Can Citizens of Muslim Societies ever be Free? A critical analysis of M.J.Thompson’s Islam, Rights and Ethical Life

Malick Elias

Micheal J. Thompson, in his ‘Islam, Rights, and Ethical Life: The problem of Political Modernity in the Muslim World’ (Theoria: vol.57, ps.100-125, 2011) identified two broad theories which he states seeks to explain the lack of political modernity in Arab Islamic societies. First, there is the economic development approach which argues that the lack of it in Arab Islamic societies has prevented the domain of civil society from forming providing no opposition to authoritarian institutions (Zubaida 1992, 2001a; Bellin 1994a; Anderson 1995; Ibrahim 2002) The second explanation is that the value system of Islam as a religion is ‘anathema’ to modern forms of politics, thereby shaping non democratic and even authoritarian institutions. (Fish 2002; Barakat 1993; Korany 1994; Zakaria 2003). Thompson explains that both of these theories taken on their own are ‘inadequate’ and set about exploring ‘modernity’ in a different way, to offer an alternative explanation of Islam’s relationship with political modernity. It is important to note here that the real question that Thompson is exploring here is Islam’s relationship with Democracy. To what extent does Democracy represent ‘Political Modernity’ or ‘Modernity’ in the realm of politics is the sum of a form of ‘Democracy’ are questions needed to be explored in themselves. Continue reading Can Citizens of Muslim Societies ever be Free? A critical analysis of M.J.Thompson’s Islam, Rights and Ethical Life

Accepting Western Education Development Aid: Weighing up the Pros and Cons

 Malick Elias
There has been much talk recently of education reforms in the people’s house of the new Egyptian parliament and of whether the government should continue to accept the conditional education aid of donor nations, such as the United States. The main trust of the argument was that the meagre subsidisation of US funding, which was conditional upon increasing the teaching of English was seen as intervention into the running of the affairs of the state. I do not see the objection as unhealthy, quite to the contrary, because this is the type of pull and tug that is needed to enable donor-receiving countries, especially Islamic nations to establish their identity in a world of nations. But, in an interdependent world is it always the case that the giving of aid is motivated by attempts to exert influence upon the donor receiving nations? Continue reading Accepting Western Education Development Aid: Weighing up the Pros and Cons