Can Islam accomodate democracy? Reset-Dialogues addressed this question years ago, during the 2008 and 2009 editions of Istanbul Seminars. But today the Arab spring and the success of Islamic parties in several countries show that the relationship between Islam and democracy still is a matter of great interest. Therefore we chose three important essays from our seminars to discuss this subject in depth.The Qur'an, Islam and MuhammadNasr Hamid Abu Zayd*Islam: the Test of GlobalizationAbdelmajid Charfi*The Multiple Histories of Secularism: Muslim Societies in ComparisonNader Hashemi*
Dialogue of Cultures
The terms unity, integration and diversity have multiple layers of meaning in the religious context. While religions emphasize unity and integrity, they also address the issues of diversity. When understood properly, unity does not mean uniformity and thus does not invite oppression and closeness. By the same token, diversity does not mean chaos and lack of order. Both unity and diversity have a function within the larger context of things. But this context is not confined to the socio-political dimension alone. A broader understanding of these terms will help us understand the religious discourses of unity, diversity and integration. It will also lead to a more critical assessment of the Enlightenment and Western modernity.
The dominant debate on Islam and democracy continues to operate in the realm of normativity. This paper engages with key literature showing limits of such a line of inquiry. Through the case study of India’s Islamist organization, Jamaat-e-Islami, I aim at shifting the debate from textual normativity to demotic praxis. I demonstrate how Islam and democracy work in practice, and in so doing offer a fresh perspective to enhance our understandings of both Islam and democracy. A key proposition of this paper is that rather than discussing the cliché if Islam is compatible with democracy, or Islam should be democratized, we study the ‘hows’ of de-democratization in Muslim societies.
This paper deals with the impact of the free, democratic and peaceful accession to power of the Islamic Justice and Development Party (JDP) in Turkey on the Arab World in general and on the Islamic currents active in Arab societies in particular. A main point is looking into how Arab political formations and especially political Islam are trying to make sense out of such recent developments in Turkey as: (a) The fact that traditionally reviled Turkish secularism, Kemalism and Westernism could produce a democratic form of political Islam capable of winning free elections and ruling Turkey without a catastrophe befalling the whole polity; and (b) the fact that an Islamic JDP is the most eager proponent of Turkey’s membership in the secular EU, while the traditional staunch military guardian of Turkish secularism is now the main obstructer of the drive for EU membership.
The question raised by the paper is: can democracy be religious and, if so, how? Can religious faith be reconciled with modern democratic political institutions? The paper takes its departure from the biblical admonition to believers to be "the salt of the earth" – a phrase that militates against both world dominion and world denial. In its long history, Islam (like Christianity) has been sorely tempted by the lure of worldly power and domination. Nor is this temptation entirely a matter of the past (witness the rise of the Christian Right and of "political Islam" in our time). Focusing on contemporary Iran, the paper makes a constitutional proposal which would strengthen the democratic character of the Iranian Republic without canceling religious faith. If adopted, the proposal would re-invigorate the "salt" of Muslim faith thus enabling believers to live up to the Qur'anic summons for freedoms, justice and service in the world.*
Abstract - First, I argue for historical contextualization of the Qur’an as a given historical collection of discourses propagated by Muhammad as divine inspiration. Secondly, I argue for a distinction between the Qur’an and Islam, since the latter is the outcome of human efforts to construct their lives in accordance with what they understood to be the teachings of the Qur’an. The last point is to show how the role of Muhammad in his interaction with the communities of his time in Hijaz shaped the Qur’an. So, the article is organized as (1) introduction; (2) the Qur’an and Islam; (3) the Qur’an and history: open hermeneutics; (4) Muhammad and the Qur’an; (5) the divine-human communication; (6) Muhammad: the first recipient; (7) Muhammad in the Qur’an; and (8) the community of believers and the need for legal regulations; followed by (9) conclusion.
Globalization has consequences for the religious sphere, but it does not constitute a break with the previous situation. It constitutes rather an acceleration of a process begun with the birth of nation-states. The impact of the values of modernity in general, since even those in power, whatever their tendency, invoke values of democracy, progress, freedom and justice, whereas submission is what was required of subjects. Nevertheless, people today look to religion for fixed reference points, because of the brutal transition from the Middle Ages to the 20th and 21st centuries, and because modernity is not an endogenous phenomenon. Islam then is playing the role of bulwark against western hegemony. It is also instrumentalized both by the powers that be and by the oppositions, all of whom give themselves over to displays of one-upmanship over fidelity to Islam. Does Islam then maintain its relevance in the context of globalization? The fact is that the bases on which social relations are now founded no longer permit discrimination on the ground of sex or religion, and that there is a loosening of the grip of traditional ritualism and that more and more Muslims are looking for an understanding of the faith that is freed from old-fashioned dogmas. These new givens are being demonstrated particularly when it comes to the exercise of power and the condition of women. As a result, traditional conceptions are destined to evolve, particularly concerning the status of the Koran, the growing awareness of the historical process that made the Koran into a juridical code, the archetype that has been stuck to the person of the Prophet, and the alienation that consists in the sacralization of every human act.
Abstract - This article is intended to advance conceptual clarity on the topic of secularism in Muslim societies. It seeks to uncover unique historical developments that have influenced and shaped debate on this topic. In the first part, a distinction is made between the different social scientific categories of secularism, focusing on philosophical, sociological and political dimensions of secularism. The second section provides a broad overview of the different histories of political secularism, and focuses on the two dominant models that have been bequeathed to us from the Western tradition of political thought: Anglo American secularism and French secularism (laïcité). In the final section, the political history of Muslim societies is briefly explored with the goal of providing a tentative answer to the question: historically, why did political secularism not emerge in Muslim societies?
This summer a German court banned the circumcision of boys. Here, Dissent Magazine offers two takes on the controversial decision—the first on bioethics in postwar Germany, the second on the consequences of the backlash against multiculturalism.
Increasing extremism is bubbling to the surface in nationalist and anti-immigrant rhetoric. A Resetdoc roundtable in New York examines the cultural and political roots of these fanaticisms as they affect public life from Europe to the USA.Discovering the sources of a murdererGiancarlo Bosetti Liberal élites, multiculturalism and the language of resentmentIan Buruma Constructing the Self, constructing the OtherSeyla BenhabibCitizenship and civil religionBenjamin BarberIdentities, stereotypes and shifting areas of consensusJytte Klausen
Turkey’s influence in the Balkans can be measured also in terms of the success of soap operas. The various TV series made in studios on the Bosphorus are a runaway success throughout the former-Yugoslavia as well as in Bulgaria and Romania. There are many viewers even in Serbia and Croatia, countries with a less powerful legacy from the days of the Ottoman Empire. Furthermore, local media reports indicate that more and more people, ecstatic about these soap operas, have planned holidays in Istanbul or have enrolled in Turkish language courses.
Some notes on the cultural background of xenophobia