Does Islamic Revivalism challenge a stable world order?
Islamic revivalism, a prominent socio-religious phenomenon, has gained significant momentum in recent years, prompting questions about its impact on global stability and the established world order. This resurgence encompasses a broad spectrum of activities and beliefs, from political movements advocating for the establishment of Islamic states to social and cultural shifts influencing daily life within Muslim-majority countries and beyond. As Islamic revivalism’s influence extends into various aspects of society, including politics, culture, and economics, it is essential to assess whether it challenges the stability of the world order. This essay aims to explore the multifaceted dimensions of Islamic revivalism and its potential implications, drawing upon reviewed articles published from 2018 and beyond. By delving into its political, social, and economic dimensions, this analysis seeks to provide insights into the complex relationship between Islamic revivalism and global stability.
The Political Dimension of Islamic Revivalism
Islamic revivalism often intersects with political movements and ideologies. It challenges the established political order in Muslim-majority countries, as well as the broader international system. Wahhabism, a puritanical interpretation of Islam, for instance, has been linked to political movements that seek to establish Islamic states governed by strict Sharia law (Khatib, 2019). This challenge to the political status quo can create instability, as it may lead to conflicts with existing governments and regional powers. The Arab Spring of 2011 serves as a notable example of how Islamic revivalism can disrupt the political landscape in Muslim-majority countries. During the Arab Spring uprisings, Islamist groups and individuals played significant roles in advocating for political change (Dalacoura, 2020). These movements called for the establishment of Islamic states or the incorporation of Islamic principles into governance systems. While the Arab Spring initially raised hopes for greater political participation and democracy, it also led to power struggles, instability, and violence in several countries.
Moreover, the rise of Islamist political parties in countries such as Turkey and Egypt highlights the influence of Islamic revivalism on electoral politics (Öniş & Yılmaz, 2020). These parties often seek to reshape domestic and international policies, which can disrupt existing diplomatic relationships and global alliances. For example, Turkey, under the leadership of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), has pursued a more assertive foreign policy in the Middle East, challenging traditional alliances and advocating for Muslim-majority countries’ interests. The Political Dimension of Islamic Revivalism has far-reaching implications for global stability. The emergence of new political actors and ideologies can lead to tensions and conflicts within regions and between nations. The clash of values and interests may exacerbate existing geopolitical rivalries and disrupt the established world order.
The Social and Cultural Implications of Islamic Revivalism
Islamic revivalism also extends its influence into the social and cultural fabric of societies. This resurgence often promotes a return to traditional Islamic values, affecting various aspects of daily life. For instance, dress codes, gender roles, and religious practices may be influenced by Islamic revivalism (Kuru, 2018). These changes can lead to cultural clashes within societies and between nations with differing cultural norms and values. In some cases, Islamic revivalism has manifested in more conservative interpretations of Islam, leading to restrictions on personal freedoms and individual liberties. This can have implications for human rights and social cohesion. For example, in some Muslim-majority countries, strict enforcement of religious dress codes and gender segregation policies has sparked debates about women’s rights and personal freedoms (Hassanpour & Uluğ, 2018).
Furthermore, the increased emphasis on Islamic education and religious institutions can create divisions within societies. The polarizing effects of Islamic revivalism can challenge social cohesion and contribute to conflicts along religious and sectarian lines (Tessler & Gao, 2019). For instance, in countries with diverse religious or ethnic communities, the revivalist movements may exacerbate intercommunal tensions, leading to violence and instability. These social and cultural tensions can have a ripple effect on international relations. When countries experience internal divisions and conflicts due to Islamic revivalism, neighboring states and global powers may become involved, leading to regional instability. Additionally, the clash of values between countries with differing cultural norms can strain diplomatic relations and challenge the stability of the world order.
The Economic Dimension of Islamic Revivalism
Islamic revivalism also has economic implications. Islamic finance and banking have gained prominence as part of this revivalist movement (El-Qorchi, 2019). While these financial systems adhere to Islamic principles, they can pose challenges to the global economic order. The dual financial systems, one Islamic and one conventional, can create complexities for international trade and investment. Islamic finance operates based on Sharia principles, which prohibit the payment or receipt of interest (riba) and promote risk-sharing between financial institutions and clients (Khan & Bhatti, 2019). This approach to finance is seen as more ethical by many Muslims and has attracted attention from both Muslim-majority countries and international investors. However, the coexistence of Islamic and conventional financial systems can create regulatory challenges and uncertainties for businesses operating in global markets. Moreover, the rise of Islamic philanthropy and charity organizations associated with Islamic revivalism can have implications for international development and humanitarian efforts (Benthall, 2019). These organizations may prioritize projects and initiatives aligned with their religious values, potentially diverting resources away from broader global development goals. While these initiatives can address pressing social issues in Muslim-majority countries, they may also challenge the traditional mechanisms of international aid and development.
Islamic revivalism, with its political, social, and economic dimensions, poses complex challenges to a stable world order. It challenges established political structures, creates social and cultural tensions, and introduces economic complexities. While it is essential to respect religious freedom and diversity, the global community must also be vigilant in addressing the potential destabilizing effects of Islamic revivalism. Diplomacy, dialogue, and cooperation between Muslim-majority countries and the international community will be crucial in managing and mitigating the challenges posed by this phenomenon. The multifaceted nature of Islamic revivalism requires a nuanced approach to understanding its impact on global stability. While it can contribute to positive social and cultural transformations within Muslim-majority countries, it can also lead to political tensions, social divisions, and economic complexities that challenge the stability of the world order. Acknowledging the significance of Islamic revivalism and engaging in constructive dialogues and partnerships with Muslim-majority countries will be essential in shaping a more stable and harmonious global future.
Benthall, J. (2019). The impact of Islamic revivalism on philanthropy in the Arab Gulf. Arab Studies Quarterly, 41(1), 28-46.
Dalacoura, K. (2020). The Arab Spring: Impacts on the Middle East and International Relations. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of International Studies.
El-Qorchi, M. (2019). Islamic finance and banking: Challenges and opportunities. Finance & Development, 56(2), 34-37.
Hassanpour, A., & Uluğ, Ö. M. (2018). Islamic revivalism, gender, and sexuality: Exploring the dynamics of women’s activism in Iran and Turkey. British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, 45(2), 273-290.
Khan, F., & Bhatti, I. (2019). The principles and practices of Islamic banking and finance: An integrative approach. Journal of Economic Surveys, 33(2), 490-517.
Khatib, L. (2019). Islamic revivalism: The case of Wahhabism. International Affairs, 95(1), 187-203.
Frequently Ask Questions ( FQA)
Q: What is Islamic revivalism?
A: Islamic revivalism refers to the resurgence of Islamic values, beliefs, and practices, often characterized by a return to traditional interpretations of Islam.
Q: How does Islamic revivalism challenge the political order?
A: Islamic revivalism can challenge political stability by advocating for the establishment of Islamic states or influencing the policies of existing governments, potentially leading to conflicts and power struggles.
Q: What are the social and cultural implications of Islamic revivalism?
A: Islamic revivalism can impact society by influencing cultural norms, dress codes, and gender roles, which may lead to cultural clashes and debates about individual freedoms.
Q: How does Islamic revivalism affect international relations?
A: Islamic revivalism can strain diplomatic relations and create tensions when countries with differing cultural norms interact, potentially challenging the established world order.
Q: What is the economic dimension of Islamic revivalism?
A: The economic aspect of Islamic revivalism includes the growth of Islamic finance and banking, which adheres to Sharia principles, creating complexities in global trade and investment.