Most observers, in attempting to explain why the movement toward pluralism, liberalism and democracy has been relatively weak in the Arab world, have concluded that it must have something to do with culture, and more particularly with Islam. Growing interest and research in the subject have not shaken the widespread notion that there is one single political doctrine of Islam, more or less identical with the historical caliphate and incompatible with pluralist democracy as it first developed in the West. Islam, it is said, has not in the past been democratic and is unable to become so in the future.

This is, of course, an a historical view, and it focuses on what Leonard Binder referred to as a “cluster of absences”: the missing concept of liberty, the lack of autonomous corporate institutions, the absence of a self-confident middle class. [1] Recent studies on militant Islam reinforce the conclusion that it is only through emancipation from Islam (passing through the stages of enlightenment and secularization) that Muslims can hope to advance on the road to liberty and democracy. Daniel Lerner popularized this theme in his seminal work on modernization in the Middle East. What Muslims were facing, he wrote, was the choice between “Mecca or mechanization.” [2]

The debate about Islam and democracy in the region has, over the last decade, witnessed some fresh thinking and considerable movement on the ground. [3] A growing number of Muslims, including a good many Islamist activists, have called for pluralist democracy, or at least for some of its basic elements: the rule of law and the protection of human rights, political participation, government control and accountability. The terms and concepts used are often rather vague and imprecise. Some speak of shura, the idealized Islamic concept of participation-qua-consultation; others do not hesitate to call for democracy; and others still may qualify it to be “Islamic democracy,” just as in the 1950s and 1960s they would have talked about “Arab” or “Islamic socialism.”

The phenomenon raises serious questions, political as well as methodological. Are Islamist activists sincere when they declare their democratic convictions, or do they merely hope to gain popular support and reach power through democratic elections? In either case it is significant that they should think such pronouncements can help them. I have examined this question elsewhere. [4] Here I would like to focus on the theoretical aspects of the issue: Assuming that they are acting in good faith and that they have adopted democracy as their “strategic option,” is there an Islamic path to a pluralist democratic society? And how can it be analyzed?

There is among Muslims an explicit debate on the subject that directly compares Islamic modes of political organization to Western-style pluralist democracy, usually with the intent of proving Islam’s superiority to Western concepts in moral as well as practical terms, and that indeed Islam served as the source and model from which democratic essentials such as the rule of law or the concept of the social contract were taken by European thinkers of the Middle Ages and the Enlightenment. [5] There is in fact a sizable number of comparative studies looking at specific concepts such as sovereignty, the social contract or the separation of powers “in Islam,” in the West and in contemporary Arab politics. [6]

The fact that they are so numerous suggests that there is considerable demand, and yet, while of considerable interest, their apologetic thrust reduces their value to an outside observer. More rewarding is a look at the large body of books, pamphlets, draft constitutions, published talks and conference proceedings that discuss the relationship of Islam, the state and politics without direct reference to the West. Do these reflect basic notions, institutions and procedures characteristic of pluralist democracy? To what extent have they been integrated into Islamic political thinking and thus been authenticated and rendered acceptable to a Muslim audience?

Contrary to much of the literature on the subject, it is not possible to talk about Islam and democracy in general, but only about Muslims living and theorizing under specific historical circumstances. This may sound evident enough, and yet it is all too often ignored, not least because many of the Muslim authors themselves present their views as “the position of Islam” on any given matter. There are certainly essentials of the faith (al-‘aqida, al-ma‘lum min al-din bil-darura) accepted by all who consider themselves to be Muslims and who are recognized as such by their co-religionists. But these thinkers differ considerably as to how an Islamic society should be organized. What is required, therefore, is specificity.

I base the following remarks on those whom I consider to be voices of the Sunni Arab mainstream. Some of them are generally ranked as conservative, others as progressive or “enlightened” thinkers. They include members of the Egyptian and the Jordanian Muslim Brothers and of the Tunisian Islamist movement led by Rachid al-Ghannouchi (formerly the Mouvement de la Tendance Islamique and now the party Ennahda) as well as individual authors committed to the so-called Islamic awakening (al-yaqza or al-sahwa al-islamiyya), like Muhammad ‘Amara, Muhammad Salim al-‘Awwa, Fahmi Huwaydi, Fathi ‘Uthman and others. [7] They clearly speak only for certain segments of the broad Islamic movement, representing the male educated urban elite and at the same time scriptural rather than mystical or so-called popular Islam. But it is in these circles that the question of Islam, shura and democracy is being discussed.

Religion and State

There is general agreement among these authors that Islam is comprehensive or, as the commonly used modern formula has it, that it is religion and state (al-islam din wa dawla) or religion and world (din wa dunya). This formulation signals the rejection of secularism as it was advocated by the Egyptian scholar ‘Ali ‘Abd al-Raziq in his book Islam and the Roots of Government, published in 1925, shortly after the abolition of the caliphate. Almost three generations later, his claims — that Muhammad was a prophet and not a statesman, that Islam is a religion and not a state, and that Islam should have nothing to do with politics — still provoke outrage.

The vocal denunciation of secularism, however, does not imply that these authors make no distinction between the spheres of religion proper and of worldly affairs, between the sacred and the profane, the eternal and the temporal. In fact, just this distinction is reflected in Islamic legal theory (fiqh), which distinguishes between the ‘ibadat, involving a person’s relation with his or her creator (essentially the five pillars of Islam — the profession of faith, prayer, fasting, almsgiving and the pilgrimage), and the mu‘amalat, covering all other aspects of economic, political and family life. While the ‘ibadat are eternal and immutable, the mu‘amalat can be adapted to the changing requirements of time and locality, provided the results conform to the word (nass) and spirit (maqasid) of the shari‘a. What they envisage, then, are two differentiated spheres of human life and activity: one revolving around faith and worship and the other around worldly affairs, both of them subject to the precepts of Islam. Islam in tum comprises faith, ethics and law as it was set forth in the Qur’an, exemplified by the life of the Prophet Muhammad and his Companions, and later developed by Muslim theologians and jurists (the ‘ulama’ and fuqaha‘) into the shari‘a.

There is further agreement that the hallmark of the truly Islamic system (al-nizam al-islami) is the application of the shari‘a and not any particular political order — the historical caliphate included. What matters is the purpose of the state and the principles it rests upon. These principles are to be found in the Qur’an and sunna, and they include, most notably, justice (‘adl), mutual consultation (shura), equality, freedom and the struggle in the path of God (jihad). The militants go even further, declaring that any Muslim who does not apply God’s judgment and follow divine law (man lam yahkum bi-ma anzala Allah) is to be considered, and fought as, a sinner, a tyrant and an infidel. [8]

No sharp distinction is usually made between Islam and the shari‘a, and as a rule both terms are used inter- changeably. In accordance with what might be called the functional theory of government, which sees the shari‘a as the cornerstone of an Islamic order and government as merely the executive of God’s law, the debate has shifted as to how the shari‘a is to be defined — whether as a comprehensive set of norms and values regulating human life down to the minutest detail, or as a set of general rules of good life and moral behavior aiming at people’s welfare on earth and their salvation in the hereafter (which still leaves room for human interpretation).

There is general consensus that the shari‘a is comprehensive but at the same time flexible and therefore suited, as the formula goes, to all times and places. That leads to the crucial distinction between an untouchable and immutable core (al-asl or, in modern usage, al-thabit) that has been decisively defined by God’s word (nass), and flexible elements (al-furu‘ or, in modern terminology, al-mutaghayyir) derived by human reason from this core, following the rules of Islamic jurisprudence (ijtihad).

This distinction provides one of the criteria by which to delineate radicals and progressives, conservatives and modernists, and it is vital to the debate about Islam and the state. The aim of “enlightened,” modernist reformers has of necessity been to define the scope of human interpretation as extensively as possible, an endeavor which was characterized somewhat uncharitably by Malcolm Kerr as the attempt to define the shari‘a primarily by its “empty spaces.” [9]

When it comes to politics, even Muslim Brothers and ‘ulama’ who, according to their social views, would qualify as conservatives hold remarkably modern ideas: The shari‘a to be applied requires social organization and a state. But God in his wisdom left the details of political organization to the Muslim community to decide according to its needs and aspirations. Government and politics are part of the mu‘amalat that are to be regulated so as to realize the common good (al-maslaha al-‘amma) which, if properly understood, coincides with the purposes (maqasid) of the shari‘a. The logic of this argument takes them quite close to the conclusions of ‘Ali ‘Abd al-Raziq, whose theoretical premises, in what is probably an attempt to establish orthodox credentials for what might otherwise be considered a dangerously modern approach, they so emphatically denounce. For them, unlike for him, Islam is religion and state, and yet, for them as for him, the precise form of government is left to human reason to define.

This line of argument results in an apparent paradox which has not gone unnoticed by thoughtful observers: While the state is considered to be central to having Islamic law enforced, its form and organization are declared to be secondary, a matter not of substance but of technique. [10] This has to be seen in relation to the common assertion that there is no prohibition for Muslims to adapt techniques and modes of organization of non-Islamic origin, provided they do not adopt any un-Islamic values. If government organization is a matter of convenience and mere technique, then the adoption of democracy, or of certain democratic elements, may be acceptable, recommended or even mandatory — provided it does not lead to the neglect or violation of Islamic norms and values.

Sovereignty and Authority

At the core of much contemporary writing are a number of shared assumptions: that all people are born equal, having been installed as God’s viceregents on earth (istikhlaf); that government exists to ensure an Islamic life and enforce Islamic law; that sovereignty (siyada, hakimiyya) ultimately rests with God alone, who has made the law and defined good and evil (al-ma‘ruf wa al-munkar), the licit and the illicit (al-halal wa al-haram); that the authority (sulta) to apply God’s law has been transferred to the community as a whole, which is therefore the source of all powers (asl al-sultat); and that the head of the community or state, no matter whether he (and they specifically exclude women from that function) be called imam, caliph or president, is the mere representative, agent or employee of the community that elects, supervises and if necessary deposes him, either directly or via its representatives.

This simplified scheme of government does not constitute a sharp break with classical Sunni doctrines which, in contrast to Shi‘i positions, declared that the caliphate was based on the consensus of the Muslim community (ijma‘), not on any preordained divine order. But compared even to the widely quoted treatises of Ibn Taymiyya (d. 1328), with their emphasis on the centrality of the shari‘a, modern positions mark a definite shift of emphasis away from the person of the ruler and the duty of obedience and acquiescence for the sake of peace and order, even under unjust rule, to the authority of the community and the responsibility of every individual believer. This shift no doubt reflects the impact of modern liberal ideas as well as the decline and eventual abolition in 1924 of the historical caliphate.

What emerges as a core concern of modern Muslims is to check and limit arbitrary personal rule and to replace it with the rule of law. That had already been the preoccupation of nineteenth-century Arab and Ottoman constitutionalists, ranging from ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Kawakibi and Khayr al-Din al-Tunisi to Namik Kemal. It is basic to the advocates of hakimiyya, God’s sole sovereignty, who radically deny the capacity of men and women to distinguish, by the light of their intelligence, between right and wrong, licit and illicit. In an interesting twist, they frequently present their argument in democratic guise: Given that all people are created equal and that consequently no one has the right to impose their will on others, and given that people are too weak to control their passions and desires (hawa), a higher authority is needed to keep them in check. This higher authority is divine law, binding on all-high and low, rich and poor. The submission to God’s sovereignty as demonstrated in the strict and exclusive application of the shari‘a, therefore, signifies not just the (only genuine) rule of law, but also the (only genuine) liberation of man from servitude to man (‘ubudiyyat al-insan).

Seen from this perspective, Islam serves as a theology of liberation. And it is in this sense that the writings of Abul Ala Maududi, Sayyid Qutb or Taqi al-Din al-Nabhani have been understood by men and women in search of justice and disillusioned with the signs of all-pervading despotism and corruption. For the critical observer, by contrast, the utopian character and very real authoritarian streak of this argument is all too obvious. For who is it, after all, who hears and applies God’s law, if not men and women ruled by their passions and subjected to the limitations of their understanding? Law, it has been stated often enough, does not apply itself, but is applied by fallible human beings. [11] Still, it remains that for contemporary Islamists, both radical and reformist, tyranny is the main enemy, no matter whether it be defined in strictly secular terms (istibdad) or on religious grounds as the taking of other gods than God alone (taghut), and therefore as one form of polytheism and apostasy (shirk, ridda, kufr).

In this logic, it is no longer very important whether the ruler (al-hakim) be called caliph, imam or simply head of state or president (ra‘is al-dawla). While certain groups like the Islamic Liberation Party or leading Algerian Islamists still propagate the restoration of the caliphate, many Muslim Brothers will use the term caliphate for what in fact is nothing more than a modern presidency. The underlying conception is in all cases similar: The ruler is the agent and representative of the Muslim community, entrusted with executing God’s law. He has no religious authority whatsoever, though some of his tasks, such as the implementation of the shari‘a or the propagation of jihad, would by Western standards be classified as religious. While the state rests on a religious foundation, its leadership carries no religious sanction. It is to emphasize this distinction, which is not all that difficult to make but often neglected, that many Muslim authors insist on saying that the ideal Islamic state is not a theocracy, which would be ruled by men of religion or a ruler of divine grace, but that it is a civil or, to be more precise, a lay state (dawla madaniyya).

Compared to classical treatises, then, the role and function of the ruler have been reevaluated and distinctly devalued. At the same time, there is heavy emphasis on the need for strong leadership (qiyada), though this is usually justified in strictly secular terms. The preoccupation with forceful leadership, unity, strict loyalty and obedience is mirrored in the organizational structure of virtually all Islamist movements, from the relatively moderate Muslim Brothers to the militant underground, which in their internal affairs do not adhere to democratic principles. [12]

The Challenge of Pluralism

Characteristic of much contemporary political writing is its individualistic, activist bent and the attempt to translate ethical and religious duties into principles of political responsibility and participation. Three elements are basic to this effort: the Qur’anic injunction to enjoin good and prohibit evil (al-amr bil-ma‘ruf wa al-nahy ‘an al-munkar), the Prophet’s appeal to give counsel (al-din al-nasiha), and the duty to consult (shura) that is based on both the Quran and sunna. They are interpreted so as to make political commitment and participation the religious duty (fard or farida) of every single individual as well as the entire community. As a result, politics is literally sacralized, and at the same time ethical and religious duties and injunctions are systematically politicized, extended and institutionalized. In a process that clearly betrays the impact of modern (Western) political ideas, the transition is made from a limited involvement of the community in selecting the leader via shura and the oath of allegiance (bay‘a) to a constitutional system involving continuous consultation and permanent control over the ruler and over government in general, which are now held responsible not only to God but also to their electorate.

Considerable thought has been given to the potential means and instruments of political control. Going beyond al-Mawardi’s (d. 1058) concept of a separation of functions via delegation from the ruler (tawfid), more and more authors are inclined to accept the need for a separation of powers in which the executive (the ruler) and the legislature (the shura council, or Parliament) effectively keep each other in check. In accordance with the theory of divine sovereignty, though, they often add that in an Islamic context legislation (tashri‘) is in actual fact confined to the mere “application” (tatbiq) of the shari‘a. The independence of the judiciary is generally acknowledged, and some writers suggest the institution of a higher constitutional court or council to guarantee the rule of law.

Much attention is given to the principle of shura, which in the early history and tradition of Islam meant nothing more than consultation in all matters private and public. It is now presented as the functional equivalent of Western parliamentary rule, and as the basis of an authentic Islamic democracy. A wide range of questions remain controversial — whether consultation is a duty of the ruler, and whether he is bound by the decisions of those consulted; whether they are men (there is in general little mention of women) of his own choice or the elected representatives of the community, individuals only or members of formal institutions such as political parties, religious specialists only or other experts and community leaders as well; whether they decide by majority rule; and whether all matters of general import have to be subjected to consultation.

Most authors tend to regard shura as both required and binding (wajiba and mulzima), to accept the principle of majority decision, and to see it as a formal process and an institution — that is, a shura council made up of elected members, who ought to include specialists in Islamic law as well as in other fields. What they have in mind, then, is a council of experts deciding on the grounds of “objective” (Islamically valid) right and wrong, judging on the basis of the common good (al-maslaha al-‘amma) only, and not a political assembly representing conflicting opinion and interest. The ideal amounts to an expertocracy headed by the just ruler.

The point is an important one, for it highlights the difficulties most contemporary Muslim authors have in envisaging consultation and participation as a genuinely political process involving interest representation, competition and contestation. It reflects the continued prevalence of a moral rather than a political discourse, strictly speaking. The ideals of unity (wihda), consensus (ijma‘) and a balanced harmony of groups and interests (tawazun), often associated with the theological concept of tawhid (the oneness of God), are still paramount. In the debate about pluralism, there is general recognition that God created people to be different, and that therefore differences of opinion (ikhtilaf) are natural, legitimate and even beneficial to humankind and the Muslim community — provided they remain within the confines of the faith and common decency. There is great reluctance to allow for unlimited freedom of speech and organization of those different opinions. [13]

Most authors would protest that Islam protects human rights, and that it fully guarantees the freedom of thought and conscience (la ikrah fi al-din) — within the framework of Islam. They generally concede that it is legitimate and may even be necessary to organize opinion, consultation and control so as to make them effective upon a strong executive, and that there are therefore grounds for legitimizing associations and political parties, on condition that they do not represent particular whims, passions and interests — again within the framework of Islam only. The bottom line remains: There can be no toleration of, nor freedom for, the enemies of Islam — the hypocrite, the skeptic and the atheist, the libertarian and the subversive. As long as there is no certainty as to who defines the “framework of Islam,” and where exactly power and interest come into play, pluralism and democracy remain in jeopardy.

Advances and Hesitations

These positions are ambiguous and less clear than one would hope, but they are not as antagonistic to the values of equality, pluralism and democracy as the statements of some of the most forceful advocates of radical political Islam, such as the Egyptian Sayyid Qutb or the Algerian Ali Belhaj, would suggest. The mainstream position is remarkably flexible with respect to modes of political organization, providing for institutionalized checks on the ruler in the form of a separation of powers, parliamentary rule and, in some cases, even multi-party systems. It is more advanced than is often acknowledged concerning the protection of human rights, which are generally founded on the duties toward God but nevertheless widely seen as part of the common heritage of all humankind. Indeed, the protection of individual rights and civil liberties from government supervision and interference, repression and torture figures highly on Islamist agendas. But mainstream attitudes remain highly restrictive with regard to the freedom of political, religious and artistic expression, if that involves the right to freely express one’s religious feelings, doubts included, and even to give up Islam altogether. [14]

Recent debates on the status of non-Muslims, emphasizing the shared rights and duties of all inhabitants of the land, suggest that a concept of citizenship may be gradually evolving. [15] It is possibly in the domain of gender relations that change is least perceptible. Mainstream positions on women continue to be strictly conservative. While they subscribe to the equality of men and women as human beings, they still consider women to be at the same time threatening and vulnerable, in need of special protection and ultimately inferior to men in terms of their mental strength and physical condition. [16] Whereas slavery is no longer an issue in contemporary debate, polygamy and divorce continue to be discussed on strictly traditional lines.

People like Belhaj and Qutb have tended to set the tone of this discussion, amplified by Western media treatment and by the strategy of repression pursued by the governments of Tunisia and Algeria. This is not the whole story, especially in the Arab east (Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Yemen). It is important to listen to the non-violent voices of political Islam as well as to the radicals. The Muslim Brothers, and similar movements, representing urban middle-class values, interests and aspirations, are at least as important socially and politically as al-Jihad, and the blending approach they represent will likely become more generalized. Doubts about the credibility of certain actors, while justified, should not invalidate efforts to discover what the larger groups as well as influential intellectuals think. Their writings are as relevant, though certainly not as rousing, as ‘Abd al-Salam Faraj’s Forgotten Duty or Qutb’s Milestones. Put briefly, the Islamic mainstream has come to accept crucial elements of political democracy: pluralism (within the framework of Islam), political participation, government accountability, the rule of law and the protection of human rights. But it has not adopted liberalism, if that includes religious indifference. Change is more noticeable in the domain of political organization than of social and religious values. Having said this, it cannot be emphasized strongly enough that what we are observing is thought in progress, responding to a considerable extent to societal conditions and government policies. It is to a large extent not abstract but political, even activist, mobilizing thought, shaped and influenced by a political environment that in virtually all cases is neither liberal nor genuinely pluralistic, let alone democratic.


[1] Leonard Binder, Islamic Liberalism: A Critique of Development Ideologies (Chicago and London, 1988), p. 225, discussing Bryan Turner’s critique of Max Weber (Weber and Islam: A Critical Study, London, 1974).
[2] Daniel Lerner, The Passing of Traditional Society: Modernizing the Middle East (New York, 1958), p. 405.
[3] Reviewed, e.g., in John L. Esposito and James P. Piscatori, “Democratization and Islam,” in Middle East Journal 45/3 (Summer 1991); Gudrun Kramer, “Liberalization and Democracy in the Arab World,” in Middle East Report 174 (January-February 1992); and several contributions to Annals: Journal of the American Association of Political Science 524 (November 1992), notably by Lahouari Addi and I. William Zartman.
[4] Gudrun Kramer, “The Integration of the Integrists: A Comparative Study of Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia,” in Ghassan Salame, ed., Socio-Economic Change and Political Mobilization in the Arab World (London: I. B. Tauris, forthcoming).
[5] For an interesting example, see Fahmi Huwaydi, “Al-islam wa al-dimuqratiyya,” al-Mustaqbal al-‘Arabi 166 (December 1992).
[6] These are frequently published theses previously submitted to the faculties of law or shari‘a). See, e.g., Sulayman Muhammad al-Tamawi, al-Sultat al-thalath lil-dasatir al-‘arabiyya al-mu‘asira wa fi al-fikr al-siyasi al-islami: dirasa muqarina (Cairo, 1967); Fathi ‘Abd al-Karim, al-Dawla wa al-siyada fi al-fiqh al-islami: dirasa muqarina (Cairo, 1976); Ahmad Siddiq ‘Abd al-Rahman, al-Bay‘a fi al-nizam al-siyasi al-islami wa tatbiqatuha fi al-hayat al-siyasiyya al-mu‘asira (Cairo, 1988).
[7] Among the first category, see, e.g., ‘Abd al-Qadir ‘Awda, al-Islam wa awda‘una al-siyasiyya and al-Islam wa-awda‘una al-qanuniyya (Cairo, no date); ‘Ali Garisha, I‘lan dusturi islami (Mansoura, 1985) and al-Mashru‘iyya al-islamiyya al-‘ulya (Mansoura, 1986) (both from the Egyptian Muslim Brothers); Rachid al-Ghannouchi, Maqalat (Tunis, 1988) and Mahawir islamiya (Cairo, 1989). See also a widely read article by the leader of the Sudanese National Islamic Front, Hasan al-Turabi, “al-Shura wa al-dimuqratiyya: ishkalat al-mustalah wa al-mafhum,” in al-Mustaqbal al-‘Arabi 75 (May 1985). Among the second category, see, e.g., Muhammad ‘Amara, al-Dawla al-islamiyya bayna al-‘ilmaniyya wa al-sulta al-diniyya (Cairo and Beirut, 1988); Muhammad Salim al-‘Awwa, Fi al-nizam al-siyasi lil-dawla al-islamiyya (Cairo and Beirut, 1989); Fahmi Huwaydi, al-Qur’an wa al-sultan: humum islamiyya mu‘asira (Cairo, 1982); Muhammad Fathi ‘Uthman, Dawlat al-fikra (Jidda, 1985). The debates of “enlightened” (mustanirun) intellectuals are mainly to be found in a number of periodicals, notably al-Muslim al-Mu‘asir, al-Ijtihad, al-Hiwar and al-Mustaqbal al-‘Arabi (all Beirut), al-Fikr (Cairo), 15/21 (Tunis) and al-Insan (Paris).
[8] For a refutation of this claim which is based on Qur’an 5:43-46, see ‘Amara, al-Dawla al-islamiyya, pp. 31-82.
[9] Malcolm H. Kerr, Islamic Reform: The Political and Legal Theories of Muhammad ‘Abduh and Rashid Rida (Berkeley, 1966), pp. 210f.
[10] See, e.g., Khalid Muhammad Khalid, Difa‘ ‘an al-dimuqratiyya (Cairo, 1985), pp. 267ff.
[11] The best known but by no means the only proponent of this criticism has been Muhammad Sa‘id al-‘Ashmawi; see, e.g., al-Islam al-siyasi (Cairo, 1987) and al-Shari‘a al-islamiyya wa al-qanun al-misri (Cairo, 1988). For similar reflections by a conservative Indian Muslim, see Kemal A. Faruki, Islamic Jurisprudence (New Delhi, 1988), pp. 12-19.
[12] For a theoretical formulation of Islamist authoritarianism, see, e.g., Husayn bin Muhsin bin ‘Ali Jabir, al-Tariq ila jama‘at al-muslimin (Mansoura, 1989). For its critique, see notably ‘Abdallah Fahd al-Nafisi, ed., al-Haraka al-islamiyya: ru‘ya mustaqbaliyya: awraq fi al-naqd al-dhati (Cairo, 1989).
[13] For further details, see my “Islam et pluralisme” in Democratie et democratisations dans le monde arabe (Cairo: Dossiers du CEDEJ, 1992), pp. 339-351.
[14] Apostasy (ridda) is generally equated with high treason and is at least theoretically punishable by death.
[15 See, e.g., Center for Arab Unity Studies, ed., al-Hiwar al-qawmi al-dini (Beirut, 1989).
[16] See Fatima Mernissi, La Peur-modernite: Le conflit islam et democratie (Paris, 1991); and Nazih Ayubi, Political Islam: Religion and Politics in the Arab World (London and New York, 1991) pp. 35-47.

How to cite this article:

Gudrun Kramer "Islamist Notions of Democracy," Middle East Report 183 (July/August 1993).

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