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Regular version of the site

Islam and Politics

2020/2021
Academic Year
ENG
Instruction in English
3
ECTS credits
Course type:
Elective course
When:
2 year, 1 module

Instructor

Course Syllabus

Abstract

This course will introduce students to politics and polities of Muslim majority countries and its neighbors with a particular focus on the Middle East. With the introduction of tailored analytical tools and techniques students will be better equipped to understand the intrinsic Islamic factor shaping Middle Eastern politics. Through classes students will familiarize themselves with the role of Islam in contemporary Muslim societies, as well as with the issue of compatibility of Islam and democracy, Islam and liberal thought etc.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • The main goal of the course is to equip students with the knowledge of main approaches to the Islamic factor in contemporary politics based on the most demonstrative cases.
  • Encourage a critical understanding of the diversity of approaches to the study of Islamic politics’ and political Islam
  • Enable students to engage with the wider debates in the field of Political and Islamic studies.
  • Develop an understanding of interaction between sources and historical interpretation.
  • Enhance students’ ability to analyze and explain how Islamic institutions affect politics in various states and regions.
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • Explains complexity of the influence of Islam over Muslim majority states
  • Names approaches towards defining Islam's compatibility with democratic institutions and values
  • Names the main approaches to analyzing political system in Iran
  • Names various types of secularism on the example of some Middle Eastern states
  • Demonstrates and explains the complexity of the notion 'Islam' and provides appropriate examples
  • Names main sources of Islamic law, explains the difference between Sharia and Fiqh
  • Explains the roots of hostility of some Muslim intellectuals towards the West
  • Argues if Islamism adaptable to modernity and capitalism
  • Names and explains main features and notions of Islamic economic theory
  • Explains the difference between Islamic and secular feminism
  • Argues if the idea of Islamic State is still popular in the North Caucasus and why
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Discussion "A Muslims’ Image of Islam: How Do Believers Describe Their Faith?"
    Have a short talk with any of your Muslim acquaintances, inquiring what he or she considers to be Islam. Compare this view with your current knowledge of Islam. Briefly present the results of your research in class (2 minutes maximum) and discuss them with colleagues and the instructor. Possible questions to ask from an informant: -Did you rise in a believing family? -Do you manage to observe the main Islamic customs? Which ones? -Do you prefer to follow any other guide books, except the Quran? -Which feasts do you usually celebrate with your family and friends? Optional reading: Asad T. The Idea of an Anthropology of Islam (pdf, also in a Russian translation).
  • Presentation of the Course
    What Islam is? Definitions of Islam. Various approaches to study Islam. Does Islam matter in terms of politics? The concept of din wa-dawla and its ramifications in internal discussions in Islam and in Western/Russian academia. Presentation of the syllabus.
  • Studying Islam and Politics in Western and Non-Western Academia
    - Before 1980s: the accumulation of the material (Rosentahl, Kedourie, Muhammad Asad etc.). - Islamic revolution in Iran, Afghani war and the ‘resurgent of Islam’ in the eyes of Western scholars (Piscatori, Esposito, Roy, Huntington etc.). - After 9/11: demonizing Islam and counter-reaction (Kepel, Lewis, Roy, Esposito, Burgat etc.). - Studying Political Islam in Russia and its specifics. - Studying Political Islam by Muslim academics (Ayoob, Bayat, Tibi, Ramadan, al-Turabi etc.).
  • Political Islam / Islamism and Islamic Politics / Muslim Politics – What is the Difference?
    Approaches to define ‘Political Islam’. History of the term. Islamism and its definitions. Radical and moderate Islam. Wahhabism and Salafism. Muslim politics (Eickelman and Piscatori; Hefner etc.). Islamic politics. Islam in Global Politics (Tibi).
  • Islam’s Connection to the State Affairs
    The context of the emerging of the Islamic political thought. Muhammad: caliph, imam and emir. Civil wars in early Islam. Early Muslim dynasties. Dhimmis and religious freedom. Sunni and Shia doctrines of the state. The concept of jihad. Political ideas and treaties of Medieval Muslim intellectuals: from Farabi to Taymiyya and others.
  • Discussion "Islam, Sharia and State"
    Obligatory: Knysh A. Islam in Historical Perspective. 2011. Pp. 70-85 (pay special attention to the questions on p. 85). Recommended: The Quran (any translation, by G. Sale, for example), Sura 2 “Baqara (Cow)”. Try to highlight some fragments which may refer to political rulings. Optional: Rahman F. Some Recent Books on the Qur’an by Western Authors (pdf, 24 pp.). Esposito J., Shahin E. El-D. The Oxford Handbook of Islam and Politics. 2013. Pp. 7-26. Questions: - What are main sources of Islamic law? Is this list of sources unified in Islam? - Sharia and fiqh: what is the difference? - How does Islamic law address the challenges of modernity? Hallaq W. The Impossible State. 2013 (Introduction and Premises). Question: What does the author mean by ‘the impossible state’? How this correlates with the Sharia?
  • Discussion “Is Islamic Republic of Iran a Democracy?”
    Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran: highlight the main democratic principles reflected in the text. Compare the results of your survey with the reading task: Momayesi N. Iran’s Struggle for Democracy // International Journal on World Peace. Vol. 17, No. 4 (December 2000). Pp. 41-70 and/or Banuazizi A. Islamic State and Civil Society in Iran (pdf). 2001.
  • Discussion "West in the Eyes of Muslim Intellectuals"
    Qutb S. The America I Have Seen. In the Scale of Human Values. Question: Which claims the author makes against the American state and society? Optional: Qutb S. Milestones. Ed. By A.B. al-Mehri. 2006. Pp. 7-18. Razak A., Panaemalae A. Islam and the West: Tariq Ramadan and the Discourse of Religion of Peace for a Global Understanding (pdf). Question: Do you consider the emergence of the concept of ‘European Muslims’, or ‘European Islam’, to be a sign of strength or weakness of Islam? Provide an explanation to your opinion.
  • Islamic Revival and the Roots of Political Islam
    European colonialism and the challenges to Muslim societies and states. Fakhr al-Din al-Tunisi. Al-Nahda movement. Jamal al-Din al-Afghani and his polemics with Ernst Gellner. Muhammad Abdo and his reforms in Egypt. The WWI and its influence on Muslim world. Rashid Rida and his relations with Hasan al-Banna. The Muslim Brotherhood and their political role in Egypt and beyond. Pan-Islamism and Pan-Arabism. The crisis of national states in the Middle East and radicalization of Islam.
  • Islam and Secularism: A Battle or a Synthesis?
    Obligatory: Topal S. Everybody Wants Secularism – But Which One? Contesting Definitions of Secularism in Contemporary Turkey // International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society. Vol. 25, No. 1/3 (September 2012). Pp. 1-14. Optional: VIDC: Beyond Secularism & Islamism (2/2): Panel with Wael Hallaq and Islah Jad (from 00:32:15 to 1:17:55 approximately).
  • Under-Estimation of the Role of Islam in Politics: The Case of Islamic Revolution in Iran
  • Over-Estimation of the Role of Islam in Politics: The Case of Saudi Arabia
  • Is Islam Compatible with Democracy? Team Work and Debates
    Break into groups (5-6 students in each). Find out in literature the main arguments to reinforce your position. Choose among the participants of your group one speaker to present the arguments (5 minutes maximum). When all presentations are done, the platform is open for answers and general discussion. Group #1: WESTERN ACADEMICS AND INTELLECTUALS – Islam is incompatible with democracy (refer to Ernst Gellner, Bernard Lewis and others). Group #2: WESTERN ACADEMICS – Islam is compatible with democracy (refer to John Voll and others). Group #3: MUSLIM INTELLECTUALS AND CLERICS - Islam is incompatible with democracy (refer to Abu al-Ala al-Mawdudi, Muammar al-Qaddafi and others). Group #4: MUSLIM INTELLECTUALS AND CLERICS - Islam is compatible with democracy (refer to Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Imam Khomeini, Muhammad Khatami and others). Group #5: MUSLIM COMMONERS (inquire your Muslim acquaintances on what do they think about compatibility of Islam and democratic principles conceptualize their arguments in 2-4 theses). Group #6: NON-MUSLIM COMMONERS (inquire your non-Muslim acquaintances on what do they think about compatibility of Islam and democratic principles conceptualize their arguments in 2-4 theses).
  • Islamic [Non-Western] Political Movements and Parties
  • Discussion "Is Islamism Still Alive?"
    Kepel G. Jihad: The Trial of Political Islam. 2002 (Conclusion). Bayat A. Post-Islamism. The Changing Faces of Political Islam. 2013 (Introduction and Conclusion).
  • Arab Civil Society
  • Discussion "Islamic Economics: A Myth or a Reality?"
    Khan M. Current State of Islamic Economics and Direction of Future Research (pdf, 25 pp.). Questions: - What are the main principles of the Islamic economics? How universal they are? - Is there just one Islamic economics in Muslim world? Why?
  • Discussion “Political Interpretation of the Quran”
    Obligatory: Knysh A. Islam in Historical Perspective. 2011. Pp. 70-85 (pay special attention to the questions on p. 85). Recommended: The Quran (any translation, by G. Sale, for example), Sura 2 “Baqara (Cow)”. Try to highlight some fragments which may refer to political rulings. Optional: Rahman F. Some Recent Books on the Qur’an by Western Authors (pdf, 24 pp.).
  • Political Islam, Gender and Modernity
    Esposito J., Shahin E. El-D. The Oxford Handbook of Islam and Politics. 2013. Pp. 112-123. Badran M. Between Secular and Islamic Feminism/s: Reflections on the Middle East and Beyond // Journal of Middle East Women's Studies. Vol. 1, No. 1 (Winter, 2005). Pp. 6-28. Questions: - How do Islamic political activists view the role of women in politics and societies? - Islamic feminism vs. secular feminism: who wins? - Is hijab nowadays a political symbol?
  • Political Islam in the Russian Caucasus
    What are the roots and main explanations of popularity of the idea of Islamic State in the North Caucasus? Yarlykapov A. Islamic State Propaganda in the North Caucasus (pdf) and/or Yarlykapov A. Jihadist violence in the North Caucasus. Political, social and economic factors (pdf). Optional: Knysh A. Islam and Arabic as the Rhetoric of Insurgency: Th Case of Caucasus Emirate (pdf).
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking Participation in discussions
  • non-blocking Exam
  • non-blocking Presentations
    Presenters are not to exceed 10 minutes allocated for your speech. They are to focus on the key theses and not to go into the details. Pictures and photos are welcome. It is highly recommended not to read from papers and to make eye contact with the audience.
  • non-blocking Exam
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (1 module)
    0.4 * Exam + 0.4 * Participation in discussions + 0.2 * Presentations
Bibliography

Bibliography

Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Economics, Yates C. S. J., 1989
  • Empirical political analysis : quantitative and qualitative research methods, Brians C. L., Willnat L., 2011
  • Iran : a modern history, Amanat, A., 2017
  • Political science research methods, Johnson J. B., Reynolds H. T., 2012
  • Social theory : a historical introduction, Callinicos A., 2007

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Britain now. B.1: The press, politics, the family, local government, Addis C., 1992
  • Democracy in modern Iran : Islam, culture, and political change, Mirsepassi A., 2010
  • Economics : an analytical introduction, Witztum A., 2005
  • Economy/Society : markets, meanings, and social structure, Carruthers B. G., Babb S. L., 2000
  • Jihad : the trail of political islam, Kepel G., Roberts A. F., 2009
  • Knowledge and social imagery, Bloor D., 1991
  • The Blackwell dictionary of modern social thought, Outhwaite W., 2006
  • World religions : a historical approach, Nigosian S.A., 2000