Political Ascent: Contemporary Islamic Movements in North Africa

Political Ascent: Contemporary Islamic Movements in North Africa

Political Ascent: Contemporary Islamic Movements in North Africa

Political Ascent: Contemporary Islamic Movements in North Africa

Synopsis

Islamic movements in North Africa have historically been distinguished from their counterparts in other parts of the Arab world because they have demonstrated a marked willingness to work within the political system & have at times even been officially recognized & allowed to participate in local & national elections. As a result, Islamic thinkers from the Maghrib have produced important writing about the role of Islam & the state, democracy, & nonviolent change. In this book, Emad Shahin offers a comparative analysis of the Islamic movements in Algeria, Tunisia, & Morocco, exploring their formation & expansion in the late 1960s & the tenets of their ideology for social transformation.

Excerpt

The place of religion and politics in Middle Eastern society has immense importance not just in academic terms but in everyday affairs. And, despite the numerous studies focusing on contemporary Muslim politics, there is a perennial need to take a balanced perspective on the general role of Islam in political development and social change in Muslim societies. To date, most studies of the Islamic resurgence have expressed either sympathy towards or hostility against the increased role of Islam in political affairs. This study parts ways with previous analyses by examining political Islam without assuming a position in this ideological debate. This is an academic attempt to place Islamic resurgence in its historical context and view it as an integral part of the cultures within which it has evolved. In addition, it is important to state that attempts to devise a "theory" to forecast and explain the emergence and spread of active Islamic movements are facing serious problems. This should not come as a criticism of the many excellent studies currently available on political Islam. Several factors explain the difficulty in generating an objective and comprehensive theory of Islamic renewal.

First, the Islamic revival is still in flux, with almost all Islamic movements currently passing through a transitional phase, especially at the political level. This is evident in the transformation of several Islamic organizations from reform, protest, or revolutionary movements into political parties, as in Algeria, Yemen, Jordan, and Turkey, or into bureaucratized institutions exercising power, as in Iran and Sudan. In other locales, public Islamic movements have been harshly suppressed, have become clandestine, or have split under pressure. Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria after 1991 are cases in point. Such transformations . . .

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