Political Islam research papers examine how the Muslim religion is used by various groups to politcal ends. The political science, religion or sociology writers at Paper Masters that specialize in Islamic affairs will custom write your research paper on political Islam to focus on any aspect of the phenomena that you need covered. Get help today on the important and complex topic of political Islam, either globally or domestically.
Political Islam, also known as Islamism, using some of the foundational principles of the Muslim religion to create political structures, frequently called "the Muslim state." Many supporters of political Islam support the following elements:
- The establishment of Sharia law
- The removal of many Western structures
There is no single, unified movement of "political Islam," but it is rather an umbrella term for those individuals and organizations that wish to structure government under the tenets of Islam.
In recent years, the idea of political Islam has been co-opted by more militant groups, such as the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan. However, there are other, more mainstream groups, comprised of moderates who do not wish to create Caliphates or theocratic states. It was the collapse of the USSR in the early 1990s that created a political vacuum in much of the Arab world, leading to a revival of traditional Islamic practices and the idea that these nations could chart their own destiny outside of the bipolar Cold War mentality that had dominated for so long.
Even those outside of jihadist movements use political Islam in order to separate their culture from the West, as many believe that centuries of cultural domination, dating back as far as the Crusades, have created a global system whereby the Islamic world has been little more than a cultural outpost. Today, the struggles in political Islam are often between moderates and fundamentalists on both sides of the Sunni/Shia divide.
Using this heightened sense of awareness, politicians in Western countries have struck out at the strongholds of Islamic thought while praising the religion's true followers; the ones who hold up peace and the ideals of democracy as desirable. Yet, regardless of the political pandering, Cesari says that the real religion of Islam has largely been ignored by sociologists, religious scholars, politicians and the public at large.
"When you want to look at Islam as a religion, you discover that there is not a lot of data on the Muslim world or on Muslims living among Westerners...very few scholars have really looked at Islam through the lens of social sciences in general or sociology of religion in particular," argues Jocelyn Cesari in When Islam and Democracy Meet: Muslims in Europe and the United States.
There is remarkable work on the Qur'an, on the diverse body of interpretation of the text, the theology, and so on, but there is much less on 'living Islam', on the religious practices and behaviors of Muslims in different historical and cultural contexts.
Cesari says that despite this ignorance that the majority of non-Muslim Westerners have towards the religion and the followers of Islam, Islam itself is burgeoning in Europe and the United States.
"Muslims are the largest religious minority in Western Europe. Today there are more than 11/12 million Muslims living in the major countries of the European Union, and Muslims constitute almost 3 percent of the total population in Europe." These numbers continue to rise and in many countries - France, Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands and Greece being among the largest - massive influxes of Muslim immigrants are still occurring. The ethnic makeup of these Muslim immigrants is also very diverse.
Cesari's main thesis, that Islam is poised to become a cultural, social and political force in the years to come in the United States, is not a particularly shocking revelation to anyone who has watched even a night's worth of a cable news program in the last half of a decade. The moment that the second plane flew into the North Tower, Islam has been a major force in the United States. Some would claim that, along with airplanes, the entire religion of Islam was hijacked on September 11th and turned into a caricatured villain. Cesari would argue that the current impact of Islam in America is, by and large, not a positive one, and that Muslims in America are viewed with the same fervor as Muslims in Afghanistan and Muslims in Iran are viewed.
When Cesari speaks of Islam's potential to become a major force in the United States, she is not speaking of the fundamentalist Islam that is practiced by Osama bin Laden and other jihadists, but the more moderate Islam of those Muslims living in the West. She is quick to point out that the representation of Islam as a violent religion did not begin with al Qaeda, and that Islam has a bloody history of conflict with Europe.
"A few years ago, I did some historical work to trace the major events of this kind of stereotyping and representation," says Cesari. "In the beginning, there were some historical grounds and events to fuel or nurture this kind of vision of a complete opposition between Islam and the West, but over time, it has turned into a stereotype. The different images of Islam (violence, fanaticism, etc.) still used today are in fact part of the historical confrontation between Muslim societies and Europe in the Mediterranean area." (66) As fundamentalists such as bin Laden continue to propagate these stereotypes, those in the West may never accept that Islam is by and large a peaceful religion and that its followers can accept the tenants of democracy.
In the international relations arena, Cesari's book presents an important dichotomy, and a question that could be a major turning point in foreign affairs. It is not an exaggeration to surmise that Islamic relations with the United States and the rest of the Western world may be one of the major foreign relations opportunities in the 21st century. Situations in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, and other Middle Eastern countries have highlighted some of the worst things that can happen when Islamic interests and the interests of the West clash. Democracies are being implemented, with varying levels of success, in Iraq and Afghanistan; countries such as Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Egypt are struggling with maintaining a democratic-style of government while maintaining its citizenry and keeping the peace; and countries such as Iran are defying the democratic ideals of the West. With new technologies and weaponry, the situation in the Middle East and Islamic-American relations could end in a worldwide catastrophe or could end in a rebuilding of the entire Middle East region, which would benefit the entire world.