The modern concept of the Abrahamic religions has roots in Christian theology, the academic study of the Near East, and the study of Islam. In the nineteenth century, Protestant theologians built on the idea of the ‘Abrahamic covenant’ in developing the idea of a spiritual connection among Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. At the same time, students of the Near East understood the three religious traditions as sharing a common genealogical bond. Such recognition was enhanced by Islam’s own sense of the religion of Abraham, which was communicated to a broader public by western Islamicists. Although the concept of the Abrahamic religions does not preclude the privileging of one religion over the others, it has provided both scholars and laypeople with a useful way of exploring the common ground of the three faiths.
This article discusses the emergence of Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi; the AK Party) as a center-right political movement with Islamic and national roots. It examines the AK Party’s political ideology of “conservative democracy” within the context of the new dynamics of twenty-first-century Turkish politics. It evaluates the AK Party’s performance in government since taking office in 2002. Finally, the AK Party’s foreign policy and its struggle to overcome oppositional identities are considered.
Peter Smith and William P. Collins
This article describes millennialism in Islam, which are exemplified by the Babi and Baha'i movements. It ensued with an Iranian youth, Sayyid Alí-Muḥammad claiming to be the intermediary between the Islamic messianic figure, the twelfth Imam, the Mahdi, believed to return to salvage man at the end time. As such he was the gate—the “Bab”—between the divine and men. Hence, it was called the Babi movement. The prophet's eventual declaration of himself as the Mahdi and his preaching of the replacement of Sha'ria and Quranic ways with alternative ways, reflected a millennial initiative into accelerating the end time so as to facilitate the manifestation of the savior. The movement was ultimately culled by the state and its members executed. It again resurfaced in Iraq under the Baha'i umbrella, restored assuming the title Bahá'u'lláh (divine glory). This strain gathered global expanse, spreading to the Americas, Eurasia, and India, indigenizing its conceptual tenets across places.
David M. Freidenreich
This survey of Jewish, Christian, and Islamic dietary law finds no recognition within pre-modern sources of the biblical or familial affinities implied by the contemporary term Abrahamic. The profound diversity of norms regarding animal species, blood, meat and dairy, and alcohol demonstrates that it is misleading to focus on the fact that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are rooted in a common scripture. Pre-modern sources about the food of religious foreigners, moreover, do not express a sense of Abrahamic kinship among Jews, Christians, and Muslims. These sources instead employ classificatory methods that reinforce ideas particular to each tradition’s approach to claiming superiority over foreigners. The term Abrahamic offers a convenient label for the juxtaposition of Jewish, Christian, and Islamic sources that bypasses the diverse and ideologically driven categories native to these traditions; the more one focuses on the term’s meaning, however, the less useful it becomes.
Almost all Islamic apocalyptic materials are to be found in the hadith, in the form of Muhammadan preaching. They consist of categories of lesser and greater signs, which will precede the apocalypse. The former includes the entire general quarters' socio-political events and economic strife. This article includes the unquestionable fantastic signs of the end time—the arrival of “Dajjal”—an Islamic antichrist, the resurrection of Christ, and the appearance of a messiah. It draws a graphic, fantastic picture of the apocalypse with the mountains moving, the sky rolling back, the moon splitting and the stars falling off. The increasing gulf between Christianity and Islam expanded further, eventually replacing Jesus, the earliest Judeo-Islamic messiah, with the Mahdi, an earthly messiah. Although the figure first emerged among proto-Shiia traditions, it soon assumed pan-Islamic presence. Messianism assumed a local face during the era of global Islamic kingdoms and the anti-colonial struggles.
This article analyzes the religious and political discourse of Hasan al-Banna. It begins by describing al-Banna’s life and career. It then examines his discourses based on three main principles that constitute the essence of political Islam: (1) the Islamic state and Shari`ah, (2) Islam and politics, and (3) democracy and shūrā.
Bassel F. Salloukh and Shoghig Mikaelian
This article examines the development and ideology of Lebanon’s foremost political party, the Hizbullah. It compares and contrasts Hizbullah’s past and present manifestations, and traces its doctrinal, political, and military evolution. It examines how the party reconciled its adherence to the doctrine of wilayat al-faqih with claims that it is a Lebanese movement with a Lebanese identity; its role in post-Ta’if and post-Syria Lebanon; and how it dealt with overlapping domestic and regional struggles that represented both opportunities and threats.
William O. Beeman
Americans have developed an inaccurate view of Iran as a “theocracy” with no democratic institutions. This article attempts to paint a clearer picture of the Iranian government structure by discussing the Iranian electoral process, the main government institutions, and some of the underlying dynamics of political life in Iran today.
Richard C. Foltz
If religions are understood to be the major source of value systems by which individuals and societies rank possible outcomes and make decisions about their own behaviors, it would seem that the adoption of a caring and non-exploitative ethic toward the environment by Muslims would presuppose the existence in Islamic tradition of principles which accord value to the natural world. This essay shows that such principles are indeed to be found in Islam and discusses some of the ways that contemporary Muslims throughout the world are seeking to apply these principles in response to the global environmental crisis. It also points out some of the cultural and political obstacles facing those who would implement Islamic guidelines for preserving the environment. In addition, the article examines sources of Islamic environmentalism, the two-edged sword of development and economic growth, and Islamic environmental ethics.
This chapter analyses the Qur’an’s position on theology, sexuality, and gender, with the intent of challenging readings of Islam as a patriarchy. It illustrates that missing from Islam’s scripture is the imaginary of God as father/male and endorsements of father-rule (the traditional form of patriarchy), as well as any concept of sexual differentiation that privileges males (more modern forms of patriarchy). Indeed, many Qur’anic teachings can be read on behalf of the principle of sexual equality since they establish the ontological equality of women and men and emphasize the need for mutual care and guardianship between them. Both by re-reading some of the ‘anti-women’ verses and by applying a hermeneutical method to interpret the Qur’an—which is implicit in the text itself—the chapter also demonstrates that different interpretive strategies can change our understanding of textual meaning.
This article examines the factors behind the resilience and vitality of Islam in Central Asia and the Caucasus despite more than a century of Russian and Soviet rule. These include Islam’s deep historic roots; its central role as an identity marker for the peoples of these regions and as an ethical, moral, legal, and cultural framework for life; its role as an instrument of resistance against Russian/Soviet domination and Russification/Sovietization; the failure of the USSR to deliver its economic and political promises; and the inconsistent character of tsarist and Soviet treatment of Islam. The politicization and radicalization of Islam in the post-Soviet era is also discussed.
This article examines the history and development of the relationship between Islam and European politics. It describes the emergence of an anti-Islam political agenda driven by the far right and its amalgam with terrorism. It also discusses Muslims’ engagement with Europe’s secular political culture. Their success is evident at the local level in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Belgium, where many Muslims have been elected to municipalities and have became aldermen or even mayors.
This article examines the relationship between Islam and politics in the Maghreb region of North Africa (Algeria, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia) in the postcolonial era. It addresses issues such as the role of Islam in national identity and its relationship to the nation-state, the reformist and the revolutionary tendencies inspired by Islam in the region, the interaction between the state and Islam, and the various manifestations of Islam in national political dynamics. These issues are addressed within the context of (1) the nationalist struggle for independence, (2) the postindependence “nationalization” of religion, (3) the rise of grassroots Islam, (4) post-Islamism and the ascendency of Sufism, and (5) the rise to power of moderate Islamism in the wake of the “Arab Spring.”
Abdullah A. Al-Arian
This article examines the role of Islam in American life. It begins by tracing the history of Islam’s emergence in North America. It then considers the impact of 9/11 on the American Muslim community, particularly its efforts to strengthen its political clout. It concludes with a discussion of the future outlook for the American Muslim community.
This article examines the development of Jama`at-e-Islami (Jama`at) in Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan. It first traces the history and ideology of Jama`at as formulated by Mawdudi in colonial India. It then discusses important milestones in Jama`at’s transformation across south Asia. It begins with Indian Jama`at before moving on to the transformation of Jama`at in Pakistan and Bangladesh. It concludes with some general observations on the modality and nature of Islamist politics in south Asia. My central argument is that to craft a fresh framework we ought to interrogate the hegemonic liberal and geo-strategic understandings of religion/Islam and politics in general and of Jama`at-e-Islami in particular.
Fred R. von der Mehden
This article examines the relationship between Islam and politics in Southeast Asia. It first outlines the various factors that frame Islam and politics in the Muslim world of Southeast Asia. These include a strong co-identity of Islam and ethnicity, high level of syncretism among Muslims in Southeast Asia, and weak electoral support for radical Islam. It then analyzes the interaction of Islam and politics in Indonesia and Malaysia. Three areas are considered: the role of national leadership, the role of Islamic political parties, and religious issues in the political arena. Next, the article looks at the political role played by Islamic minorities. The focus is on Muslim communities in Myanmar-Burma, the Philippines, Thailand, and Singapore.
Leonardo A. Villalón
This article examines the role of Islam in politics in sub-Saharan Africa. It analyzes the impact of factors such as demographics, independence movements, and democratization. The discussion also covers the rise of the age of terror in Africa, which began with the simultaneous bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania on August 7, 1998. These events set the stage for increasing anxiety in the West, and among some African elites, about the potential danger of “radicalization” of African political Islam.
Moataz A. Fattah
This article examines the various political and Islamist agendas and discourses in Middle East. These are the (1) apolitical Muslimhood agenda, (2) statist seculareligious agenda, (3) radical militant Islamist agenda, (4) armed resistance Islamist agenda, (5) partisan Islamist agenda, (6) ruling Islamic agenda, (7) lobbying Islamic agenda, and (8) ecumenical Islamic agenda.
Natana J. DeLong-Bas
This article examines the relationship between religion and politics in Saudi Arabia. The discussions cover the nature and development of “Wahhabism,” the religious revival and reform movement founded by Muhammad Ibn `Abd al-Wahhab, Wahhabism’s connection to violence, debates over who speaks for Wahhabism, Wahhabism’s influence on the status of women in Saudi Arabia, and the impact of the global communications era. The article also addresses the issue of whether Wahhabism can reform itself.
American Muslims are often seen as either unassimilable immigrants or as African Americans who only “adopted” Islam as rebellion against Christian-sanctioned racist exclusion. This chapter brings into meaningful conversation these two often divided arenas of definition, agency, and political space by focusing on the categories of “Islam” and “race” and how they have been negotiated, applied, rejected, and forced by and onto various people since the eighteenth century. It shows how Muslims in the United States are both American and transnational, since the relationship between race and religion is globally negotiated. It also considers the intersections of religion and race with gender and sexuality, surveying research on Muslim slaves, naturalization cases in the early twentieth century, Noble Drew Ali and the Moorish Science Temple, the Nation of Islam, the racialization of Muslims after 9/11, and the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative.