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Making Islam Democratic: Social Movements and the Post-Islamist Turn

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Overview

Whether Islam is compatible with democracy is an increasingly asked question, but ultimately a misguided one. In this book Asef Bayat proposes that democratic ideals have less to do with the essence of any religion than with how it is practiced. He offers a new approach to Islam and democracy, outlining how the social struggles of student organizations, youth and women's groups, the intelligentsia, and other social movements can make Islam democratic.

Focusing on events from Iran's 1979 islamic revolution to the current day, Bayat explores the highly contested relationship between religion, politics, and everyday life in the Middle East. He provides a fresh analysis of the Iranian revolution, how it has evolved into the pervasive, post-Islamist reform movement of the early 2000s, and how it has differed from Egypt's religious "passive revolution." His book provides an important understanding of the great anxiety of our time-the global march of "Muslim rage"-and offers a hopeful picture of a democratic Middle East.

About the Author:
Asef Bayat is Academic Director of the International Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World (ISIM) and ISIM Professor at Leiden University

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Asef Bayat's Making Islam Democratic deserves the close attention of social scientists working at the intersection of religion, politics, and society. Bayat's central aim is to challenge the pervasive question of whether or not Islam is compatible with democracy. Through a rich comparative study of social movements in Egypt and Iran, Bayat persuasively argues that the persistent question of Islam and democracy is one that is fundamentally misguided . . . Bayat's rich empirical analysis is among the best of recent work on social movements in the region . . . Bayat's study therefore contributes to a growing body of literature concerned with the various trajectories of Islamist movements and parties throughout the region. While most political scientists examine how political institutions shape the likely political trajectories of Islamist parties, Bayat's focus on the social trajectory of these movements provides a rich addition to the literature."—Tamir Moustafa, MESA Bulletin
"Bayat is an innovative urban social movement theorist whose field research has contributed to a better understanding of social change in the Middle East and the theoretical significance of bottom-up movements as opposed to top-down organized political change . . . Highly Recommended."—A. Mahdi, emeritus, Ohio Wesleyan University
"Bayat's approach also abandons the clear dichotomies between state and nonstate actors and between behavioral and ideological moderation. The result is a sharp analysis that accounts for substantial change within a society that continues to hold a strong religious identity, both socially and within the state."—Jillian Schwedler, World Politics

"This is an excellent political and sociological comparison between Egypt and Iran based on direct personal observation of both countries, which gives this work a subtlety and authority lacking in many academic accounts of the region . . . Bayat skillfully interweaves social, economic and political change with intellectual debate in both countries. He pays close attention to the idiom of debate on religion and politics, yet he shows successfully that Muslim politics is better understood by how Muslims practice politics than by how they define it."—Muslim World Book Review

"Asef Bayat is a privileged observer of two crucial arenas of Muslim politics and society. Iranian by birth and education, he lived through the 1979 Revolution and studied its politics closely. Subsequently he lived and worked in Egypt, and got to know that country intimately. Switching his focus between the two, Bayat provides a powerful contrast between different kinds of Islamic society."—New Humanist

"Relying mostly on experiences in Iran and Egypt and using a variety of Persian, Arabic, and Western sources, Bayat has written a masterly and intellectually challenging comparative analysis of social movements, including post-Islamic ones, and their impact on the ongoing debate over democratization in the Muslim Middle East."—Library Journal

"Making Islam Democratic is a breakthrough book at the level of Robert Putnam's Making Democracy Work. Part autobiographical and always incisive, Making Islam Democratic shows the opportunities and obstacles to making Islam compatible with democracy, focusing incisively on practice—how political and religious activists and thinkers in Iran and Egypt have struggled over peoples' imaginations and competed for the control of key institutions that define core social and political values. This book is a must-read for anyone concerned with the future of democracy in Muslim-majority societies."—Dale F. Eickelman, co-author of Muslim Politics.

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Product Details

Meet the Author


Asef Bayat is Professor of Sociology and Middle Eastern Studies and holds the Chair of Society and Culture of the Modern Middle East at Leiden University, the Netherlands. He is the author of Life as Politics: How Ordinary People Change the Middle East (Stanford, 2009) and Street Politics: Poor People's Movements in Iran (1997).
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Table of Contents


Abbreviations     ix
Chronology     xi
Preface     xviii
Islam and Democracy: The Perverse Charm of an Irrelevant Question     1
Revolution without Movement, Movement without Revolution: Islamist Activism in Iran and Egypt, 1960s-1980s     16
The Making of a Post-Islamist Movement: Social Movements and Sociopolitical Change in Iran, 1979-1997     49
Post-Islamism in Power: Dilemmas of the Reform Project, 1997-2004     106
Egypt's "Passive Revolution": The State and the Fragmentation of Islamism, 1992-2005     136
The Politics of Presence: Imagining a Post-Islamist Democracy     187
Reference Matter: Persian and Arabic Journals Cited     209
Notes     211
Bibliography     255
Index     275
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