Religion and Politics in the Middle East: Identity, Ideology, Institutions, and Attitudes

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This innovative book analyzes the interaction of politics and religion in the Middle East through a comparative study of four countries—Egypt, Israel, Turkey, and Iran. Author Robert D. Lee examines each country in terms of four areas in which state and religion necessarily interact: group identity, ideology, institutions, and political culture. He also considers twenty-five commonly encountered (but often contradictory) hypotheses asserting that religion is either an obstacle or an aid to political development, or that religion is largely irrelevant to the development process. The author concludes that politics shapes religion as much or more than religion shapes politics. The nature of religious organization and practice in the Middle East cannot be understood without reference to a national political context.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Lee skillfully balances a broad conceptual framework and careful analysis of particular Middle Eastern political systems. As a result, this book provides significant insights into the relationships between religion and politics in the region. In many ways, Lee moves the study of comparative politics to a new level in this synthesis of theory and descriptive specifics.”
—John O. Voll, Georgetown University

“Stimulating, jargon-free theorizing about the tensions and balances between political and religious authority across time and space, putting into fresh comparative perspective the doctrines and ideologies of secularism, Islamism, and Zionism in the Middle East. … Rich reading for students and scholars alike.”
—Clement Moore Henry, University of Texas at Austin

“The relationship between religion and politics is one of the most analyzed in the study of the Middle East. Few such studies are as clearly written and compelling as Robert Lee’s Religion and Politics in the Middle East. Especially impressive is the author’s comparative focus that brings together nation-states that rarely share the same analytic stage, namely Egypt, Israel, Turkey, and Iran. By offering a well developed set of 25 hypotheses that systematically assess the relationship between religion and politics, the author offers the reader both an empirically rich and conceptually sophisticated analysis. Religion and Politics in the Middle East not only provides an excellent introductory text for undergraduate and graduate students, but one from which specialists in the field of Middle Eastern studies will find new perspectives and empirical data drawn from a cross-national context.”
—Eric Davis, Rutgers University, author of Memories of State: Politics, History and Collective Identity in Modern Iraq

"Lee brings a breadth of knowledge from studies of religion and politics and a depth of insight from many years of studying Middle Eastern politics. . . . The case studies are dense and richly developed and reveal deep insights from a long career of exposure to Middle Eastern politics. Highly recommended." —Choice

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813344201
  • Publisher: Westview Press
  • Publication date: 9/8/2009
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert D. Lee is professor of political science at Colorado College in Colorado Springs. He is the author of Overcoming Tradition and Modernity: The Search for Islamic Authenticity (Westview Press, 1997) and the translator and editor of Rethinking Islam: Common Questions, Uncommon Answers by Mohammed Arkoun (Westview Press, 1994).

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