Analysis

Iran's Crown Prince Abbas Mirza, c.1820. (Photo: Getty)

Muslim Majority World Did Liberalise Indeed

I am quite used to people smirking into their sleeves when they hear that I’ve just written a book called The Islamic Enlightenment. The really helpful wags say they expect something along the lines of The Wit and Wisdom of Spiro Agnew, which was billed as a collection of all the memorable aphorisms of the former US vice-president, and contained only blank pages. So, the Islamic Enlightenment — good for a laugh. But we’re all familiar with the serious argument that lies behind the jests; that Islam has not been through an Enlightenment, a Reformation, or any of the other rites of…
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Jihadists (Picture: Getty Images)

Why Global Jihadism Remains Notorious

Global Jihadism, also known as Jihadist extremism, remains the most highlighted form of violent extremism today. It refers to actions justified by a particular interpretation of Islam, forming a worldwide violent ideological movement. The actors of global Jihadism can be organised individuals, groups, networks or organisations. Stories covering terrorist attacks committed by al-Qaeda and very recently ISIS militants in Europe and North America have swept Westerns and Eastern mainstream media since 1990s. Although it is unequivocal that most attacks – including some public executions of ‘spies’ or other enemies – were carried out in West Asia and North Africa, focus remains persistent…
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Misr Al Qadima, Cairo, Egypt - © Photo: Hakim Khatib/MPC Journal

Controversy of Islamist Politics on Other Belief Systems

Terrorist attacks have been randomly sweeping the world. While uncertainty around bloody conflicts in West Asia and Africa, sectarian politics in Arabia and Iran, integration issues in Europe and North America and lack of democracy in Muslim majority states have become the norms of modern politics, one fact remains certain: Sectarianism has been on the rise in Muslim majority countries. Perhaps there are detectable patterns along these sectarian lines that we can unfold. While the majority of Muslims have been unwillingly dragged into unpleasant discourses, often resulting in their discrimination and alienation based on religious affiliation, there are underlying patterns…
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Head of the Shiite opposition, left, and Sunni Muslim leader of a liberal opposition party, right, hold a sign reading "No Sunni, No Shia: One unified nation" on March 6, 2011.Hasan Jamali/AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved.

The Myth and History of Sunni-Shia Divide

Sunnis and Shias have lived together in peace for centuries, and up to the new millennium have barely had a history of bloody conflict. Why now? The Sectarian Elements of a Conflict The Middle East is a mess from which no one can claim exemption. The invasion of Iraq and the Syrian civil war have pulled all the already beleaguered regional governments into tragic quicksand, where alliances and animosities constantly shift. Everyone is stuck in an overly complicated nexus of relations, and the future is so murky no political leader can put forth a plausible way out. The world powers are…
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Analysis of Arab societies through sectarianism does not grasp the complex dynamics of identity politics in the region. MPC Journal/Hakim Khatib

Unlike Sects, Sectarianism Is Real In Arabic Speaking World

Last week, Saudi writer and journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, wrote a piece in the London-based al-Hayat newspaper in which he argued that “Sunnis” were targeted as a group and called on them to ‘defend themselves as a sect’. Such flawed, reductionist and ill-informed analysis contributes to little more than reminding us that sectarianism is actually a fait accompli.

Why They Reject Religious Reform

Why They Reject Religious Reform

In a talk show on one of Egypt’s TV channels, an episode turned into a wrestling ring between two guests on a program, when one of the guests, lawyer Nabih Al-Wahsh, a close associate of Al-Azhar, took off his shoes and hit the reformist Sheikh Mustafa Rashid. The debate was about the daring religious edicts (fatwas) of Sheikh Rashid. Sheikh Rashid, a graduate of Al-Azhar himself and the Grand Mufti of Australia, has dozens of publications, fatwas and bold opinions that have been a subject of controversy in debates around Islamic jurisprudence since he issued them. His views are profoundly…
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General Adib al-Shishakli with officers of the Syrian Army in 1953. Front row, to his left sits Head of State, President Fawzi Selu and General Aziz Abdul al-Karim. In the back seat, in glasses, is General Amin Abu Assaf, Riad Kaylani, and Mahmud Shawkat

Remember Syria’s President Adib Shishakli

Nearly 52 years ago, a Syrian political leader hiding in exile was killed in the heart of Brazil. As Syria watchers continue to monitor and understand the country’s grinding civil war, the era of the former Syrian political figure Adib Al-Shishakli could yield some clues. The flag of the Syrian opposition factions bares the green, white, and black tricolor with three red stars. The very same flag once flew over Syria from its independence until the late 1950’s, a turbulent era marked by political intrigue, military coups, early experiments with democracy, and authoritarian rule. At the center of this era…
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Some of the thousands of platinum mine workers reporting for work at a Lonmin, Anglo American Platinum mine in Marikana, South Africa, in June 2014, after a five-month strike in the sector. South Africa’s economy is seen bringing down the continent’s overall growth rate this year. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

Legacy of Imperialism and Development Prospects in Africa

This essay argues that Africa is undergoing changes in its economies in the 21st century, not only because of the role that China is playing but owing to intense competition from other Western countries and the Middle East. China’s role is within the capitalist world economy and within the patron-client model of integration that the Europeans followed after African countries achieved their formal independence from colonization. During the second half of the 20th century, northwest Europe remained the conduit for African integration into the US-centred global economy, despite the role of US-based multinational corporations. According to Pew Research Centre polls…
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Al Khalifa wal Moqattam, Cairo, Egypt - MPC Journal/Hakim Khatib

Islam and the Enlightenment

The intellectual movement of the 17th and 18th century that became known as the Enlightenment helped a new class to come to power in Europe. Neil Davidson asks why the more advanced civilisations of the Islamic world did not develop a similar movement of their own. In the current Western controversy over Islam, one theme recurs with increasing predictability. Many writers are prepared to acknowledge Muslim cultural and scientific achievements, but always with the caveat that Islamic civilisation never experienced an equivalent to the Enlightenment. “Islam never had to go through a prolonged period of critically examining the validity of…
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MensBeards

Men’s Hair Takes Centre Stage in Battle Over Legitimacy of Political Islam

The Muslim world’s battle over the legitimacy of political Islam has expanded to the soccer pitch as proponents and opponents of interpreting the faith politically seek to impose their public morals with men’s hairstyles and facial hair taking centre stage. At the core of the battle are fans and players, a reflection of society as a whole, who seek to exercise their right to choose their preferred styles often in opposition to efforts by autocrats to impose their will depending on their attitude towards public morals and political Islam. The crackdown on hairstyles is part of a larger battle to…
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