• Title: Making Islam Democratic: Social Movements and the Post-Islamist Turn (Stanford Studies in Middle Eastern and I)
  • Author: Asef Bayat
  • Released: 2007-05-16
  • Language: English
  • Pages: 320
  • ISBN: 0804755957
  • ISBN13: 978-0804755955
  • ASIN: 0804755957
Review "Asef Bayat's Making Islam Democratic deserves the close attention of social scientists working at the intersection of religion, politics, and society. Bayat's central aim is to challenge the pervasive question of whether or not Islam is compatible with democracy. Through a rich comparative study of social movements in Egypt and Iran, Bayat persuasively argues that the persistent question of Islam and democracy is one that is fundamentally misguided . . . Bayat's rich empirical analysis is among the best of recent work on social movements in the region . . . Bayat's study therefore contributes to a growing body of literature concerned with the various trajectories of Islamist movements and parties throughout the region. While most political scientists examine how political institutions shape the likely political trajectories of Islamist parties, Bayat's focus on the social trajectory of these movements provides a rich addition to the literature."—Tamir Moustafa, MESA Bulletin
"Bayat is an innovative urban social movement theorist whose field research has contributed to a better understanding of social change in the Middle East and the theoretical significance of bottom-up movements as opposed to top-down organized political change . . . Highly Recommended."—A. Mahdi, emeritus, Ohio Wesleyan University
"Bayat's approach also abandons the clear dichotomies between state and nonstate actors and between behavioral and ideological moderation. The result is a sharp analysis that accounts for substantial change within a society that continues to hold a strong religious identity, both socially and within the state."—Jillian Schwedler, World Politics

"This is an excellent political and sociological comparison between Egypt and Iran based on direct personal observation of both countries, which gives this work a subtlety and authority lacking in many academic accounts of the region . . . Bayat skillfully interweaves social, economic and political change with intellectual debate in both countries. He pays close attention to the idiom of debate on religion and politics, yet he shows successfully that Muslim politics is better understood by how Muslims practice politics than by how they define it."—Muslim World Book Review

"Asef Bayat is a privileged observer of two crucial arenas of Muslim politics and society. Iranian by birth and education, he lived through the 1979 Revolution and studied its politics closely. Subsequently he lived and worked in Egypt, and got to know that country intimately. Switching his focus between the two, Bayat provides a powerful contrast between different kinds of Islamic society."—New Humanist

"Relying mostly on experiences in Iran and Egypt and using a variety of Persian, Arabic, and Western sources, Bayat has written a masterly and intellectually challenging comparative analysis of social movements, including post-Islamic ones, and their impact on the ongoing debate over democratization in the Muslim Middle East."—Library Journal

"Making Islam Democratic is a breakthrough book at the level of Robert Putnam's Making Democracy Work. Part autobiographical and always incisive, Making Islam Democratic shows the opportunities and obstacles to making Islam compatible with democracy, focusing incisively on practice—how political and religious activists and thinkers in Iran and Egypt have struggled over peoples' imaginations and competed for the control of key institutions that define core social and political values. This book is a must-read for anyone concerned with the future of democracy in Muslim-majority societies."—Dale F. Eickelman, co-author of Muslim Politics.

From the Inside Flap Whether Islam is compatible with democracy is an increasingly asked question, but ultimately a misguided one. In this book, Asef Bayat proposes that democratic ideals have less to do with the essence of any religion than with how it is practiced. He offers a new approach to Islam and democracy, outlining how the social struggles of student organizations, youth and women’s groups, the intelligentsia, and other social movements can make Islam democratic.
Making Islam Democratic examines in detail those social movements that have used religion to unleash social and political change, either to legitimize authoritarian rule or, in contrast, to construct an inclusive faith that embraces a democratic polity. It provides a fresh analysis of Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution—how it has evolved into the pervasive, post-Islamist reform movement of the early twenty-first century, and how it differed from Egypt’s religious “passive revolution.”
Focusing on events from the Iranian Revolution to the current day, with a comparative focus on Islamism, post-Islamism, and active religious expression across the region, Bayat explores the highly contested relationship between religion, politics, and the quotidian in the Middle East. His book provides an important understanding of the great anxiety of our time—the global march of “Muslim rage”—and offers a hopeful picture of a democratic Middle East.

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