In an op-ed for Asharq Alawsat, Sherif Ayoub wonders why people call for an “Islamic state” in preference to a Western-style government when that Western-style more closely approaches what an idealized Islamic state should be. He offers some observations…

Opinion: What is “Islamic” statehood?
Sherif Ayoub

The resurgence of Islamic thought in the 20th century has served as a call to action by some Muslim leaders, demanding the adherents of the religion, such as myself, work together to supplant the Western-dominated models of statehood in Muslim countries. In fact, it could be argued that the root of the most organized opposition movements in the last century in these countries has been the aspiration for social transformation corresponding to Islamic jurisprudence, rather than the liberal ideals promoted in the West.

However, beyond the euphoria of latest successes of political Islam in bringing Islamic movements to power in the wake of the Arab Spring, this transformation poses challenges for Muslims seeking the truth about the claims that Islamic statehood promises bliss and salvation to the populace. The conundrum, of course, becomes apparent in the contrast between the stature of Islamic Empire in the seventh and eighth centuries, and the less-than-stellar performance of attempts to establish Islamic states in the modern era.

Essentially, two questions present themselves here: first, given that God is omnipotent and will undoubtedly not keep his benevolence from his true followers, how is it that the countries that seek to impose a model of Islamic statehood in the modern era are consistently ranked lower in development indicators than their Western counterparts?

And, second, when one thinks of the achievements of the Islamic Empire, did that success rest more on being Islamic, or on having an effective and functional state that was the most advanced in its time?

June:14:2013 - 05:44 | Comments & Trackbacks (3) | Permalink
3 Responses to ““Just What’s the Goal?””
  1. 1
    Jerry M Said:
    June:14:2013 - 10:55 

    I am sure Ayoub knows the answer himself. Particularly in the Arab world, the Western model as it was in practiced was quite undemocratic and destructive. Look at the way England and France tried to divide up the territories to keep influence. The Western model today looks harmless, but if you lived in the hinterlands after WWI, it wasn’t so harmless. Yes, there was democracy at home but there was also autocracy abroad. Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood was founded in the 1920′s.

    There is also an element of anti-Western bias that has become louder and louder over time.

  2. 2
    Lola Said:
    June:15:2013 - 13:59 

    “The state, for its part, should concentrate on the well-being of its citizens (all of them equally, no matter their gender or religion) in the most effective and efficient manner possible. With that, the Western models of statehood may not be so un-Islamic after all.”

    A Saudi court handed two Saudi women 10-month jail sentences on Saturday for seeking to help a Canadian woman who wanted to leave her Saudi husband with their children, human rights activists said. The court also banned Fawzia al-Ayuni and Wajiha al-Huaider from leaving the kingdom for two years, rights activist Aql al-Bahli said.

    The two women were convicted of the Islamic sharia law offence of takhbib, or incitement of a wife to defy the authority of her husband, Bahli said.

  3. 3
    John Burgess Said:
    June:16:2013 - 06:31 

    @Lola: States generally frown upon those who help others break the law. In the US, there’s an active case concerning one or more people who helped a woman flee the country when she didn’t like the court orders regarding child custody. Not so very different, even if different laws pertain:

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