Islamic Democracy: The Struggle for and Limits of Recognition
Sadek, Karim Sadek
The post-uprising Arab world is facing a problematic socio-political situation. For some, infusing the political realm with Islamic principles and reasoning - the practice of Islamic politics - is key for their emancipation. For others, such an infusion entails authoritarianism. But, social and political transformation should be driven by local experience, history and aspiration. If so, then to do justice to this social reality, both the emancipatory and the authoritarian potentials of Islamic politics must be accounted for. The challenge of social and political philosophy is to develop a framework that accommodates both, the call for emancipation and the fear from authoritarianism - to unleash the emancipatory potentials of Islamic politics while curbing its authoritarian potentials. The guiding question of this investigation is: How to place Islam in the post-uprising Arab world given that it is perceived as the source of both emancipation and authoritarianism? I tackle this question through a rapprochement, a forging of an intellectual path of sorts, between contemporary Critical Theory and dissident Islamic thought. I focus on Axel Honneth's recognition-based model and Rached Ghannouchi's theoretical conception of the Islamic state. While Honneth provides critical social tools that connects to the moral point of view of social subjects suffering injustice, Ghannouchi gives expression to a characteristically Islamic voice of resistance against a perceived crisis to Islamic identity.In Part I, I reconstruct Ghannouchi's social and political demands in terms of a demand for the recognition of Islamic identity. With an upgraded recognition model I identify the loci of the emancipatory potentials in Islamic politics, and the mechanisms to unleash them. In Part II, I capitalize on some elements in Ghannouchi's thought to make explicit resources internal to the Islamic tradition capable of curbing the authoritarian potentials of Islamic politics. Finally, in Part III, I draw in outline a tripartite political arrangement that combines a robust sense of the Islamic state, the conditions for individual self-realization, and the mechanisms for radical democratic will-formation. The dissertation thus, takes initial steps in developing an Islamic critical theory by putting forward a radically democratic conception of Islamic politics.
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