4th WOCMES: Co-IRIS: Islamic Perspectives on Theory and Praxis in International Relations

One panel entitled “Co-IRIS: Islamic Perspectives on Theory and Praxis in International Relations” for the 4th World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies (August 20, 2014; Session 209; 17:00-19:00; C Hall; Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey)
Chair: Raffaele Mauriello
[Discussant: Deina Abdelkader] ABSENT
Convenor: Nassef Manabilang Adiong
This is a proposed panel of Co-IRIS (International Relations and Islamic Studies Research Cohort). Co-IRIS is an organization interested in the advancement of comparative research between International Relations (IR) and Islamic Studies (IS). It is created by a group of researchers interested in developing and sustaining a body of knowledge that addresses the theories and practices of the Muslim civilization and of Muslim societies with regards to international affairs and to the discipline of International Relations. Co-IRIS is premised on the idea that knowledge is fluid: peoples adopt and utilize thoughts and ideas regardless of faith, gender, nation, etc. Islam is enormously important today in both international and national domestic politics, but contemporary political Islam cannot be understood without an awareness of its roots and relations to paradigms of IR. Yet, little attention has been paid to the way its ideas originated and how they developed. This panel offers comparative studies of IR and Islamic notions on sovereignty, democracy, secularism, and a case study on the Shi‘itologic genealogy of Iranian’s international affairs. Panelists take the same approach as scholars usually do for International Relations and Islamic Studies, examining the mentality, cultural milieu, and political background of thinkers and statesmen by covering relationships of selected concepts and notions in comparing theoretical and practical aspects between IR and IS.
The first paper is entitled “Islam and International Relations: A Comparative Study on Sovereignty” by [Abdalhadi M. Alijla] ABSENT (Public Policy and Governance, State University of Milan, Italy).
Most of academic studies of Islam and Islamic theology have not examined the concept of sovereignty in Islam from a global point of view. Giving the fact that academic study on sovereignty is undergoing a mini-renaissance where scholars are returning to the basic concepts of it around late 1980 and early 1990s. This paper focuses on comparing the concepts of sovereignty in Islam, putting it in an international framework within the reference to the recent uprisings in the Middle East. The paper discusses the fundamental nature of sovereignty in Islam and the different International Relations theories. It will review the classical perspective on sovereignty and comparing them to Islam’s view of sovereignty. Moreover, this paper will discuss the new works on the problematic nature of state’s sovereignty in Islam. The principal theme throughout the paper is that sovereignty in Islam is marked by far from being religious-based. There is a difference between how Islam paved the way to a civil state and how Islamic shticks perceive and interpret Quran and Hadith for political reasons. This paper pays special attention to the recent attempts to reconcile divine and popular sovereignty. It also examines the strong attempts to institutionalize the divine sovereignty by modern Muslim countries. The popular uprisings that came to be called “The Arab Spring” have brought the question of sovereignty of the people and legitimacy of the ruler to the surface. It also forces the political Islam parties to account for their visions on sovereignty and authority in the public sphere. This paper argues that concept of God’s sovereignty and nations have become a religious issue that the public would like to put it aside. The question this paper concludes with is which concept of sovereignty Muslims society would accept to bridge what their traditions, Islam and modern societies needed to advance socially and economically. It concludes that Islam and the concept of nation have no great influence on national contexts.
The second paper is entitled “Democracy and the ‘Stillborn God’” by [Deina Abdelkader] ABSENT (Comparative Politics, University of Massachusetts, USA).
This paper argues that the current stress on the separation of church and state in Western liberal democracy was not a constant component of Western political thought. This paper will examine Rousseau’s and de Tocqueville’s writings and how they viewed the role of religion in public life, since in many ways they have theoretically laid the foundations of Western liberal democracy. Thus the paper will analyze whether post-enlightenment Western European liberal thought excludes religion from the public arena. This analysis will have implications regarding the theoretical assumption that secularization is imperative to democratization in the Muslim world.
The third paper is entitled “Islam and Democracy are they Compatible?” by Waleed Ali (Social Sciences and Humanities, Bradfrod University, UK).
France president François Holland (2013), stated in his speech in Tunisia that ‘Islam and democracy are compatible’ and France will support the result of the democratic election (Holland, 2013). Both concepts seemed to be twinning framework not in conflict as it has been claimed for decades. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, vacuum power was left to be completed. The United States was and still the unique hegemonic power in the world. In order to keep it self interest the US has decided to create a fake enemy which in this case was Islam and Islamic world. The media focus on how Muslim and Islam are anti western, anti-modernity, anti-civilization and liberty that has created a mess and increased the world conflict. The word terrorism was combined with Islam, fundamentalism and rejectionist was the daily life description of orthodox Muslims. Thinkers, scholars and policy makers started to write about violence and Islam as tool to create a new academic framework to understand the Islamic movement. The gap of research about the full project of Islam and political Islam was left behind and neglected. The post 9/11 came to encourage this debate and the US used it to carry a global attack on what so call “the War on Terror”. The war on Afghanistan, Iraq and then the intervention in Libya were encouraged under the name of democratization of Middle-East. However, looking at the fundamental mean for both Islam and democracy, there are few differences. Both concepts are seeking the same thing which the human freedom from any servitude. Islam and democracy could be explained differently but at the end they are as twin concepts. In the current world, there are around 850 million Muslims are living and enjoying democracy including, Indonesia, Turkey, Malaysia and to some extent Iran. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan mentioned that Muslims are able to rule countries under democracy. This paper will highlight the current debate around Islam and democracy and explore the common ground, focus and fundamental goals for both concepts. It will give examples around the world on how those tow concepts are interacting and functioning long side with each other. It will also show the increased violence and terrorist attack as a lack of democracy not the contrary.
The fourth paper is entitled “Nation-State in International Relations and Islam” by Nassef Manabilang Adiong (Alliance of Civilizations Institute in Istanbul and Middle East Technical University in Ankara).
The elemental subject of this study is the concept of ‘nation-state’ but delimited within the bounds of two disciplines, i.e. International Relations (IR) and Islamic Studies (IS), particularly Political Islam and Jurisprudence. This is in part of the author’s aim of contributing to the evolving literature on the relation between IR and religion in the 21st century. The defining problem lies in the vagueness of interpretations and understanding on the conceptualization of nation-state in those mentioned disciplines, while subsequently reaching a ‘via media’ of understanding. To ameliorate our focal understanding, the proponent selected two frameworks: 1) a selective mainstream theoretical IR survey, i.e. Liberalism, Realism, and Social Constructivism, and 2) Islamic jurisprudential and political understanding of nation-state. It will humbly try to examine, analyze, and decipher the origin, idea, and operationalization of nation-state in IR and IS by the usage of Comparative Analytical Method (CAM). Three data analytical or coding stages under CAM will be operationalized: the first stage is setting the Textual Codes via alpha-numerical representation next is processing the Arithmetical Codes and the last step is determining the Categorical Codes. Through these CAM codes, the inferential chart of ‘compare and contrast’ will compose the result of data analysis. Thus, allowing us to categorically pinpoint inferences of similarities and differences, and further it through the use of analytical induction, which is, inducing it to specific facts or imperative details. In generalization, there were foreseen differences and/or similarities on the notions of level of analysis, sovereignty, citizenship (membership), and territoriality.
The last paper is entitled “Mustad‘afun and mustakbirun reconsidered: An Islamic studies, Shi‘itologic perspective of the international relations outlook of the Islamic Republic of Iran and of the Party of God (Hezbollah)” by Raffaele Mauriello (Sapienza, University of Rome, Italy).
This paper is about methodology. It argues for the necessity to advance interdisciplinary research between international relations (IR) and Islamic studies (IS). In this framework, it argues for the necessity to integrate the methodology and findings of Shi‘itology, the branch of IS that specializes on Shi‘i Islam, into both IR and international relations theory (IRT). In light of the evident increasing importance and unexpected persistence of the “Shi‘i factor” in determining both the foreign policy and geopolitics of the Near East, this paper more generally argues for the necessity to take more seriously into account Shi‘i Islam; and its historical, cultural, and doctrinal peculiarities. With the aim of setting a first concrete step into this direction, the paper addresses the Islamic vision of international relations represented by the mustad‘afun (oppressed) versus mustakbirun (oppressors) model. In terms of empirical material, it takes into consideration both the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Hezbollah’s first political manifesto (the Open Letter). Although scholars of IR have assumed as a given fact that the model of Islamic IRT has been historically represented by the dar al-Islam (the realm or abode of Islam) versus dar al-harb (the realm or abode of war) worldview, the paper shows how early researches conducted in accordance with IS criteria suggest that among the Shi‘as this worldview has historically been limited, and in contemporary times almost irrelevant. Moreover, when a check for epistemological legitimacy as regards both Islamic sources and Muslim cultural history is undertaken again from an IS perspective, the dar al-Islam/dar al-harb worldview appears to have been relevantly limited to Hanafi jurists and moreover outside of the outlook of classical Muslim thought as represented by geographers, lexicographers, and travellers. On the other hand, the mustad‘afun/mustakbirun model is grounded in solid Qur’anic language and is the result of a wide scholarly theoretical effort undertaken by noted scholars such as Ruhollah Khomeini, Ali Shariati, Musa al-Sadr, Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, and Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: