Religion and Politics in Islam: Allegations and Fact - Insights from The Mirage

Religion and Politics in Islam: Allegations and Fact – Insights from The Mirage

  • 11 November 2015

The problematic relationship between politics and religion in Islam is neither fabricated nor is it confined within a formal setting. Rather, it is a critical, strategic relationship that derives its legitimacy from a variety of sources, and is central to grand designs for profound change in the Arab and Muslim worlds.

Questions tied to the relationship between religion and politics in Islam have always captivated the minds of individuals engaged in ideology and politics, and have been at forefront of intellectual and political debates for decades. However, from 2010 onwards, a new dynamic emerged, as a result of the repercussions felt by the so-called “Arab Uprisings” and the rise of political Islamic groups amidst the waves of opposition that seized the political ascendancy in a number of different countries across the region. The political mobilization of the religion has led to increased levels of violence, division and extremism. Moreover, the interplay between the politicization of religion and the religionization of politics has produced a troubled relationship and fuelled the onset of divided loyalties between the individual and their allegiance to a particular group on the one hand, and their sense of belonging to the homeland on the other. This energy could have been channeled in a far more positive direction, namely, towards the construction of a new, inclusive political culture that advocates the virtues of plurality and citizenship; in addition to other key values that are commonly associated with prevailing interpretations of what constitutes a civil state.

Hence, the problematic relationship between religion and politics is at heart of the current conflicts tied to intellectual and political decision-making in the Arab and Muslim world. The Islamization of politics by certain political Islamic groups has led to the emergence of new forms of narrow-minded, totalitarian religious ideologies such as those that perpetuate the idea of the “mythical state” of ISIL. The arrival of such groups to positions of authority has consequently revealed the inherent flaws and moral bankruptcy of their ideological aspirations, and the common misconceptions related to “the application of Sharia” and that “Islam is the solution.”

Islam and its Sharia are far removed from politics. Therefore, now more than ever, we need to free Islam from the guidance of these groups, in view of entering an Islamic enlightenment period.

This lecture aims to deconstruct this fraught relationship in light of contemporary developments and in order to emphasize the fact that Islam is a religion, and not a state, and that politics is civil by definition in Islam. Contrary to the allegations made by certain political Islamic groups, those that seek to exploit the religion to further their own claims to legitimacy share no resemblance to Islam at all.

Lecture Video

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Wednesday 11 November 2015

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Wednesday 11 November 2015

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