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  • Author: Ali Murat Yel
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: THE NAQSHBANDIYYA is perhaps one of the widest-spread Islamic religious brotherhoods due to its active involvement in political affairs. Its 'strength' comes from the fact it could trace the sheiks of the order as far back as to the Prophet of Islam through his companion Abu Bakr. The silsila (the chain of transmission) of the order also contains some very important figures in Islamic history, like Salman al-Farisi and Bayazid al-Bistami. Despite the importance of the order and its worldwide expansion, the published works on the subject could fill only a small shelf. The order also has a great number of followers in Turkey, including some prominent political figures. Since Shah Bahauddin Naqshband, the founder of the order, the succeeding sheiks of the Naqshbandiyya tarikat (religious order) have currently been handed to Sheikh Nazim al-Kibrisi al-Haqqani, a Turkish Cypriot. The Sheikh has been given the task of expanding the order to the West, and as a result of arduous efforts he has been able to establish some centers in various European and American cities, with the biggest one being in London. Author Tayfun Atay studied this center for his Ph.D. thesis submitted to London University.
  • Topic: Islam
  • Political Geography: Britain, America, Europe, Turkey, London
  • Author: Karen Leonard
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: Finding Mecca in America: How Islam is Becoming an American Religion Near the end of this interesting book, the author characterizes his final chapter as “a series of interpretive judgments about the venture of Islam in its American habitat (p.205),” and I find this true of the book as a whole. It began as a doctoral dissertation, and Bilici defines himself a cultural sociologist who takes an agonistic (combative, contesting) approach, an approach that “pays attention to the margins more than the mainstreams, to lived experience more than to floating abstractions (p.21).” Yet, lengthy discussions of philosophy and social theory punctuate the chapters, enabling readers to debate the stated balance. Bilici also characterizes his work as ethnography, and while he draws on his work in Detroit, Michigan, as part of a team project and his internship with the Council of American-Islamic Relations, CAIR, in Washington, DC, the ethnographic material is limited, providing illustrations for various points Bilici wants to make rather than systematic evidence for them. He argues that his topics have escaped attention (or been taken for granted) or are postdiasporic, meaning they have not yet fully appeared above the horizon (p.19), such as Abrahamic discourse and Muslim comedy. He writes that “what should be prized is not the sea of data but the wisdom of elucidation (p.23),” and this personal interpretation is certainly worth reading.
  • Topic: Islam
  • Political Geography: America, Washington
  • Author: Nurullah Ardiç
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: Secularism and Religion-Making Recent scholarship in the sociology of religion has produced fresh perspectives on the understanding of religion and its inter-relationships with society. Largely influenced by post-structuralist social theory, these new perspectives call for a re-evaluation of existing theoretical and methodological approaches as well as empirical analyses, as reflected in the oft-used terms to describe their projects, including “rethinking,” “imagining” religion and its “invention” and “manufacturing” a là “invention of tradition”. The term “religion-making” is one such concept that questions the traditional ways of studying religion (and its constitutive other, secularism). It refers to the reification by political and intellectual actors (with different motivations) of a religion (its beliefs and practices/rituals) based on certain taken-for-granted (binary) concepts, such as the religious/secular divide, within the discursive field of world religions. The collection of articles edited by Markus Dressler and Arvind-Pal Mandair brings together eleven theoretically-informed and empirically-focused studies on religion-making in different socio-historical contexts. It fits nicely, and contributes to, the above-mentioned recent trends in the sociology of religion and secularism. A strong trend within this scholarship is a critique of the “secular critique” of the Enlightenment-inspired secularization theory, which also implies a critical re-evaluation of the (secularist) notion of a clear-cut distinction between the religious and the secular. This is also a common theme among the articles brought together in this edited volume: each study questions from a post-structuralist angle (but focusing on a different aspect of) the assumption of the 'boundedness' of “religion” and “secularism” and their opposition to one another. The theoretical aim of the volume, according to the editors, is to problematize this dichotomous assumption and demonstrate instead the codependency of “secular” and “religious” discourses. Its empirical aim is to “examine the consequences of the colonial and postcolonial adoption of Western-style objectifications of religion and … the secular, by non-Western elites” (p. 3), but it also contains cases of Western actors. Moreover, the editors' lengthy Introduction contains a useful discussion on the philosophical foundations (from Kant to Heidegger, from Hume to Hegel) and current manifestations (in Taylor, Habermas etc.) of the epistemological hegemony of the religious/secular dichotomy and of the “universalization” of the concept of religion out of Western Christianity. The analyses contained in the volume address the processes of religion-making at three different levels. First, “religion-making from above” refers to the discursive strategy of reifying religion(s) from powerful positions rendering them an instrument of governmentality. This is often undertaken by nation-states in their efforts to reframe existing religious traditions in a docile manner. As the editors note, this strategy is also applied by individual political actors, intellectuals and NGOs, as exemplified by the famous American think-tank RAND Corporation's call for “rebuilding Islam” in a manner that would not constitute a threat to American interests worldwide. The same advice was reiterated in 2004 by Daniel Pipes, a member of the Zionist lobby in the US who was close to the Bush administration, who argued that the ultimate goal of “the war on terror” was “religion-building,” implying the neocon elites' desire to “civilize Islam” (p. 22). These examples show not only the fact that the notion of religion-making from above is extremely relevant to current global geo-politics but also a paradigmatic symptom of the secular-liberal hegemony over religion in Western imagination: all religious traditions are encouraged and/or forced to “fit in” the existing socio-political structures in the form of “protestantization” –i.e. becoming an a-political, “modernized”/secularized and docile religion with no agenda for change in the status quo. Therefore, this hegemonic secular discourse does not so much aim to cleanse the public sphere and politics from religion as to make the latter fit in with the existing system and, if possible, function as a source of legitimization for hegemonic powers.
  • Topic: Islam, Politics
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: John McNeil
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: William Polk, born in 1929, is one of the more successful scholar-diplomats in American life. He has written more than a dozen books, mainly on the modern Arab world, some for trade publishers and some for university presses. He taught Middle East and Islamic history at Harvard and the University of Chicago. He also served in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, on the State Department's Policy Planning staff and later as an adviser to McGeorge Bundy, President Johnson's National Security Adviser, charged with handling the aftermath of 1967's Six-Day War between Israel and its Arab neighbors. His latest book is his first on Iran. He has visited the country from time to time since 1956, and in the 1960s met the Shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi and some of the Iranian political elite. Aware of the stalemate that bedevils U.S.-Iranian relations, and frustrated by what he sees as the narrowness of war-game exercises and the field of international relations, Polk wrote this book “to bring forward what war games omit: in short, what it means when we speak of Iran and Iranians.” He feels American policy-makers pay insufficient heed to the history and culture of Iran and Iranians, and are thereby baffled by what seems to them illogical behavior. If they had adequate grounding in things Iranian, he believes, they would better understand Iran, its government, its policies, and its people. Adequate grounding, in Polk's view, extends back 2,500 years. He maintains that even if the majority of Iranians alive have scant knowledge of the Achaemenid dynasty they are nonetheless influenced by it. Indeed, he writes, “I am certain that the inhabitants of Iran today are largely governed by their past regardless of whether they consciously remember it.” He appeals to Carl Jung's notion of “collective unconscious” and Jean-Jacques Rousseau's “social contract” to make his case.
  • Topic: Islam
  • Political Geography: America, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Chicago
  • Author: Jennifer Lind
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The National Interest
  • Institution: The Nixon Center
  • Abstract: THE UNITED States has security partnerships with numerous countries whose people detest America. The United States and Pakistan wrangled for seven months over a U.S. apology for the NATO air strikes that killed twenty-four Pakistani soldiers in 2011. The accompanying protests that roiled Islamabad, Karachi and other cities are a staple of the two countries' fraught relationship. Similarly, American relations with Afghanistan repeatedly descended into turmoil last year as Afghans expressed outrage at Koran burnings by U.S. personnel through riots and killings. “Green on blue” attacks—Afghan killings of U.S. soldiers—plague the alliance. In many Islamic countries, polls reflect little warmth toward Americans. Washington's strategy of aligning with governments, rather than peoples, blew up in Egypt and could blow up in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Yemen. America's alliances in the Middle East and Persian Gulf are fraught with distrust, dislike and frequent crisis. Is there any hope for them? Turns out, there is. Fifty years ago, a different alliance was rocked by crisis and heading toward demise. Like many contemporary U.S. alliances, it had been created as a marriage of convenience between Washington and a narrow segment of elites, and it was viewed with distrust by the peoples of both countries. Yet a half century later, that pairing is one of the strongest security partnerships in the world—the alliance between the United States and Japan.
  • Topic: Security, Islam
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, United States, Japan, America, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: Younes Nourbakhsh
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Iranian Review of Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Center for Strategic Research
  • Abstract: The relation between the Islamic East and the American and European West is potentially an important concept in discussions about religious coexistence. The domination of a discourse in opposition with coexistence can be a major obstacle in the formation of peace and the relations between the two worlds. The political discourse between the West and the Islamic world, though not always the same during time has been based on three main concepts of authorization, ethnocentrity, supremacy, well after the modernity. In other words, the West has exhibited a different, negative image of Islam, while presenting liberalism as the best model culture. The universalization of such a model has been pursued through modernity and technical ability. The discourse has been the hegemon for a long while. Even the East acknowledged it and developed the center - margin model of coexistence based on Wallerstein's theory, which gradually turned into the Islamic rival discourse. The political Islam tried to improve a social and political identity by rejecting the western discourse. After September 11, both discourses tended towards fundamentalism, and rivalry and confrontation replaced coexistence. In fact, a second Cold War was developed between the West and Muslim World. It seems that such a dialogical, polarized condition would not be apt to maintain any effective discourse. In this article, the elements and processes in the formation of such a discourse, and the effects on the existing challenges would be explained.
  • Topic: Cold War, Islam
  • Political Geography: America, Europe
  • Author: Francis Ghilès
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: In recent years the Arab lands have been reduced to a uniform discourse, which well suited those in America such as Bernard Lewis who tried to convince their political masters that a clash of civilisations between the West and Islam was inevitable. However, over the past twelve months a series of revolts recast the map of the Middle East. When the revolts in Tunisia and Egypt started, many Western commentators failed to understand how young Arabs peacefully managed to overthrow well-entrenched dictators such as Ben Ali and Mubarak. Their initial reactions fitted into a broader collective spirit of Orientalism, which long gave up hope on Arab societies ever joining contemporary trends towards democratization. It was not Islam or poverty that provoked the uprisings – it was the crushing humiliation that had deprived the majority of the Arabs who are under the age of thirty of the right to assert control over their own lives.
  • Topic: Islam
  • Political Geography: America, Middle East, Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: Andrew Bernstein
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Author's note: Because I want to address several key events of this story, I've written this review in a way that contains spoilers. Readers may prefer to view this outstanding film before reading the review. For anyone who loves America and wants the country defended against Islamic totalitarians and other savage enemies, a film starring active-duty Navy SEALs doing precisely that should be a rare treat. Act of Valor is that film, and it delivers fulsomely on this promise.
  • Topic: Islam
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Hossein Pour-Ahmadi, Sajad Mohseni
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Iranian Review of Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Center for Strategic Research
  • Abstract: Developments relating to the Islamic Awakening in the Middle East, especially in 2011, influenced and intensified, more than ever, the efforts made by the Obama Administration to securitize nuclear activities of the Islamic Republic of Iran. In fact, these activities have always been one of the major preoccupations for the foreign policy the USA. Obama followed up seriously on what George Bush did, especially during his second term. The approach of both US presidents, predicated on considering the Iranian nuclear energy programme as a threat against the US and its interests, has its root in the security-oriented approach, and its adverse consequences, towards the Iran. Therefore, a major part of Iran's foreign policy has been influenced by nuclear activities. This paper proposes to consider the process of securitizing Iran's nuclear file, especially under Obama's administration, on the basis of the conceptual pattern provided by the Copenhagen School and from speech act and action perspectives. This paper seeks also to answer the question as to what methods Obama has used to securitize Iran's nuclear file. It presupposes that the attempts to isolate Iran have been made through speech act and actions.
  • Topic: Security, Development, Islam
  • Political Geography: America, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Craig Biddle
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have labeled themselves “America's Comeback Team”—a political tagline that would be great were it grounded in a philosophical base that gave it objective, moral meaning. What, politically speaking, does America need to “come back” to? And what, culturally speaking, is necessary for the country to support that goal? America was founded on the principle of individual rights—the idea that each individual is an end in himself and has a moral prerogative to live his own life (the right to life); to act on his own judgment, un-coerced by others, including government (liberty); to keep and use the product of his effort (property); and to pursue the values and goals of his choosing (pursuit of happiness). Today, however, legal, regulatory, or bureaucratic obstacles involved in any effort to start or operate a business, to purchase health insurance, to plan for one's retirement, to educate one's children, to criticize Islam for advocating violence, or so much as to choose a lightbulb indicate how far we've strayed from that founding ideal. If America is to make a comeback—and if what we are to come back to is recognition and protection of individual rights—then Americans must embrace more than a political tagline; we must embrace a philosophy that undergirds individual rights and that gives rise to a government that does one and only one thing: protects rights. Although the philosophy of the Founding Fathers was sufficient ground on which to establish the Land of Liberty, it was not sufficient to maintain liberty. The founders advocated the principle of individual rights, but they did not fully understand the moral and philosophical foundations of that principle; they did not understand how rights are grounded in observable fact. Nor did the thinkers who followed them. This is why respect for rights has been eroding for more than a century. If America is to “come back” to the recognition and protection of rights, Americans must discover and embrace the philosophical scaffolding that undergirds that ideal, the scaffolding that grounds the principle of rights in perceptual fact and gives rise to the principle that the only proper purpose of government is to protect rights by banning force from social relationships. The philosophy that provides this scaffolding is Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism. To see why, let us look at Rand's philosophy in contrast to the predominant philosophies of the day: religion, the basic philosophy of conservatism; and subjectivism, the basic philosophy of modern “liberalism.” We'll consider the essential views of each of these philosophies with respect to the nature of reality, man's means of knowledge, the nature of morality, the nature of rights, and the proper purpose of government. At each stage, we'll highlight ways in which their respective positions support or undermine the ideal of liberty. As a brief essay, this is, of course, not a comprehensive treatment of these philosophies; rather, it is an indication of the essentials of each, showing how Objectivism stands in contrast to religion and subjectivism and why it alone supports a culture of freedom. Objectivism stands in sharp contrast to religion and subjectivism from the outset because, whereas religion holds that there are two realities (nature and supernature), and whereas subjectivism holds that there is no reality (only personal opinion and social convention), Objectivism holds that there is one reality (this one before our eyes). Let's flesh out these differences and their significance with respect to liberty. . . .
  • Topic: Government, Islam
  • Political Geography: America