Modernization, Democracy, and Islam

By Shireen T. Hunter; Huma Malik | Go to book overview
Save to active project

Islam and Modernity: Are They

Tamara Sonn

Modernity is an equivocal term. In the West, where the term developed, "modernity" is often confused with "modernism," although the two are not synonymous. "Modernity" generally refers to the sociopolitical transformation of Europe that accompanied the scientific and technological developments ensuing from the Enlightenment. That transformation resulted from a shift from reliance on religion as the basis of political legitimacy to a reliance on democracy, and was accompanied by the separation of church and state and the emergence of secularism. "Modernism" refers to a philosophical approach to certainty that relies primarily on reason rather than revelation. It began with Descartes' effort to overcome doubt by identifying self-evident principles, but it is usually identified with Kant's critical analysis of epistemological, ethical, and aesthetic judgments. This intellectual approach to certainty is recognized as the basis for the development of modernity. However, in everyday usage, the meanings of "modernism" and "modernity" are merged. This is particularly evident in the Islamists' discussion of modernity. The Arabic term 'asriya is commonly used to translate "modernity" and "modernism."

In Islamic discourse, modernity/modernism often includes modernization, as well as scientific and technological development. But overall Islamic discussions of modernity focus on the fundamental issues of rationalism, secularism, and democracy. Islamic attitudes toward democracy are discussed elsewhere in this work. (See Chapter 6 in this volume by John O. Voll.) This discussion will focus on Islamic discourse on rationalism and secularism. It will demonstrate that, while there are no inherent barriers in Islam to these elements of Western modernity, the expressions of these phenomena are not necessarily identical in Western and Islamic societies. In particular, Islam's ideology and historical experience result in distinctly Islamic approaches to secularism.


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Modernization, Democracy, and Islam
Table of contents

Table of contents



Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 362

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?