Islamist Parties and Democracy: Going Back to the Origins

Issue Date July 2008
Volume 19
Issue 3
Page Numbers 13-18
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Until recently, the very idea of an Islamist political party would have appeared a contradiction in terms. Hassan al-Banna, founder of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and one of the forebears of Islamism, was cautious to refer to his group as movement rather not a party; for him, political parties and even nation-states were Western inventions that could have no place in the global Islamic polity (the umma). But how much does the modern Islamist party represent a departure from traditional Islamism versus a tactical retreat in the face of powerful secularist regimes? Whether Islamists will accept an authority separate from shari‘a and how they will define the minimum qualifications of candidates for public office promise to be decisive issues.

About the Authors

Husain Haqqani

Husain Haqqani, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and professor of international relations at Boston University, is the author of Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military (2005). He served as Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States between 2008 and 2011.

View all work by Husain Haqqani

Hillel Fradkin

Hillel Fradkin is senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and director of its Center on Islam, Democracy, and the Future of the Muslim World. He is also the founder and coeditor of the Hudson Institute’s periodical review Current Trends in Islamist Ideology.

View all work by Hillel Fradkin