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Islam and the Arab Awakeningby Tariq Ramadan
Synopses & Reviews
One of the most important developments in the modern history of the Middle East, the so-called Arab Spring began in Tunisia in December 2010, and has since surpassed anything imagined. It has brought down dictators, sparked a civil war in Libya, and ignited a bloody uprising in Syria; its repercussions in Egypt and elsewhere remain unclear. Now one of the world's leading Islamic thinkers examines and explains it, in a searching, provocative, and necessary book.
Time magazine named Tariq Ramadan one of the most important innovators of the twenty-first century. A Muslim intellectual and prolific author, he has won global renown for his reflections on Islam and the contemporary challenges in both the Muslim majority societies and the West. In Islam and the Arab Awakening, he explores the uprisings--their origin, significance, and possible futures. As early as 2003, he writes, there had been talk of democratization in the Middle East and North Africa. The U.S. government and private organizations set up networks and provided training for young leaders, especially in the use of the Internet and social media. And the West abandoned its unconditional support of authoritarian governments. But the West did not create the uprisings. Indeed, one lesson Ramadan draws is that these mass movements, and their future, cannot be totally controlled. Something irreversible has taken place: dictators have been overthrown without weapons. But, he writes, democratic processes are only beginning to emerge, and unanswered questions remain. What role will religion play? How should Islamic principles and goals be rethought? Can a sterile, polarizing debate between Islamism and secularism be avoided?
Avoiding both naï¿½ve optimism and conspiratorial paranoia, Ramadan voices tentative optimism. If a true civil society can be established, he argues, this moment's fragile hope will live.
"The prolific Ramadan, an Oxford University professor, assesses the Arab Spring with a multilayered approach. The iconoclastic scholar, who was refused admission to the United States under the George W. Bush administration, all but credits Bush, citing that president's focus on the liberation of Iraq, coupled with his administration's funding of nonviolent, social media training (often in the U.S. through NGOs) of many of the key Arab cyber-dissidents, who also received assistance from corporate giants like Google and Yahoo. As is Ramadan's wont, he calls on Muslims, particularly those in Arab countries, to move past the repetitive justification of colonialism for their ills (which he argues results in an ill-advised favoring of Islamist parties) and rejection of all things Western. Ramadan further asserts that without robust development of Arab civil societies and unique Muslim cultural identities, and absent the liberation of Palestine and serious Muslim introspection, the Arab Spring will passively yield to essentially dictatorial governments once again. While not a light read, an armchair historian or newshound will enjoy keeping pace with Ramadan's pinball analysis of the Arab Spring, which dings, beeps, and zings through the historic events of 2011 with fast aplomb. Ramadan's various op-eds and writings in the Arab Spring period, some previously published only abroad, are all reprinted as appendixes. Agent: Felicity Bryan." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From December of 2010 through the summer of 2011, political mobilizations spread like wildfire across the Middle East and North Africa. Mass movements in well over a dozen nations formed in protest to social and economic conditions, dictatorship, and corruption, though the movements took widely varying forms in different countries. The Arab Spring has been characterized in many ways: as the birth of a new era, as a radical turning point between past and future, as a popular but ineffectual effort towards political and social reform, and even as a conspiracy to bring about Western democratization and domination.
Tariq Ramadan presents his own analysis of these extraordinary events, focusing on the role played by Islam in the uprisings and considering what its position will be in the new societies taking shape. Unlike many sanguine observers, Ramadan sees the vulnerability of the movement to appropriation by forces opposed to the development of true Islamic democracies in the region. In addition to extensive analysis, Islam and the Arab Awakening includes an appendix of short pieces Ramadan wrote and posted online as the uprisings were taking place.
As one of the world's most prominent Muslim intellectuals, Ramadan's views on the ongoing transformation of the countries of the Middle East and North Africa will be of great interest both to his admirers and his many detractors.
About the Author
HH Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies, University of Oxford.
Table of Contents
Part 1: The Thick of Things
1. A matter of terminology: revolution/uprising/spring?
2. Predictable, unpredictable?
3. Not Islamist, but Islamic
4. When the other ceases to be the other
Part 2: Cautiously optimistic
1. Understanding: conspiracy or liberation
2. Differentiated Treatments
3. The role of the media
4. Bin Laden's death
5. On the West, Politics and Economy
6. The Challenges of the Arab World
Part 3: Islam, Secularization and Islamism
1. Islam and Islamism
3. False debates, true debates
4. Two interacting crises
a. Proponents of secularization and secularity
b. Proponents of tradition, Conservatives and Islamism
Part 4: The Islamic reference
1. The End of political Islam?
2. Towards theCivil State
3. In the Name of Justice: Thinking out the alternative
4. Social and political issues
5. Economic issues
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