FAO Quotables

"But being right, even morally right, isn't everything. It is also important to be competent, to be consistent, and to be knowledgeable. It's important for your soldiers and diplomats to speak the language of the people you want to influence. It's important to understand the ethnic and tribal divisions of the place you hope to assist."
-Anne Applebaum

Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Myth of Monolithic Islamism (Grad School)

 My complete collection of Grad School Notes can be found here (Africa, IR, Ethnic Conflict, Economics, Writing, Islam, Comparative Politics).     

For most of the 20th century Islam, and its myriad political manifestations, has been widely misunderstood (and misinterpreted) by most western governments and politicians.  Prior to two world wars and a slew of “lesser” regional ones, Islam’s existence in many Muslim societies was subjugated—or relegated to an afterthought—by colonial governments and the international community (i.e. the League of Nations and the United Nations).  With independence, however, a wide range of differing approaches to governance emerged, sparking an evolution in thought as to Islam’s value, stature and relevance in Muslim societies that continues today.  An analysis of this Islamic worldview may prove a useful tool for policymakers to better interact with and understand many Muslim states.  How have Islamists viewed the general Muslim condition in society over the last hundred years?  How have they diagnosed the associated problems of the conjoining of Islam and government?  What solutions have they offered and pursued?  I argue that the Islamist evaluation of the Muslim condition at large has been and remains a nuanced response to political environments.  The wide array of local conditions and grievances has elicited a wide-range of solutions, some more permanent but all influential to this day.  I begin by defining Islamism within the context of 20th century, as well as its roots.  Then I examine key shifts in Islamism throughout the time period through a discussion of central Islamic revivalist figures.  This examination ends with the rise of radical Islamism, as well as responses to it. Finally, I evaluate the efficacy of the different approaches and the different solutions offered and realized.  In particular, I focus on Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and Mawdudi in Pakistan.

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