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Regular version of the site

Constitutional Struggles in the Muslim World

2020/2021
Academic Year
ENG
Instruction in English
3
ECTS credits
Course type:
Elective course
When:
2 year, 2 module

Instructor

Course Syllabus

Abstract

Learn what motivates the restive Muslim youth from Tunis to Tehran, what political positions Islamists from Mali to Chechnya are fighting for, where the seeming obsession with Islamic law comes from, where the secularists have vanished to, and whether it makes sense to speak of an Islamic state. Since 2009 there has been a renewed wave of popular unrest sweeping throughout much of the Muslim world. Secular, but generally repressive and inefficient autocracies have come under pressure or been swept aside entirely. At the same, the various Islamic Republics have not fared much better, but been convulsed by internal unrest, economic and social decline. Throughout the Muslim lands, existing constitutional arrangements are being challenged, often very violently. This course is a survey of the constitutional ideas and institutions that have developed since the mid 19th century throughout predominantly Muslim countries, but its focus will lie on the actors that have dominated this discourse and shaped its outcomes. We will look at the large body of classical writings on the Islamic state only in so far as it is necessary to understand the contemporary debate, but concentrate on the legal and political developments of the 20th and 21st centuries. Three common themes will characterise the course: We privilege the study of the legal and social reality and seek to highlight where it is at odds with dogmatic stipulations, be they religious or constitutional. We seek to illustrate the practical tensions posed by limited administrative capabilities and political legitimacy that resulted from the incomplete reception of modern bureaucratic statehood. We seek to examine how popular dissatisfaction with the practical performance of Muslim governments has fuelled demands for greater accountability under the guise of cultural authenticity. Ultimately, the course aims to equip participants to better understand Muslim contemporary discourse about the res publica, better contextualise the demands for religious law in public life, and to better ascertain the theoretical and practical feasibility of postulated religious alternatives to the still-dominant secular model of governance.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • The main aim of the course is to learn what motivates the restive Muslim youth from Tunis to Tehran, what political positions Islamists from Mali to Chechnya are fighting for, where the seeming obsession with Islamic law comes from, where the secularists have vanished to, and whether it makes sense to speak of an Islamic state
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • Operates knowledge about the key features of modern politics in the region and understands how the legacy of Turkey and the Ottoman Empire continues to influence many countries in the region today.
  • Explains practical tensions posed by limited administrative capabilities and political legitimacy that resulted from the incomplete reception of modern bureaucratic statehood.
  • Formulate his/her own vision and position about the res publica, better contextualise the demands for religious law in public life, and to better ascertain the theoretical and practical feasibility of postulated religious alternatives to the still-dominant secular model of governance.
  • Uses the instruments of formulating clear objectives and choosing effective means of their solving at the base of the data analysis and other methods.
  • Shows how the "Arab Spring" originated in North Africa and the specifications of Egypt due to its historical importance and the impact its politics have had on other Arab and Muslim countries.
  • Gets acquainted with the impact of essentially free oil income that defines the social and governmental structure of Saudi Arabia sub-region, and the character of rentier economies and their socio-political impact.
  • Formulates the actuality of the Western military invasion of Iraq, the disintegration of state institutions in Syria and the fragile political system of Iran.
  • Explains importance of the Afghan conflict for world politics and the impacts of the jihadi movement on the nowadays Islamic world as well as the problems of the artificial state-building in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
  • Calls the historical, ethnic, linguistic and geographic features of Malaysia and Indonesia and knows the problems these countries face nowadays.
  • Seizes the key feathers of modern politics in the region and understands how the legacy of Turkey and the Ottoman Empire continues to influence many countries in the region today.
  • Explains how the "Arab Spring" originated in North Africa and the specifications of Egypt due to its historical importance and the impact its politics have had on other Arab and Muslim countries.
  • Demonstrates the actuality of the Western military invasion of Iraq, the disintegration of state institutions in Syria and the fragile political system of Iran.
  • Student understands the importance of the Afghan conflict for world politics and the impacts of the jihadi movement on the nowadays Islamic world as well as the problems of the artificial state-building in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
  • Student understands the historical, ethnic, linguistic and geographic features of Malaysia and Indonesia and knows the problems these countries face nowadays.
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Theme 1: Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey
    Acquaintance to the modern politics in the region, keeping in mind the four models of adaptation. How the legacy of Turkey and the Ottoman Empire continues to influence many countries in the region today сегодня. Turkey as a state that occupies a special place due to its explicit constitutional and social commitment to secularism and a self-conscious emulation of the Western model.
  • Theme 2: Egypt and Maghreb
    How the so-called "Arab Spring" originated in North Africa. The specifications of Egypt due to its historical importance, relative size and the impact its politics have had on other Arab and Muslim countries. Following the Secularism/Emulation model exemplified by Turkey last week, this region represents the second broad approach to modernity, namely Religious Modernism/Reform.
  • Theme 3: Saudi Arabia & The Gulf
    The impact of essentially free oil income that defines the social and governmental structure of this sub-region, and the character of so-called rentier economies and their socio-political impact. These countries represent the third broad approach to modernity, namely Traditionalism, that is the notion that there is no need to change inherited socio-political structures.
  • Theme 4: The Levant (Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq), Iran
    The actuality of the Western military invasion of Iraq that led to the destruction of its state institutions and brought about the much-predicted collapse of social order in that country. The disintegration of state institutions, caused by internal revolt rather than external attack, but with similarly disastrous humanitarian outcomes, in Syria. The fragile political system of Iran.
  • Theme 5: Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh
    The importance of the Afghan conflict for world politics of the last decade or so, and also the impacts of the jihadi movement on the nowadays Islamic world. The problems of the artificial state-building on the cases of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh.
  • Theme 6: Malaysia & Indonesia
    A very rich historical, ethnic, linguistic and geographic tapestry of Malaysia and Indonesia. Close look at both nations before and after their independence and a thorough investigation of the challenges they face today.
  • Classroom discussion
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking Test 1
  • non-blocking Test 2
  • non-blocking Test 3
  • non-blocking Test 4
  • non-blocking Test 5
  • non-blocking Test 6
  • non-blocking Taking part in the debates
  • non-blocking essay
    In accordance to on-line course requirements. In this case, short-term and long-term violations of the Internet connection do not matter.
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (2 module)
    0.3 * essay + 0.1 * Taking part in the debates + 0.1 * Test 1 + 0.1 * Test 2 + 0.1 * Test 3 + 0.1 * Test 4 + 0.1 * Test 5 + 0.1 * Test 6
Bibliography

Bibliography

Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Bowen, J. R. (2004). Beyond Migration: Islam as a Transnational Public Space. Journal of Ethnic & Migration Studies, 30(5), 879–894. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369183042000245598

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Crews, R. (2003). Empire and the Confessional State: Islam and Religious Politics in Nineteenth-Century Russia. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.10A75039