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In Search of Islamic Constitutionalism

Nadirsyah Hosen

While constitutionalism in the West is mostly identified with secular thought, Islamic constitutionalism, which incorporates some religious elements, has attracted growing interest in recent years. For instance, the Bush administration’s response to the events of 9/11 radically transformed the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan, and both countries are now rewriting their constitutions. As
Ann Elizabeth Mayer points out, Islamic constitutionalism is constitutionalism that is, in some form, based on Islamic principles, as opposed to the constitutionalism developed in countries that happen to be Muslim but which has not been informed by distinctively Islamic principles. Several Muslim scholars, among them Muhammad Asad3 and Abul A`la al-Maududi, have written on such aspects of constitutional issues as human rights and the separation of powers. malgrat això, in general their works fall into apologetics, as Chibli Mallat points out:
Whether for the classical age or for the contemporary Muslim world, scholarly research on public law must respect a set of axiomatic requirements.
First, the perusal of the tradition cannot be construed as a mere retrospective reading. By simply projecting present-day concepts backwards, it is all too easy to force the present into the past either in an apologetically contrived or haughtily dismissive manner. The approach is apologetic and contrived when Bills of Rights are read into, say, the Caliphate of `Umar, with the presupposition that the “just” qualities of `Umar included the complex and articulate precepts of constitutional balance one finds in modern texts

Islamic Political Culture, democràcia, and Human Rights

Daniel I. preu

It has been argued that Islam facilitates authoritarianism, contradicts the

values of Western societies, and significantly affects important political outcomes

in Muslim nations. Consequently, scholars, commentators, and government

officials frequently point to ‘‘Islamic fundamentalism’’ as the next

ideological threat to liberal democracies. This view, malgrat això, is based primarily

on the analysis of texts, Islamic political theory, and ad hoc studies

of individual countries, which do not consider other factors. It is my contention

that the texts and traditions of Islam, like those of other religions,

can be used to support a variety of political systems and policies. Country

specific and descriptive studies do not help us to find patterns that will help

us explain the varying relationships between Islam and politics across the

countries of the Muslim world. Hence, a new approach to the study of the

connection between Islam and politics is called for.
I suggest, through rigorous evaluation of the relationship between Islam,

democracy, and human rights at the cross-national level, that too much

emphasis is being placed on the power of Islam as a political force. I first

use comparative case studies, which focus on factors relating to the interplay

between Islamic groups and regimes, economic influences, ethnic cleavages,

and societal development, to explain the variance in the influence of

Islam on politics across eight nations.

Islamist Parties : why they can’t be democratic

Bassam Tibi

Noting Islamism’s growing appeal and strength on the ground, many

Western scholars and officials have been grasping for some way to take

an inclusionary approach toward it. In keeping with this desire, it has

become fashionable contemptuously to dismiss the idea of insisting on

clear and rigorous distinctions as “academic.” When it comes to Islam

and democracy, this deplorable fashion has been fraught with unfortunate

consequences.

Intelligent discussion of Islamism, democracy, and Islam requires

clear and accurate definitions. Without them, analysis will collapse into

confusion and policy making will suffer. My own view, formed after

thirty years of study and reflection regarding the matter, is that Islam and

democracy are indeed compatible, provided that certain necessary religious

reforms are made. The propensity to deliver on such reforms is what

I see as lacking in political Islam. My own avowed interest—as an Arab-

Muslim prodemocracy theorist and practitioner—is to promote the establishment

of secular democracy within the ambit of Islamic civilization.

In order to help clear away the confusion that all too often surrounds

this topic, I will lay out several basic points to bear in mind. The first is

that, so far, Western practices vis-`a-vis political Islam have been faulty

because they have lacked the underpinning of a well-founded assessment.

Unless blind luck intervenes, no policy can be better than the assessment

upon which it is based. Proper assessment is the beginning of

all practical wisdom.

The Mismeasure of Political Islam

Martin Kramer

Perhaps no development of the last decade of the twentieth century has caused as much confusion in the West as the emergence of political Islam. Just what does it portend? Is it against modernity, or is it an effect of modernity? Is it against nationalism, or is it a
form of nationalism? Is it a striving for freedom, or a revolt against freedom?
One would think that these are difficult questions to answer, and that they would inspire deep debates. Yet over the past few years, a surprisingly broad consensus has emerged within academe about the way political Islam should be measured. This consensus has
begun to spread into parts of government as well, especially in the U.S. and Europe. A paradigm has been built, and its builders claim that its reliability and validity are beyond question.
This now-dominant paradigm runs as follows. The Arab Middle East and North Africa are stirring. The peoples in these lands are still under varieties of authoritarian or despotic rule. But they are moved by the same universal yearning for democracy that transformed Eastern Europe and Latin America. True, there are no movements we would easily recognize as democracy movements. But for historical and cultural reasons, this universal yearning has taken the form of Islamist protest movements. If these do not look
like democracy movements, it is only a consequence of our own age-old bias against Islam. When the veil of prejudice is lifted, one will see Islamist movements for what they are: the functional equivalents of democratic reform movements. True, on the edges of these movements are groups that are atavistic and authoritarian. Some of their members are prone to violence. These are theextremists.” But the mainstream movements are essentially open, pluralistic, and nonviolent, led bymoderates” o “reformists.” Thesemoderatescan be strengthened if they are made partners in the political process, and an initial step must be dialogue. But ultimately, the most effective way to domesticate the Islamists is to permit them to share or possess power. There is no threat here unless the West creates it, by supporting acts of state repression that would deny Islamists access to participation or power.

Liberalizing the Muslim Brotherhood

Mohamed Fayez Farahat

Firstly, we must note that some object to the very question over whether the Muslim Brotherhood is turning into a liberal force. The notion contains a crucial flaw, since religious groups cannot be assessed based on shifting ideological frameworks. In other words, they argue that these groups be judged based on standards taking into consideration both the groups’ characteristics and the characteristics of the cultural framework in which they operate. Most likely, this reservation is due to the debate in the Arab and Islamic world over the relationship between liberalism and secularism, and the substantial overlap between the two concepts. At its essence, these people do not believe that the Islamist movements – including the social movements – have truly accepted secularism as a prerequisite of becoming a liberal movement. They argue that there is a limit to how far the Islamist movements can go with regards to secularism, and so we should not expect the Islamist movements to become completely liberal in the Western understanding of liberalism, since they will not give up their religious nature which distinguishes them from nonreligious political movements.
malgrat això, with all due respect to this point of view, there are still others firmly believing in the compatibility of liberalism with a social movement retaining its religious character. One of the main prerequisites to transitioning from being a religious movement to a liberal religious movement is distinguishing between what is religious or evangelical, and what is political. This distinction is still lacking among many Islamist movements, including the Muslim Brotherhood.

High noon in Egypt

Devika Parashar

F. Andy Messing


The parallels between President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and the deposed shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi of Iran, are attention-getting. a 1979, prior to the notorious Islamic Revolution, which was instigated and controlled by radical Muslim cleric Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the shah wielded personal and authoritarian power in a manner comparable to the dictators of the time: Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines, Anastasio Somoza in Nicaragua, and earlier, Fulgencio Batista in Cuba. These rulers brandished their power with little restraint, unencumbered by the rule of law and basically insensitive to the needs of their populace. Unfortunately, Hosni Mubarak alarmingly resembles these former dictators in social, political, economic and security issues. He is inadvertently pushing his country towards an Islamic revolution. As an earlier example, the shah of Iran slowly strangled his country by reigning with a heavy-hand through his unfettered security force. He narrowed the sociopolitical base of his government and distorted the economy by monopolistic actions. This modus operandi reflects Mr. Mubarak’s current regime, whose survival depends on his ability to reverse these trends. Accordingly, Mr. Mubarak uses hisCentral Security Force,” that now consists of more than half of his entire military, to impose a measure of censorship on the mass media and ban most forms of political organization, activities and literary expression. Like the shah, he has established control over physical action, selectively executing opposition, imprisoning and exiling thousands of people who oppose his policies. Recently, the leading English language newspaper Al-Ahram Weekly reported an upsurge in deaths due to police brutality. Another Arab news source reported the barring of human-rights groups from attending secret military trials. Economically, Mr. Mubarak monopolistically privatizes the highly regulated Egyptian economy, fostering creation of an exclusive industrial bourgeoisie. He invites only pro-Mubarak businesses to work within his development schemes. Like the shah, he has alienated large sections of the public and private sectors, thus suppressing any real economic growth. Politically, Mr. Mubarak cracks down on civil participation, essentially repressing political opposition; while his lack of government transparency practically guarantees rife corruption throughout the 4 million strong bureaucracy. Equally important, is the lack of government response to crises. Al-Ahram Weekly reported 20 train crashes between 1995 and August 2006. In each case, the government formed an ineffectual and disorganized crisis-management council that failed to correct
the problem. As the government failed to meet the needs of its people, the Muslim Brotherhood (al-Ikhwan) filled a void by establishing social services, such as health clinics and youth programs, to effectively respond to various situations. The first and best-known example of this was their mobilization after the 1992 earthquake struck Southern Cairo. The Muslim Brotherhood provided disaster relief then, and continues to do so, thereby enhancing its traction. Additionally, the Muslim Brotherhood has nonviolently taken control of 15 percent of major professional associations that form the greater part of Egypt’s middle class. In the most recent parliamentary election in 2005, the Muslim Brotherhood presented the largest threat to Mr. Mubarak’s National Democratic Party, securing an unprecedented 34 out of 454 seats. They demonstrated their ability to draw support despite government opposition. Mr. Mubarak unwittingly nurtured the regrowth of the essentially Fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood by alienating segments of the Egyptian populace and eliminating soft-line opposition (such as the secular Wafd and al-Ghad parties). He must seek more innovative methods to remain in power. Per exemple, Chile managed to open the economy and encourage free enterprise under Augusto Pinochet, even though his government was considered authoritarian. Mr. Mubarak must tap into the tremendous energy of the Egyptian people by increasing the pace of capitalization and democratization, thereby improving their standard of living. If he succeeds, Mr. Mubarak could eventually create a legacy for himself as an Arab leader who effectively modernized and democratized thiskeystonenation. In doing so, he would secure major assets such as the Suez Canal, Egypt’s oil production and tourism, for not only his country but for the global economy, while providing a positive example for the entire Muslim world. a més, nosaltres. ability to deal with Egypt will be enhanced, and our aid to that country will become completely justified. But if Mr. Mubarak fails, his regime will fall to the same type of radical elements that claimed the shah’s government in 1979, creating compounded turmoil for Egypt and the world. Devika Parashar spent eight months in Egypt into 2007 and is a research assistant at the National Defense Council Foundation. F. Andy Messing, a retired Special Forces officer, is NDCF’s executive director and met with a Muslim Brotherhood Representative in Cairo in 1994. He has been to 27 conflict areas worldwide.


Hasan Al-Banna

Guilain Denoelcx

Hasan al-Banna was the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood or Society of the Muslim Brothers, thelargest and most influential Sunni revivalist organization in the 20th century. Created in Egypt in1928, the Muslim Brotherhood became the first mass-based, overtly political movement to opposethe ascendancy of secular and Western ideas in the Middle East. The brotherhood saw in theseideas the root of the decay of Islamic societies in the modern world, and advocated a return toIslam as a solution to the ills that had befallen Muslim societies. Al-Banna’s leadership was criticalto the spectacular growth of the brotherhood during the 1930s and 1940s. By the early 1950s,branches had been established in Syria, Sudan, i Jordània. Soon, the movement’s influence would be felt inplaces as far away as the Gulf and non-Arab countries such as Iran, Pakistan, Indonèsia, and Malaysia. Drivingthis expansion was the appeal of the organizational model embodied in the original, Egypt-based section of thebrotherhood, and the success of al-Banna’s writings. Translated into several languages, these writings haveshaped two generations of Sunni religious activists across the Islamic world.

The Politics and the Promise of Civilizational Dialogues

M. A. Muqtedar Khan

In response to Harvard Professor SamuelHuntington’s now infamous argument predicting afuture full of clashes between civilizations, the world’sliberals responded with a call for a civilizational dialogue.After 9/11, this call for a dialogue betweenIslam and the West has become even more urgent.The philosophical assumptions behind these dialoguesare not too difficult to discern. Islam and themodern West share a common Abrahamic traditionand their foundational sources; Islamic law and philosophyand Western enlightenment philosophy havecommon roots—Hellenistic reason and Biblical revelation.The two civilizations have a common past anda common future, particularly in the light of strongeconomic relations between the West and the Muslimworld and the growing presence of Islam in nearlyevery Western society.Because the future of the two civilizations is inseparable,any clash will be devastating to both, regardlessof the asymmetry of power. A clash between Islamand the modern West would be like a collisionbetween the present and the future for both. Islam isintegral to the future of the West and Islamic civilization’sreticence toward modernity is untenable.Eventually, the Muslim world will have to modernize,democratize, and recognize that its future, too, isinterdependent. Neither the West nor the Muslimworld can imagine a mutually exclusive future.

The Muslim Brotherhood in Belgium

Steve Merley,
analista sènior


The Global Muslim Brotherhood has been present in Europe since 1960 when SaidRamadan, the grandson of Hassan Al-Banna, founded a mosque in Munich.1 Since that time,Brotherhood organizations have been established in almost all of the EU countries, as well asnon-EU countries such as Russia and Turkey. Despite operating under other names, some ofthe organizations in the larger countries are recognized as part of the global MuslimBrotherhood. Per exemple, the Union des Organizations Islamiques de France (UOIF) isgenerally regarded as part of the Muslim Brotherhood in France. The network is alsobecoming known in some of the smaller countries such as the Netherlands, where a recentNEFA Foundation report detailed the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood in that country.2Neighboring Belgium has also become an important center for the Muslim Brotherhood inEurope. A 2002 report by the Intelligence Committee of the Belgian Parliament explainedhow the Brotherhood operates in Belgium:“The State Security Service has been following the activities of the InternationalMuslim Brotherhood in Belgium since 1982. The International MuslimBrotherhood has had a clandestine structure for nearly 20 anys. The identityof the members is secret; they operate in the greatest discretion. They seek tospread their ideology within the Islamic community of Belgium and they aimin particular at the young people of the second and third generation ofimmigrants. In Belgium as in other European countries, they try to take controlof the religious, social, and sports associations and establish themselves asprivileged interlocutors of the national authorities in order to manage Islamicaffairs. The Muslim Brotherhood assumes that the national authorities will bepressed more and more to select Muslim leaders for such management and,in this context, they try to insert within the representative bodies, individualsinfluenced by their ideology.

ISLAMIC MOBILIZATION

Ziad Munson

This article examines the emergence and growth of the Muslim Brotherhood inEgypt from the 1930s through the 1950s. It begins by outlining and empirically evaluatingpossible explanations for the organization’s growth based on (1) theories of politicalIslam and (2) the concept of political opportunity structure in social movementtheory. An extension of these approaches is suggested based on data from organizationaldocuments and declassiŽed U.S. State Department Žles from the period. Thesuccessful mobilization of the Muslim Brotherhood was possible because of the wayin which its Islamic message was tied to its organizational structure, activities, andstrategies and the everyday lives of Egyptians. The analysis suggests that ideas areintegrated into social movements in more ways than the concept of framing allows.It also expands our understanding of how organizations can arise in highly repressiveenvironments.

la 500 Most influential muslims

scope

introduction
The publication you have in your hands is the first of what we hope will be an
annual series that provides a window into the movers and shakers of the Muslim
world. We have strived to highlight people who are influential as Muslims, that
is, people whose influence is derived from their practice of Islam or from the fact
that they are Muslim. We think that this gives valuable insight into the different
ways that Muslims impact the world, and also shows the diversity of how people
are living as Muslims today.
Influence is a tricky concept. Its meaning derives from the Latin word influens
meaning to flow-in, pointing to an old astrological idea that unseen forces (like the
moon) affect humanity. The figures on this list have the ability to affect humanity
too. In a variety of different ways each person on this list has influence over the
lives of a large number of people on the earth. la 50 most influential figures
are profiled. Their influence comes from a variety of sources; however they are
unified by the fact that they each affect huge swathes of humanity.
We have then broken up the 500 leaders into 15 categories—Scholarly, Political,
Administrative, Lineage, Preachers, Dones, Youth, Philanthropy, Development,
Science and Technology, Arts and Culture, mitjans de comunicació, Radicals, International Islamic
Networks, and Issues of the Day—to help you understand the different kinds of
ways Islam and Muslims impact the world today.
Two composite lists show how influence works in different ways: International
Islamic Networks shows people who are at the head of important transnational
networks of Muslims, and Issues of the Day highlights individuals whose
importance is due to current issues affecting humanity.


The publication is the first of what we hope will be an annual series that provides a window into the movers and shakers of the Muslim world.

We have strived to highlight people who are influential as Muslims, that is, people whose influence is derived from their practice of Islam or from the fact that they are Muslim.

We think that this gives valuable insight into the different ways that Muslims impact the world, and also shows the diversity of how people are living as Muslims today.

Influence is a tricky concept. Its meaning derives from the Latin word influens meaning to flow-in, pointing to an old astrological idea that unseen forces (like the moon) affect humanity. The figures on this list have the ability to affect humanity too. In a variety of different ways each person on this list has influence over the lives of a large number of people on the earth. la 50 most influential figures are profiled. Their influence comes from a variety of sources; however they are unified by the fact that they each affect huge swathes of humanity.

We have then broken up the 500 leaders into 15 categories—Scholarly, Political, Administrative, Lineage, Preachers, Dones, Youth, Philanthropy, Development, Science and Technology, Arts and Culture, mitjans de comunicació, Radicals, International Islamic Networks, and Issues of the Day—to help you understand the different kinds of ways Islam and Muslims impact the world today.

Two composite lists show how influence works in different ways: International Islamic Networks shows people who are at the head of important transnational networks of Muslims, and Issues of the Day highlights individuals whose importance is due to current issues affecting humanity.