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The Many Faces of Political Islam

Religion and Politics in the Muslim World

Mohammed Ayoob

Publication Year: 2008

Analysts and pundits from across the American political spectrum describe Islamic fundamentalism as one of the greatest threats to modern, Western-style democracy. Yet very few non-Muslims would be able to venture an accurate definition of political Islam. Mohammed Ayoob's The Many Faces of Political Islam thoroughly describes the myriad manifestations of this rising ideology and analyzes its impact on global relations. "In this beautifully crafted and utterly compelling book, Mohammed Ayoob accomplishes admirably the difficult task of offering a readily accessible yet nuanced and comprehensive analysis of an issue of enormous political importance. Both students and specialists will learn a great deal from this absolutely first-rate book." ---Peter J. Katzenstein, Walter S. Carpenter, Jr. Professor of International Studies and Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Teaching Fellow, Cornell University "Dr. Ayoob addresses the nuances and complexities of political Islam---be it mainstream, radical, or militant---and offers a road map of the pivotal players and issues that define the movement. There is no one as qualified as Mohammed Ayoob to write a synthesis of various manifestations of political Islam. His complex narrative highlights the changes and shifts that have taken place within the Islamist universe and their implications for internal Muslim politics and relations between the world of Islam and the Christian world." ---Fawaz A. Gerges, Carnegie Scholar, and holds the Christian A. Johnson Chair in International Affairs and Middle Eastern Studies, Sarah Lawrence College "Let's hope that many readers---not only academics but policymakers as well---will use this invaluable book." ---François Burgat, Director, French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the Institute for Research and Study on the Arab and Muslim World (IREMAM), Aix-en-Provence, France "This is a wonderful, concise book by an accomplished and sophisticated political scientist who nonetheless manages to convey his interpretation of complex issues and movements to even those who have little background on the subject. It is impressive in its clarity, providing a badly needed text on political Islam that's accessible to college students and the general public alike." ---Shibley Telhami, Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development, University of Maryland, and Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution Mohammed Ayoob is University Distinguished Professor of International Relations with a joint appointment in James Madison College and the Department of Political Science at Michigan State University. He is also Coordinator of the Muslim Studies Program at Michigan State University.

Published by: University of Michigan Press


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

This book is a work of synthesis that aspires to fill a major gap in the literature on political Islam—namely, the need for an introductory text that is readily intelligible to the nonspecialist reader while simultaneously highlighting the complexity of the subject and avoiding over simplification. The book is written both for students and for general readers interested in the subject. The idea of...


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pp. xiii-xiv

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Chapter 1: Defining Concepts, Demolishing Myths

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pp. 1-22

Over the last decade and a half, but especially since 9/11, three major assumptions have inspired much of the popular discussion about political Islam. These are, first, that the intermingling of religion and politics is unique to Islam; second, that political Islam, like Islam itself, is monolithic; and third, that political Islam is inherently violent. This book will argue that none of these assertions ...

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Chapter 2: Islam’s Multiple Voices

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pp. 23-41

Despite the presence of substantial evidence to the contrary, some of which has been presented in the first chapter of this book and will be elaborated on in later chapters, many in the West continue to consider Islam to be a monolith. This monolithic perception of Islam often finds expression in articles, commentaries, and editorials ...

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Chapter 3: Self-Proclaimed Islamic States

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pp. 42-63

This inquiry into the relationship between Islam and politics in discrete Muslim countries begins with the analysis of two states, Saudi Arabia and Iran,whose rulers have self-consciously and vociferously proclaimed themselves and their polities to be “Islamic.” Their respective claims to be genuinely Islamic are based on two contentions: that their societies and polities are repositories ...

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Chapter 4: Between Ideology and Pragmatism

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pp. 64-89

Egypt and Pakistan provide examples par excellence of the quest for ideological purity on the part of Islamist thinkers as well as of the Islamist movements’ ability to adapt to changing political circumstances. The two cases also highlight the importance of regime policies in determining Islamist trajectories. Cumulatively, these factors clearly demonstrate the validity of the proposition that...

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Chapter 5: Muslim Democracies

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pp. 90-111

Democratic forms of governance, imported from the West as part of the colonial experience, are new to Muslim countries, as they are to all postcolonial and non-Western states. As pointed out in chapter 1, the classical tradition of governance in the Muslim world emphasized order for fear of anarchy and the division of the umma. Even those scholars and political actors who stressed the...

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Chapter 6: Islamist National Resistance

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pp. 127-130

There are a few important cases where Islamist political groupings with territorially circumscribed objectives—including those of liberation from foreign occupation, secession, or irredentism—clearly straddle the violent and nonviolent worlds. In many such cases, Islamism blends with nationalism, particularly in the context of resistance against non-Muslim foreign domination...

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Chapter 7: Transnational Islam

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pp. 131-151

The last several chapters have attempted to demonstrate, on the basis of case studies drawn from some of the most important Muslim countries, that main-stream and nationally bounded Islamist political formations, whether in opposition or in power, represent the vast majority of Islamist groups in terms of numbers, membership, and their impact on politics and society within the...

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Chapter 8: The Many Faces of Political Islam

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pp. 152-170

This book has attempted, among other things, to address the potential of political Islam or Islamism to affect, in major ways, the future of major Muslim societies and polities around the world. It has done so primarily by examining manifestations of political Islam in several important Muslim countries where Islamist ideology and rhetoric has been used by parties and movements to fur-...


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pp. 171-190


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pp. 191-194


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pp. 195-204


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pp. 205-213

E-ISBN-13: 9780472025381
E-ISBN-10: 0472025384
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472069712
Print-ISBN-10: 0472069713

Page Count: 232
Publication Year: 2008