PT-2CH-08 - Part Two Convulsions of Modern Times Among the...

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Unformatted text preview: Part Two Convulsions of Modern Times Among the arguments advanced to this point are the following: 1 . Islam is a sister religion to Judaism and Christianity. A study of Islam and politics in comparison with what has prevailed in Judaism and Christianity is much more likely to yield both empathy and understanding than an approach viewing Islam as sui generis. 2 . Islam and Judaism are similarand are to be contrasted with Christianityin the importance placed on religious law (ortho- praxy) and in the relatively decentralized, nonhierarchical arrange- ment of their religious spets (ulamarabbinate).There is thus no Muslim (nor Jewish) church and nothing quite like the pattern of church-state relations that had such a formative influence on pol- itics and political thought in the West. One partial exception is Shii Islam since the sixteenth century (essentially in Iran), which has developed more toward an institu- tionally distinct and hierarchical Muslim clergy. 3 . In terms of politics and state-society relations, however, the Muslim experience has been more like that of the Christian and unlike that of Jews (at least for that over two-millennial span of time between the fall of the Davidic monarchy and the creation of Israel). For cen- turies most Muslims and most Christians have lived in polities hav- ing political leaders of at least nominally the same religious faith. 4 . Islamic political thought emphasizes unity and community with correspondingly less valuation placed on the individual and indi- vidualism as in Christian (and Western) political thought. One of 8. Islam and Politics in Modern Times: The Great Transformation the organizing principles to be found throughout Muslim history is the marked aversion to any action or thought that might bring about fitna (dissension, civil strife, temptation, etc.) 5 . There have been fewer attempts by Muslim political leaders to impose religious doctrine than can be found in Christian history. This is not to say that political leadership has been religiously neu- tral. A state religion has been the norm, e.g., Hanafi Sunnism in the Ottoman Empire, Twelver Shiism in Iran since the sixteenth cen- tury, Maliki Sunnism in several pre-Ottoman Maghrib polities, and postcolonial Muslim states specifying Islam as the state religion in their constitutions. Unlike Byzantine emperors or European Reformation-era emperors and kings, however, Muslim rulers have usually avoided deciding issues of creed or practice and have toler- ated minority religious communities. 6 . Islam does place a significant religious value on living the good life and contributing to the good community in this world. Retreat from the world and denying the importance of this world are reproved. Membership in mystical Sufi brotherhoods, yes; but the members and virtually all the Sufi leaders as well remain concerned with affairs of this world. No monasticism, no celibacy. At the same time, the classical historic posture of Muslims has been politically...
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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.

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PT-2CH-08 - Part Two Convulsions of Modern Times Among the...

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