Islam and Modernization: A Comparative Analysis of Pakistan, Egypt, and Turkey

By Javaid Saeed | Go to book overview

3
RELIGION AND MODERNIZATION

Historically, religion has played a major role in integrating societies; it has also been used to prevent change and to maintain the status quo, thereby limiting or thwarting progress. It has a powerful influence on the development process, both positive and negative, depending on a particular religious doctrine and how it is interpreted, disseminated, and applied. 1 In the following discussion we examine the role of religion in the modernization process, and to that end first make an assessment of the major religions of the world. Then we examine the role of religion in the Western experience of development and modernization, which can provide us useful lessons and help substantiate some of the arguments presented in this study.

In discussing the role of religion in societies, Donald Eugene Smith concludes that "it is widely, and correctly, assumed that religion is in general an obstacle to modernization." 2 This conclusion is seriously flawed. In considering the influence of religion in a society, it seems, much would depend on what a particular religion advocates or is based on. For instance, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, which belong to the same tradition with much in common and have, at their core, a similar worldview, are likely to have a different impact on the modernization or development process than the Indic religions (Hinduism and Buddhism), which have a totally different worldview. Although societies can develop or modernize, in the material sense, without any religion, the issue is far deeper when it is viewed at the individual level. The question of human alienation, which was the central basis of Marx's thought and which he mistakenly attributed to the nature of work or a particular mode of production, seems to be related to human alienation from God. Marx related religion to alienation; religion, he said, was "born out of and sustained by alienation."3

Smith also considers "functional-valuation pluralism" and the secularization of polity as a basic and necessary condition for modern societies. 4 Not only is there no a priori reason for this to be so, but also we have already observed in

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Islam and Modernization: A Comparative Analysis of Pakistan, Egypt, and Turkey
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Tables vii
  • Preface ix
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - Explaining Modernization 9
  • 3 - Religion and Modernization 25
  • Conclusion 43
  • 4 - Islam and Modernization 45
  • Conclusion 69
  • 5 - The Religiopolitical System of Pakistan and Modernizatton 73
  • Conclusion 112
  • 6 - The Religiopolitical System of Egypt and Modernization 117
  • Conclusion 154
  • 7 - The Religiopolitical System of Turkey and Modernization 157
  • Conclusion 196
  • 8 - Conclusion 197
  • Notes 209
  • Bibliography 247
  • Index 257
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