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Islamism: Contested Perspectives on Political Islam

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Abstract

As America struggles to understand Islam and Muslims on the world stage, one concept in particular dominates public discourse: Islamism. References to Islamism and Islamists abound in the media, in think tanks, and in the general study of Islam, but opinions vary on the differences of degree and kind among those labeled Islamists. This book debates what exactly is said when we use this contentious term in discussing Muslim religion, tradition, and social conflict. Two lead essays offer differing viewpoints: Donald K. Emmerson argues that Islamism is a useful term for a range of Muslim reform movements—very few of which advocate violence—while Daniel M. Varisco counters that the public specter of violence and terrorism by Islamists too often infects the public perceptions of Islam more generally. Twelve commentaries, written by Muslim and non-Muslim intellectuals, enrich the debate with differing insights and perspectives.

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... Salman Rushdie defines the "Islamists" as the people "who are engaged upon such political projects," and argues that it is important to distinguish this group, in which he includes "the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the bloodsoaked combatants of the FIS and GIA in Algeria, the Shia revolutionaries of Iran, and the Taliban," from what he considers to be "the more general, and politically neutral 'Muslim'." Simply put, for this group, "Islamism and terrorism are synonymous" (Martin & Abbas, 2010). ...
... The second party (Note 2), on the other hand, rejects such classification not only because of "its gratuitous implication of terrorism" (Martin & Abbas, 2010), but more importantly because Islam is perceived as a whole that cannot be divided into political Islam, economic Islam, civilian Islam, moderate Islam, traditional Islam, modern Islam or any other form of Islam. For this group, there is no distinction between Muslims and "Islamists" since "[e]ach Muslim is simultaneously an Islamist who is 'a member of the Islamic cause'" (Bulaç, 2012). ...
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The attitude of the so-called Islamists towards the Egyptian Noble Laureate is often represented as one of tension and resentment. However, the current study argues, this monolithic representation of the attitude the Islamists presumably have always had towards Mahfouz is oversimplified and misleading because it conceals an extremely complex and multifaceted reality. More precisely, the researchers show that although the Islamists have had their disagreements with the writer, and although they repeatedly objected to some of his works on religious grounds, they have also played an important role in discovering the talented writer and introducing him to the public; creating and renewing (whether intentionally or unintentionally) curiosity and interest in his works; and providing approbation of (that sometimes amounts to religious legitimization to) some of his most controversial works. Quite often the over-dramatization, and at times fabrication, of the conflict between the Islamists and Mahfouz is carried out in order to serve political and ideological ends.
... e.g. Martin & Barzegar, 2010a). At the same time, many studies in different academic fields use one or the other term, usually providing a specific definition (Mandaville, 2014) and differentiating for example between various types of "Islamism" (Larroque, 2016;Burgat, 2008) and its possible meanings (Seniguer, 2020). ...
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In numerous European countries of immigration, there are controversial discussions about how transnational influences and local dynamics relate to each other within Muslim communities. This study addresses the subject of transnational Muslim networks and their local impact in the Swiss context in a threefold manner: firstly, it analyses media and political perceptions in Switzerland. Secondly, it evaluates the state of research on transnational networks and complements this with comments from experts interviewed on the subject. Thirdly, these perspectives are broadened by an empirical exploration of seven local Muslim communities in Switzerland. The roles played by transnational relations on one hand and local interactions on the other, as well as how these relate to each other, are analysed based on concrete cases. In doing so, the study takes into account both the self-perception of Muslim actors and the perceptions of different stakeholders in society. Overall, more than 40 interviews and expert consultations have been conducted during the research process.
... Maybe, due to its more longevity, National Vision Movement can have more affected the ongoing political Islam in Turkey. Martin and Barzegar (2010), Sabet (2008), Eligür (2010), Linjakumpu (2008), Waardenburg (2002), Rabasa and Larrabee (2008) etc. has studied on political Islam in Turkey. On the other hand, this paper argues the failure of studying political Islam only from stories of political parties. ...
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Despite the deep analytical legacy on political Islam movements in Turkey, this paper agrees in the absence of the impact of civil society on the journey of political Islam movements in the literature. This paper examines the political Islam movement in Turkey from the perspective of Ibn Khaldun on changes in the political system of a community. The Bedouin-Hadara struggle is at the core of this examination in the first section, and this article first explains how the bedouin-hadara struggle shapes the political system of that community and the cycling effect of the political system on this struggle. The second section tries to integrate civil society into the journey of political parties. This effort opens a new perspective on political Islam studies such as the connectedness between political Islam and non-political daily life. The third section reveals the re-reading of the journey of political Islam by integrating civil society with the help of Ibn Khaldun’s Cyclical Theory. Lastly, the article concludes.
... The term 'Islamism' is used to denote the belief that Islam should order political society, with the additional connotation that violence can be used to fulfil this aim. Of course, the term 'Islamism' has been contested and criticized, but it can be argued that our use of the term in this chapter closely fits the popular understanding of Islamism (see Martin & Barzegar, 2010). ...
... reinforcing the presence of Islam in society. While Islamism may pose a challenge to the scholars' classical role as bearers of Islam, Islamists can also be seen as the political player that helps a religious institution like al-Azhar in its active role (Ahmad, 1972:257;Crapanzano, 1972:327;Gellner, 1972:307;Hirschl, 2003:2;B. G. Martin, 1972:275;R. Martin & Barzegar, 2010;Skovgaard-Petersen, 2013;Wickham, 2002). ...
Article
en The article examines the legislative and judicial tasks of Islamic jurists and how they carried it out in constitutional or general legal structure. While the Pakistani experiment was inspired by the Iranian model of jurists' involvement in legislatures, Egypt took a different path by not recognizing any official role for Islamic jurists with ambiguous recognition of Islamic jurisprudence. The legislative role could take the form of incorporating Islamic jurists into the legislature, establishing a committee partially made up of Islamic jurists, or handing over some legislative task to an Islamic jurisprudential institution. Despite the fact that Islamization was intended to respond to the people's requests, it employed autocratic and authoritarian mechanisms. The project attempted to replace the typical class of socially recognized jurists with appointed committees entrusted with Islamic codification. The experiment was challenged for its operation and its Islamicity but never introduced Shari'a courts or Islamic clerical legislation. Resumen es Los Ulema en la creación de leyes islámicas en el Egipto actual Resumen El artículo examina las tareas legislativas y judiciales de juristas islámicos que poseen la calidad de ‘ilm, “aprendizaje, en su sentido más amplio” y cómo lo llevaron a cabo en la estructura constitucional o en la estructura legal general. Mientras que el experimento paquistaní estuvo inspirado por el modelo iraní de participación de juristas en legislaturas, Egipto tomó un camino diferente al no reconocer ningún papel oficial de los juristas islámicos con reconocimiento ambiguo de la jurisprudencia islámica. El papel legislativo podría tomar la forma de incorporar a los juristas islámicos dentro de la legislatura, estableciendo un comité que esté parcialmente compuesto por juristas islámicos, o asignando alguna tarea legislativa a una institución jurisprudencial islámica. A pesar del hecho que la islamización tenía la intención de responder a las peticiones del pueblo, empleó mecanismos autocráticos y autoritarios. El proyecto intentó reemplazar la clase típica de juristas reconocidos socialmente con comités designados encargados de la codificación islámica. Al experimento se le evaluó su operación y calidad islámica, pero nunca presentó a las cortes Shari ‘a o a la legislación clerical islámica. 摘要 zh 乌里玛在当代埃及法律制定和裁决中的作用 摘要 本文检验了伊斯兰法学家的立法和司法任务, 他们掌管了“Ilm”(可被广义理解为学习)的质量;同时检验了法学家如何在宪法或一般法律中实施Ilm。尽管伊斯兰法学家介入立法机构一事激发了巴基斯坦的效仿实验, 但埃及的做法却有所不同— —它并不认可伊斯兰法学家的任何官方作用, 对伊斯兰的法学认可也很模糊。埃及立法角色可以采取的形式为:将伊斯兰法学家合并到立法机关, 建立部分由伊斯兰法学家组成的委员会, 或者将部分立法工作交给伊斯兰法学机构处理。尽管事实是, 伊斯兰化(Islamization)之前的企图是回应人们的需求, 但它也采用了专制或独裁机制。埃及试图通过任命委员会来代替法学家这一被社会认可的典型阶级, 同时委员会还负有编纂伊斯兰法典的任务。这一实验因其操作方式和伊斯兰属性而受到挑战, 但该实验从未引入过伊斯兰教法院或伊斯兰宗教立法。
... We do not standardly use such loose tags for political Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism or Christianity. Nevertheless, "Islamism" has become a term of art in academic and media commentary (Martin & Barzegar, 2010). I use it in the sense of a drive to foster "an ideological community," one that strives for state governance through official "moral codes in Muslim societies and communities" (Bayat, 2013, p. 4). ...
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An insistent focus on extremism and radicalization with regard to current Islamist trends masks the failures of pluralist citizenship, amid a larger crisis of identity. Whether in Muslim-majority societies or in the Euro-North American diaspora, “Islam” and “politics” are touted as explaining patterns of severe violence by state/non-state actors. Neither category accounts more than superficially for the complexities at hand, which revolve around exclusionary models of identity, faith and civil society. Successful narratives of inclusive citizenship depend on key markers outside of modernist secular orthodoxy. Theologies of inclusion are vital in fostering pluralist civic identities, mindful of the ascendance of puritanical-legalist theologies of exclusion as a salient facet of public cultures. Multiple surveys reveal the depth of exclusivist conservatism in diverse Muslim societies. These stances not only undermine civil society as a locus for engendering pluralist identities, but also undergird the militant trends that dominate the headlines. Targeting militants is often essential—yet is frequently accompanied by the willful alienation of Muslim citizens even within liberal democracies, and a growing “official” sectarianism among Muslim-majority polities. Convergent pluralisms of faith and civic identity are a vital antidote to the fog that obscures the roots as well as the implications of today’s extremist trends.
... The underlying motif of this narrative is the apparent resistance of Islamism to change, and the danger this resistance allegedly poses to democracy in Muslim societies (Langhor, 2001). In recent years, increasing attention has been paid to the phenomenon of 'post-Islamism', and the ways in which democratic pressures are generating new Islamic parties across parts of the Muslim world (see Martin and Barzeger, 2010). In his original framing of the debate, Huntington (1996) was concerned with the fate of Western civilization, which he saw as threatened by the rise of aggressive external rivals and by internal multiculturalists who were trying to dilute the shared culture that has been the West's strength in the past. ...
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Book
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