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With Islamic fundamentalism on the rise, Western scholars, politicians and media often question the underlying compatibility of Islam - especially in its modern interpretations as related to the quest for an Islamic state - with democracy, individual liberty, civil society and limited government. Ahmad Moussalli demonstrates that the opposition between Islam and democracy is more illusory than real. He offers as evidence the striking variety in Islamic thought that has been largely overlooked in contemporary scholarly and public policy debate. Reviewing Islamic texts and writings from some of the most important Islamic thinkers, Moussalli summarizes classical theory as developed not by the philosophically important thinkers such as Ibn Rushd and al-Farabi but rather by al-Marwardi and others. He shows that the theoretical foundations of limited government, civil society and individual liberty have been developed by Muslim philosophers, jurists and theologians independently of Islamic regimes. Moving to more contemporary thinkers, he demonstrates that al-Banna, al-Turabi, al-Ghanoushi and others - some with controversial political positions - are in fact intellectual moderates on the subject of democracy, human rights and pluralism. In telling the story of the Islamic quest for democracy, he also tells the story of contemporary Islamic political theory, revealing the internal political discourse of contemporary Islam in an empathetic, critical, but sympathetic fashion. His account leaves no doubt, contrary to many views in the media, public policy and scholarly worlds, that democracy is intrinsic to contemporary Islamic discourse.
University Press of Florida
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