THE RISE OF “MUSLIM DEMOCRACY

Vali Nasr

A specter is haunting the Muslim world. This particular specter is notthe malign and much-discussed spirit of fundamentalist extremism, nor yet the phantom hope known as liberal Islam. Instead, the specter that I have in mind is a third force, a hopeful if still somewhat ambiguoustrend that I call—in a conscious evocation of the political tradition associated with the Christian Democratic parties of Europe—“Muslim Democracy.”The emergence and unfolding of Muslim Democracy as a “fact on the ground” over the last fifteen years has been impressive. This is so even though all its exponents have thus far eschewed that label1 and even though the lion’s share of scholarly and political attention has gone to the question of how to promote religious reform within Islam as a prelude to democratization.2 Since the early 1990s, political openings in anumber of Muslim-majority countries—all, admittedly, outside the Arabworld—have seen Islamic-oriented (but non-Islamist) parties vying successfullyfor votes in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan (beforeits 1999 military coup), and Turkey.Unlike Islamists, with their visions of rule by shari‘a (Islamic law) oreven a restored caliphate, Muslim Democrats view political life with apragmatic eye. They reject or at least discount the classic Islamist claim that Islam commands the pursuit of a shari‘a state, and their main goaltends to be the more mundane one of crafting viable electoral platform sand stable governing coalitions to serve individual and collective interests—Islamic as well as secular—within a democratic arena whosebounds they respect, win or lose. Islamists view democracy not as something deeply legitimate, but at best as a tool or tactic that may be useful in gaining the power to build an Islamic state.

Be Sociable, Share!

Filed Under: AlgeriaEgyptFeaturedJordanMuslim BrotherhoodStudies & ResearchesTurkeyTurkey's AKP

Tags:

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Leave a Reply

Get Adobe Flash player