In Syria, the Muslim Brotherhood finds itself caught between ISIS on one side and the regime of Bashar al-Assad on the other. Receiving support from Europe it hopes to be part of a regime change and a moderating force in Islamist political restructuring following the end of the civil war. Meanwhile, in Egypt - the birthplace of the Brotherhood - the organization finds itself outlawed again and struggling to even claim a place under the current Abdel Fattah el-Sisi regime.
Whether as a majority in places like Tunisia, Morocco, and Turkey or minority in countries such as Iraq, Egypt, and Palestine how does Islamism continue to survive, and thrive, in the wake of significant political currents throughout the Muslim world? How does its historical context inform its present manifestations?
Last week I was able to present on the rise of Islamism through the lens of the Muslim Brotherhood and its ilk. In the presentation I covered the historical context within which Islamism first emerged at the turn of the 20th-century, charted the ideological contours of Islamism's founders (principally al-Banna, Mawdudi, & Sayyid Qutb), and discussed the present state of Islamism in light of recent political turnover as a result of the various uprisings of the Arab Spring from 2011-2012.
The content comes directly from Peter Mandaville's tome Global Political Islam. However, I also added some of my own commentary, critique, and additional input taking into account recent developments over the last few years (most importantly, the Arab Spring).
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This presentation, entitled, "Islamism on the Rise!" plays off of important and relevant headlines from Syria, Iraq, and Egypt and would be of interest to anyone wanting to understand Islamic political bodies and get a grasp of the historical context at play in current political discourse throughout the Middle East, North Africa, and indeed, throughout the Islamic world.
You can follow along with the presentation HERE and listen below.
I encourage you to consider the questions we discussed in class and perhaps comment below:
- What are the overarching similarities between the various ideologies, forms, and political programs of the actors we discussed? What are the key differences?
- Does the Muslim Brotherhood, and its ilk, "speak for Islam?" Or even more specifically, does the MB speak for "Islamism?"
- In The Failure of Political Islam, Olivier Roy argues that far from being rooted in the Islamic scholarly tradition, political Islam is a reactionary movement whose ideological philosophy is rooted in Marxism, Third Worldism, & the broader revolutionary programs of the 50s, 60s and 70s. From what you heard, do you agree? Disagree? Why?
- Discuss Islamism as a term following the events of The Arab Spring & the current crisis concerning Al-Dawla Al-Islamiyya (aka IS, ISIL, ISIS). Is Islamism still relevant? Have entered, as many have recently argued, a stage of post-Islamism adapting to broader calls for democracy, rights, and societal pluralism? How can Islamism survive and thrive in such a context?