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  • 5/31/2005

Civil Society in the Muslim World: Contemporary Perspectives

Sajoo, Amyn B. (Ed.)

London:I. B. Tauris in association with The Institute of Isma'ili Studies, 2002, pp. 339, ISBN: 1 86064 858 4 (Hb)


Well before the events of September 11, 2001, and their continuing aftermath, the global discourse on civil society - in its varied imaginings and practices - had caught the attention of citizens and communities across the Muslim world. From Indonesia, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Iran to Turkey, Egypt and the Maghreb, the clamour for human rights, pluralism and gender equity were at the forefront of the wider quest for accountable governance and participatory politics. The communalisms of old that dominated the public and private spheres were no longer tenable, even if the appeal for ‘religious’ solidarity continued to command respect - a trend reinforced by perspectives from the growing Muslim diasporas in the West.

A fresh urgency attends those pursuits today: patterns of political violence, and some of the responses to them, threaten to undermine the ethical legacy of Muslim civilizations and its role in the emergence of a civic culture tied to the rule of law and individual dignity. For some, recent trends merely confirm the sentiment that civil society is a Western, secular idea with no relevance to contexts where religion and tradition are deeply woven into the fabric of everyday life. Others argue that civil society has always resonated with key Islamic values, and can be renewed and enriched by the energies that feed the quest for modern, democratic citizenship in emergent and transitional nations.
This landmark survey of social and intellectual trends in diverse contexts challenges many of the facile claims about the Muslim world today that abound in mainstream media as well as scholarly accounts. With contributions by Shirin Akiner, Mohammed Arkoun, Aziz Esmail, Tair Faradov, Abdou Filali-Ansary, Ersin Kalaycioglu, Iftikhar Malik, Ziba Mir-Hosseini, Olivier Roy and Amyn B. Sajoo, this volume will appeal not only to scholars of contemporary culture, politics and religion, but to all those interested in the unfolding of civic modernities in the new millennium.
This volume is a culmination of a year-long project that was highlighted by a series of seminars on civil society hosted by The Institute of Isma'ili Studies, beginning in November 2000. Most of the chapters evolved from papers delivered at the seminars where participants ranged from senior academics and policy-makers to community activists, journalists and graduate students.


Foreword by Azim Nanji
Editor’s Note
About the Contributors

Introduction: Civic Quests and Bequests
Amyn B. Sajoo

Locating Civil Society in Islamic Contexts
Mohammed Arkoun

Self, Society and Civility in Islam
Aziz Esmail

Debating Women: Gender and the Public Sphere in Post-Revolutionary Iran
Ziba Mir-Hosseini

Soviet Legacies and Western Aid Imperatives in the New Central Asia
Olivier Roy

Prospects for Civil Society in Tajikistan
Shirin Akiner

Religiosity and Civic Culture in Post-Soviet Azerbaijan: A Sociological Perspective
Tair Faradov

Ethics in the Civitas
Amyn B. Sajoo

State and Civil Society in Turkey: Democracy, Development and Protest
Ersin Kalaycioglu

Between Identity-Politics and Authoritarianism in Pakistan
Iftikhar H. Malik

State, Society and Creed: Reflections on the Maghreb
Abdou Filali-Ansary


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