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Unformatted text preview: After sketching the Islamic heritage in politics and political thought in part 1 , this study outlined in part 2 developments over the past two centuries leading to the present-day phenomenon of radical political movements (or, in a few cases, governments) claiming to be based on a true understanding of what Islam requires.The ideological dimension, concentrating on the rep- resentative Islamist religio-political thinkers and their ideas, has provided the organizational framework. The actual politics of these Islamist move- ments has received less attention. Nor have the several contemporary Muslim spokesmen for a more liberal interpretation of Islam in its relations to worldly affairs been given their due. That is another subject for another time. One goal of this work has been to demonstrate that the history of Muslims and Islamic civilization is too rich, diverse, and ever changing to be reduced to a few eternal essentials. Comparisons with the Christian and, to a lesser extent, the Jewish experience were intended to highlight this point. No one suggests a timeless and unchanging Christian approach to politics. The same should hold for Islam. The possible difference in its worldly man- ifestations between the Christianity of Paul, Augustine, Aquinas, or Luther is readily accepted. Christianity has a history. So does Islam. Christianity also has its diversity. To take just modern American examples, one appreci- ates that Paul Tillich and Billy Graham both fit under the rubric Christian . The same holds for a high church Episcopal service and a revivalist tent meeting. Islam has its equivalents. Accordingly, to sum up in overly simplified terms how today’s Muslims Conclusion are responding to politics risks defeating the larger goal of taking the meas- ure of Muslims and Islam in all their variety. Even so, a few concluding gen- eralizations may be warranted. I have argued that the Muslim world has witnessed a dramatic change in politics and political thought in modern times. The last two centuries offer as decisive, and wrenching, a period of change for Muslims as any era in Islamic history since the worldly beginnings of Islam in Arabia over four- teen centuries ago. Muslims before the modern age had, with rare excep- tions, lived in Muslim-ruled states. Over the centuries a Muslim civilization had developed in a context of self-sufficiency that justifies the oft-used phrase Muslim world. While the many different peoples living in these sev- eral Muslim polities were always in contact with others, the important con- cept of Dar al-Islam (the abode of Islam) was more than a theological con- struct. It reflected a historically shaped reality. This Muslim cultural autonomy began to be challenged and ultimately almost overwhelmed in modern times, a process that began roughly two centuries ago in the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent (the Muslim heartland organized politically into the Ottoman, Safavid, and Moghul Empires, the last and in many respects most impressive of the many Muslim...
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This note was uploaded on 07/12/2008 for the course MC 441 taught by Professor Ayoob during the Spring '08 term at Michigan State University.
- Spring '08