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Durham e-Theses
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Muslim Democracy: The Return of Political Theory

ALTUNTAS-CAKIR, RAVZA (2018) Muslim Democracy: The Return of Political Theory. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



Muslims worldwide strongly desire democracy with Islamic overtones. Yet Muslim-majority countries suffer from severe democratic deficits. With the Arab Spring, not only has authoritarianism shown resilience in previous non-democracies, but countries with once-promising democratisation are at risk of becoming ‘electoral authoritarianisms’ or ‘majoritarian democracies.’
This failure of democratic experimentation necessitates a return to political theory to reconceptualise ‘Muslim democracy.’ During the last decade, Turkey had been depicted as the epitome of Muslim democracy, yet such interpretations have been recently challenged, leaving the Muslim democracy literature with substantial gaps. Today, the idea of Muslim democracy is in flux; lacking normative rigour and conceptual clarity, the term means everything and nothing. It will remain so until well-developed political theories systematically outline the indispensable institutional, social, political, and normative conditions for its realisation.
This project proposes a normatively viable framework that reconciles public Islamic claims with the normative and practical demands of democratic regimes. The thesis questions customary characterisations of Islam’s compatibility with democracy and offers a new methodology by systematically studying a cluster of theories that have never been examined together: debates concerning Muslim political thought, multiculturalism, secularism, the public sphere, and constitutionalism. This approach allows analysing Muslim democracy politically rather than theologically.
This work defines Muslim democracy as an alternative form of democracy that recognises the centrality of religion in Muslim societies. The argument first engages with an inclusive typology of Muslim political thought to discover essential variables for a democratic theory and analyse tensions hindering the development of democratic culture. It then examines multiculturalism probing its capacity to reconcile democracy with religion. It subsequently examines pro-democratic thinking within Muslim discourses termed “the compatibility-based arguments” to reveal their limitations. It finally synthesises these theoretical resources, proposing its Muslim democracy framework that encompasses religion-friendly and human rights-concordant interpretations of secularism, the public sphere, and constitutionalism.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Government and International Affairs, School of
Thesis Date:2018
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:31 May 2018 08:07

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