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On Islamism and modernity: Analysing Islamist ideas on and visions of the Islamic state
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science.
2003 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This dissertation is a study of Islamist ideas on and visions of the Islamic state. It begins with the observation that although a growing amount of research explores Islamism; few studies closely investigate Islamist ideas. The aim of this dissertation is to empirically and theoretically contribute to the understanding and interpretation of contemporary Islamism and its intellectual origins. Sayyid Qutb, Abu al-Ala al-Mawdudi and Ruhollah Khomeini are generally considered as sources of inspiration to Islamists currently active. Their ideas are analysed and compared to those of two Islamist parties; the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) in Pakistan and the Front Islamique du Salut (FIS) in Algeria.

Islamism is part of a global religious resurgence that has taken many politicai and other social scientists by surprise. According to modernization and secularisation theories, such a resurgence was not to be expected. The focus in this study is therefore on the relationship between visions of the Islamic state and modernity. In this respect, two theoretical positions are critically assessed; one stating that we should understand Islamism in terms of a rejection of modernity and the other that Islamism can be understood and interpreted as an expression of there being multiple or alternative modernities. A key issue in this regard revolves around the question of how modernity is alternative and what that means. A content-oriented analysis of ideas — based on a social constructivist approach and anchored in practical hermeneutics - is utilized in the reconstruction and analysis of Islamist texts. A framework for analysis is developed in which dimensions of modernity are constructed. Islamist ideas on and visions of the Islamic state are analysed in terms of what is rejected, accepted or possibly added to these dimensions.

The empirical contribution to research on Islamism is the content-oriented analysis of Islamist ideas. This analysis also helps to explore similarities and differences between the ideas of Qutb, Mawdudi and Khomeini and those of the JI and the FIS. The comparisons show that Islamist ideas are under evolution; there are important differences between the two contemporary parties and their sources of inspiration. Moreover, the content-oriented analysis reveals the complexity of the relationship between modernity and visions of the Islamic state. The theoretical contribution involves both theory-testing and theory-development. It is concluded that theories of multiple or alternative modernities, with some reservations, can be applied to Islamist ideas on and visions of the Islamic state.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Statsvetenskapliga institutionen, Umeå universitet , 2003. , 292 p.
Statsvetenskapliga institutionens skriftserie, ISSN 0349-0831 ; 2003:2
Keyword [en]
Islamism, Islamic state, modernity, content-oriented analysis of ideas, Islamist texts, Qutb, Mawdudi, Khomeini, Jamaat-e-Islami, Front Islamique du Salut, alternative modernity
National Category
Political Science
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-15166ISBN: 91-7305-461-5OAI: diva2:154838
Public defence
Available from: 2007-12-27 Created: 2007-12-27 Last updated: 2012-09-20Bibliographically approved

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