Subject: Islam

July 2018, Volume 29, Issue 3

Islam and Democracy in Tunisia

The president of Tunisia’s Ennahdha party, Rached Ghannouchi, argues that the solution to extremism is more (not less) freedom and democracy, along with more moderate religious teachings.

January 2017, Volume 28, Issue 1

Tunisia’s Islamists and the “Turkish Model”

Ennahda has long felt an especially strong kinship with Turkey’s AKP, which has seen as representing a combination of piety, prosperity, and democratic credibility. How might their relationship be affected by the AKP's more recent authoritarian turn?

Free

April 2012, Volume 23, Issue 2

The Languages of the Arab Revolutions

The upheavals that have been shaking the Arab-Muslim world are revolutions in discourse as well as in the streets. Arabs are using not only traditional and religious vocabularies, but also a new set of expressions that are modern and represent popular aspirations.

Free

April 2012, Volume 23, Issue 2

Tunisia’s Transition and the Twin Tolerations

Of all the “Arab Spring” countries, so far only Tunisia has managed to make a transition to democracy. Tunisians now have a chance to show the world a new example of how religion, society, and the state can relate to one another under democratic conditions.

January 2011, Volume 22, Issue 1

The Split in Arab Culture

A powerful “salafist” public norm has taken root in the Arab world, becoming the main symbol of resistance to Westernization. At the same time, however, new cultural forces in the private domain are promoting a dynamic of secularization.

July 2010, Volume 21, Issue 3

Afghanistan: An Election Gone Awry

The 2009 vote for the presidency and local councils was marred by fraud, provoking a political crisis and casting a deep shadow over upcoming parliamentary elections. The Afghan experience calls into question whether voting should occur before other essential reforms are in place.

July 2010, Volume 21, Issue 3

Iraq: A Vote Against Sectarianism

Although many Iraqi parties continue to be organized along religious or ethnic lines, both the tone and the results of the 2010 parliamentary election campaign show that most Iraqi voters prefer a broader national agenda over narrow sectarian appeals.

April 2010, Volume 21, Issue 2

Indonesia: The Irony of Success

Indonesia is widely lauded as a democratic success story for rolling back the military, keeping radical Islam in check, and institutionalizing democratic freedoms. But this success has had costs in terms of democratic quality.

Free

April 2010, Volume 21, Issue 2

Do Muslims Vote Islamic?

Those who warn against efforts to promote free elections in Muslim-majority countries often point to the threat posed by Islamic parties that stand ready to use democracy against itself. But what does the record really show regarding the ability of Islamic parties to win over Muslim voters?

Free

October 2009, Volume 20, Issue 4

Iran in Ferment: Civil Society’s Choice

When students and other rights activists decided to seize a tactical opening that the regime cynically offered them during the 2009 campaign, they were making a choice that was even more fateful than they knew.

July 2009, Volume 20, Issue 3

Bangladesh’s Fresh Start

After a nearly two-year interlude of authoritarian rule, Bangladeshis voted decisively for democracy, a secular approach to politics, and the center-left. The challenge now is to show that parliamentary democracy can deliver stability and socioeconomic progress.

Free

April 2009, Volume 20, Issue 2

Religion and Democracy

The secularization hypothesis has failed, and failed spectacularly. We must find a new paradigm to help us understand the complexities of the relationship between religion and democracy.

July 2008, Volume 19, Issue 3

Islamist Parties and Democracy: Are They Democrats? Does It Matter?

The journalistic and policy communities have been alive with speculation as to whether Islamist groups involved in politics—including Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and Palestine’s Hamas— are true believers in democracy or calculating pragmatists who, in Steven Cook’s words, are “seeking to use democratic procedures in order to advance an antidemocratic agenda.”

July 2008, Volume 19, Issue 3

Islamist Parties and Democracy: Turkey’s AKP in Power

The rise of Islamist parties poses new challenges to efforts to understand the relationship between Islam and democracy. A diverse group of authors investigates this new phenomenon and its implications for the future of democracy in the Middle East.

July 2008, Volume 19, Issue 3

Islamist Parties and Democracy: Participation Without Power

The debate on the compatibility of Islamism and democracy has tended to focus on two main scenarios. In the first, Islamist political parties become agents for democratization through their participation in freely held elections. In the second, Islamists use the democratic process to gain control and establish an antidemocratic regime—the feared “one man, one vote,…

July 2008, Volume 19, Issue 3

Islamist Parties and Democracy: Institutions Make the Difference

Political Islam is often cited as the key challenge to democratization in Muslim nations, but deep currents of authoritarianism may prove more of an obstacle. Traditions of monarchy, military rule, and weak civic institutions block the path of democratic transition throughout the Muslim world. Political Islam does of course present challenges of its own, such…

July 2008, Volume 19, Issue 3

Islamist Parties and Democracy: Why They Can’t be Democratic

This article makes a case of the basic distinction between Islam and Islamism and presents three central arguments: 1. through religious reforms and a rethinking of the Islamic doctrine, the cultural system of Islam can be put in harmony with democracy, 2. this (first) argument does not apply to Islamism (political Islam) for the simple…

July 2008, Volume 19, Issue 3

Islamist Parties and Democracy: A Boon or a Bane for Democracy?

What role do mainstream Islamist movements play in Arab politics? With their popular messages and broad social base, would their incorporation as normal political actors be the best hope for democratization or democracy’s bane? For too long, we have tried to answer such questions solely by speculating about the true intentions of the movements and…

Free

January 2008, Volume 19, Issue 1

Turkey Divided

Events surrounding Turkey's 2007 elections reveal a country with a vibrantly democratic political sphere and a society badly split over the role of Islam in national life.

Free

April 2007, Volume 18, Issue 2

Toward Muslim Democracies

About two-thirds of the world's Muslims live under governments chosen through competitive elections. The remaining third lives mostly in the Arab world, a region that poses the hardest challenges for democratization.

April 2007, Volume 18, Issue 2

A Wake-Up Call in Afghanistan

Much has been achieved both in the war against the Taliban and in the larger struggle to create a democratic Afghanistan, but dire problems remain.

Free

July 2006, Volume 17, Issue 3

Universal Values and Muslim Democracy

The desire for freedom and self-government is written in human hearts everywhere; in this there can be no "clash of civilizations." Claims that Islam is inherently hostile to democracy represent an unwarranted surrender to fundamentalist arguments; we should engage with a broad spectrum of Muslim groups, but without compromising our commitment to freedom and democracy.

July 2006, Volume 17, Issue 3

The Palestinian Elections: Beyond Hamas and Fatah

January’s remarkably free and fair parliamentary elections broke the PLO’s longstanding monopoly over Palestinian politics. Given Fatah’s disarray and the difficulties facing Hamas, there is now a window of opportunity for a third and avowedly liberal-democratic option to emerge.

January 2006, Volume 17, Issue 1

Getting to Arab Democracy: Dealing with Communalism

Whether ethnic, sectarian, or some combination of the two, communalsim is one of the massive realities of Middle Eastern life and politics. It is usually seen as an obstacle to democracy, but need that always be the case?

July 2005, Volume 16, Issue 3

Turkey’s AKP: A Model “Muslim-Democratic” Party?

Is the Islamic-oriented party that has ruled since 2002 really the harbinger of 'Muslim democracy,' or is it something more familiar in Turkish politics: a hierarchical group none too closely in touch with society and overly focused on one man?

October 2004, Volume 15, Issue 4

The Persistence of Arab Authoritarianism

The lack of democracy in the Arab world is a problem that goes far beyond the absence of competitive elections. This lack must be traced not to religion or culture, but to adverse historical and geostrategic circumstances.

October 2004, Volume 15, Issue 4

The Reality of Muslim Exceptionalism

The notion that the Muslim world as a whole does not suffer from a deficit in terms of competitive democracy is apealing, but rests on evidence and assumptions that cannot withstand critical scrutiny.

July 2004, Volume 15, Issue 3

Crafting a Constitution for Afghanistan

As 2004 began, Afghanistan approved a new constitution that represents a key step forward in its political reconstruction. But it is not yet clear whether this new constitution will enable the country to surmount the many challenges that lie ahead.

Free

January 2004, Volume 15, Issue 1

Iraq: Setbacks, Advances, Prospects

The stakes are enormous and the challenges are difficult, but a look at Iraq months after the toppling of Saddam Hussein reveals that, despite all the frustrating setbacks, grounds for cautious optimism remain.

Free

April 2002, Volume 13, Issue 2

Terror, Islam, and Democracy

Although Islamist terror groups invoke a host of religious references, the real source of their ideas is not the Koran but rather Leninism, fascism, and other strains of twentieth-century thought that exalt totalitarian violence.

January 2002, Volume 13, Issue 1

Books in Review: Reconstructing Afghanistan

A review of “Afghanistan’s Endless War: State Failure, Regional Politics, and the Rise of the Taliban,” by Larry P. Goodson; and “Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil, and Fundamentalism in Central Asia,” by Ahmed Rashid.

January 2001, Volume 12, Issue 1

Pakistan’s Predicament

The military regime of General Musharraf has been less repressive than many had feared, but there is little sign that it is overcoming the deep-seated problems that led to the failure of Pakistani democracy.