of Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, Transjordan, and Saudi Arabia, but in reality these were under the thumb of the British. The vast majority of ordinary people had grown disillusioned with their leadership. The pro-Western upper and middle classes were seen as incapable of delivering internal reform. The result was that popular discontent combined with leftward pressure exerted by various Communist parties in the region pushed the nationalist movement in a more radical direction.

Radical secular nationalism During the post-war period, radical secular nationalism was the dominant political philosophy in colonized nations from Indonesia to Algeria. Ignoring this reality, several Western commentators asserted that people in Muslim countries, who they viewed as being deeply entrenched in their religious beliefs, would reject political ideologies like nationalism and communism.


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They were wrong. It is only with the collapse and defeat of secular nationalism in the late s and early s that a space opened for the revival of political Islam. To summarize, there is no direct link between Islam in the seventh century and the rise of Islamist groups in the latter part of the twentieth century. We outlined the de facto separation that took place in Islam between the religious and political spheres and quietist doctrines that advocated an eschewal of political power. Additionally, traditions of secularism and modernization were dominant for at least two centuries in various Muslim majority regions, beginning with modernizing reforms instituted by various Muslim monarchs, then followed by further changes implemented by secular nationalist leaderships after successful anti-colonial struggles.

Political Islam, therefore, is better understood in light of recent political and economic developments—developments, moreover, that have given rise to religious movements in other societies as well. The rise of political Islam Political Islam is the product of the convergence of the following political and economic developments:. All of these factors would then lay the groundwork that helped to propel Islamism onto the world stage.

This did not, however, happen all at once. While Egypt does not possess oil, Nasserism, with its emphasis on pan-Arab unity, sought to unite the technologically advanced urban countries and their large, well-trained working classes with the vast wealth of the oil producing countries. The combination of Cairo plus Riyadh would have severely hampered Western domination over the oil resources of the region.

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Thus, in addition to hatching coup plots against Nasser and carrying out various assassination attempts on him, such as poisoning his chocolates etc. Saudi Arabia used it against the secular regimes in Egypt, Syria, and Iraq, and helped to build its bases in Sudan. As one senior CIA official put it, the. The Cold War was the defining clarity of the time. We saw Nasser as socialist, anti-Western, anti-Baghdad pact, and we were looking for some sort of counterfoil.

Saudi efforts to Islamicize the region were seen as powerful and effective and likely to be successful. We loved that. We had an ally against communism.

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This ally, which we will discuss shortly, laid the basis for precisely such an Islamization, and would seize the initiative from secular nationalism once the latter began a process of decline in the late s. In addition to secular nationalists, Washington viewed the various communist and socialist parties in the region as threats. They therefore used every means possible to curtail their influence from propaganda to assassinations. As declassified national security documents show, the United States used extensive propaganda in the form of films, pamphlets, posters, news manipulation, magazines, books, broadcasts, cartoons, etc.

The United States aided governments and right-wing paramilitaries in killing leftists, as for instance in , when the CIA supplied the Baathists with the names of Iraqi Communist Party members so that they may assassinate them.

Europe: Integrating Islam | Council on Foreign Relations

Saudi Arabia The turn by the United States toward promoting Islam on the political stage began in the s. His successor, King Faisal, would take on this mantle and make significant strides towards Islamizing the region. Even though Saudi Arabia is home to the greatest supply of oil reserves in the world, it had little political legitimacy in the Middle East during the era of progressive secular nationalism. Regionally, Nasserism was widely accepted as the model, and Egypt acted as the dominant political force until the end of the s the decline of secular nationalism is discussed below.

At any rate, after , this dynamic would change. The Saudi ruling elite then used their vast oil resources to promote Islamism in the following ways:. If the World Muslim League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference were the political means of establishing Saudi hegemony, it is the Islamic financial system that laid the economic basis for its growth.