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Rethinking Religion and World Affairs$
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Timothy Samuel Shah, Alfred Stepan, and Monica Duffy Toft

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199827978

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199827978.001.0001

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Rethinking Islam and Democracy

Rethinking Islam and Democracy

Chapter:
(p.85) 6 } Rethinking Islam and Democracy
Source:
Rethinking Religion and World Affairs
Author(s):

Robert W. Hefner

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199827978.003.0007

This chapter examines the question of Islam and democracy by way of four arguments. First, when empirical measures rather than imagined civilizational traits are referenced, it turns out that there is no democracy deficit in the broader Muslim world; a significant number of non-Arab Muslim countries have made impressive headway toward consolidating electoral democracy. Second, survey data also indicate that in most Muslim-majority countries, even those where the government is undemocratic, the Muslim public views democratic institutions favorably, indeed at rates comparable to those in Western countries. Third, notwithstanding their expressed support for democracy, a significant proportion of these Muslim publics has “un-liberal” ideas on women, non-Muslims, and matters of religious freedom. Fourth and last, the accumulated research suggests democratization is alive and well in the non-Arab portions of the Muslim world. However, the evidence also suggests that, as the process moves forward, its accompanying political culture may more closely resemble what some have referred to as a “civil Islamic” or “Muslim” democracy rather than the Atlantic-liberal variety familiar and favored in the U.S. and Western Europe.

Keywords:   Muslims, democratic institutions, women, non-Muslims, religious freedom, democratization, political culture, civil Islamic democracy

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