Religion in a Changing World: Comparative Studies in Sociology

By Madeleine Cousineau | Go to book overview
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differences in the sociopolitical and intellectual context in which they were produced. This is because Islamic norms and practices, like those of any other belief system, are influenced by other ideas currently dominant in the society, as well as by the sociopolitical context. Islamic modernist ideas developed around the turn of the century within the context of intellectual pluralism characterized by the presence of such diverse ideological movements as the Enlightenment, the Westernizers, and Christian missionaries, in interaction with the orthodox Islamic establishment. Islamic fundamentalism, on the other hand, emerged as a significant revolutionary movement after the 1950s. This movement emerged within a monolithic intellectual context where the society was under the control of a bureaucratic- authoritarian state. Given the market character of ideologies, the Islamic modernists were persuaded to develop moderate and eclectic interpretations of Islam because they were facing a plurality of arguments and criticisms. Islamic fundamentalism, on the other hand, was produced in reaction to the singular ideology of an intrusive state. This movement grew in such countries as Iran and Syria only after the state overthrew the existing political pluralism in society by systematically eliminating all oppositional political parties. In these societies, the state intervened not only in the economy but in cultural activities as well. With the suppression of all political parties, the state began to impose its own ideology on the society. As a result, oppositional politics were channeled through the medium of religion. Religious oppositional ideology emerged in direct reaction to the ideology of the state. Thus while the Islamic modernists were developing their ideas in relation to such diverse ideological groups as the Christian missionaries, the orthodox Islamic theologians, and the followers of the nineteenth-century Enlightenment, the Islamic oppositions from the 1960s on were facing only the all-encompassing ideology of the bureaucratic-authoritarian state. It this situation it is evident that a monolithic ideological context produced a monolithic religious movement--Islamic fundamentalism.


Adami'yat Fereydoun. 1976. Idi'olozhi-ye Nahzat-i Mashrutiyat-i Iran [The Ideology of the Constitutional Movement in Iran]. Tehran, Iran: Payam Publications.

Adams Charles C. 1933. Islam and Modernism in Egypt: A Study of the Modern Reform Movement Inaugurated by Muhammad 'Abduh. New York: Russell and Russell.

Ahmad Aziz. 1967. Islamic Modernism in India and Pakistan, 185 7-1964. London: Oxford University Press.

Bahadur Kalim. 1977. The Jamma'at-i Islam of Pakistan: Political Thought and Political Action. New Delhi: Chetana Publications.

Batatu Hann. 1982. "Syria's Muslim Brethren." MERIP Reports (November-December): 12-34,36.

Butterworth Charles E. 1982. "Prudence versus Legitimacy: The Persistent Theme in Islamic Political Thought." Pp. 84-114 in Ali E. Hillal Dessouki, Islamic Resurgence in the Arab World. New York: Praeger.

Gibb Hamilton A. R. 1937. "Al-Mawardi's Theory of the Khilafah." Islamic Culture 11: 291-302.


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Religion in a Changing World: Comparative Studies in Sociology
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