Islamism, Nationalism, and Western Modernity: The Case of Iran and Palestine

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Abstract

The rise of Islamic politics in the Middle East, particularly since the Iranian revolution, is the most cited example that supposedly testifies to the “clean” separation between “Islam” and the “West.” In this essay, I argue that it is not Islamic movements and ideology that confirm this separation. Rather, it is their incorporation into the scheme of Western modernity, with its binary distinctions and evolutionary reading of history, which constructs this separation. Using examples from Iran and Palestine, I show how Islamic ideology indeed defies the basic premises of Western discourse on modernity, expose its limitations, and question the constitution of Islam and the West as allegedly distinct, even opposing, categories.