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Islam, political Islam, and the state system

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    Rights statement: This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in 'Routledge Handbook of International Relations in the Middle East' on 26 March 2019, available online: https://www.routledge.com/Routledge-Handbook-of-International-Relations-in-the-Middle-East-1st-Edition/Akbarzadeh/p/book/9780415317283

    Accepted author manuscript, 505 KB, PDF document

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutledge Handbook of International Relations in the Middle East
EditorsShahram Akbarzadeh
PublisherRoutledge
Chapter6
Edition1
ISBN (Electronic)9781315229591
ISBN (Print)9780415317283
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Mar 2019

Abstract

Islam as an all-encompassing universalistic religion has been key to governing communities in the Middle East from its point of inception onward. In the twentieth century, the entrenchment of a modern state system underpinned by a secularist and nationalist ideology in the region has had a profound impact on the relationship between religious and political authority. This period is synonymous with the rise of political Islam (or Islamism) in most countries of the region. As the geopolitical balance in the Middle East changed, different actors put forward competing interpretations of the Islamic doctrine to answer what they considered to be the main challenges of contemporary governance. Domestically and internationally, both at the elites and societal levels, new and old actors invoking Islam as a master frame for transforming society competed with each other and with secularized political actors for the control of the state system. This chapter analyses the transformation of the interactions amongst actors promoting an Islamic agenda in relation to the changing role of the state and the problems (and opportunities) of governance generated by globalization and modernization. It highlights the historicity of the answers provided by each actor, as well as that of the portrayal of the tension between Islam and the state. The analysis underscores the malleability of the debates and practices centring on Islam and politics and teases out the issues and approaches that are most relevant today to grasp the historical trajectories of these interactions in the region.

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