Editor's Bookshelf

by Joel Beinin
published in MER153

The defeat of the Arab states in the June 1967 war was more than a military setback. It was also a blow against the radical nationalist project and its modern and secular cultural orientation which bonded the Arab world and the West even as it provided a framework for resistance to Western economic, political and cultural domination. Since 1967, only the Palestinian national movement has continued to advance the flag of radical nationalism. Elsewhere, a romantic Islamism, brandishing the slogan of cultural “authenticity,” has posed the most consistent challenge to continuing Western domination of the Middle East.

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Apprehensions of Islam

by Michael Gilsenan
published in MER153

Bruno Etienne, L’islamisme radical (Paris: Hachette, 1987.)

Gilles Kepel, Les banlieues de l’islam: naissance d’une religion en France (Paris: Seuil, 1987.)

 

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The "Turkish-Islamic Synthesis"

by Erkan Akin , Ömer Karasapan
published in MER153

The Hearth of Intellectuals, a small organization comprising some 150 conservative journalists, academics and other intellectuals, has functioned as a sort of fountainhead for a new legitimizing ideology for the Turkish Republic. Gencay Şaylan refers to them as the “Turkish Opus Dei” in his 1988 book, Islam and Politics. Indeed, the Hearth resembles this Spanish Catholic institution in its goals of providing the intellectual and moral foundations for an authoritarian political system.

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Turkey's Tarikats

by Erkan Akin , Ömer Karasapan
published in MER153

Tarikats are religious orders established to “search for divine truth.” They have been part of Turkish cultural and social life for centuries. The groups discussed here are Sunni. Turkey’s Shi‘a do have their own religious orders, but as a result of the persecution they suffered during Ottoman rule and later at the hands of rightwing forces in the 1970s, they support secular principles and are generally non-political.

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The Political Uses of Islam in Turkey

by Ronnie Margulies , Ergin Yildizoğlu
published in MER153

For the past several years, the Turkish press has seemed obsessed with irtica, a word of Arabic origin meaning religious reaction and obscurantism. The media has reported incident after incident in which hoca and imam urged their followers not to stray from the path of true Islam, where men and women were not allowed to sit in the same classrooms, where secularism and Atatürk came under explicit attack.

Muslim Women and Fundamentalism

by Fatima Mernissi
published in MER153

When analyzing the dynamics of the Muslim world, one has to discriminate between two distinct dimensions: what people actually do, the decisions they make, the aspirations they secretly entertain or display through their patterns of consumption, and the discourses they develop about themselves, more specifically the ones they use to articulate their political claims. The first dimension is about reality and its harsh time-bound laws, and how people adapt to pitilessly rapid change; the second is about self-presentation and identity building. And you know as well as I do that whenever one has to define oneself to others, whenever one has to define one’s identity, one is on the shaky ground of self-indulging justifications.

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From the Editors

by The Editors
published in MER153

This issue continues MERIP’s inquiry into the dynamic relationship of religion and politics in the Middle East. Our authors pay particular attention to the various ways in which Islam, the dominant religion in the region, enters into the equations of state power and popular opposition in countries as different as Morocco, Egypt, Iran and Turkey.

The Grand (Hip-Hop) Chessboard

Race, Rap and Raison d'Etat

by Hisham Aidi
published in MER260

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Zubaida, Islam, the People and the State

by Chibli Mallat
published in MER170

Sami Zubaida, Islam, the People and the State: Essays on Political Ideas and Movements in the Middle East (Routledge, 1989).

Modem Western literature on political Islam in the Middle East today generally falls into two categories: US-style think tank writing and intellectual proselytism.

Think tank “scholarship” addresses Islam as a threat. Its essential concern is how Islam as represented by the Moroccan, Pakistani and Saudi governments, so congenial to the West, could suddenly tum into the hostage-taking, anti-Western Islam of the Iranian revolution. “Why did Islam become an enemy?” is the question; the answer can only be as bad as the premises within which it is formulated.

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Binder, Islamic Liberalism

by Sami Zubaida
published in MER171

Leonard Binder, Islamic Liberalism: A Critique of Development Ideologies (Chicago, 1988).

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