Political Islam: Between Luther and Locke

  • Hussein Solomon
  • Arno Tausch
Part of the Perspectives on Development in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region book series (PDMENA)


The poor performance of Islamists once in power together with the failed Arab Spring protests has resulted in some scholars positing the Islamic exceptionalism thesis. According to this, Muslim societies are unique in their inherent rejection of modernity, democracy and secularism. Flowing from the Islamic exceptionalism thesis is the argument that Islam itself needs to be reformed. Rejecting such a position, this chapter argues that one needs to make a distinction between the political aspects of Islam and the distorted view of the faith as promoted by Islamists. What is needed is not an Islamic Reformation but reformation of Muslim interpretations of Islamic teachings. Surveys have also demonstrated that Muslims desire to be both religiously observant and politically free. Drawing from the works of John Locke, Alfred Stepan and Juan Linz, this chapter argues that a polity is possible which is both Islamic and democratic. What is key to realize this happy outcome is what Alfred Stepan refers to as the “twin tolerations”. Recognizing that secularism has little appeal in the Muslim world and that it hardly exists in the West, what is needed is significant institutional differentiation between religious establishment and the political sphere.


Islam Democracy Secularism John Locke Reformation Islamic exceptionalism 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hussein Solomon
    • 1
  • Arno Tausch
    • 2
  1. 1.University of the Free StateBloemfonteinSouth Africa
  2. 2.University of InnsbruckInnsbruckAustria

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