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Lecture 7

POL201Y1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 7: Vali Nasr, Islamic Democracy, Christian Democracy

Political Science
Course Code
Antoinette Handley

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Lecture 7: Religion and Politics (July 25)
The Rise of Muslim Democracy
Vali Nasr
Muslim Democrats
View political life with a pragmatic eye.
Reject or at least discount the classic Islamist claim that Islam commands the pursuit of a
sharia state
Their main goal tends to be the more mundane one of crafting viable electoral platforms and
stable governing coalitions to serve individual and collective interests within a democratic
Islamists view democracy not as something deeply legitimate, but at best as a tool or tactic that may
be useful in gaining the power to build an Islamic state.
Muslim Democrats on the other hand, do not seek to enshrine Islam in politics, though they do wish
to harness its potential to help them win votes.
The rise of Muslim Democracy has resulted in traditional Muslim vales being integrated into
political platforms designed to win regular democratic elections.
As a result of this Muslim majority countries tend to dominate all other political parties.
In these Muslim societies, thevital center of politics is likely to belong neither to secularist and
leftist parties nor to Islamists.
Political parties that integrate Muslim values and moderate Islamic politics into broader right-of-
center platforms that go beyond exclusively religious concerns will rule the strategic middle. This can
appeal to a broad cross section of voters and create a stable ground between religious and secular
Muslim Democrats can begin from an Islamist point of departure, but may also form from non-
religious parties. Eg. Military run organizations
Muslim Democracy rests not on an abstract, carefully thought-out theological and ideological
accommodation between Islam and democracy, but rather on a practical synthesis that is emerging
in much of the Muslim world in response to the opportunities and demands created by the ballot box.
Muslim democracy somewhat resembles Christian democracy.
Liberalism and Consolidation
The depth of commitment to liberal and secular values that democratic consolidation requires is a
condition for Muslim Democracys final success. As was the case with Christian Democracy in
Europe, it is the imperative of competition inherent in democracy that will transform the unsecular
tendencies of Muslim Democracy into a long-term commitment to democratic values.
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