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Research Report

Towards a Political Islam

Roel Meijer
Copyright Date: Jul. 1, 2009
Published by: Clingendael Institute
Pages: 54

Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. [i]-[ii])
  2. (pp. 1-2)
  3. (pp. 3-8)

    In Europe, and especially the Netherlands, an unfruitful debate rages on the issue of whether Islam is compatible with Enlightenment (and Europe and modernity) because it does not recognize the separation between state and ‘church’ – politics and religion – which is assumed to constitute the basis of Western freedom of thought and intellectual and technological progress. As progress or even development and Islam are considered incompatible, the need to study the Islamic movement and especially its thought is considered a waste of time because it does not comply with the ‘real’ or essential Islam, which is assumed to be...

  4. (pp. 9-24)

    One of the major problems of political Islam is that when it arose as a movement and an ideology with the establishment of the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928 in Egypt, it was forced to make exaggerated claims in opposition to Western political, economic and cultural colonial dominance. At the same time it had to engage with the secular nationalist concept of religion of the Wafd Party, which in its attempt to mobilize Copts, relegated it to the private sphere, as expressed in the slogan ‘everyone his religion and the nation for everyone’. As part of the process of turning Islam...

  5. (pp. 25-38)

    The alternative to this ambiguity – by openly rejecting violence and unconditionally embracing democracy and the rule of law that was so typical of the Islamist movement – occurred in the 1980s. The tone of this development had already been set when the former general guide Hasan al-Hudaybi condemned the concepts of takfir and hakimiyya in the 1960s. This attitude was initially reflected in the traditional stance of the Brotherhood towards Egypt’s President Mubarak when he came to power in 1981. It accepted a ruler along the lines of wali al-amr, even if he is a tyrant, as long as...

  6. (pp. 39-42)

    Islamic political thought has come a long way during the past quarter of a century. In both its justification of violence as well as its rejection of violence and embrace of democracy, it has become much more sophisticated than the original Muslim Brotherhood of Hasan al-Banna, Sayyid Qutb, or the simple tracts of the Egyptian groups that caught international attention in the 1970s.182 Even compared to the analysis that Gudrun Krämer gave of the movement in the mid-1990s, political thinking has deepened and broadened and has become more complex. The struggle between Salafism and the Brotherhood has, in particular, given...

  7. (pp. 43-50)
  8. (pp. 51-52)