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O F I S L A M I S T S A N D BA L L O T B O X E S : R E T H I N K I N G T H E R E L AT I O N S H I P B E T W E E N ISLAM ISMS AND ELECTORAL POLITICS
As Islamist movements have gained strength across the Muslim world, their commitment to democratic means of achieving and exercising power has been repeatedly analyzed. The question of whether resort to violence to achieve its goals is inherent in the Islamist project (that what some Islamists understand as a divine mandate to implement shari a ultimately sanctions the use of force against dissenters) or contingent (that the violent exclusion of Islamists from the political arena has driven them to arms, best expressed by Francois Burgat’s contention that any Western political ¸ party could be turned into the Armed Islamic Group in weeks if it were subjected to the same repression Islamists had endured1) looms large in this debate. Where Islamist movements have not had the opportunity to participate in elections for political office, analysts willing to give these movements the benefit of the democratic doubt argue that their peaceful participation in the student body and syndicate elections that they have been allowed to contest proves their intention to respect the results of nationallevel elections.2 They also point to these groups’ repeated public commitment to play by the rules of the electoral game.3 The fact that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Jordan and members of the Islah Party in Yemen have successfully competed in not one but a series of parliamentary elections and evinced a tendency to wage their battles through parliament and the courts rather than by force suggests to many that the question of whether Islamists can ever be democrats has already been settled in the affirmative. Analysts who are more skeptical of the possibility of a democratic Islamism generally advance one of two arguments. The first is procedural: that although some Islamists have seemingly opted to effect change through the ballot box, they have chosen this method only because they do not yet have the power to use more forceful ones. In a manner of speaking, this line of thinking accuses Islamists competing in parliamentary politics of engaging in political taqiyya, of parroting the rhetoric that democrats want to hear until they obtain sufficient power to abort the democratic political process and institute a policy of “one-man, one-vote, one-time.” For other critics, it
Vickie Langohr, Department of Political Science, College of the Holy Cross, One College Street, Worcester, Mass. 01610-2395, USA. 2001 Cambridge University Press 0020-7438/01 $9.50
592 Vickie Langohr is not the means Islamists employ but their goals that are suspect. Although democracy in its narrowest sense may be defined by observance of particular rules about how power is obtained and policies are made, its ultimate value lies in its pledge— however short it may fall in reality—to value and protect the rights of all citizens equally. It is at this more fundamental level that many scholars have found Islamism wanting, as they argue that all Islamists want to implement shari a, and shari a as historically practiced systematically discriminates against members of many groups, particularly women and non-Muslims.4 If this argument is accepted, then the democracy–Islamism question takes on a different cast and can be expressed as the following set of propositions: Islamists seek ultimately to implement shari a, shari a itself is inherently undemocratic, and thus Islamists are, a priori, opponents of democracy because they intend to use their power, regardless of how legitimately they may have obtained it, to implement undemocratic policies. In assessing the democratic commitments of various Islamist movements, it is important to remember that the question of whether Islamist movements are prepared to participate in democratic politics is by and large an inaccurate one. This question assumes a political context in which democratic politics actually exist and that Islamists choose or decline to try their luck at them. In fact, very few examples of such politics exist in most of the Muslim world, particularly in the Middle East. What is actually on offer to most Islamist movements, as well as to other opposition movements, is participation in electoral contests for political office within regimes that remain highly authoritarian. In this context, the questions to be asked are whether, and why, specific Islamist movements choose to forgo violent methods of achieving their goals in favor of their pursuit through electoral processes, and whether the goals themselves are compatible with democratic notions of equal basic rights for all citizens. These are empirical questions to which five new books—Geneive Abdo’s No God but God: Egypt and the Triumph of Islam (Oxford University Press, 2000), Robert W. Hefner’s Civil Islam: Muslims and Democratization in Indonesia (Princeton University Press, 2000), Shaul Mishal and Avraham Sela’s The Palestinian Hamas: Vision, Violence, and Coexistence (Columbia University Press, 2000), Anthony Shadid’s Legacy of the Prophet: Despots, Democrats, and the New Politics of Islam (Westview Press, 2001), and Quintan Wiktorowicz’s The Management of Islamic Activism: Salafis, the Muslim Brotherhood, and State Power in Jordan (State University of New York Press, 2001)—provide some preliminary and provocative answers. These works examine a wide spectrum of contexts, ranging from those in which opportunities for parliamentary competition are relatively new and movements associated with more violent approaches to politics, such as Hamas and Hezbollah, are choosing whether to participate in them; to a country—Indonesia—in which a combination of Islamic groups is credited with having played an instrumental role in peacefully ousting an authoritarian regime. These new works represent a significant contribution to our understanding of the procedural part of the democracy question referred to earlier, with Shadid and Hefner skillfully deploying interviews with Islamists to illuminate why and how they reached their commitments to democratic politics, and Mishal and Sela and Wiktorowicz demonstrating the potential costs and benefits of such commitments. They also invite us to revisit the goals part of the democracy question, with Shadid noting the emergence of some Islamist movements, such as the Egyptian Center Party,
Of Islamists and Ballot Boxes 593 which evince a willingness to reconsider traditional interpretations of shari a on some issues, while Hefner contends that doing away with “the mythology of the Islamic state”5 which seeks to join religious and political authority in the name of implementing shari a was a precondition for the emergence of democratic Islamism in Indonesia. Four of the five books are in-depth studies of single countries or movements, and in adopting this approach they are part of a larger recent trend away from multi-case treatments of Islamism. Not since Gilles Kepel’s influential Muslim Extremism in Egypt: The Prophet and the Pharaoh,6 first published in English in 1985, have there been as many book-length treatments of Islamism in a single country as have been published in the past three years.7 Throughout the 1990s, academic studies of Islamism leaned heavily toward collections of chapters on different Islamist movements,8 books that mined the experiences of several Islamist movements to arrive at more general arguments about Islamism,9 or studies situating Islamism among similar movements based on other religions.10 This comparative approach was an important and largely successful attempt to challenge the generalizing about a single, unitary form of Islamic politics that accompanied the rise of Islamism on the world stage in the aftermath of Anwar Sadat’s assassination and the Iranian Revolution. It provided essential frameworks for thinking about the development of Islamist politics, and the influence of these frameworks in the books reviewed here is clear. The battles of younger generations of Islamists against the rigid hierarchies in their own movements described by Shadid, for example, would be inexplicable outside the context of an earlier devolution of authority to interpret Islam from the ulema to a much wider swath of the Muslim population, developments that scholars such as Dale Eickelman and Jon Andersen have attributed to the spread of mass higher education and the rise of inexpensive methods of mass communication. These new books can also be seen as an indirect response to the assumptions on which some of these earlier frameworks were based. Hefner’s tracing of the rise of a reformist, non–shari a-bound Islamism in Indonesia, for example, seems to challenge Olivier Roy’s influential assessment that political Islam has “failed” because its revolutionary manifestations have not fundamentally altered their societies while its more conservative branches have devolved into “neofundamentalist” campaigns to alter individual behavior. For all of the new approaches employed in these works, however, a feeling of la plus ca change, la plus de meme ¸ chose remains in two regards. The insight that these works bring to their analysis of Islamists is largely matched with an unreflective treatment of the state, whose existence as a clearly bounded entity entirely separate from Islamist activism is assumed even though Islamists’ entrenchment within state bureaucracies themselves is a key source of their movements’ power. Similarly, Nikki Keddie has argued that most recent works on modern religious movements pay scant attention to women, either as actors in the movements or as objects of their policies,11 and several of the works reviewed here fit squarely into this trend.
S O C I A L S E RV I C E S , E L E C T O R A L P O L I T I C S , A N D I N THE M I DDLE EAST
The books reviewed here offer important insights into the ways that Islamist activists assess the constraints within which they operate in the political arena. Mishal and
594 Vickie Langohr Sela, Shadid, and Wiktorowicz examine the activities of a range of Islamist groups that act within very different political contexts, ranging from environments in which parliamentary politics are relatively new, as in the Palestinian Authority, to those in which parliaments and Islamist participation in them are well established, as in Turkey and Jordan. The very real and important differences in these contexts, however, do not alter the fact that movements in different places on this spectrum often face the same questions: what can be achieved by working within political systems whose leaders are both fundamentally opposed to key points of the Islamist agenda and willing to use authoritarian methods to defeat it? Are the minimal political gains which can be won through formal politics worth the compromises that are the price of entry into the game to begin with? One answer that seems to emerge from these works is the important and complicated role that Islamist social-service networks play in determining their managers’ approach to politics and the ways in which their opposition to incumbent regimes will be expressed. The gains that Islamist movements can win through social-service provision—ranging from opportunities for patronage through hiring social-service providers to delegitimizing governments by contrasting their neglect of basic services with Islamist provision of them—may well be more significant than those which movements can hope to win through parliamentary politics, a consideration that may dictate Islamist political moderation in and outside of government in order to protect these service networks from government intrusion. However, if a movement assumes it will be allowed to contest relatively free elections in which the amount of support it enjoys will be accurately translated into parliamentary seats, social services may assume an even more prominent role in Islamist politics as a way to win widespread electoral support. In The Palestinian Hamas, Mishal and Sela take on the questions of violence, moderation, and social services more explicitly than the other works reviewed here, and they advance two major arguments. The first is that despite its “prevailing image . . . as an ideologically intransigent and politically rigid movement, ready to pursue its goals at any cost,”12 Hamas has in fact been “markedly balanced” and shown a high degree of “political flexibility”13 in weighing various methods of achieving its goals. The second is that, its image as a violence-prone group notwithstanding, Hamas is first and foremost a social movement that prioritizes the provision of social services to its constituency. Herein lies the conundrum, as what the authors describe as “Hamas’s effort to secure a dominant public position by committing itself to promote Palestinian national interests through violence against Israel while still maintaining its Islamic social institutions of education, welfare, and health”14 has placed it in the delicate position of trying to continue its violence against Israeli targets without provoking the Palestinian Authority (PA) to retaliate by crushing its service institutions. Within this framework, the authors meticulously trace Hamas’s forays into and abstention from violence over time and re-create its leaders’ debates about the value of participating in elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council. In a sharp and welcome contrast to much writing on Hamas, Mishal and Sela avoid what Burgat has termed the “over-ideologiz[ing]” of political violence in the Arab world—the tendency to assume that the violence of various groups is dictated by the ideologies to which they subscribe rather than paying attention to the specific contexts
Of Islamists and Ballot Boxes 595 in which that violence might be deployed at any given time.15 Crucially, Hamas violence as Mishal and Sela portray it is not a tool to be used in the domestic political arena, as the movement swears and abides by its commitment not to solve conflicts with other Palestine Liberation Organization factions by force. According to Hamas founder Ahmad Yasin, such violence would be deployed only if the PA “were to take steps to undermine Hamas’s civic infrastructure—its religious, educational, and social institutions and its public activities.”16 Violence against Israelis for the purpose of regaining the historic land of Palestine, on the other hand, is always perceived as legitimate, with the timing and nature of particular violent attacks influenced by three factors: attacks by Israelis on Palestinians, such as the Hebron massacre, which precipitate Hamas retaliation; repressive measures by the Israeli government, which often unintentionally end up promoting more Hamas violence, as in 1998 when the arrest of senior leaders in Gaza shifted the locus of authority to Hamas activists outside Palestine who more readily authorized violence than their “inside” counterparts; and the perceived strength or weakness of Fatah and, later, the PA, Hamas’s main competitors. Much of the book is devoted to this final factor, with the authors portraying a type of ongoing shadowboxing in which Hamas tries various ways of using violence to abort the Oslo negotiations without provoking Fatah retaliation. For an analysis that ascribes significant explanatory potential to Hamas’s desire to protect its services by carefully regulating its violence, it is curious that the authors fail to mention Hamas’s ultimate failure in this endeavor, manifested in the severe PA crackdowns on Hamas social services that began in March 1996, continued periodically after that date, and severely marginalized the movement.17 Given the analytical weight that their framework ascribes to these services in influencing Hamas decisionmaking, it is equally curious that these services—what they are, who they serve—go almost undescribed throughout the book. Mishal and Sela’s discussion of Islamist social services in the West Bank and Gaza focus almost exclusively on the 1970s and 1980s, but Hamas was founded only at the end of 1987. Hamas services in the Oslo period, the focus of the book, receive only cursory treatment at the end of the volume, as Hamas writings on the goals of its educational program—as opposed to evidence of what that program actually was—are paraphrased and names of organizations that the movement runs are listed. This shortcoming may result from the sources used by the authors, who relied exclusively on secondary material and internal Hamas documents to build their analysis and thus could not draw on first-hand observation of these services to describe them or assess their scope. These particular internal documents, while perhaps ill-suited to the task of providing a full sense of Hamas’s social services, provide unparalleled insight into the larger question of how the movement assessed the relative merits of violence versus electoral politics at a pathbreaking juncture in Palestinian politics—the anticipated formation of a Palestinian Legislative Council to govern Palestinian territories relinquished by Israel in the Oslo Accords. Mishal and Sela reprint an internal Hamas document examining the benefits and drawbacks of each of four options on the elections question: participation, participation under a name other than Hamas, boycotting and encouraging the populace to do the same, and a boycott combined with violent disruption of the elections. This debate sheds light not only on Hamas’s position toward peaceful political competition with Palestinians outside the movement but also on a predilection for consultation within
596 Vickie Langohr it, as the options document was circulated among senior-level Hamas figures with instructions that they poll as many members as possible on the issues that it raised. The assessment of the four options demonstrates a high degree of realpolitik on Hamas’s part in dealing with what it saw as the most serious threat since its founding to the Palestinian cause: the Oslo Accords and the Palestinian Legislative Council elections, which were mandated by the accords and widely understood to legitimize them. Violence was quickly ruled out, both because the relative balance of forces between the PA and Hamas would have made this a suicidal proposition and because of popular excitement over the elections. The boycott option was similarly dismissed, in part with the argument that just as voter turnouts lower than 50 percent do not delegitimize U.S. elections, neither would the low voter turnout that might result from a Hamas boycott call undermine the legitimacy of Palestinian balloting. The heart of the debate, then, settles on the options of abstaining without calling for a wider boycott or contesting the elections, as leaders debate whether the influence they might gain over the resolution of the conflict by working within the Palestinian Legislative Council merits the weakening of the Oslo rejectionist front that might result if Palestinians took Hamas participation in the council to signal its acceptance of the agreements. It is in their use of movement documents to reconstruct these kinds of internal debates that Mishal and Sela make their most important contribution by contextualizing the environment in which Islamist movements make their decisions on electoral politics, an essential task if we are to move away from a priori assertions that Islamists oppose participation in such politics to a better understanding of why they might do so in specific cases. In this case, the final Hamas decision on the matter—not to compete in the elections formally but to encourage its supporters to register to vote and its members to run as independents—appears not as a rejection of electoral politics outright but as a rejection of elections that were widely understood, including by the secular opposition forces that also boycotted them, to legitimize Oslo. This conclusion is supported by the fact that Hamas urged supporters to register to vote for the Palestinian Legislative Council elections because the rolls generated there would be used to determine eligibility in subsequent municipal elections, which Hamas fully expected to contest and to win because they would be held outside the Oslo framework and would allow the movement to capitalize on the popularity that its social services provided. Anthony Shadid skillfully deploys interviews with subjects in several countries to illuminate similar debates over violent versus electoral means of achieving change in his insightful Legacy of the Prophet. His exploration of groups ranging from the Taliban and Sudan’s National Islamic Front to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leads him to conclude that Islamist politics in the Middle East is undergoing a fundamental transformation as “the adolescence of yesterday’s militants . . . yield[s] to the maturity of today’s activists,”18 part of a “new generation that is finding a more realistic and potentially more successful future through democratic politics.”19 A key focus of the book is his chronicling of the evolution of some Islamist groups away from a history of battling their domestic opponents through violence to an acceptance of the ballot box as the ultimate arbiter of conflict. A Hezbollah that in the 1980s denounced the Lebanese regime as illegitimate and imposed its views on fellow citizens by force entered parliament in the 1990s committed to achieving its domestic agenda peace-
Of Islamists and Ballot Boxes 597 fully. The movement’s spokesman notes that if Hezbollah cannot persuade other Lebanese to create an Islamic state, “then it is possible to have a dialogue . . . on the shape of the regime that we want, and we can live together with them within this regime.”20 In the case of Egypt’s Center Party, formed by younger members of the Brotherhood, what is new is not participation in parliamentary politics per se but the incorporation of Islamist activism into a new type of political party. In 1996, these Muslim Brothers applied for a license to form a party that, with a Copt among its founders and clear statements that it perceived itself as part of, not an alternative to, the existing political system, contrasted sharply with traditional Brotherhood approaches to politics. In Shadid’s narrative, it is exhaustion from the high costs of violence and a realization of its futility in achieving Islamist goals in the domestic arena that bring groups such as Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood to the parliamentary table. Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah notes that “the Lebanese people should never return to internal fighting under any circumstances,”21 and the Muslim Brothers’ long sojourns in Egyptian jails help convince them to work within the system. These sojourns, however, also left ingrained in the Brotherhood’s leaders hierarchical patterns of leadership in which strict obedience was demanded, a model that Shadid argues so alienated Center Party leaders that they determined to form a more internally democratic party. It is this renunciation of the hierarchy that accounts in part for the Brotherhood’s response to the Center Party, whose activists were expelled from the Brotherhood while the movement cooperated with the government to deny the party legal recognition. But another reason for the Brotherhood’s animosity toward the Center Party project is more fundamental—a deep doubt as to how much change can really be achieved through party politics within an authoritarian regime. As the Brotherhood’s spokesman Mamoun Hodeibi has asked rhetorically, “Are there really any parties in Egypt, religious or nonreligious? To have parties means to alternate power. Parties compete in elections, real elections, people vote for something and they change something. Can that happen here?”22 For those Islamists convinced that effective change can be achieved through the ballot box, the importance of social services is multiplied by the possibility that they might gain and keep substantial voter blocs in the Islamist camp. Like Mishal and Sela, Shadid highlights the importance of services in winning support for Islamist movements, and his field research allows him to discuss many of these services in fascinating detail. This is particularly true in his discussion of Hezbollah, which has created a mammoth network of services that completely overshadows those of the Lebanese state in many areas. For the new Islamists, concerned as they are to wage their battle for social change through the ballot box, services are provided not only to satisfy Islamic injunctions on helping fellow believers but also because they will help get and keep Islamists elected to office. As a Turkish Welfare Party official told Shadid, “Every day since we’ve come to power, we’ve opened new roads, new highways, new bridges. In the past, the city’s garbage was never collected but we’re collecting it now. . . . [E]veryone talks about air pollution and traffic problems. By introducing natural gas for heating, we’re going to solve the air pollution problem.”23 These new Islamists understand that, in competing for elected office, in the words of the Welfare official, “what’s important is that the job gets done, regardless of whether you’re veiled or have a beard . . . of whether you’re Muslim or Christian.”24
598 Vickie Langohr Shadid has produced a rare combination of engaging narrative and analysis that remains faithful to the local contexts of individual Islamist movements while anchoring them in a larger story about old and new Islamism that has considerable geographic breadth. It is worth noting that it is not necessarily the goals that Shadid’s new Islamists seek that makes them new. Although the commitment to a secular state embedded in the political consciousness of the Turkish elite from the founding of the republic has made implementation of shari a a non-issue for the Welfare Party, and the Center Party evinces an interest in revisiting questions such as whether women or non-Muslims can serve as judges, Hezbollah remains firmly committed to an Islamic state. The key thing that makes the new Islamists new for Shadid is the methods that they use. As he writes about the Center Party, they are engaged in “competing in elections for unions and professional syndicates, networking with other groups, and involving itself in human rights campaigns.”25 These methods, he argues, are “largely alien to traditional Islamic movements.”26 Because the only group that Shadid explicitly casts in the role of a “traditional” movement is the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which has engaged for more than a decade in much of this type of activism, it feels as if a bit of a straw man is being created here. The future Center Party leaders who led the Brotherhood’s charge in the professional syndicates did so with the full approval of the movement’s leaders, who have themselves repeatedly run for parliament. Other criteria that Shadid advances for distinguishing between old and new Islamism are more compelling, but these distinctions need to be more finely drawn. On the issue of networking with other groups, for example, cooperation of “old-style” Islamists with non-Islamist groups in pursuit of short-term gain is not new, as shown by the fact that Egyptian Brotherhood candidates ran on lists with secular parties in the 1984 and 1987 elections. What would be new would be for Islamists to go beyond temporary alliances for instrumental purposes to engage in ongoing campaigns for political reform with secular groups. There are signs that this may be happening: the role of Center Party founders in denouncing torture, an example of the engagement in human-rights campaigns that Shadid highlights as a marker of new Islamism, contrasts sharply with the silence of the Brotherhood on repeated attempts to press for less restrictive NGO legislation, which has been attributed to the fact that existing NGO laws privilege Islamic NGOs over their secular counterparts. Similarly, Shadid’s argument that a key inspiration for “new” Islamists’ support of electoral democracy is their rebellion against the authoritarianism within their own movements is very important. If it can be demonstrated, as he begins to in a brief discussion of the Jordanian Brotherhood and its political party, the Islamic Action Front (IAF), that these movements systematically adopt more internally democratic methods of operation, then this, too, would constitute a sharp break from older forms of Islamism. The Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood is a key subject of Wiktorowicz’s The Management of Islamist Activism. The Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood has been marked by cooperation with the regime since its inception in 1945 and by what may be the longest record of Islamist parliamentary contestation in the region, stretching from the 1950s until Parliament was suspended in 1966 and resuming again once it was restored in 1989. Wiktorowicz does not take up the question of why the Jordanian Brothers opted for parliamentary politics. He is interested instead in why the Brotherhood chose to work through the medium of formal organizations—largely social-
Of Islamists and Ballot Boxes 599 service organizations—while the Jordanian Salafis have by and large abjured such organization in favor of a focus on spreading their ideas through study circles and publishing. The answer that he offers is not surprising: that the Brotherhood’s cooperative stance has won its formal organizations significant freedom from government intervention, while the Salafis, a movement whose armed and unarmed wings share a fundamental opposition to the Hashemite regime, have found their few forays into NGO terrain quickly crushed. What is more valuable is Wiktorowicz’s contention that in contrast to the assumption of much social-movement theory that formal organization is an important resource for social movements, this type of organization can actually weaken such movements by bringing the attention of authoritarian governments to their activities. His Foucauldian analysis of the rules regulating Jordanian NGOs demonstrates a conclusion applicable in much of the Middle East—that enmeshing non-governmental groups in a web of bureaucratic requirements designed to make their every move visible to the government, and thus more easily subject to regulation, is merely a politically cheaper way of retaining the same high levels of government control over civil society that characterized an earlier and more openly violent pre-liberalization period. Formal organization in this context all but eviscerates any possibility of truly oppositional activity, and Wiktorowicz’s interviews with Salafis demonstrate their keen awareness of this as well as their choice to abjure formal organization rather than compromise their beliefs. His perceptive analysis of how Salafi study circles function to expand the movement reinforces the arguments of scholars such as Sheila Carapico writing on Yemen that an overemphasis on formal organizations leads to an underestimation of the transformative power of civil societies.27 Wiktorowicz’s explanation of the reason that the Brothers engage in formal organization while the Salafis do not, while valuable for its illumination of the dangers inherent in excessively regulated formal organization, avoids the more fundamental question of why the Brotherhood has chosen to adopt such a moderate stance and ignores the tensions concerning, and continual renegotiations of, that stance within the movement. Put another way, his answer to the question of why the Brotherhood chooses to act through formal organizations is that it chooses to because it can—that is, because the government will allow it. He does not advance a causal argument like Mishal and Sela’s to explain this moderation; he does not say that the Brotherhood has chosen moderation in order to protect its social-service network. Rather, he observes that their moderation has protected their social-service network. His detailed description of the movement’s impressive network of charitable organizations, which offer the movement ample opportunities to win supporters through patronage and proselytization, makes the benefits of avoiding an overly oppositional posture clear. But what about the costs? Wiktorowicz’s extensive interviews with Salafis sharply evoke their conception of the costs and benefits of moderating their stance, but his discussion of the Brotherhood suggests no such cost-benefit analysis on the part of a movement that appears in his narrative to be seamlessly committed to political moderation. Although Wiktorowicz’s Brotherhood informants might well have been loath to put their assessments of the drawbacks of their cooperative stance toward the government on record, there is some evidence to suggest that growing numbers of them sense these drawbacks acutely. Much of this evidence is provided, in various contexts, by Wiktorowicz himself, who notes that a major source of new recruits for the Salafis
600 Vickie Langohr are disaffected Brothers,28 and he mentions several high-profile acts of Brotherhood defiance of the government, including the arrests of the IAF Member of parliament Abdul Munem Abu Zant for defying government edicts against anti–peace-process khutbas and Brotherhood participation in banned rallies in support of Iraq. Other examples of such disaffection include the debates that the Brotherhood and the IAF have repeatedly engaged in over whether and the conditions under which the IAF would participate in government and in parliament, debates that caused schisms within the IAF as early as its 1992 and 1993 internal elections, as well as divisions between the Muslim Brotherhood and the IAF over whether the party would follow the Brotherhood’s dictate to boycott the 1997 parliamentary elections. These schisms, arrests, and defections from the Brotherhood to the Salafis suggest that at least some Brothers are assessing the costs as well as the benefits of their moderation. They also demonstrate that organizational unity and coherence may well be an important cost of such a stance.
OLD AND NEW ISLAM ISM OUTSI DE THE M I DDLE EAST
Islamism in the Middle East ranges from groups attempting the overthrow of local regimes to movements long entrenched in cooperative relations with them. What this range has yet to include, however, are Islamist movements playing an instrumental role in a successful transition from authoritarian rule to democracy. The lack of such a transition, Islamically aided or not, has resulted in the region’s almost complete exclusion from academic discussions of democratization, as if it were destined never to experience it. It has also given rise to arguments by Samuel Huntington and others that Islam itself is somehow anti-democratic. These arguments are severely challenged by Robert Hefner’s Civil Islam, which traces the growth since Indonesian independence of a commitment among what he calls Muslim modernist movements to a pluralistic, democratic Islam that he credits with having played an essential role in Indonesia’s peaceful ouster of Suharto. The debate over the role of Islam in the Indonesian state dates to the state’s inception and the last-minute dropping of the Jakarta Charter, which stated that the Indonesian nation was based on belief in God, with Muslims obliged to follow shari a, from the constitution in 1945. This left politicians who advocated an enhanced role for Islam in the state and public life feeling betrayed and marginalized from political life. This feeling would continue for the next four decades. After a brief period of democratic government in which Islamist political parties won significant but not majority popular support, democratic rule was replaced by various forms of authoritarianism under the guise first of Guided Democracy under Sukarno and then by Suharto’s New Order. This period saw supporters of an Islamic state largely excluded from political power, their parties dissolved, and their voices significantly muted. It also saw, however, an unprecedented expansion of state support for “non-political” Islam as Suharto sought to demonstrate his Muslim bona fides and undermine competitors by devoting enormous resources to Islamic education in particular. Muslim modernist movements were divided, often along generational lines, over the lessons to be learned from their extended political night. Senior modernists turned to increasingly rigid and sectarian interpretations of Islam, while younger members prioritized education and social-welfare programs as the true path to a reform that they argued required changes in society,
Of Islamists and Ballot Boxes 601 not an Islamic state. A vigorous culture of debate emerged in universities and in journals that re-examined traditional interpretations of shari a and engaged a variety of positions on the relationship between Islam and politics. By the time the Indonesian economy collapsed in 1997 and Suharto descended into ever-more-murderous incitements of sectarian violence, Muslim groups had become polarized into two camps. The first, wedded to Suharto, espoused a fiercely anti-democratic, anti-Christian, and anti-Chinese version of Islam. The second, headed by Abdulrahman Wahid of Nahdatul Ulema, Indonesia’s largest Muslim movement; Muhammadiya’s Amien Rais; and the influential thinker Nurcholish Madjid, entered into a “red–green alliance” of secularists and Muslim modernists symbolized by the cooperation of Wahid and Megawati Sukarnoputri. This book is a tour de force. Hefner’s long experience in studying Indonesian Islamism allows him to trace the development within it of various approaches to politics and democracy with great sensitivity. Authoritarian regimes that endure for any length of time do so in part by making their rule at least somewhat beneficial to all but their most incorrigible opponents, and Muslim modernist movements in Indonesia, both those which opposed Suharto because he did not run a democratic state and those which opposed him because he did not create an Islamic one, found much to benefit from in the New Order. On the more crass level, generous spoils, including government-created research centers, were available to those who cooperated. Even those Islamists who were above such maneuvers found that central parts of their agenda, such as the effective marginalization of Javanist indigenous religion, were being achieved by the policies of the very government that they attacked, in this case by massive government Islamization programs in Javanist areas. The multifaceted nature of the relationship between the Suharto regime and Islamists accounts in part for the difficulty in formulating a consistently anti-Suharto position among Muslim democrats, and Hefner paints a compelling portrait of the choices that various Muslim groups—or, in some cases, the same group at different points in time—made to exploit authoritarian rule for their own gain, to ally with particular parts of the regime in order to press for democratic openings in others, or to call openly for democracy at great institutional risk. Following these evolutions and keeping track of the various players will require careful reading from those with little background in Indonesian politics, but the effort is amply rewarded. Democratic convictions are found in unexpected places, with surprising roots. For example, Nahdatul Ulema relies on a highly traditional base of ulema who expect the movement to keep their networks of spiritual and financial power afloat, while the country’s second-strongest Muslim group, the 25 million-strong Muhammadiya, recruits primarily among the Western-educated with jobs in the modern economy. It is Nahdatul Ulema, however, that is credited with having produced some of the country’s most tolerant and innovative proponents of non-sectarian democracy, a paradox that Hefner attributes in part to the group’s very lack of ideological rigor and its early need to compensate for its own lack of educated cadres by working with secular activists. The fact that Nahdatul Ulema could push aggressively for political democratization while much of its constituency derived its power from traditional hierarchies of religious authority contrasts with Shadid’s argument that Islamists’ support of democratic politics is often prompted by repudiation of the authoritarian relations within their own movements.
602 Vickie Langohr While many analysts of Islamism and democracy focus on Islamists’ willingness to commit to the procedural aspect of democracy—winning power solely through the ballot box—Hefner advances a more robust claim for the Muslim modernists whose emergence he traces. In contrast to a movement such as Hezbollah, which in opting for parliamentary politics instead of violence to obtain an Islamic state has changed its methods but not its goals, Indonesian modernists have repudiated what Hefner, quoting an informant, refers to as “the mythology of the Islamic state” built on “a monopolistic fusion of religious and political authority.”29 This repudiation, he contends, was an essential prerequisite to the emergence of what he calls Indonesia’s “democratic, religiously ecumenical, and boldly reformist movement.”30 How this ecumenism and bold reform manifest themselves in terms of concrete positions on issues other than achieving power through elections, however, remains unclear. For example, one can extrapolate religious ecumenism from modernists’ refusal to endorse violence against non-Muslim groups, but does this ecumenism extend to guaranteeing nonMuslims equal access to all rights, including rights to political office, that Muslims enjoy? Hefner offers very few concrete examples of modernists’ opinions on these issues, and the one example that he gives of modernist responses to a controversial reform proposal—the suggestion by a former government official that inheritance laws be changed to provide equal shares in inheritance to male and female inheritors, which was met with hostility by many modernists—suggests some of the possible limits to the “boldness” of Indonesian reformist Islam. Modernist leaders such as Wahid and Amien Rais have not been in power long enough to have amassed a policy record with discernible positions on these issues, but highlighting the content of the debates in some of the modernist Islamist journals that Hefner argues were so crucial to the development of the modernist camp might have shed some light on these issues. Hefner’s book is the latest addition to a small but important body of work that includes Dale Eickelman and James Piscatori’s Muslim Politics (Princeton University Press, 1996), John Esposito and John Voll’s Islam and Democracy (Oxford University Press, 1999), and Bruce Lawrence’s Shattering the Myth: Islam Beyond Violence (Princeton University Press, 1998), which incorporate non-Middle Eastern cases into discussions of Islamism. By highlighting differences in Islamism in different areas, this comparative work provides a starting point for separating what may be particularly Middle Eastern from what is “Islamic” in Muslim politics, an essential endeavor in understanding a phenomenon that is unremittingly trans-regional in scope. The three explanations that Hefner offers for the emergence of pluralistic Islamism in Indonesia, one of which implicitly contrasts Indonesian with Middle Eastern experiences, are important hypotheses in their own right about the sources of democratization in Islamism in general. They also offer ways to think about why this impulse has been less pronounced in Middle Eastern contexts. The implicitly comparative argument is a historical one, as Hefner traces what he calls the “civic seedlings” of democratic Islam back to Indonesia’s history of “a ‘pluricentric’ pattern of mercantile citystates, inland agrarian kingdoms, and tribal hinterlands,”31 each of which possessed power in different parts of the territory. This distribution of political power existed in an archipelago that, he points out, was “never conquered by invading Muslim armies, smothered under a centralized empire, or supervised by an omnipresent clergy.”32 Although the authority of Middle Eastern empires and ulema was probably never as
Of Islamists and Ballot Boxes 603 seamless and unchallenged as this characterization suggests, more systematic analysis of the specific ways in which these historical differences connect to contemporary outcomes might well offer provocative results. The other explanatory factors that Hefner offers are more modern. Suharto presided over a sustained period of phenomenal economic growth that gave rise to a substantial middle class and an unprecedented expansion of educational opportunities and literacy. Hefner contends that the democratization of Islamist politics in Indonesia was made possible by the rise of new actors and institutions that greatly expanded participation in debates over Islamic politics, and that the growth of the middle class and Indonesia’s high literacy rates were essential to this development. This question of the middle class, however, is a tricky one. Although the connection between the growth of middle classes and democratization is almost axiomatic in the political science literature, the middle class is notoriously hard to define. Hefner gives little help in this regard, offering no sense of how he measures the middle class (for example, by its share in national income or by the percentage of the population who work in particular sectors of the economy) and no speculation on roughly what its size might be proportional to the wealthy and the poor in Indonesia. Egypt is the closest comparable Middle Eastern case to Indonesia in terms of size, level of industrial development, and level of development of the domestic market, and as such it provides an instructive counterpart to the Indonesian case in teasing out precisely which indicators of development and class might be most crucial to creating democratizing forces within Islamism. According to the United Nations Development Program’s Human Development Report for 2000, 60 percent of Egyptians fall between the poorest and the wealthiest 20 percent of the country. They could be understood literally to constitute “middle” classes and they enjoy a larger share of national income than Indonesia’s three “middle” classes do.33 This more equitable distribution, however, is not matched by higher levels of “development,” as the United Nations Development Program’s human-development index, a composite figure that includes such indicators as literacy rates and life expectancy, is significantly higher for Indonesia than for Egypt.34 As Hefner points out, literacy rates in Indonesia are remarkably high: the Human Development Report lists Indonesia’s 1998 literacy rate as 85.7 percent, compared with 53.7 percent for Egypt; 59.7 percent for the Arab world as a whole; and only 68.7 percent even for a regional educational leader such as Tunisia. Much more work in measuring the comparative size of middle classes in Indonesia and other Muslim countries needs to be done before we can draw causal links between their size and divergent democratic outcomes, but the Egypt–Indonesia comparison may suggest that the way development reserves are spent, for example, on literary programs, is as or more important than the equity with which they are distributed when it comes to facilitating democratic outcomes.
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While Hefner, like most of the other authors reviewed here, focuses on and assesses the democratic potential of Islamists active in the national political arena, Geneive Abdo’s No God But God is concerned with a process of “social reform [that] is leading towards the Islamization of society at large from the bottom up” in Egypt.35 The social
604 Vickie Langohr reform that concerns Abdo only occasionally overlaps with or is instituted through national-level electoral politics; she focuses instead on Islamist advances in civil society, particularly the professional syndicates, and in what she calls the “pillars of the state,” including the judiciary and al-Azhar. Unlike the other works reviewed here, Abdo’s is primarily interested not in the activities of self-contained movements with clear leadership structures such as Hamas or the Muslim Brotherhood but, rather, in a gradual process of Islamization originating from many nodes that are largely independent of one another. This approach has one clear advantage over the focus on evolutions in Islamist positions on democracy adopted by most of the other authors: it allows Abdo to illustrate the concrete effects on people’s lives of a particular type of Islamist politics that Olivier Roy terms “neofundamentalist” in its focus on altering individual behavior. Abdo evocatively sketches both the foot soldiers and the leaders of the “neofundamentalist” battle in a wide-ranging discussion that demonstrates the different ways that Islamism operates in a variety of class environments. Any student who has had difficulty understanding the concept of the ability to interpret Islam authoritatively spreading beyond the ulema to other sections of the population, a phenomenon often described as being at the heart of contemporary Islamism, will find it clarified in the figure of Muhammad al-Hudaiby, a former drug dealer turned street preacher who offers Islamic guidance while selling juice from a kiosk in Imbaba. Abdo’s coverage of Imbaba, the site of the government’s all-out war against the Gama a al-Islamiyya in the early 1990s, includes some laugh-out-loud examples of the absurdity of government policy there. She recounts Eddie Murphy and Prince Charles being paraded through areas that had been improved through millions of dollars in (U.S.) Agency for International Development funds, and Hassan “Karate” Sultan, the former Gama a member touted by the state and intelligentsia as a “reformed militant,” growing wealthy enough from foreign interviews that he could subcontract his food stand, by then garnished with a banner marked “God Is Great, starring Hassan Karate.” She chronicles one of the more important manifestations of Islamism in the professional middle class through an in-depth look at Brotherhood activity in the professional syndicates, and interviews wealthy, once-Westernized women who faithfully attend lectures by and received guidance from shaykhs who had clashed with the government. Although Abdo’s narrative provides a nuanced feel for the many facets of nonviolent Islamist activity in Egypt, her attempts to fashion larger arguments out of this narrative are problematic and at times contradict her data outright. She refers to Egypt’s moderate Islamists as the “only hope for a brighter future,”36 but what this assessment is based on is not clear, as she offers no analysis of what Egypt’s problems are or suggestion of how Islamists might address them. It appears that her optimism is based on the fact that Egyptian Islamists have installed their changes peacefully “from below” rather than violently “from above” as in the case of Iran, but unless one presumes that changes in the direction of Islamization are inevitable, the mere fact that they are brought about peacefully does not in and of itself make them desirable or sources of hope. A similarly undeveloped thesis comes in the guise of her argument on Egypt’s relations with the West. Egypt’s peaceful Islamism, she suggests, “poses a far greater challenge to Western interests than the militant movement now on the decline,”37 but Western interests are left undefined, as though they were a self-evident
Of Islamists and Ballot Boxes 605 category. Abdo’s cursory treatment of this issue contrasts sharply with the more thoughtful discussion offered by Shadid, who argues that although new Islamists oppose many long-held Western policies, such as unwavering support for Israel and the Gulf monarchies, the more fundamental Western interests of long-term stability and promotion of democratic ideals would be better served by allowing democracy to function freely in the region even if that brought these Islamists to power than by continued support of authoritarian regimes. Shadid’s clear definition of what he means by Western interests—whether one agrees with them or not—allows the reader to engage with his argument, while Abdo’s assertion of Islamist dangers to Western interests, in the absence of any supporting argument, merely serves to further stereotypical generalizations about Islam. Abdo’s weakest analysis comes in her discussion of the relationship between the Egyptian state and moderate Islamists, which seems to underestimate both the extent to which the state recognizes and battles Islamism and the degree to which state support of some Islamists has been essential to their success. “Mesmerized by . . . alarmist headlines and sound bites that the Western media reserve for deadly Muslim militancy,” the state, she argues, “has overlooked the far more dangerous threat to its survival that Egypt’s grassroots piety has come to represent.”38 This thesis is belied, however, by her subsequent tracing of the great lengths to which the state has gone to stop moderate Islamism in its tracks, ranging from closing down private mosques to placing Islamist-dominated syndicates in receivership to mounting campaigns against the veiling of primary-school girls, all of which suggest that the state is not only aware of but hypersensitive to the challenge posed by moderate Islamists. This challenge is only part of the whole picture, however, and Abdo’s focus on government–Islamist competition makes her miss the extent to which the Egyptian state has intentionally facilitated the spread of certain strands of moderate Islamist activism for its own purposes. She offers one example of this phenomenon—the state’s 1994 decision to expand substantially the ability of al-Azhar’s Islamic Research Academy to censor artistic material—but state support lies just under the surface of many of the other Islamist advances that she addresses, as in the case of Shaykh Muhammad Matwali Sharawi. Sharawi, whom Abdo calls “Egypt’s most beloved religious figure”39 and whom she credits with much of the “shaping of the new image of the ideal Islamist woman in Egypt,”40 was indeed an important force in popularizing Islamism, but his high profile could not have been achieved without his constant presence on state-controlled television.
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The lack of sensitivity to the various types of relationship that exist between nonviolent Islamists and the state that characterizes Abdo’s analysis plagues most of the other works reviewed here as well, as well as much research on Islamism more generally. Such research usually places state–Islamist relationships on a continuum between two poles—competition and cooperation or co-optation. Both of these poles, however, begin from the same place: an assumption that the state and Islamist groups are two well-bounded entities entirely separate from each other that then choose whether to fight against or cooperate with each other. Missing almost entirely is a third possibil-
606 Vickie Langohr ity—that as Middle Eastern and other states in the Muslim world have grown astronomically since independence, members of Islamist movements in their capacity as well-educated members of their societies have become employees of state bureaucracies. Hefner is the only author surveyed who addresses this possibility, as he notes that large numbers of the younger generation of Indonesian modernists, beneficiaries of the New Order’s massive expansion of modern education, joined the burgeoning state bureaucracy. He then demonstrates the benefits that can come from being positioned within the state in his exploration of the Association of Indonesian Muslim Intellectuals (ICMI), one of the larger institutional sites for modernist Islamist discourse. The ICMI’s rapid growth, and many of its activities, was made possible by the large numbers of state bureaucrats—Islamists as well as non-Islamist opportunists—who joined it. Although the preponderance of opportunistic bureaucrats within it served to dampen the ICMI’s reformist tendencies, the institution’s affiliation with the state bureaucracy also gave it the necessary cover to serve initially as a platform for modernist discourse on the compatibility of Islam and democracy. Whether Islamists end up in the bureaucracy in their capacity as private citizens or are placed there when their parties win some power, working from within the bureaucracy can provide them with important resources to be used on behalf of their movements. Abdo, Shadid, and Wiktorowicz all demonstrate the willingness and ability of state coercive apparatuses to crack down on Islamist organization, but when Islamists are heavily represented in these apparatuses the targets of repression can be quite different. Sami Zubaida has argued, for example, that in Turkey by the mid-1990s the Welfare Party had placed significant numbers of its supporters into all echelons of the Interior Ministry, with the result that the armed might of the state fell heavily on leftist protest activity while Islamist demonstrations and gatherings proceeded unhindered.41 Paying more attention to the ways that Islamists within the state can further the growth of their movements also provides another way to think about why these movements choose to moderate their political stances. Wiktorowicz’s discussion of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood’s moderation, for example, focuses almost exclusively on the benefits that that policy brings to its charitable organizations, which function independently of the state. Another important benefit of that moderation, and perhaps an incentive for it, is the awarding of the Ministry of Education to Islamic Action Front members, which, as Glenn Robinson points out, means that new openings in this 60,000-person strong bureaucracy can be filled from the ranks of IAF and Brotherhood members.42 Although this provides the IAF and Brotherhood with enormous patronage opportunities, it also offers them a chance to influence curriculum long after their high-ranking elected officials have been turned out of office. The unreflective treatment accorded the state by most of the works reviewed here is matched or exceeded by their treatment of women active in and affected by Islamism. If we exclude the issue of veiling, Nikki Keddie’s argument that most work on modern religious movements pays scant attention to women43 rings true in the study of Islamism. Shadid and Wiktorowicz pay some attention to the issue of women as actors in Islamist movements. Wiktorowicz points out that women served on the board of only two of twenty-eight non–women-specific Jordanian Brotherhood NGOs,44 while no women were elected to the 120-member IAF general assembly in 1992, and only one was elected to the subsequent assembly.45 In the Egyptian Center Party, by
Of Islamists and Ballot Boxes 607 contrast, the one hundred founders included nineteen women, although it is not clear that they subsequently exercised any power in the group, and Shadid highlights the role that women play in mobilizing wards for the Turkish Welfare Party. One of the few authors to have devoted significant attention to women’s role in Islamism, Bruce Lawrence in Shattering the Myth, has argued that “the myth of the independent, voluntary female fundamentalism has no factual basis . . . even when women do join in [Islamist] public gatherings, whether to sport rifles or to shout slogans, their presence, and one imagines also their performance, is choreographed by men.”46 With the possible exception of Welfare, the books reviewed here provide insufficient evidence to challenge Lawrence’s claim. The one place where one would most expect to find such a challenge—Indonesia—is the one place where women are almost completely absent from the authors’ narrative. Mainstream interpretations of Islam in Indonesia have long been more favorable to women than elsewhere, with an Islamic family law that is significantly more liberal than those in most of the rest of the Muslim world, and with women assuming Islamic positions of authority denied them in other places, particularly through their service as Islamic judges.47 In contrast to many of their middle-class Middle Eastern counterparts, Indonesian women have a long history of working outside the home and being active in public life,48 and more to the point here, “the Islamic mainstream in Indonesia has also not produced a campaign to veil women, to keep them at home, or to deny them substantial gains already made.”49 Given a context in which women seem to have enjoyed many more rights and possessed a longer history of public life than in much of the Muslim world, one might well have expected them to play a role in the emergence of Indonesian Muslim modernism chronicled by Hefner, but he provides no evidence of this, as women are all but absent as actors from his narrative. As was noted earlier, Hefner advances the most robust definition of democracy of any of the authors discussed here, explicitly arguing that it goes beyond elections and institutions to include Robert Bellah’s “habits of the heart,” but if women played no important role to speak of in the two largest Indonesian modernist movements—movements that together have millions of members—this would strongly imply that the new Islamist modernism that Hefner chronicles is not as reformist or democratic as he suggests. The question of women in Islamism centers not only on female participants in Islamist movements but, even more important, on women’s experiences as the objects of Islamist policies. This subject is all but absent from the narratives of four of the five authors reviewed here. In a book that extensively chronicles ebbs and flows of Hamas violence, for example, it is curious that Mishal and Sela do not discuss the violence employed by Hamas activists against unveiled women in the first year of the Intifada.50 Although this violence ended after the first year, its impact was longer-lived because of the pressures women face not to unveil once they have veiled.51 In analyzing the effects of fundamentalism on women, Lawrence, discussing the case of Egypt, concludes that “it is only a tiny fraction of urban-dwelling Egyptian women who are affected by either the fundamentalism or the feminist option—or by a newly emergent trend toward ‘Islamic feminism.’”52 Lawrence reaches this conclusion by limiting his the definition of Islamist effects on women to the question of their effects on women’s right and ability to work outside the home. Abdo’s much broader examination of the issue, particularly her tracing of the influence conservative Islamists have had on
608 Vickie Langohr thwarting campaigns to criminalize clitorodectomy, suggests a much larger pool of women adversely affected by conservative forms of Islamism. Despite these flaws, the five books reviewed in this essay provide an unparalleled glimpse into the contemporary practice of Middle Eastern and Indonesian Islamism. Although the prospect of allowing Islamists to compete for parliament prompted apocalyptic predictions from Middle Eastern leaders and some scholars of the region, two of the Islamist groups that have been represented in parliament the longest—the Egyptian and Jordanian53 Muslim Brotherhoods—have achieved very few of their substantive goals through this forum. By demonstrating just how much of a broadly Islamist agenda is being achieved in Cairo’s courts, from banning offensive books and films to divorcing of so-called apostates from their Muslim wives, Abdo’s discussion of Islamization in Egypt suggests that the judicial system may well be the more important national institution to focus on in understanding how many of Islamism’s most concrete gains are won. The books reviewed here also identify crucial questions whose answers will determine the future shape of Islamism and profoundly affect the course of politics in the Muslim world. The rise of contemporary Islamism represents in part a type of democratization in which the power to make and question authoritative pronouncements on Islam spreads beyond an elite—the ulema—to much of the population. Will the critics of authoritarianism within their own movements that Shadid highlights, such as the Center Party or more recently parts of the IAF in Jordan, be able to take this trend a step further and create viable forms of democracy within their own movements, a development that would be unparalleled in the ranks of opposition movements in the Middle East more generally? Would more internally democratic Islamist movements be stronger and more effective supporters of democracy in the wider political arena, as Shadid suggests, or are hierarchically organized movements such as Hefner’s Nahdatul Ulema better positioned to commit to electoral democracy because their leaders have the power to keep their supporters in line? Finally, and perhaps most important, the books reviewed here demonstrate in extensive detail the “dirty tricks” practiced by incumbent regimes not only against Islamists but against all opposition movements, reinforcing Lisa Anderson’s argument54 that, although we do not yet have sufficient evidence to argue that Islamists are not committed to democracy, we have ample proof that incumbent and ostensibly secular regimes are not. Hefner’s description of the “red–green alliance” of secular and modernist Muslim forces that ousted Suharto suggests what students of democratization have long understood: that extracting democracy from the jaws of authoritarianism requires alliances of opposition forces across the political spectrum. If Shadid is correct in contending that willingness to work in coalition with secular forces is a key marker of new Islamism, and if—and this is a big if—secular forces were equally willing to work with them, broad-based alliances against authoritarianism could be constructed that might well be the region’s best hope for democratization.
Francois Burgat, discussion comment, as quoted in “Ballot Boxes, Militaries, and Islamic Movements,” ¸ The Islamism Debate, ed. Martin Kramer (Tel Aviv: Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, 1997), 45. 2 For example, Khaled Hroub cites examples of cases of elections in which Hamas “adhered to its commitment to pluralism at the expense of tactical gains it could have made,” such as the September 1992
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elections to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Jenin, in which the last-minute addition of hundreds of ineligible Fatah supporters to the voting lists led Hamas to withdraw from the contest without spoiling the elections. Of course, whether Hamas had any other options is not clear: Khaled Hroub, Hamas: Political Thought and Practice (Washington, D.C.: Institute for Palestine Studies, 2000), 212. 3 See Gudrun Kramer, “The Integration of the Integrists: A Comparative Study of Egypt, Jordan, and Tunisia,” in Democracy Without Democrats? The Renewal of Politics in the Muslim World, ed. Ghassan Salameh (London: I. B. Tauris, 1994); Denis Sullivan and Sana Abed-Kotob, Islam in Contemporary Egypt: Civil Society versus the State (Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner, 1999). 4 One of the better-known and compelling developments of this argument is found in Abdullahi Ahmed al-Na im, Toward an Islamic Reformation: Civil Liberties, Human Rights, and International Law (Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1990). 5 Robert W. Hefner, Civil Islam: Muslims and Democratization in Indonesia (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2000), xvii–xviii. 6 Gilles Kepel, Muslim Extremism in Egypt: The Prophet and the Pharaoh (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985). 7 In addition to the studies analyzed in this essay, others include Marion Boulby and John Voll, The Muslim Brotherhood and the Kings of Jordan 1945–1993 (Atlanta: Scholars’ Press, 1999); Sondra Hale, Gender Politics in Sudan: Islamism, Socialism, and the State (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1997); Hroub, Hamas; and Donald Petterson, Inside Sudan: Political Islam, Conflict, and Catastrophe (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1999). 8 John L. Esposito and John O. Voll, Islam and Democracy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995); Joel Beinin and Joe Stork, ed., Political Islam: Essays from Middle East Report (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997); John L. Esposito, ed., Political Islam: Revolution, Radicalism or Reform (Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner, 1997). 9 This trend includes, but is not limited to, such influential works as Nazih Ayubi, Political Islam: Religion and Politics in the Arab World (London: Routledge, 1991); Olivier Roy, The Failure of Political Islam (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1994); Dale F. Eickelman and James Piscatori, Muslim Politics (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1996), Francois Burgat and William Dowell, The Islamic ¸ Movement in North Africa (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1997); and Bruce Lawrence, Shattering the Myth: Islam Beyond Violence (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1998). 10 Mark Juergensmeyer, The New Cold War? Religious Nationalism Confronts the Secular State (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), and Gilles Kepel, The Revenge of God: The Resurgence of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism in the Modern World (University Park: Pennsylvania State Press, 1994), not to mention the five-volume Fundamentalisms study edited by R. Scott Appleby and Martin Marty, beginning with Fundamentalisms Observed (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991) and concluding with Fundamentalisms Comprehended (Chicago, Univeristy of Chicago Press, 1995). 11 Nikki R. Keddie, “The New Religious Politics and Women Worldwide: A Comparative Study,” Journal of Women’s History 10 (1999): 16. 12 Shaul Mishal and Avraham Sela, The Palestinian Hamas: Vision, Violence, and Coexistence (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000), vii. 13 Ibid., 3 14 Ibid., 2 15 Burgat, “Ballot Boxes,” 35. 16 Mishal and Sela, 111. 17 This omission cannot be explained by the period covered by Mishal and Sela in the book, as their analysis goes up to the Wye River Accords in October 1998. 18 Anthony Shadid, Legacy of the Prophet: Despots, Democrats, and the New Politics of Islam (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 2001), 2. 19 Ibid., 2. 20 Ibid., 278. 21 Ibid. 22 Ibid., 257–58. 23 Ibid., 148–49. 24 Ibid. 25 Ibid., 6 26 Ibid.
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Sheila Carapico, Civil Society in Yemen: The Political Economy of Activism in Modern Arabia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998). 28 Quintan Wiktorowicz, The Management of Islamic Activism: Salafis, the Muslim Brotherhood, and State Power in Jordan (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2001), 136. 29 Hefner, Civil Islam, 28. 30 Ibid. 31 Ibid., 14. 32 Ibid. 33 Table 4, “Human Poverty in Developing Countries,” shows the percentage of national income accruing to each of the five quintiles of a country’s population. The middle three quintiles in Egypt account for 51.2 percent of the national income, while they account for 47.1 percent in Indonesia. The richest one-fifth of the population in Indonesia enjoys 44.9 percent of the national income, compared with 39 percent in Egypt. The figures are for 1998: United Nations Development Program, Human Development Report (2000), 171–73. 34 Indonesia’s Human Development Index (HDI) was 0.670, while Egypt’s was 0.623. While this may not appear to be a sizeable difference, ten countries separate Indonesia’s and Egypt’s performance on this indicator, demonstrating a substantial gap between the two: ibid., 157–60. 35 Geneive Abdo, No God but God: Egypt and the Triumph of Islam (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 8 37 Ibid., 11. 38 Ibid., 33. 39 Ibid., 146. 40 Ibid. 41 Sami Zubaida, “Turkish Islam and National Identity,” Middle East Report 26 (1996): 12. 42 Glenn Robinson, “Can Islamists Be Democrats? The Case of Jordan,” Middle East Journal 51 (1997): 381. 43 Keddie, “New Religious Politics,” 16. 44 Wiktorowicz, Management of Islamic Activism, 87. 45 Ibid., 88. 46 Lawrence, Shattering the Myth, 111. 47 Daniel Lev notes that “the Indonesian Islamic family law regime has long been one of the most liberal in the Muslim universe” and that “it may be an Indonesian first that women have served as Islamic judges (hakim agama).” Daniel Lev, “On the Other Hand?”, in Fantasizing the Feminine in Indonesia, ed. Laurie Sears (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1996), 193–94. 48 Suzanne Brenner notes that as early as the 15th century Indonesian women worked in a wide variety of influential fields, and that the New Order’s attempt to cast women as housewives and make their presence in the work world seem exceptional flies in the face of Indonesian reality: Suzanne April Brenner, The Domestication of Desire: Women, Wealth, and Modernity in Java (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1998), 243. 49 Lev, “On the Other Hand?” 194. 50 This violence is discussed by Rema Hammami, “From Immodesty to Collaboration: Hamas, the Women’s Movement, and National Identity in the Intifada,” in Political Islam, 194–209. 51 This point is made in ibid., 202 52 Lawrence, Shattering the Myth, 124. 53 Glenn Robinson argues that in the late 1980s and early 1990s “a pattern was . . . established by which the Islamist parliamentarians would raise an issue only to be turned back by the king or by the successive prime ministers appointed by the king. On many issues, including the segregation of the sexes at public schools, the prohibition of alcohol, and opposition to the peace talks with Israel, the position of the Muslim Brothers was defeated”: Robinson, “Can Islamists Be Democrats?” 375. 54 Lisa Anderson, personal communication, 3 December 2000.