The Future of Political Islam: Trends and Prospects


I want to thank you all for choosing to start
your day with us here. My name is Peter Mandaville. I’m a professor of international affairs at the Schar School of
Policy and Government at George Mason University. I’m also a non-resident senior fellow here at Brookings with the
Center for Middle East Policy, and on behalf of the Center
for Middle East Policy here at Brookings and also our partner this morning, the Berkeley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University, I’d like to formally
welcome you here today. The topic today is one that I know is on the minds of many of you. It’s a topic and an issue around which there have
been many developments in recent years. We’re gonna be talking about the future of political Islam. The broad backdrop for this discussion dates back to a series
of very dramatic shifts in the terrain of Islam and politics, primarily in the Middle East that we’ve seen, since the Arab uprisings
of some seven years ago now and one of the main
stories there is of course the seemingly precipitous rise of the political prominence
of Islamist parties and movements in the Middle East, those groups seemingly being
the primary benefactors of those dramatic political
changes in the region but then very quickly, the seemingly also quick fall of these groups. I think perhaps most
dramatically illustrated by the case of the Muslim
Brotherhood in Egypt, so I think one of the standard narratives or storylines that we’re gonna
be looking at this morning is this idea that Islamist parties ascended very quickly
in political prominence after the Arab Spring, and very quickly diminished in terms of their influence. Second is the fact that
the question of support for Islamist parties, like the Muslim Brotherhood, and others of that ilk, has itself of course become a major point of contention in the geopolitics
of the Middle East today where we have a number of countries, such as Turkey and Qatar
seemingly more supportive of groups like the Muslim brotherhood and then a set of other nations, namely the United Arab
Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt forming something
of an anti-MB axis, so rather than just the question of whether these groups are
rising and falling in influence we have this broader
geopolitical context around them, and then finally, the social fact that, I think, challenges this standard story that these groups rose very quickly and then fell very quickly, is the fact that according
to public opinion polling in many countries around the Arab world, Islamist parties still continue to enjoy relatively significant levels of support in society, indeed, in a number of countries such as Morocco, the largest party in
the governing coalition is of Islamist orientation. In Jordan, the largest opposition block in that country’s parliament is Islamist and these groups
continue to be prominent political players in other countries around the region, so there’s no simple
narrative in which Islamism can be figured as a spent political force, so this is the kind of broad backdrop against which our discussion
will be occurring this morning, and I’m thrilled that I’m joined up here on the stage by two
absolutely superb scholars, who have themselves devoted
their professional lives to the study of political Islam to engage me in conversation. I’ll introduce them both briefly, you have full bios of each of them in the information packets
that you picked up up front, immediately to my left, Jocelyne Cesari, is a senior fellow at the Berkeley Center at Georgetown, and also professor of religion
and politics at Birmingham University in the UK. In addition, she teaches
at Harvard University, where she directs an
inter-faculty program there on Islam and the west. To Jocelyne’s left is Shadi Hamid who is a senior fellow here at the Brookings Center
for Middle East Policy where he helps to anchor the project on US relations with the Islamic world and previously Shadi was
the director of research out at the Brookings Doha Center, so very briefly, the format, this morning, I’m gonna pose a broad opening question to each of our panelists to give them an opportunity to give us a slightly more extended overview of how they see the question
of political Islam today and this then will be
followed by a conversation between the three of us. We have a very high quotient
of political Islam nerddom concentrated up here, and so if allowed to go unfettered, this would go all morning long, into the afternoon and
deep into the night, so in order to make sure
that doesn’t happen, when we reach about the 10:30 mark, we’re gonna pivot and turn to you in order to bring your
questions and comments into the discussion, so that’s essentially
our format this morning, so Jocelyne, let me
start with you, if I may, the standard analytical
line on political Islam in the scholarly literature as well as in the policy discussion has tended to take very
specific groups and movements and analyze their evolution
and their reaction to various events in world regions, or the discussion has been shaped and organized by debates around questions like whether Islamism and democracy are compatible, whether
Islam is compatible with the modern nation state, is Islam compatibly with modernity, but you have a new book
that’s just come out called What Is Political Islam. – I’m gonna do my promotion. (laughing) – That approaches this question from a rather different vantage point, so I’m wondering if I can invite you to tell us a little bit about the way in which you approach
this question in the book. – Yes, thank you, Peter. The book is out actually, the outcome of a research that I started almost 10 years ago looking at the status of state and Islam relationship in Egypt, in Turkey, Pakistan, Iraq, and Tunisia, and I started the book just
before the so called Arab Spring and this book came out. It’s called The Awakening
Of Muslim Democracy and I realized that there were lots of misunderstanding about the position, that came from this book was, “Oh you are not focusing
anymore on the political party, “you are focusing on
the action of the state “vis-a-vis the political party.” And so I felt the need
to expand a little more. It’s not about state
policy vis-a-vis Islam, it’s a broader ground than that and the last motivation came
from the ISIS discussion. I don’t know if you remember, couple of years ago, there was a discussion
triggered by an article in the Atlantic Monthly, where a professor of Islamic Studies said that ISIS was Islamic, and so it triggered lots of reaction with two sides, the political scientist more or less, they said, “This has
nothing to do with Islam.” And the specialists of Islam, which I think it’s the first time they came so strongly in the public space, saying, “There are elements in it “that touch on Islamic religion.” And then it was a dead end because there was no real common ground and so you cannot
disqualify Islamic dimension of claims from either Al Qaeda, but you cannot at the same time say that this represents
the Islamic tradition, so what does it mean clearly? So my goal in this new book is to tease out from the previous research and expanding on it showing that political Islam is a new form of governmentality and when I use the term, it is not about state policy, it is about a political culture, and the distinction that is helpful here is ideology and culture, and what happened at the
end of the Ottoman empire and the rise of nation state that was actually built by secular leader. (speaking foreign language) All of them, even when they
declared themselves secular did something that is nationalizing Islam but again it goes beyond the state, incorporating or controlling
all Islamic institution. It was an attempt to include Islam in the building of new nations, and this is important to understand because we take the nation state as granted unit, nation state. What happened in the Muslim world is that the state came before the nation, and so in the enduring of the nation, the Islamic dimension was key, so what the secular leaders did everywhere was to create a connection
that did not exist before between Islamic belonging
and national belonging. It’s not about the belief. It is not about the piety of people. It is about the sense that I am a Muslim and I am a legitimate member
of this political community. Otherwise, how do you explain that in secular country like Turkey, all of these have problems, and not because of Islamists, but because of the region that
the being a Turkish Muslim is the cornerstone of
the national identity. It happened everywhere. The only countries that do not create what I call this particular form of governmentality,
which is hegemonic Islam. It means that there is a sense shared by all, secular and Islamist. That it is right to be a citizen and be a Muslim. It doesn’t mean you have
to pray five times a day, like truly most people don’t. It doesn’t mean you have to
respect all the prescriptions. It as about the sense of
what is right community, and this is process of modernization, and again this goes against
all the received idea that there is no modernization, no reform, most of the
Muslim claims in politics come from reform movement, not from the tradition itself, so these two entities together will create, indeed, this control ground on which then it’s indeed a second wave where you see rising political parties with an Islamic agenda. Because none of them really challenge the Islamic belonging and
the national belonging. What do they ask for? An Islamic state. Why do they ask for an Islamic state? Because deep down it’s agreed on that Islamic belonging,
nation state belonging, goes together but they will now ask for something that the secular
initially didn’t envision, which is it is not Islamic enough, and it goes with attempting to introduce more prescriptions that
make Islam a regulator of public space, and then the fight is on the behaving, even if you look at the ISIS attempt, it was strong attempt
to codify and regulate the behavior of people
in the public space. Which again, if we think that this is the Islamic tradition, we are mistaken, but we cannot take at face value what the actors are saying, so that’s why we
introduce this long story, so if I have to finish
there on a nutshell, if we want to understand the
role of Islam in politics, we have to take in these two aspects. It’s part of a political culture, so we have to look at what
do people have learned, who have been socialized in, in terms of what is to be a Muslim? What is to be a citizen? And you be very surprised how much of it is ingrained by the secular education, and most of majority Muslim countries have done this job. The exception are Senegal, Indonesia, and Lebanon, which is a
sort of sectarian democracy. Otherwise the diversity
of religion including the diversity into Islam has not been acknowledged anywhere, and interestingly, some of these countries are democracy, so I want to show you just a couple of slides because we take the debate, and I understand why it’s so tempting to say this is Islam. I’m gonna push the other one. So you see these are the statistics on political violence, and everybody acknowledge
that Muslim majority country are coming on top, so it’s very easy, that’s why lots of people think, they still think that
the clash of civilization is good explanation for this phenomenon. What I have done that I
could not show you here is to operationalize this vision, this conception of hegemonic Islam and to apply it to database, and what you see emerging
is that the state religion relationship is key to explain the tendency to political violence and also socialist hostility in society. It is not Islam as such. It is a sort of cult culture that can indeed be
decline in two different ideological position that is at the core of political Islam and interestingly, if you
look at Buddhism in Sri Lanka, it’s exactly the same thing. That’s why people don’t understand. Buddhism, a religion of peace and love, why do we have warriors, monk warriors? If you listen to their discourse, they’re saying exactly that. You can only be a Buddhist
if you want to be a national. So what does it mean concretely? I’m not a policy maker, so and I can appreciate the challenge to channel this kind of
approach into policy making. But I think we are at the stage where we realize that politics,
90% of it is communication, right? We have examples every day of that, so if we get this, what does it mean? I think from the western point of view, we have a few things that
we cannot keep saying. First that Islam needs reform. The political Islam I’m talking about is the outcome of reform. What we need is a more learned
and informed population, including non-Muslim, of what is Islam, and it goes for the
policy makers themselves, and we should not be, I put myself in it because
I’m a political scientist, we should not be intimidated by looking at what religion means
in different contexts, because it’s key to
understand how people behave, so let’s finish with Islam need reform? First, Muslims in two thirds of countries do not understand what this means, because they have been
agitating the question of Islam and modernity and reform since 1798, when Bonaparte went to Egypt, with not only military but also scholars. This is the starting point, so when we come out and say, “Oh, we need to reform Islam.” This is a debate that have been
going on for two centuries, one and second, we should also be aware
that Muslim democracy can be possible. It doesn’t mean that we have to apologize or be apologetic in all dimension, but we have to be very clear on when and how religion plays a role in a democratization process, and there are four
elements we can evaluate. First is free and fair election. Are Islamic parties against it or for it? As Peter just mentioned, most of them now have accepted
that free and fair election is something to work with. Then we have separation of the powers. Do they work with that or not? The third dimension is the rule of law. Do people accept the rule of law? And the fourth dimension is all questions of human rights, civil rights, and from my own review, most of the Islamic parties today are fighting on this element. Which concerns the body of women, most of it and the freedom of speech, so what does it mean if you
want free and fair election, if you accept separation of power, but you are still fighting on right of sexual minority or women’s body? This is the fight of lots of democracy, including ours today, so we should not put
everything in one package, and that’s the problem I’m having with Islam needs reform,
Islam needs modernization and Islam is incompatible with democracy. Depends where. Where do you put your spotlight? And that’s my only, I would say, token part of this presentation
vis-a-vis policy maker, because this is not easy to do, you need political courage, but if more practical approach to what I try to do in this group. Thank you. – Great. Thank you very much, Jocelyne. I think your approach, very usefully, turns on its head the conventional wisdom that defines the analytical and even scholarly frame around this issue, so Shadi, I wanted to turn to you now. You’ve produced, over the last few years, a series of books that have, one, in Islamic exceptionalism looked at the very unique nature of the relationship
between Islam and politics historically and the connection of that to present developments. You’ve done a book on
Islamist parties specifically that also challenges
some of the discussion around participation and moderation, that’s defined the academic literature, but you and Will McKentz also
did an edited book recently that does look very much
at how specific groups and movements and particularly countries have responded to the
developments of the Arab Spring and afterwards, so I just wanted to start by asking you how you
currently think about the landscape around political
Islam in the Middle East? – Thank you, Peter. So I’ll start with an anecdote that has stuck with me, and so I was talking to a
mid-level Muslim Brotherhood official in 2010. I tell this story a lot
because I think it’s really important and it conveys something that I think we in the west don’t always fully grasp. We were talking about why
people join the brotherhood, and a lot of people have
their own conversion story of how they came to be
a part of this movement. From a scholarly perspective, we often focus on structural factors like economic issues,
rural urban migration, being pissed off at
America, things like that, and all those things matter of course, but then he told me, “Well, Shadi, for some people,
it’s simpler than that.” And some people join
the Muslim Brotherhood because they want to get into heaven, and I thought this was a
nice way of putting it, and so basically the idea there is that if you wanna be a better Muslim, it’s good to be part of a
movement or an organization that pressures you or pushes you to be more strict in your observance and encourage the bonds of community among so to speak your brothers, and so if you’re a better
Muslim, what happens then? You have a better chance
of getting to heaven, and that’s not to say that people, so… If you’re joining a protest
as a Muslim Brotherhood member or if you’re voting for
a member of parliament, those are obviously political things, and you presumably will have views about that candidate or about that protest and what that protest is calling for, but underlying that is a deeper motivation that in the end, you are serving God. You are not just doing
this for the sake of it, and there is an idea that you will get more good deeds and that this will help
you in the day of judgment and I mention this and I emphasize this because I think that when
I was in graduate school, I presume also when you guys
were in graduate school, we didn’t really talk a lot about paradise or the day of judgment
and what that could mean for individual members
of Islamist movements, and we might say, I think, and a lot of people
would say here in the US or in Europe, “Well, that’s an irrational impulse.” Over the years, I’ve really
come to the conclusion that that’s actually the
most rational impulse of all. If your starting assumption is that there is something called heaven and that heaven is eternal, what could be more rational than trying to plan ahead
for what will ultimately be your eternity? That seems like a very
logical step to take. Anyway, so… This sort of gets at the very complex interaction between what we call religion and what we call politics, and I’ve sort of gone, I think a lot of us have
moved beyond this idea of saying that, okay, they
are being driven by religion versus they are being
driven by politics or power, as if these two things are separate. In the years that I’ve been spending, interviewing and hanging
out with Islamists in various parts of the world, and if I ask them, “Why
do you do what you do?” They would never say, and I would ask, the follow up would be, “Is it because of religion “or is it because of politics?” They wouldn’t understand the question. That question doesn’t make sense to them, and why would it? It’s a post-enlightenment construction to say that there is
something called the sacred and something called the profane. Even the way we talk about religion as a category and politics as a category that relies on an ideological premise. We are products of a
classical liberal society, at least most of us are, and we are products of
enlightenment thought, so we have been conditioned
to think of things in these separate categories. They aren’t separate and we see every day in the Middle East how
religion and politics are endlessly intertwined, in very complex ways. Couple other things I’ll mention, I do very much agree with
Jocelyne on this idea of political Islam or Islamism as being something quite modern, and this is really worth highlighting because I think oftentimes
in the media discourse in this country, we think about Islamism as something that is hearkening back
to a long time ago, to let’s say, the seventh century, seventh century Arabia. Nothing could be further from the truth. Islamism is the ultimate
modernist movement. Everything about it is modern
and modernist in orientation, and the easy way of looking at this is the word Islamism didn’t exist and couldn’t have existed
five centuries ago. If we go to the Medieval era, first of all, there wasn’t
really a word for it, and there didn’t have to be a word for it. We only need the term
Islamism in the 20th century. So basically, in the pre-modern era, Islam was the overarching premise. It provided the moral,
legal, and religious architecture that imbued everything. No one questioned that. Didn’t matter whether you
were practicing or not, Islam mattered and Islam played a role in governance and politics. There wasn’t anything called secular. There weren’t secular individuals. There weren’t secular movements. That only comes later, obviously. And Islamism only makes sense
in opposition to something which is not Islamism, so in the modern era, when you have the rise of
these secular ideologies, then some Muslims feel threatened by that, and they want to assert
their Islamic identity in a very self conscious manner, so that’s the part about Islamism that I think makes it distinctive. It’s very self conscious and
even mannered, if you will. It’s something that you
have to be conscious of, so if someone’s an
ordinary Muslim in Egypt, and they believe that Islamic law should be the law of
the land in some fashion that some aspects of Islamic
law should be implemented, we wouldn’t call that person an Islamist. Unless they self conscious
orient themselves in the political sphere
around those ideas, and it’s interesting that, when Islamism emerges in the first half of the 20th century, there’s some really interesting phrases that Islamists always use. They talk about the Islamic project. The (speaking foreign language). Why do they use this word
(speaking foreign language), project? Because for them, Islam is
something to be applied. Because it has been lost. If it hadn’t been lost, there wouldn’t have had to be this effort to apply it. I’ll close up on just a couple things I’ll put out
there for conversation, and just try to fast forward a little bit to where we are now. So Islamism has, it’s failed, I used
failed in quotation marks because as Peter said, and as I think we all think, Islamism still matters, and it will matter for
the rest of our lives. There’s no way to eliminate it. It represents something
deep in these societies. You can’t get rid of it, but you can certainly try, and you’ll fail in the process, but I do think, and this
gets to what Jocelyne is talking about in regards to the state and maybe I have a little bit of different perspective on this, but I do think the state, I do think the nation state corrupted not Islam, but although
you could make an argument for that, but the nation
state corrupted Islamism, and I think we corrupted
Islamism in a way, so we western scholars, you know what we were telling Islamists for much of the 90s and 2000s? We were telling them, “Hey, get on board with elections. “Form political parties. “De-emphasize all the
Islamist things about you, “but come to terms with the nation state. “Embrace the nation state.” And you know what? I would say that many
mainstream Islamist movements followed, they didn’t follow it just because of us. I don’t wanna overstate our influence, but they also followed
that advice for reasons that were intrinsic to
their own societies. They became obsessed with elections, and this is a complaint and a critique that you hear from younger members of say, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, where they feel the
conservative old guard, first of all is very
uncreative in its thinking, but also it became very much about the state is the locus of power, and this was the tragedy
of the Morsi period of the Muslim Brotherhood coming to power. They saw that and everyone in Egypt saw the presidency as the prize, and then what did you do? So you seize state
power through elections, legitimately, democratically, and then you use state power to reshape and refashion
the broader society, the state becomes an instrument for the broader Islamization of society, but we can debate whether that order is really the way it’s supposed to be. In the pre-modern era, the state wasn’t seen in this fashion, because the state wasn’t bloated, powerful, all encompassing,
imbuing everything. The state in this sense
is a modern construction. So I think there is more
questions within Islamist movements about, “Hey, “is this state centric
approach the way to go?” And there are some young
Muslim Brotherhood members, many of them in exile
in places like Istanbul who are starting to ask these questions, and I’ve noticed an interesting thing that whether it’s Islamists
or what I would call, and not to define what
this new group might be, but I would call them neo-Islamists, or even some conservative
Muslims in the west, who are questioning the
state centric approach and embracing some libertarian ideas and one former Muslim Brotherhood member put it to me like this, weak state, strong society, and I think that a lot
of people in the US might sympathize with that view, and I’ve been noticing some
really interesting parallels between what I might call
the Orthodox Christian thinkers in the US, some of whom are talking
about forming intentional communities in the US away from centers of power to preserve their religious traditions and they’re using, so these Orthodox Christians are reminding me of what
some of these young Islamists and neo-Islamists are saying, and even on Twitter,
they’re starting to talk to each other, not to get into all that, but I do think there are some new currents that are emerging and
they’re quite interesting. – Great, thanks so much
Shadi and Jocelyne, both of you. Let me move now to in a sense, ask for your assistance, both of you, with a sort of existential angst that I tend to face when I try answer basic questions like what is Islamism? What is political Islam? What’s going on around those issues today? I’ve been teaching
classes on political Islam for 20 years now, and when I first started, I had in my mind a very clear sense of what the class was about, and I knew who they, the Islamists, were, and I think most of us who came up through graduate school in the 1990s where the terms Islamism tended to refer to a
very discretely defined subset of political and social movements, we knew what the subject matter was. In the intervening years, however, we’ve seen a series of developments from, for example, the loss of monopoly on the part of conventionally
defined Islamist movements. Their loss of monopoly
in the public sphere as other groups and figures have risen up, claiming to articulate some particular way of being Islamic and being engaged in a social project. You used the term project, Shadi, so there’s new kinds of Islamic actors that are competing alongside the groups that we’ve known as the Islamists and then you have the whole debate about post-Islamism, associated with scholars like
(speaking foreign language) for example, who have argued that even as religiosity in the Muslim world has
appeared to increase, we’ve seen a trend towards
greater privatization, so that people are more
interested in individual piety as a focus rather than the need to connect their religiosity to some kind of social or political project, and then on top of that, as there’s greater public awareness and discussion here in the United States about these issues, given
events in the world, there’s just increasing,
broadening vagueness and indeterminacy in what the term Islamism
refers to, right? We’re using that term
to describe everything from ISIS and Al Qaeda to the party of justice and democracy in Morocco to the (speaking foreign
language) movement. There’s such a broad range of entities with very different histories, very different orientations, very different goals, that we’re all trying to capture under this one term, so I guess the thing that I want to ask you to help me with is when one is asking the question what should one be focusing on today in order to understand current developments around
political Islam and Islamism? Where in your mind is the name story lined what should we be focusing on? – Can I?
– Please. – I think the first point would be not to assimilate Islamism
and political Islam. I think it’s a strategic mistake. What is show is actually
all forms of religious nationalism that you find
in most of Muslim majority countries is political Islam. The moment you associate
your religious affiliation with your national and civic affiliation, even if you’re not a Muslim Brother. This is a political statement, and again, we need to
broaden up the understanding of politics. Politics is not about
competing for election only. In this sense, Aristotle said that so on political, man is a political animal, meaning we cannot live without community, so we have to look at political Islam in the sense of what is
the religious dimension of the political community and building? And it’s a very different
question just to look at the moderation or inclusion
of Islamic political party, because this is the first
distinction to make. The second one is between social movement and political party. Yes, political parties fail. It’s the fate of all political parties. Politic Islam is a social movement, or in this case Islamism
as a social movement, because if you consider
religious nationalism once, way of political Islam and the other different ways of doing it, so the civil form of Senegal verses the hegemonic form of Egypt, for example, this is for everybody, even the one who claims
themselves secular. Then you have Islam which is indeed, I think, an agenda which is more, not contesting the state as a major unit, but the capacity of the state to expand religious prescription, so it’s more about not the belonging here, but the behaving, and then you have lots of parties, but you have also, and that’s what will not disappear because it’s very much
embedded in this culture. The social movement, meaning women are part of it, a great number of it, and new generation that considers Islam as a major element of
the social interaction, and it’s not privatized and in this sense, this is not gonna disappear and I think it’s almost challenging aspect of it from a secular mind indeed trying to project outside
the evolution of religion in western democracies, although I would say I come from Europe and this is really a big discrepancy, but if you’re an American, it should not be such a
big discrepancy, honestly, because religion is part
of social life, right? It may be separated institutionally but it’s very much part of social life. – Yes. – And again there are different forms of this social movements. You don’t have one only, and I would just to finish on one thing because this where we have
a little disagreement. I think that the state did, I would not use the corrupt but the state, the nation state did dramatically change Islam in the sense that at least in Muslim majority country, even the cleric, they think
religiously in this framework, and if you hear about Sharia state law, this is a big gap with Islamic tradition before the state. If you see the question that are emerging around the public space and what is acceptable or not, even in the most secular state, you have limitation of freedom of speech based on the insult to religion. The only country that has
removed all this aspect is Tunisia in its most recent
constitution, thank you, under the Islamist regime. So you see, what are
we talking about here? So ideology, culture, political party versus social movement, and it was a mistake of
the brothers in Egypt to project themselves
as only political party, that’s why most feel so lost for the reason you mentioned, but also the moment you
are political party, you are partisan, so nobody will agree with you if your social movement, you have a much broader base, and you are not seen as
looking for election, but in my opinion, this
is as much political, but in the police sense of the term, in the community to which I belong and it’s a very different approach. – So I would say. Let me be careful how I phrase this and please don’t take this the wrong way, not you, but the audience. (laughing) So I think that, I would say that, in a sense, I mean, all Islam is political, and even apolitical Islam
is political in effect, but I’m not making a broad statement about how everything in
the world is political because I don’t think
Christianity is quite the same, so I wrote a book called
Islamic Exceptionalism and the argument is in the title that I do think Islam is exceptional, not just in any way, but in how it relates to law,
politics, and governance, that Islam is uniquely
resistant to secularization. That Islam won’t and can’t
follow the same course as Christianity and that, and also to be clear, I don’t think that’s a problem. I don’t think religions
have to be privatized or have to be secularized. Then what’s the point of
having different religions? The whole point of Islam
is that it’s different from other religions. Otherwise, what would be
the point of being Muslim, but to take this a little bit, so what Jocelyne said
about the pre-modern era and how conceptions of law
and the state have changed, I would maybe take that a step further and say Islam wasn’t designed
for the nation state, and I’m using the passive voice here because it doesn’t matter
whether you believe if it’s from God or it’s not, so if the Quran is from God, then let’s not go into
that, but, actually… (laughing) But either way, Islam was revealed at a
specific moment of time, whether you think it was divine or not, it was revealed to a group of people in seventh century Arabia, that was their context, so naturally the Quran
is going to speak more to a pre-modern context. If God revealed a different book, let’s say in modern New York City, it would not be exactly the same as the Quran, even from
a Muslim perspective. I think that’s a very
difficult argument to make. It would be a different revelation, hypothetically of course. I don’t want to get in
trouble or anything, so you know, anyway. I don’t know where I’m going here, but I mean–
– Very carefully. (laughing) – To answer your question a
little bit more specifically, I don’t use the phrase political Islam as much as I use the term
Islamism or Islamist, because I think as Jocelyne said and that’s what I was getting to, Islam has become politicized
everywhere by the state, whether it’s a secular state
or a non-secular state, it doesn’t matter, and this is the real
tragedy of the modern Muslim majority state, is that the
state controls religion, even in the most secular states, whether it’s Turkey under Ata Turk or the wonderful moderate
Islam we’re gonna have under MBS, whatever kind of
Islam you’re talking about, it’s all state controlled
and state centric, except for a couple of examples
that Jocelyne mentioned. I don’t know anything about Senegal, but presumably Senegal
is a wonderful place for partly this reason. So I do think Islamism and Islamist is something very specific. So Islamists are those who believe that Islam and Islamic law should play a central role in public life. That’s part one of my definition. Part two, and this is
drawing from Michael Cook, that Islamists are those
who orient themselves around the political project of making Islam central in
public and political life, and that’s clear enough, I think. – Okay. I wanna ask each of you one last question before we turn to the audience, so we will be going to you soon, so please start thinking
of your questions, and I wanna take us straight
to the title of this whole session, the future of political Islam, and I’d like you to each put on your hat that’s a more conventional analyst of regional developments, and given the landscape that I outlined at the beginning of our
session this morning, the place of particular
groups and movements currently in specific
countries in the Middle East, this broader regional geopolitical divide around Islamism and some evidence of the ongoing support that these groups have within societies around the region. How do you see the future
of Islamist movements and political parties going forward, say five to 10 years? – I would say that it depends a lot on the also socio-political development of the countries. It cannot be dissociated from that, we are not talking about Islam is incompatible or
compatible with democracy. What we are seeing is the deficit of free and fair elections, and separation of power and rule of law in most of the so called
secular countries, so what is actually substantial something is that Islam in particular moves, can push the envelope in
this direction a tiny bit, you know? There was lots of hope
in Turkey in this respect that has been lost since then, but Tunisia is a good example. The problem is that the example that are favorable to these
expansion toward political development based on Islamism are usually tiny countries. You were half joking, I think, on Senegal. People don’t look at these examples, and that’s, I think,
part of also, our deficit of having the broader view. We cannot keep assimilating when we western observers. Islam in the Middle East. I know it’s very tempting
for multiple reasons, but if you think of the shift today, most of Islam and Muslims
are in the southwest region, and this debate about civil Islam about the role of Islam vis-a-vis state and society are very vibrant over there. What I’m witnessing is that
Middle Eastern intellectuals, Islamist or not are not creating connection with the discourse, so everybody tend to
reinvent this discussion while they are potential for creating a broader kind of platform and exchange, and why I’m saying that is because it has been proven in the past that trans-national movement can influence local debate. One example, Morocco and the
(speaking foreign language) which was the reform few years ago now of the civil law in favor
of a greater equality between men and women. How did this happen? Not only with the good heart of the king. It happened because the
trans-national movement of Islamist feminism find support and grounding in Morocco and empowered the women there, so what I’m trying to say here is that if we want to
look at the connection between Islam and political development, we have to look at a very
specific triangulation between what is a state, the political institutionally
existing relationship of power in the country
and how is this moving to a democracy or not, and what are the influence
of trans-national movement? And I think the problem
is some of the most efficient trans-national movements are not automatically
favorable to this development of Islam democracy and social progress, and this I would make a distinction. They are modern, it’s true, but they are not modernist in the sense that they
do not want progress. They do not want greater inclusiveness. Some trans-national movement are, others are not, but they are all modern. For me, modernist is about
endorsing the project of modernity with a tendency toward a greater equality and I’m not sure that, for
example, ISIS is modern. If you look at the way
they use technology, the way they think. They are modern. They are far from modernist. And I think this is something also to keep in mind here, because we tend again to
assimilate the two terms. – Before I get to Peter, your question, just to comment on this. I don’t think it’s right to… I personally would argue that mainstream Islamists at least are very much modernist. I don’t think they are just modern. – Yeah.
– No, no. Modernist in the sense, so I also don’t really… I’m a critic of the arc of history bends towards justice,
liberal, determinism, and so anytime I hear the word progress, I get a little bit nervous. Why? Someone can be modernist without buying into the project of progress, but putting all that aside, I do think that ISIS is not modernist but is modern, so I do
agree with you on that, so on some of the takeaways going forward, so my major takeaway from
the last seven, eight years, like the Arab Spring and
post Arab Spring period, is that extreme levels of repression are very effective, so it’s not that repression works, it’s that extreme repression works, and I hate to say that and
I wish it wasn’t the case, but I don’t really see
a path forward in Egypt anytime soon. I do think the Sisi regime, or at least what it represents is quite durable for a number of reasons, which we don’t have to go into right now, so I think that in a country like Egypt, Islamists are stuck. The most they can do is really wait, and to be fair, they’re
comfortable waiting, because they don’t see history, they don’t view history
in electoral cycles and there are so many times I’ve been in conversations
with Brotherhood folks and they’ve made comments like, really, the long game is very long. So in the end, if it doesn’t work out in the next five to 10 years, what about the next 50
years, the next 100 years, so even the way, I do think there are differences in how products of western liberalism, like myself, how I view time, and how Islamists view time, and I notice it when
we’re talking about time, it’s hard to talk about because time is something that seems very precise and numerical, but they’re operating
on a different timeline than I am, I think, for the most part. Just going forward, at some point, we’re
going to have to revisit these discussions of what happens when Islamists participate in elections and win elections. We’re gonna have to have
this whole conversation again in 10 years or 15 years and redo it all, and it was the same
thing after Algeria 1992, when the military stepped in and ended what could have been at least an interesting, interesting and probably
chaotic experiment with democracy that
would have told us a lot and helped the Middle East at least try some of these
different models out, but instead we had a civil war that took 200000 lives and we have to postpone this conversation to 2011 and then, we had what we had, and now we have to
postpone this conversation, we’ll have to revisit
it in probably 20 years. It’s really irritating and annoying that we can’t move forward in terms of our policy debate and what we’re reduced to advocating with Trump folks or Trump supporters or whatever when it comes to Islamism. We have to really go back to the basics. We’re not talking about
the more complex aspects of this, this is like, is the Muslim Brotherhood
a terrorist organization, so really, really the bare basics and that’s really unfortunate because we shouldn’t be
having a debate like that, ’cause the answer to
the question is obvious so I think that that’s sort
of where we’re at right now. – Okay, thanks so much, Shadi. So you’ve had the master
class from these two, and we want to turn to you now. So could I just ask that when you speak if you just briefly tell us first who you are and as much as possible please feel free to phrase any speeches that you feel inclined to make in the form of a question. So Jenny, I saw your hand go up first, so we’ll go to you. – [Jenny] Good morning, Jenny Vada. Thank you for great comments and fantastic discussion. – There’s a microphone
rapidly approaching. – [Jenny] Thank you so
much for this brilliant conversation. I guess my question is, and I think that both of
you have sort of reached this question indirectly is Islamism exists outside state structures, so it doesn’t need state
institutions to thrive. It’s about social movements. It’s about all the
ambiguity of Arab societies. So I guess I think that there is sort of a false question about the existence of the nation state, because I think the future of Islamism will exist outside the state because that’s its more powerful position as we have seen over the last 30 years, so how do you see some of these movements and I’m speaking particularly
in the Arab world, sort of existing and thriving
outside state structures? The nation state is bankrupt, as everyone agrees, so that’s almost an irrelevant
question at this point, but how do you see them
as social movements and representing all the
ambiguity that they do in Arab societies thriving
over the next say, 20 years, given the fact that they don’t need to perform in a state sort of structural environment or even as political parties as you both pointed out? Thank you. – Great, let me take
one more question, sir, down in the front here. – [Philip] Hi, thanks very
much for the presentations. I’m Philip Cornel from
the Atlantic Council. My question is really what is the real difference
between political Islam or Islamism and the kind of religious or cultural identity
based popular ideologies that have driven and underpinned populist political movements around the world and through history and the corollary would really be how can you differentiate
the rise of political Islam with the rise of populism world wide with all of its very global underpinnings like technology, media, social media, stuff like that, thanks. – Good, thank you. Do either of you want to respond to either or both of those, Jocelyne? – Yeah, actually the
question on the nation state and its limit, it’s very pertinent question. In the sense that I would not say that the state is not relevant anymore. We have been saying that for
30 years since globalization, but it’s there, and it remains the only legitimate you need to do international politics. Otherwise, you cannot even
explain DAISH, for example. Why create a state? So the two are not incompatible, but what, and it’s one of
the chapters of the book, what I’m saying is actually the people who have transnational vision are still thinking on political community, in which religion plays a role. In other words, the
connection between religious belonging and political belonging that was made by the state, nation state, not the
state of institution, that’s why I insist a
lot on political culture, one what, I don’t know,
to throw this term, habitus, the thing we never question, thing that we have absorbed. It’s about, “I am a Muslim “and I am a legitimate member
of this political community.” While we have done the opposite exercise in the west, we have disconnected as much as we could the political and the religious belonging. This connection exists
beyond the nation state. Now, who do you, the
(speaking foreign language)? The (speaking foreign
language) is a perfect example. This I want to say, because even the cleric, they say the (speaking foreign language) is the community of all Muslim believers. Historically, it’s not. If I were a Greek Orthodox in Istanbul under the Ottoman Empire, I am part of the (speaking
foreign language), so that’s the exactly this change of (speaking foreign
language) as it called, sort of community of all Muslims comes from pan-Islamism
which is a political project, so you don’t need the
framework of a territory to have this kind of connection made, and I think this is a very important to take into account because again, that’s why
I think the nation state has also changed Islam. I have never heard any cleric and I’m happy to be contradicted that has raised this historical aspect of the (speaking foreign language) and the (speaking foreign
language) was multi-cultural, multi-linguistic and multi-religion. Doesn’t mean it was secular, but it’s very far from the
(speaking foreign language) which is homogenized and which is like a national project that
ISIS tried to build so this is something that really for me instead of showing that
the state institution may have failed by the religious and
political culture of it, are far from having failed. I would maybe want to explore– – Okay, yeah, yeah, sure. – Shadi, you’ve been
working on populism a lot, so maybe you wanna get
the second question? – Yeah, yeah, sure. There’s one quick note
on the first question very quickly is that, and maybe this is what
you’re getting at, Joceylne, with the Indonesian case, but I don’t think it’s a mistake that in the three countries that are most democratic and most pluralist out of the large Muslim majority countries and the three countries where Islamists are less
obsessed with the state are the three countries that have more implementation of Sharia on the local level than anywhere in the Middle East. What are those three countries? South and Southeast Asia, Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia. That’s why those three countries
are very interesting cases. Islamists don’t have to rule or govern for Islamic law to be implemented. In fact, not to go into too much detail, but actually ostensibly secular parties have participated in the implementation of Sharia on the local level in various regions of say, Indonesia, so that’s just worth keeping in mind. Philip, on your question, so it’s funny because I remember the first time I saw, I watched a Donald Trump rally on television, I think it was late 2015, and I have to be honest, it was unscripted, no notes, a whole hour, just him
doing the whole thing, and I had never seen
something like this before. It was new to me, then, and I remember being
absolutely mesmerized. I’m like, “Whoa.” But it reminded me of something. Trump reminded of the Middle East, and the debates that we started having because of Trump and the
debates that we’re having now as a country with all of
our crisis of liberalism. What’s the future of liberalism? Why did liberalism fail? Did it fail? And we were having similar debates when I was living in the Middle East during the Arab Spring. Politics during the Arab Spring, it wasn’t about policy. No one cared about economic policy because everyone had the same thing, unemployment is bad, let’s fight poverty. Boring, whatever, but what everyone was talking about was the nature of identity. What did it mean to be Egyptian and how did that affect your relationship with your own state? Could you recognize yourself in your own government? So when you saw Mohamed Morsi, of the Brotherhood and his wife, who wore hijab, so she’s the
first lady of Egypt in 2013, and a lot of secular elites looked at that and said, “I can’t understand my country “if she represents on the
international stage, our country.” So similar in some ways to how I think a lot of us liberal elites view Trump. Is that what America is? So it’s interesting that, and also the tensions between liberalism and democracy and I first started working on that set of issues as it related to the Middle East. That’s where, more democracy
doesn’t mean more liberalism. Here, I’m talking about what we associate with the classical liberal tradition, not liberalism in the
American left political sense, and here for the first time in America, but this is also applicable
throughout Europe, democracy and liberalism
are pulling apart. They don’t go together and they don’t have to go together and maybe they should go together. So it’s sort of interesting to me how America is catching
up to the Middle East. – Okay.
– Wow. – Jenny, one thing I would add in response to your question is that I would expect to see a retrenchment within the movements as distinct from the political parties in a lot of these groups
in the coming years because I think the
availability of political power presented them with a conundrum that they did not figure out how to address, which is the fact that once they were in power, and were responsible for doing things and fixing things and getting stuff done, they had an electorate that was expecting them to solve, for example,
massive socio-economic contradictions, and they just didn’t have
the policy imagination or capacity or experience to do that, and precisely the things that tended to define them as Islamist, IE putting more religion into public life or moving towards Sharia law were precisely the things that the electorate was
least interested in, so there was just
enormous exposure to risk and this is something
that confronted the FJP incredibly starkly and Mohamed Morsi, I think, just singularly failed
to rise to that moment, and I think that was a cautionary tale to a lot of these movements and so I would expect for a broad trend, I would expect to see a return to an emphasis on the movement and then a discussion within the movement maybe about the idea that you don’t need to set up specific political parties tied to Islamist movements but more the idea that members of the movements could
potentially vote for different political parties depending on what their
positions and policies are. – So Peter, one thing
I’ll just mention on that, so one idea that comes up, I think, more in my conversations with certain Brotherhood members in exile is this idea of, it’s a very difficult one, the relationship between
a religious movement and a political party, and should they be separate, should they be intertwined and so on, and one possibility that
comes from one faction of the Brotherhood in Egypt because the Egyptian Brotherhood is going through an unprecedented split which hasn’t gotten much
attention in the western media, but I think it’s really important, but this idea of could you have one religious movement,
the Muslim Brotherhood and then members of the brotherhood would be free to, not to choose any party they want, but they could form
different Islamist parties that reflect the Brotherhood
school of thought and that sounds very nice and pluralistic and all of that, but there will be a real problem there because depending on the electoral system, you could have a situation where in a single district, two members of the Brotherhood are competing against each other for the same seat. How does that affect internal
cohesion of the movement? – Yeah. – I would say this would
be the case of death for any kind, and I would not call them
a religious movement. It is a social movement and in this sense, I
prefer the term civil, that is used by Kanushi, for example, rather than Islamist or
Islamic or religious. It is a group again that doesn’t address the population through the belief angle or religious practice angle. They really try to
address social challenge and if we know that even
if you don’t have a member, you’re not a member, they will take into account your need at the grass root level, so I would not really call
them a religious movement. – But to be a member of the Brotherhood, it’s really a lot of it is
about strict religious practice. If we’re talking about– – In terms of leadership? – No, no, the members, to become a member and to
advance in the tiered system of the Brotherhood.
– Yeah, that’s what it is. – Is very much about religious. – It is about studying
and indeed, practice, but the relationship to the population is not about the religion as such, and again, I think it goes from this idea that religion as some kind of specificity vis-a-vis social. I think what they are doing is we are acting here as citizen and animated by our religious belief, but it is not about convincing
people about belief. – Let me bring some more questions. – Yeah. – And so I think it’s very important to make this difference. – Yeah, so, so, ma’am here in the front and then Cameron and then ma’am, you in the front as well, so… – [Yang] Yang No-Yun,
Foundation for Empowerment. As a developmental economist, I’m now working on the issues of the integration of the immigrants in Korea, Europe, and America, so as a practitioner, I’m asking very, very practical question. You are talking about
the nature of identity and you are talking
about religious belonging and the political belonging, which is beyond nation state, but what I’m talking about
are the inter-nation, beyond the nation state, for example, I was in Germany, and I observed very, very carefully the problem is that when
there was a German election, many issues affect the Muslim Germans, especially Turkish Germans and others, but they were not very much
interested in those issues in the German election, but we know that what Dogan did and these Turkish, I’m
should not really stand out only Turkish, but Turkish Germans are so much interested
in the Turkish election and how the Dogan tried to send affect the, all these things, so this is really beyond nation state and there is this political Muslim, political Islamization in those countries are affecting this European
other policies as well, so this has been a concern. Very urgent question, as a Korean, I’m not too urgent,
but this is my question that what kind of impact of the political Islam had, their own, their citizens of
origin in other countries. My just second very brief question is that you have been talking about, it is not only Muslim. It is not Islam, yes. Buddhism and others, I mean, Christianity, are all religion and they had war. One different thing is,
I would like to say, in the 14th century in Korea, Confucianist and Buddhist really fought, so Confucians won but the difference between Christianity and the Buddhism and Muslim as I really saw the person who ignorant must say that Buddhism and Christianity never realized that you have to have jihad. You know, like, you
really don’t get involved in politics, you are out of politics, like Siddhartha, but the Islam is very special for me, that you know like, from the beginning, it realize when to fight jihad and the Mohamed is the successors became whatever the religious leader, whether Shia or Sunni, the way. Thank you very much. – Let’s take Cameron’s question as well, while we’re right here. – [Cameron] Cameron Muhari,
Center for Global Policy and author of Political Islam
in the Age of Democratization, so thank you so much. This is very insightful. I have so many questions, but I’ll limit it to two. Number one, is Islamism a
subset of political Islam? Why, because number one
political Islam spans going back into history, if we take the starting
point of the revelation, and as you said, Islamism
is a modern phenomenon. Secondly, those who we
call secular leaders from their point of view, their political program, the Gamal Abdel Nasser, the Ataturks, the Jenos. They never said that we’re leaving Islam to adopt this democracy or liberalism. However they framed it
in their time period or socialism, as in the case of Nasser. Number two, that was the first question, number two are the lines between the category of what we call Muslims because of increasingly religiousity blurring with the category of Islamists? – Yeah, mm hmm. I would like to address both, because the question is Islam different from Confucianism or Buddhism, the position is religion is multi-vocal. You are presenting
Buddhism as a separation. I mentioned the Buddhism in Sri Lanka. They are like the jihadis. They don’t use the term jihadis, but they do the same thing, so even in terms of
rejecting the diversity of the population, so I would say that we have to take as a basic starting point, religions are multi-vocal. You can use them in different ways, so you have to contextualize it, and the contextualization is politic not in the sense of extremism or election, it is about how, again, seeing how do I define
my political community. It can be local. It doesn’t have to be national, and what is the role of religion in it, and I bet that for any believer this is a challenge that
you have to deal with, not only for Muslims. Then you have different experience according to different context. So in this sense, the problem of the Turks in Germany cannot be taken
only through the fact that Islam is propagating jihad today. It is much more complex than that. You are absolutely right that the loyalty of Turkish German, or German Turk is also to Turkey but this is for me again a strength of the nation state. It is not an affiliation to the whole… (speaking foreign language) It’s, “I am German,
but I am also Turkish.” So again we have to be careful on how we phrase some situation and this is also for the
political discourse of it. We have to take a little distance with the situation and not assume the sort of exceptionalism of Islam like that because this is not
viable in the long term and to go back to your point, yes Islamism is a subset
of political Islam. We can, people disagree with me on where you start political Islam and I draw the line between the
empire and the nation state. Unlike what people think, the caliph is the head
of the whole territories on the rule of Islam but not everybody has to be Muslim, and actually there is a difference in the Sharia that is a
monopoly of the clerics who are not paid, not controlled by the caliph and so the (speaking foreign language) manage the local communities even in their religious diversity, not only for Muslim, so this is an arrangement that is in some way a differentiation between what is Islam and what is politics and at the time, the caliph
has two words for that, so the confusion between I am a Muslim, I am a citizen and the
state takes care of it, is a nation state and for me this is a key element to take into account, and sorry, I just want to finish on that. We are not paid because we
have been brought it in. Nation is framing us. I’m not saying it’s a comparison, but it means that you have tons of service that even mental business, problems that are deeply personal have been changed by the nation state, and we have to start thinking of it, and again not as state
policy or governmental or action of a government. How do we define ourself as believer, citizen, locally,
nationally, internationally? And religion is part of it for everybody. If you believe in any religion. – So on the question about jihad, so I actually do agree to a certain extent that Islam obviously is quite different than Buddhism or Confucianism and not just in some random ways, but specific ways and I think, in the Islamic context, 99.9% of Muslims aren’t gonna have any direct interaction with
doctrines around jihad, so it’s not a big deal with the vast majority of Muslims. That said, no one can argue as far as I’m concerned, that jihad is not
unequivocally part of the Islamic legal tradition and that it’s part of the Quran. It’s there, and I don’t even
see that as a bad thing. Why wouldn’t there be? Why wouldn’t there be
state sanctioned just war, if you will, to make
sort of that comparison? But to go a little bit
deeper on that point, because Prophet Mohamed was interested in territory, he wasn’t
just fighting something and wanting to be left alone. There was clearly an interest
in governance, if you will, so the only way to get territory, at least in the pre-modern era, for the most part, was
by capturing territory from other people, and for the most part, people wouldn’t just
give you their territory all the time, so you have to use violence. This seems so obvious to me and I don’t think it’s a problem. If Islam is a religion that’s supposed to talk
about all facets of life it would be completely weird if the Quran had nothing
to say about violence. That would actually
make it seem less divine from a Muslim standpoint because why isn’t God speaking to these very tangible concerns that Muslims have in seventh century Arabia? So of course Islam talks about violence in very specific ways, and by violence, I don’t mean terrorism, I mean violence, very different things, right? So but on the second question, Cameron, I would just say very quickly and it sort of gets, how do we distinguish between Islamists and conservative Muslims. First of all, I wouldn’t
want to call someone an Islamist unless they see
themselves in that light, so part of it is self definition, but I think I touched on this earlier that you can be someone who believes in the full implementation of Islamic law, but again, if you’re not
organizing politically around that objective, I don’t think you can call that person and Islamist, when it comes to Jena and Nasser and other secular leader, they cared about Islam in their own, but I think the main difference is they weren’t trying to Islamize society in a broader sense, like when Nasser was thinking to himself what does he want to
accomplish before he leaves this world, that wasn’t really high on his priority list, where if Mohamed Morsi
or other Islamist leaders who have power, they do actually care about whether people observe
certain standards of Islam in a social sense. – I think, if I may, on your
point about the German case, it’s a case that very nicely illustrates a point that’s at the heart of the work that Jocelyne has been doing, which is the fact that ever since there was a critical mass of Turkish labor migrants in Germany from the 1960s onwards, you’ve had the presence in Germany of an instrument of the Turkish state, more specifically the
directorate of religious affairs or the diyanet which it
the very manifestation of what Jocelyne terms hegemonic Islam because the project of
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk which is often caricatured
as the evacuation of religion from all facets of society, it was not that at all, it was about the creation
and even promotion of a very particular sense of Muslimness, that needed to be cultivated and patrolled by the state, so that when there were
Turkish labor migrants in Germany, the diyanet needed to be there to make sure that their religious life continued to be conducted in a way that was compatible on the assumption that
they would be coming back to Turkey at some point. Later, then, I think, once it was clear that they were staying, the diyanet stayed in order to ensure that ideas around a
more politically active conception of Islam, because by that point you also had in Germany, the (speaking
foreign language) movement which is the more Islamist
oriented dimension of Turkish political life. The two were competing, so in that sense the transplantation of those politics, I think is most acutely present in the case of Germany, although there has been some presence of Islamist movements among Muslim communities living in
Europe and North America and in fact, the Pew Research Center did a study in 2010 that looked very specifically at what happens when Islamic movements of various sorts that originated in the
Muslim majority world became transplanted and
reproduced in Europe and North America, that specifically the study of it. It’s a fantastic study which I wrote. (laughing) So let me do one more round of questions. Jackie did some great
surreptitious hand gestures as the others, so thank you, and then I want to avowedly go to the back of the room which I
feel has been neglected so let’s get Jackie and let me see some hands. You leaning out in the, that’s a very good technique too, leaning out in the aisle, I like that, and then from the very, very back. Sir, in the middle. Pink shirt, kind of, pink, yeah, great. So Jackie. – It’s purple.
– Purple, lavender. – [Jackie] My name’s Jackie O’Neil, I’m with the Institute
for Inclusive Security and Jocelyne, you gave the example of transnational Muslim feminist having significant impact
on civil law in Morocco. We’ve seen examples of feminist Muslims having impact in constitution
in Tunisia, et cetera. I’m wondering what you see as the future of the intersection between feminism within Islam and political Islam given that feminism is fundamentally about the reordering of power, so your thoughts from either of you or all three of you on
the either rejection or incorporation of
that reordering of power within the political
element of Islam, thanks. – Great, good, and then in the aisle. – [Jason] My name’s Jason Hu from Wingtop Group. Based on Phoenix, Arizona. My question is for both of the panelists, and my question’s sort of a following up of Peter’s question, might be a little bit
politically incorrect, so that’s why Peter didn’t push it, the question is what’s your opinion that Islam as a religion emerged within itself their own religious reform? I mean, like… Christianity, we all know
had a huge religious reform in their history, and like, Judaism, they kept continuously reforming themselves, even Buddhism, two years ago, Dalai Lama told me that Buddhism needs to be combined to be
consistent with science, so every other religion is thinking about changing themselves. What do you two experts think about the outlook of the Islam on this direction, thanks. – Great, thank you, and then finally in the very back. – [Steven] Hi, my name is Steven Howard, and I work with In Defense of Christians in the Middle East and so
my question is actually pertaining to non-Muslim minorities who live in predominately Muslim countries and specifically, really the prospects of Islamism in creating a more
inclusive society for them and just to give one
very specific example, I was in Palestine for Christmas during the protest movements against the embassy move to Jerusalem and I was staying with an
Orthodox Christian family and while they’re certainly
not huge fans of Israel, they completely felt excluded from participation in civic society because the opposition
to the Jerusalem move, people were just really chanting (speaking foreign language) and they’re Christian. That isn’t a religiously
significant site for them. The movement itself was
so defined by religion that they didn’t feel
comfortable to participate, whereas if you look at
other political movements in the Middle East, especially over this last century, could be nationalism, could be socialism, Baathism, you did have a participation from minority communities, so specifically, Islamism’s
not going anywhere, it’s very popular in
many of these countries, what can it do or is it even possible for it to do a better job of incorporating
these communities in its narrative and what
it’s trying to contribute to these countries? So thank you. – Great, thank you, so we have Islamic feminism, we have reformation, we
have Christian minorities in the Middle East, so… – Okay, so let’s talk with feminism. I think the movement has
been changing very rapidly. You had in its tails, there, there was a sort of split between the secular feminist
and the Islamist feminist, but the new generations are really trying to overcome this simplification and they are also trying again, feminism is a social movement not only in the Muslim world, everywhere, and that’s why it’s very counterproductive for any social movement to
turn into a political party because then you are on a different level, but for me a social movement is political in the sense that it’s
trying to do a change at the grass root level of relationship between people. Here in this case between gender, and what happen is that unlike what people think, most of the social movement based on Islam have been very lagging behind in terms of gender quality. It’s okay to grant equality to citizen in the public space, you can vote, they will not contest women as social actor or political actor, most of them. We are not talking about the
(speaking foreign language) here, we are talking about most of the Muslim Brotherhood oriented movement, but when it comes to
equality in the marriage, in the divorce, in the custody of children, this is behind, and this is something
that is across movement in Muslim countries, so what some of these
women are trying to do, especially the new generation is to pull up not automatically an opposition, opposing is weakening, but to produce alternative approach to it, because to Islam, because what the men are
saying is this is Islam, we cannot touch on this. It’s okay, you can go to university, you can even run for politics. That’s not the problem. Iran is a typical case in point. Iran, the women outnumbering
the men in university, but if I can make a record thesis, but they cannot divorce their husband, and if you, I have talked to lots of young Muslim women, how uncomfortable it is for them to endorse the Me Too movement for exactly this kind of reason. This is a very, very venerable point and I think the new generation, and again people who are a non-Muslim or minority context have a
better kind of empowerment on that, so I would say this will be a major shift but not right now. On Islam and reform, Islam has been changing all the time. Again, 1798 when Bonaparte goes to Egypt, you have a whole reform movement and we talk about it. The people were going to Paris and London to learn the technique. I even give you 1876, Ottoman Empire decriminalized homosexuality, okay? So things have happened. It doesn’t mean that they are still here. We have this vision, and this I agree with you, of the progress that you
do all your steps forward and you never go backward. What we are learning everywhere including in the west, and that’s why populism is an indicator, you can go backward, and that’s the tragedy in some way of lots of Muslim societies. They’re been lots of advancement and attempt to go backwards, but you see, you never go exactly at the same point, there is some kind of
little leap in advance, and on the Muslim minorities, that’s exactly the drama
of what I was saying, of connecting Islamic belonging and national belonging. The cot, and not only the
Christian Palestinian, they would say, “I am Muslim by nationality “and caught by religion.” They have absorbed, lots of them, this kind of dilemma, so the question is how do you disconnect the Islamic belonging and
the national belonging. This is a question and I
think you mentioned it, lots of young people
outside Muslim countries are trying to address this question but it’s a tough one because they are not
only by Muslim leaders but even by westerners. We considered the Saudi
version is the true Islam, so go and fight against that. These are real issues that are beyond strategic
or cultural alliance. It does change the balance of power and how this new voices can be heard. For now, nobody’s even
listening to them, so… – Shadi. – So, I agree with Joceylne that there has been a lot of reform, but I would make a
distinction between reform and I think what you’re getting idea, the idea of a reformation and here, and so you said
something really interesting. I think it was that basically why can’t Islam or will Islam be like all the other religions, right? So again, not to belabor my argument, but I actually agree with you in the sense that I don’t think Islam is gonna have a reformation but I would sort of pose the question a little bit differently. Why would Islam have a reformation? Why does it need to have a reformation? Why does Islam have to be like Judaism or Christianity or whatever? I just don’t understand
the starting premise when that’s raised. I know where it’s coming from but I guess I can’t totally relate to it. On the question about minorities, so this is a problem without a solution. (laughing) So Islamists are never gonna
be 100% cool with minorities. And Islamists are never going to… Okay, well hold up, just let me finish. Islamists are never gonna fully embrace at least the western conception
of what gender equality is. For them to embrace these things, they would essentially have
to become classical liberals, but Islamists are called Islamists because they’re not classic liberals. Islamists by definition, if they indeed to continue as Islamists will remain at least somewhat illiberal. That’s the whole point of Islamism. If Islamists give that up then there’s no particular reason for them to be who they are. – I just want to make. You are right but for me, the question is what I call the rights of the self. You are absolutely right but I don’t think it’s a question of non-Muslim minorities. Actually, the discourse on that is more open an inclusive in the new leadership then we think it is, but it’s about the sexuality, and the status of family and the status of gender. This is what distinguishing did. Muslim democracy from a
complete secular democracy. Otherwise all the other points are indeed, they can be debated, nobody will agree, but you see this trend. It’s what do I do with my body. This is where all Muslims
having the problem and I have tons of surveys that show that it’s also true for Muslims in the west, and this is again, you can differentiate between individual rights. These people are getting
more and more acclimated to it, even in Saudi
Arabia, to furthermore, but when it comes to what do women do, what do I do with my
body and my sexuality? At the interpersonal level, this is a big issue, but I would say it’s an
issue for lots of democratic societies. I don’t think, I mean, the debate we’re having here. (laughing) But the outcome may be different, but this is what’s happening here is more secular, the
phrasing is more secular. In Muslim country, it is about the rule– – But Jocelyne, isn’t it fair to say that it’s more of an issue in many Muslim majority contexts than it is in the US or
European democracies? Yes, it’s a problem everywhere. It’ll always be a problem everywhere. – And we’re 11 minutes past time. – Okay, yeah, so. I’ll leave it to Peter, but I would just sort of yeah, okay, yeah. – No, I agree.
– Ongoing conversation. – It’s about making the things a law. – Yeah, if you’ll permit
me just very briefly on the point about the
reformation, please. Well, let me add this to it. I actually think that
Christianity is the exception rather than the rule when it comes to reformation, in that I don’t think you’ve
seen anything like that in any other religion. Certainly we have reform Judaism, but the process through
which it emerged historically was very different. What was distinctive about
western Christianity, as distinct from the eastern churches is that there was a centralized point of religious authority. There was a pope. There was a central authority location against which a reformation
could take place, and that was very much the
story of the reformation. You don’t have that same
centralized authority in Sunni Islam. Even in Shia Islam which
has a little bit more hierarchies of religious authority, there’s still not a single point, and so the question of why don’t you have in Islam a reformation like
you have in Christianity? Well, the religion and
religious authorities just structured in a
fundamentally different way. I’m afraid that’s all we have time for, but of course, we will see you all as Shadi suggests, back in 10 years, when we’ll have this
same conversation again. Please join me in thanking our panelists. (applause)

10 thoughts on “The Future of Political Islam: Trends and Prospects

  1. Jaffari jurisprudence calls for secularism, Karen Armstrong has lectured and written about this quite thoroughly. So, although the word secular maybe modern the concept is not.

  2. Islam can not be debated politically as unfortunately political correctness and acceptance is no longer morally correct as the Sharia is.

  3. A lot of hypocrisy and lies and incoherence in the lady's analysis
    She completely leaves out the foreign policy of western countries and their interests in the Muslim lands
    Take the example of Israel which is maintained by america
    Or the keeping in power of puppets

  4. This lady established her arguments on wrong assumptions , I don't believe how her wrong opinions take into consideration. Mr Shadi is more realistic and coherent. I believe some liberal westerners , such as this lady, mislead people about reality of Islam and islamism

  5. Is there political Islam or Islam is inherently political? Could Islam be reformed or its teaching cast in stone since the 7th century? Is Islam compatible with democracy?

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