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