tibbi why they cant be democrat writing assignment # 2

tibbi why they cant be democrat writing assignment # 2 -...

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why they can t be democratic Bassam Tibi Bassam Tibi , who was born and raised in Damascus, teaches inter- national relations at the University of Goettingen and is the visiting A.D. White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University. His latest book is Political Islam, World Politics and Europe (2008). N oting Islamism’s growing appeal and strength on the ground, many Western scholars and officials have been grasping for some way to take an inclusionary approach toward it. In keeping with this desire, it has become fashionable contemptuously to dismiss the idea of insisting on clear and rigorous distinctions as “academic.” When it comes to Islam and democracy, this deplorable fashion has been fraught with unfortu- nate consequences. Intelligent discussion of Islamism, democracy, and Islam requires clear and accurate definitions. Without them, analysis will collapse into confusion and policy making will suffer. My own view, formed after thirty years of study and reflection regarding the matter, is that Islam and democracy are indeed compatible, provided that certain necessary reli- gious reforms are made. The propensity to deliver on such reforms is what I see as lacking in political Islam. My own avowed interest—as an Arab- Muslim prodemocracy theorist and practitioner—is to promote the estab- lishment of secular democracy within the ambit of Islamic civilization. 1 In order to help clear away the confusion that all too often surrounds this topic, I will lay out several basic points to bear in mind. The first is that, so far, Western practices vis-`a-vis political Islam have been faulty because they have lacked the underpinning of a well-founded assess- ment. Unless blind luck intervenes, no policy can be better than the as- sessment upon which it is based. Proper assessment is the beginning of all practical wisdom. The second point is that Islam itself is basically a faith, a cultural sys- tem, and an ethics—and hence not necessarily political by its nature. But Islamism (or political Islam or Islamic fundamentalism—they all mean the Journal of Democracy Volume 19, Number 3 July 2008 © 2008 National Endowment for Democracy and The Johns Hopkins University Press Islamist Parties
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44 Journal of Democracy same thing) is a political ideology, albeit one based on a religion. Islam and Islamism are not just different words, but different things. Third, when one addresses the issue of democracy and its prospects within the world of Islam, it is slippery, inaccurate, and an unwarranted favor to Islamists to blur the terms Islam and Islamism, as authors such as John Voll and John Esposito do. 2 We must not confuse the question “Are Islam and democracy compatible?” with the question “How demo- cratic is Islamism?” The answer to the first question is “yes,” conditional upon religious reform (Salafist Islam is not compatible). The answer to the second question is a qualified “not democratic at all,” with a possible exception or qualification that I will specify later. The blurring of terms
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This note was uploaded on 04/05/2009 for the course GENED 111.18 taught by Professor Robsnyder during the Spring '09 term at Washington State University .

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tibbi why they cant be democrat writing assignment # 2 -...

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