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Whither Post-Islamism: Revisiting the Discourse/Movement After the Arab Spring

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Arab Spring

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Abstract

The contemporary new social movements in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) emerged in a post-Islamist condition. These movements are, however, in deep crises, the MENA region is experiencing multidimensional predicaments, and the original quests of these movements are often lost in the midst of such catastrophic conditions, dismissing the popular and post-Islamist demands for freedom, social justice, and human dignity. This chapter argues that post-Islamism best captures the mode and metaphor of the MENA movements. Although these movements are in crisis, post-Islamism represents the social (though not necessarily political) climate and conditions of the region. But what is post-Islamism? Why is this a paradigm shift from dominant discourses, and how do we characterize and problematize it in the post-Arab Spring MENA? This chapter is divided into three parts. First, it will shed light on the many faces of Islamism, problematizing it in the context of Muslims’ encounter with colonial modernity. The second part will conceptualize post-Islamism as a third alternative discourse to the autocratic secular modernity and the essentialist Islamism. It argues that post-Islamism expedites the possibility of emerging Muslim modernities, encourages civil/public religion, but discards the concept and practice of “Islamic state.” The third part will demonstrate the many faces of post-Islamism in post-Arab Spring MENA. It suggests that post-Islamism is a significant paradigm shift from Islamism. Nonetheless, post-Islamists are as diverse as conservative, (neo)liberal, and progressive forces. Post-Islamism is neither monolithic nor necessarily progressive. It has its own limitations. The conclusion will shed light on post-Islamism and its enemies in the post-Arab Spring era.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    See Mojtaba Mahdavi, 2011, “Post-Islamist Trends in Post-Revolutionary Iran,” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, 31:1, pp. 94–109; Hamid Dabashi, 2012, The Arab Spring: The End of Postcolonialism (London/New York: Zed Books); Asef Bayat, 2013, Post-Islamism: The Changing Faces of Political Islam (Oxford: Oxford University Press); and Asef Bayat, 2017, Revolution Without Revolutionaries: Making Sense of the Arab Spring (Stanford: Stanford University Press).

  2. 2.

    Shadi Hamid & William McCants, eds. 2017, Rethinking Political Islam (New York: Oxford University Press), 1.

  3. 3.

    Dabashi, The Arab Spring: The End of Postcolonialism.

  4. 4.

    Bayat, Revolution Without Revolutionaries, 219–227.

  5. 5.

    In this chapter I have used some of the arguments in the following work: Mojtaba Mahdavi, “Muslims and Modernities: From Islamism to Post-Islamism,” Religious Studies and Theology 32: 1 (2013) 57–71.

  6. 6.

    Ibrahim Abu-Rabi’, 2004, Contemporary Arab Ought: Studies in Post-1967 Arab Intellectual History (London: Pluto Press), 17.

  7. 7.

    Abu-Rabi’, Contemporary Arab Ought: Studies in Post-1967 Arab Intellectual History, 373.

  8. 8.

    Ernest Gellner, 1992, Postmodernism, Reason and Religion. London: Routledge.

  9. 9.

    Ernest Gellner, 1991, “Islam and Marxism: Some Comparisons.” International Affairs 67 (January), 1–6, p. 2. https://doi.org/10.2307/2621215.

  10. 10.

    Bernard Lewis, 1990. “The Roots of Muslim Rage.” Atlantic Monthly (September). [Accessed 02/04/2018]. Available at: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1990/09/the-roots-of-muslim-rage/304643; Samuel P. Huntington, 1996, Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the Modern World (New York: Simon & Schuster).

  11. 11.

    Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the Modern World, 70.

  12. 12.

    An-Na’im, Abdullahi, 2008, Islam and the Secular State: Negotiating the Future of Shari‘a (Cambridge: Harvard University Press), 7.

  13. 13.

    Quoted in Abu-Rabi’, ed. 2010. The Contemporary Arab Reader on Political Islam, ix.

  14. 14.

    Abu-Rabi’, ed. 2010. The Contemporary Arab Reader on Political Islam, xxiii.

  15. 15.

    Abu-Rabi’, ed. 2010. The Contemporary Arab Reader on Political Islam, ix.

  16. 16.

    Abu-Rabi’, ed. 2010. The Contemporary Arab Reader on Political Islam, xi.

  17. 17.

    Abu-Rabi’, ed. 2010. The Contemporary Arab Reader on Political Islam, xi.

  18. 18.

    Bayat, ed., Post-Islamism: The Changing Faces of Political Islam, 6.

  19. 19.

    Bayat, Revolution Without Revolutionaries, 73.

  20. 20.

    Bayat, Revolution Without Revolutionaries, 69–91.

  21. 21.

    Bayat, ed. Post-Islamism: The Changing Faces of Political Islam, 7.

  22. 22.

    Shadi Hamid, 2016, Islamic Exceptionalism: How the Struggle over Islam is Reshaping the World (New York: St. Martin’s Press), 6.

  23. 23.

    Hamid, Islamic Exceptionalism, 5.

  24. 24.

    Hamid, Islamic Exceptionalism, 11.

  25. 25.

    Hamid, Islamic Exceptionalism, 11.

  26. 26.

    Hamid, Islamic Exceptionalism, 13.

  27. 27.

    Juan Cole, 2014, The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation is Changing the Middle East (New York: Simon & Shuster), 20.

  28. 28.

    Hamid, Islamic Exceptionalism, 25.

  29. 29.

    Hamid, Islamic Exceptionalism, 26.

  30. 30.

    Hamid, Islamic Exceptionalism, 30.

  31. 31.

    Asef Bayat, 2007. Islam and Democracy: What Is the Real Question? (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press), 6.

  32. 32.

    Charles Taylor, 1999, A Catholic Modernity? Ed. James L. Heft, S. M. (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 16–19.

  33. 33.

    Mahdavi, “Post-Islamist Trends in Postrevolutionary Iran.”

  34. 34.

    Wael Hallaq, 2013, The Impossible State: Islam, Politics, and Modernity’s Moral Predicament (New York: Columbia University Press).

  35. 35.

    An-Na’im, Islam and the Secular State.

  36. 36.

    Mahdavi, “Post-Islamist Trends in Postrevolutionary Iran.”

  37. 37.

    An-Na’im, Islam and the Secular State, 267.

  38. 38.

    Bayat, Islam and Democracy: What Is the Real Question?; Bayat, ed. Post-Islamism: The Changing Faces of Political Islam.

  39. 39.

    Jürgen Habermas, 2006, Religion in the Public Sphere. European Journal of Philosophy. 14 (1): 1–25. Also see, Mahdavi, “Post-Islamist Trends in Postrevolutionary Iran.”

  40. 40.

    Talal Asad, 1997, “Europe Against Islam: Islam in Europe.” e Muslim World 87(2): 183–195. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1478-1913.1997.tb03293.x; also see, Mojtaba Mahdavi, 2009, “Universalism from Below: Muslims and Democracy in Context,” International Journal of Criminology and Sociological Theory 2, no, 2 (December), 276–291.

  41. 41.

    Mahdavi, “Universalism from Below: Muslims and Democracy in Context.”

  42. 42.

    Bayat, Islam and Democracy: What Is the Real Question?; Bayat, ed. Post-Islamism: The Changing Faces of Political Islam.

  43. 43.

    Mahdavi, “Post-Islamist Trends in Postrevolutionary Iran”; Bayat, ed. Post-Islamism: The Changing Faces of Political Islam.

  44. 44.

    Bayat, ed. Post-Islamism: The Changing Faces of Political Islam, 260.

  45. 45.

    Freedom and Justice Party, 2011, FJP 2011 Program on Freedoms and Political Reform. [Accessed 02/04/18]. Available from: http://www.ponline.com/arti-cle.php?id=197.

  46. 46.

    IkhwanWeb, 2013, Muslim Brotherhood Statement Denouncing UN Women Declaration for Violating Sharia Principle. [Accessed 02/04/18]. Available from: http://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?id=30731.

  47. 47.

    Al-Wasat Party, 2011, FAQ. [Accessed 02/04/18]. Available from: http://www.alwasatparty.com/questions.php.

  48. 48.

    Ennahdha Movement, 2011, Statute of the Renaissance Movement (after the revised Ninth Congress), [Accessed 02/04/18]. Available from: www.ennah-dha.tn.

  49. 49.

    Bayat, ed. Post-Islamism: The Changing Faces of Political Islam, 261.

  50. 50.

    Al-Ghannouchi “Islam Is Accepting of Secularism and Freedom of Belief.” Al-Hayat Newspaper, May 22, 2016. Accessed May 1, 2018. Similarly, in his work, Ghannouchi demonstrates how Islam is compatible with democracy and human rights. See Rached al-Ghannouchi, 2015b, Democracy and Human Rights in Islam (Beirut, Lebanon: The Arab House for Science).

  51. 51.

    Rached al-Ghannouchi, 2015a, “Al-Omq: Moqbala ma’ Rached al-Ghanocui.” Interview by Ali al Thafiri, Aljazeera News Network, Dec. 7. Accessed April 20, 2018.

  52. 52.

    Noureddine Jebnoun, 2014, “Tunisia at the Crossroads: An Interview with Sheikh Rached al-Ghannouchi.” Al-Waleed Bin Talal Centre for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Georgetown University Occasional Papers, April. https://repository.library.georgetown.edu/bitstream/handle/10822/1045379/Noureddine%20Jebnoun_Tunisia%20at%20the%20Crossroads_April%202014.PDF?sequence=1&isAllowed=y.

  53. 53.

    Rached Ghannouchi, 2016, “From Political Islam to Muslim Democracy: The Ennahda Party and the Future of Tunisia.” Foreign Affairs, 95 (5), 58–67, p. 63.

  54. 54.

    Alfred Stepan, 2012, “Tunisia’s Transition and the Twin Tolerations.” Journal of Democracy 23(2), (April): 94–97. https://doi.org/10.1353/jod.2012.0034.

  55. 55.

    Sayida Qunissi, 2017, “Ennahda from Within: Islamists or ‘Muslim Democrats’?” In Shadi Hamid & William McCants, eds. Rethinking Political Islam (New York: Oxford University Press), 230–243, p. 232.

  56. 56.

    Sayida Qunissi, “Ennahda from Within: Islamists or ‘Muslim Democrats’?” 234.

  57. 57.

    Sayida Qunissi, “Ennahda from Within: Islamists or ‘Muslim Democrats’?” 235–236.

  58. 58.

    Sayida Qunissi, “Ennahda from Within: Islamists or ‘Muslim Democrats’?” 238.

  59. 59.

    Sayida Qunissi, “Ennahda from Within: Islamists or ‘Muslim Democrats’?” 237.

  60. 60.

    Mojtaba Mahdavi, 2017, “Iran: Multiple Sources of Grassroots Social Democracy?” In Peyman Vahabzadeh, ed. Iran’s Struggles for Social Justice (New York: Palgrave Macmillan), 271–288.

  61. 61.

    Ana ‘almani,” April 2012, http://semsam.blogpost.com, quoted in Juan Cole, The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation is Changing the Middle East (New York: Simon & Shuster, 2014), 17.

  62. 62.

    Mahdavi, “Post-Islamist Trends in Postrevolutionary Iran.”

  63. 63.

    Mahdavi, “Post-Islamist Trends in Postrevolutionary Iran.”

  64. 64.

    Cihan Tugal, 2016, The Fall of the Turkish Model: How the Arab Uprisings Brought Down Islamic Liberalism (London: Verso).

  65. 65.

    Nader Hashemi and Danny Postel, eds. 2017, Sectarianization: Mapping the New Politics of the Middle East (London: Hurst & Company), 2–5.

  66. 66.

    Nader Hashemi and Danny Postel, eds. Sectarianization: Mapping the New Politics of the Middle East, 4–5.

  67. 67.

    Hamid Dabashi, 2011, Brown Skin, White Masks (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press).

  68. 68.

    Daanish Faruqi and Dalia F. Fahmy, 2017, “Egyptian Liberals, from Revolution to Counterrevolution.” In Dalia F. Fahmy and Daanish Faruqi, Eds. Egypt and the Contradictions of Liberalism: Illiberal Intelligentsia and the Future of Egyptian Democracy (London: OneWorld), 1–25, pp. 23–24.

  69. 69.

    Ernesto Laclau, 1996, Emancipation(s) (New York: Verso), 26–32; Mahdavi, “Post-Islamist Trends in Postrevolutionary Iran,” 107.

  70. 70.

    Alfred Stepan and Juan J. Linz, 2013, “Democratization Theory and the Arab Spring,” Journal of Democracy 23(2), (April): 15–30, p. 17.

  71. 71.

    Bayat, Revolution Without Revolutionaries: Making Sense of the Arab Spring, 219.

  72. 72.

    Bayat, Revolution Without Revolutionaries: Making Sense of the Arab Spring, 220.

  73. 73.

    Wendy Brown, 2015b, Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution (Boston, MA: MIT Press), 17.

  74. 74.

    Wendy Brown, 201.

  75. 75.

    Wendy Brown, 2015a, Neoliberalism Poisons Everything: How Free Market Mania Threatens Education – And Democracy. Salon, June 15. Accessed April 22, 2016. http://www.salon.com/2015/06/15/democracy_cannot_survive_why_the_neoliberal_revolution_has_freedom_on_the_ ropes/.

  76. 76.

    Walter Mignolo, 2015, Foreword: Yes, We Can. In Hamid Dabashi, Can Non-European Think? (London: Zed Books), viii–xiii.

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Mahdavi, M. (2020). Whither Post-Islamism: Revisiting the Discourse/Movement After the Arab Spring. In: Mohamed, E., Fahmy, D. (eds) Arab Spring. Critical Political Theory and Radical Practice. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-24758-4_2

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