Rachid Ghannouchi: A Democrat within Islamism

By Azzam S. Tamimi | Go to book overview

Conclusion

Rachid Ghannouchi's importance emanates from the high standard of his political discourse, which is distinguished by daring attempts to innovate and to introduce new dimensions in contemporary Islamic thought. The impact of his ideological and intellectual standing has extended well beyond the frontiers of Tunisia. His contribution to modern Islamic thought lies in his comprehension of both traditional Islamic literature and modern Western concepts and in his strong belief in the theory of the compatibility between Islam and Western thought in matters concerning the system of government, human rights, and civil liberties.

The significance of Ghannouchi also emanates from the fact that, unlike other Islamic thinkers who espouse the democratic cause, he is both a thinker and a leader of an Islamic movement. He is a credible authority within Islamic circles at the global level. His thoughts are in no way restricted to an intellectual debate at a time when the Islamic movement has emerged as a major political power in the Muslim world, and when power-sharing or power-taking experiments are in process. Ghannouchi is unprecedented within Islamic intellectual circles in his theory that civil society is an Islamic concept and that religion consolidates civil society whereas secularism, especially the model imported to the Muslim world under the guise of modernization, weakens it. He is the first Islamic thinker to address the problems facing the transition to democracy in the Arab world in the manner this book has analyzed. He started developing this thesis following the coup against democracy in Algeria in 1992, less than two years after the failure of the democratic experiment in his own country, Tunisia.

Having read Ghannouchi's written works since the early 1980s, the author finds that on fundamental issues, such as democracy, human rights, and civil liberties, his position has not changed. However, his position as leader of the main opposition party in his country requires that he take certain political factors into consideration, and this in turn is bound to give an impression of an inconsistency in his discourse. As a political leader he has been, on more than an occasion, compelled to make compromises, the most notable of which was his decision to remove the reference to Islam from the name of his movement in order to qualify for registering as a legal political party.

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Rachid Ghannouchi: A Democrat within Islamism
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Religion and Global Politics *
  • Title Page *
  • Preface v
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Contents *
  • Rachid Ghannouchi *
  • 1 - From Qabis to Paris 3
  • 2 - The Journey to Democracy 30
  • 3 - The Question of Democracy 63
  • 4 - Secularism 105
  • 5 - Civil Society 125
  • 6 - The Territorial State and the New World Order 154
  • 7 - Islamist Obstacles to Democracy 182
  • 8 - Ghannouchi's Detractors 200
  • Conclusion 215
  • Notes 221
  • Bibliography 247
  • Index 259
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