Friday, January 10, 2014

64th PSA: The Politics of Islam

One panel proposal entitled "The Politics of Islam" in conjunction with the PSA Specialist Group on Politics and Religion for the 64th Annual International Conference of the Political Studies Association (April 14-16, 2014, The Midland Hotel, Manchester, UK)

Debates about political issues in relation to Islam maintain a consistently high-profile in contemporary analyses of the relationship between politics and religion. The contributions for this panel explore a number of themes in this area. The papers examine the diversity of institutional and social relations between politics and religion throughout the Islamic world, the nature and justifications of radical 'Islamic' violence and terrorism, and the issue around Islam and toleration. 

Title: A different epistemological approach when studying Islam and Politics

Abstract: The “Islamic World” is a huge area of land, with almost 1.6 billion people, integrating multiple different cultural, ethnic and political entities. In the contemporary period religious institutions, movements, and beliefs have had more political importance in the Muslim world than in the West. Although attributed to special features of Islam, which are of some importance, there are other causes, such as, first, different historical experiences in the West and in the Islamic world, and, second, the imperial and colonial experiences suffered by Muslims which made them defensive about Islam and to define (as did some Westerners) the situation in religious terms. One aspect which is usually focused is the Shari’a (normally translated as Islamic Law, but which is a concept with different connotations according to Time and Space) as if one single legal building were used from Morocco to Indonesia, thus giving to that geographical mass some kind of religious connotation. This grill of analysis ignores the different situations in different parts of the Islamic world, where there are countries which until recently were considered secularists but had a state religion, countries which do not have state religion but where the president must be a Muslim, countries where the head of the state is also the Prince of the Faithful, something that does not impede political groups of using Islam to delegitimize the political establishment, or countries which are considered models of secularism at the same time that having a Ministry of Religious Affairs. The aims of this paper are to analyse the diversity of political situations and the role of religion in different contexts of the Islamic world according to this diversity.

Author - Carimo Mohomed

Brief biography - Ph. D. in Political Science (Political Theory and Analysis – Islamic reformism in India between 1857 and 1947). Graduated in History. Main research interest: Contemporary Islamic History and Political Thought. Other interests include the relations between Religion and Politics, and the impact of Modernity, in different cultural and civilisational contexts. Recent publications include “Reconsidering ‘Middle East and Islamic studies’ for a changing world” in International Critical Thought, Vol. 2, n. 2 ( Officer Research Committee 43 (Religion and Politics) - International Political Science Association. E-mail -

Paper Title:
Between Nomocentrism and Antinomianism: The Situational Ethics of Islamist Terror

Paper Abstract:
The present paper opens with the question of how al-Qa’ida and similar Islamist organizations justify the violence that they perpetrate. In order to come to terms with the situational ethics of Islamist terror, I argue that that political actors, whether religiously-founded or secular, are invariably embedded in both political cosmologies (understood as structures of perceptions and narratives which together constitute interest, identity, and intentionality) and political soteriologies (understood as the theory of the set of actions demanded to obtain salvific status for the political constituency). For religiously-founded terrorists, the former sets the constitutive rules, the second the regulatory rules of political engagement, violent or otherwise. It has often been suggested that Islamists, who invoke religious norms and discourses in an effort to either challenge or capture state power, operate within otherwordly ideational milieux. Other observers have suggested that radicals remain utilitarian, and as such do not transcend cost-benefit analyses, even when invoking transcendental themes. The present paper challenges both sets of arguments by considering the notion of 'the exception' or ‘supreme emergency’ in radical Islamism’s political cosmology—unveiling thereby a cognitive and rhetorical leap which allows the radical religious activist to acknowledge traditional nomocentric theology while in practice departing from established orthopraxy by a process of discursive reconstrual.

Author Biography:
Naveed S. Sheikh teaches International Relations, with a specialization in Security Studies and Middle East Politics, in the School of Politics, International Relations and Philosophy at Keele University, United Kingdom. He is furthermore the editor of the Routledge-published quarterly Politics, Religion and Ideology (formerly, Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions). Educated at the Universities of Buckingham, Durham and Cambridge, he has held fellowships at Harvard, Hosei (Tokyo) and Notre Dame Universities.

3rd presenter is Anthony Black's Islam and Toleration.

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