Thursday, December 27, 2018

Book: Egypt and the Contradictions of Liberalism: Illiberal Intelligentsia and the Future of Egyptian Democracy (2017)

The liberatory sentiment that stoked the Arab Spring and saw the ousting of long-time Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak seems a distant memory. Democratically elected president Mohammad Morsi lasted only a year before he was forced from power to be replaced by precisely the kind of authoritarianism protestors had been railing against in January 2011. Paradoxically, this turn of events was encouraged by the same liberal activists and intelligentsia who'd pushed for progressive reform under Mubarak.

This volume analyses how such a key contingent of Egyptian liberals came to develop outright illiberaltendencies. Interdisciplinary in scope, it brings together experts in Middle East studies, political science, philosophy, Islamic studies and law to address the failure of Egyptian liberalism in a holistic manner - from liberalism's relationship with the state, to its role in cultivating civil society, to the role of Islam and secularism in the cultivation of liberalism. A work of impeccable scholarly rigour, Egypt and the Contradictions of Liberalism reveals the contemporary ramifications of the state of liberalism in Egypt.


1. Egyptian liberals, from revolution to counterrevolution
Daanish Faruqi and Dalia F. Fahmy
Section I: Liberalism and The Egyptian State

2. Egypt's structural illiberalism: How a weak party system undermines participatory politics
Dalia F. Fahmy

3. Nasser's comrades and Sadat's brothers: Institutional legacies and the downfall of the Second Egyptian Republic
Hesham Sallam

4. (De)liberalizing judicial independence in Egypt
Sahar F. Aziz

Section II: Liberalism and Egyptian Civil Society

5. The authoritarian state's power over civil society
Ann M. Lesch

6. Myth or reality?: The discursive construction of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt
Mohamad Elmasry

7. Student political activism in democratizing Egypt
Abdel-Fattah Mady

Section III: Islam, Secularism, and the State

8. Egypt's secularized intelligentsia and the guardians of truth
Khaled Abou El Fadl

9. The truncated debate: Egyptian liberals, Islamists, and ideological statism
Ahmed Abdel Meguid and Daanish Faruqi

Section IV: Egyptian Liberals in Comparative Perspective Post-2013

10. Conflict and reconciliation: "Arab liberalism” in Syria and Egypt
Emran El-Badawi

11. Egypt's new liberal crisis
Joel Gordon

12. Egyptian liberals and their anti-democratic deceptions: A contemporary sad narrative
Amr Hamzawy

Conclusion: Does liberalism have a future in Egypt?
Emad El-Din Shahin

Mawlid al-Nabi - Dr. Sherman Jackson

Faith and the Challenges of Secularism: A Jewish-Christian-Muslim Trialogue (Nov. 6, 2017)

An afternoon conversation on the role of faith communities in an increasingly secular world among leaders within the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions, featuring: Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Dr. Robert P. George, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf. This is the inaugural event of the Robert P. George Initiative on Faith, Ethics and Public Policy at Baylor University. A special thank you to our event co-sponsors: the American Enterprise Institute's Values & Capitalism Program and The Witherspoon Institute. Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks is an international religious leader, philosopher, award-winning author, and respected moral voice. He was awarded the 2016 Templeton Prize in recognition of his “exceptional contributions to affirming life’s spiritual dimension.” A frequent and sought-after contributor to radio, television, and the press both in Britain and around the world, Rabbi Sacks is the author of over 30 books, including the recent bestseller Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence. Since stepping down as the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth — a position he served for 22 years between 1991 and 2013 – Rabbi Sacks has held a number of professorships at several academic institutions, including Yeshiva University and King’s College London. He currently serves as the Ingeborg and Ira Rennert Global Distinguished Professor at New York University. Rabbi Sacks has been awarded 17 honorary doctorates, including a Doctor of Divinity conferred to mark his first 10 years in office as Chief Rabbi, by the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey. Dr. Robert P. George is the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University. He is also the Herbert W. Vaughan Fellow of the Witherspoon Institute and has been a Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School. In August 2017, Baylor University launched the Robert P. George Initiative on Faith, Ethics, and Public Policy; and Professor George was appointed as a Distinguished Senior Fellow in the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion. He has served as chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and as a presidential appointee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. He also has served on the President’s Council on Bioethics and as the U.S. member of UNESCO’s World Commission on the Ethics of Science and Technology. He was a Judicial Fellow at the Supreme Court of the United States, where he received the Justice Tom C. Clark Award. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Swarthmore College, he holds degrees in law and theology from Harvard and the degrees of D.Phil., B.C.L., and D.C.L. from Oxford University, in addition to 18 honorary degrees. He is a recipient of the U.S. Presidential Citizens Medal and the Honorific Medal for the Defense of Human Rights of the Republic of Poland, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. His most recent book is "Conscience and Its Enemies" (ISI Books). Shaykh Hamza Yusuf is president and senior faculty member of Zaytuna College, America’s first accredited Muslim liberal arts college. He is an advisor to the Center for Islamic Studies at Berkeley’s Graduate Theological Union. In addition, he serves as vice president for the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies (Abu Dhabi), which was founded and is currently presided over by Shaykh Abdallah bin Bayyah, one of the top jurists and masters of Islamic sciences in the world. He is the author of several books and scholarly articles and has translated major creedal Islamic texts into English. Books he has authored or translated include "Purification of the Heart," "The Content of Character," "The Creed of Imam al-Tahawi," "Caesarean Moon Births," "Prayer of the Oppressed," and "Agenda to Change our Condition." Recently, Hamza Yusuf was ranked as “the Western world’s most influential Islamic scholar” by The Muslim 500, edited by John Esposito and Ibrahim Kalin. Along with his extensive training in the Western liberal arts, Yusuf has studied Arabic and the Islamic sciences for over 40 years with leading scholars of the Muslim world. For more information on Baylor University's work in our nation's capital, please visit:

Conscience and Its Enemies: A Conversation with Robert P. George and Hamza Yusuf (December 15, 2014)

Saudi king orders major reshuffle of top government posts (Dec 27 2018)

Robert P. George Warns: Militant Secularists 'Want Your Kids' (Oct. 25, 2017)

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Is Islam Compatible with Free-Market Capitalism? An Empirical Analysis, 1970–2010

Are majority-Muslim countries laggards when it comes to developing liberal economic institutions? Using an Index of Economic Freedom and its component parts, this study finds that Muslim-dominant countries (>50% of the population) are positively associated with free-market capitalism. Protestant dominance is also positively correlated, but the association stems from just two components of the index, mainly “legal security and property rights protection.” Surprisingly, Protestant countries correlate negatively with “small government” and “freedom to trade,” two critical components of free-market capitalism. Muslim dominance shows positive correlations with all areas except for “legal security and property rights.” The results are consistent when assessing similar variables measuring property rights and government ownership of the economy collected by the Varieties of Democracy Project. Capitalistic policies and institutions, it seems, may travel across religions more easily than culturalists claim.

via Prof. Fadel

Dr. Jackson on American Muslims between liberals and conservatives

I agree with Brian that many Muslim activists and organizations have thrown their lot in with liberal allies, presumably as quid pro quo for defending Muslims. Personally (and I claim no monopoly on truth here), I believe this is a mistake; I do not believe we can preserve Islam in America without preserving religion. And I see the left as supporting only domesticated forms of religion that applaud the state and the dominant culture while never ­seriously challenging either. Yet religious conservatives—not just Evangelicals—tend to look the elephant right in the face but only curse his shadow. They act as if they can protect Christianity and America by keeping Islam and other non-­Christian religions at bay, while liberalism, secularism, and ­scientism continue to degrade religion’s plausibility structure to the point of ­threatening Christianity’s health and viability. In this context, one must wonder what opportunities actually exist for Muslims to ally with Christian conservatives and what advantage Muslims might actually gain from such a relationship. 

R.R. Reno on Sherman Jackson on Muslim Americans and the “liberal-pluralist vision” (Feb 3, 2017)

In his 2005 book, Islam and the Blackamerican, ­Jackson makes a case for Muslim endorsement of the American political system and its “liberal-pluralist vision.” At first glance, this vision contradicts Islam’s view of moral truth, for it “protects the rights of gays, atheists, and witches to be gays, atheists, and witches.” Doesn’t our loyalty to God’s law mean we must resist a modern regime that isn’t just tolerant of disobedience of divine law, but affirms a positive right to sin? This is a question many of us must face as well.
Jackson makes an important distinction between liberal pluralism as a cultural ideal and as a set of political arrangements. In the present moment, the former makes diversity, inclusion, and non-judgmentalism obligatory, and thus rejects all traditional modes of life, especially religious ones, as authoritarian and intolerant. Needless to say, Islam is opposed to liberal pluralism as obligatory cultural ideal—as are orthodox Christianity and Judaism. But liberal pluralism can refer to something more modest, a political system and civic tradition that recognize the limits of law and accord room for dissent and deviance. Islam can affirm this kind of liberal pluralism, argues Jackson, and he provides evidence from Islamic sources to show that, even in circumstances where Muslims had surpassing political power, there was support for practical acceptance of pluralism and civic accommodation of “non-Muslim beliefs and behaviors that violated Islam.”
This tradition of pragmatic accommodation of non-Islamic beliefs and practices guides Jackson’s assessment of America’s constitutional regime. The Constitution was obviously written by non-Muslims. Traditional Islamic jurisprudence is aware of such circumstances and exhorts Muslims “to honor treaties and agreements brokered by non-Muslims.” Jackson applies this principle to our political compact. When a faithful Muslim participates in American society, he accepts the terms of citizenship. This acceptance is not religious, and therefore does not offend against Islam’s requirement of spiritual loyalty.
Moreover, Jackson argues that Muslims should offer enthusiastic support for our political arrangements. “According to the Constitution, the U.S. government cannot force a Muslim to renounce his or her faith; it cannot deny him or her the right to pray, fast, or perform the pilgrimage; it cannot force him or her to eat pork, shave his beard, or remove her scarf.” In fact, “The U.S. government cannot even force a Muslim (qua Muslim) to pledge allegiance to the United States!” Under the circumstances, fixing on “dogmatic minutiae, activist rhetoric, and uncritical readings of Islamic law and history” to argue that a faithful Muslim cannot affirm the American constitutional regime is worse than foolhardy.
Jackson goes on to clarify the theological legitimacy of the First Amendment’s prohibition of religious establishment. A proponent of liberal-pluralist culture makes the separation of church and state into a foundational principle that bans religion from public life. For obvious reasons, a Muslim must reject this as an antireligious dogmatism (as must any sensible Christian or Jew). But as a practical solution to the problems posed by the sociological reality of religious pluralism, a Muslim can endorse the separation of church and state as wise policy.
Taking a page out of the First Things playbook, ­Jackson urges Muslim Americans to “articulate the practical benefits of the rules of Islamic law in terms that gain them recognition by society at large,” something that can be done by drawing on the Islamic tradition of practical reasoning that has family resemblances to the Catholic use of natural law and Protestant analysis of “common grace.” Christians rightly enter into public life, seeking to leaven our laws with the wisdom of Scripture and church tradition, not asserting claims on the basis of church authority, but arguing for them in the give-and-take of civic discourse. Muslims should do the same, seeking to bring forward policy proposals “that are grounded in the vision and values of Islam.”
Sherman Jackson is an influential voice in the Muslim American community, and his endorsement of liberal-­pluralist constitutionalism resists Islamic extremism that poses as religious integrity and helps Muslims in the United States to affirm our way of life, which their natural sympathies incline them to do. Which is why I do not regard Islam as a “problem” in the United States. The real threats come from post-Christians. It was not faithful Muslims who decided Roe v. Wade. They weren’t the ones working to suppress religious freedom in recent years. The people who formulated the HHS contraceptive mandate were not influenced by Shari’a law. On the contrary, as G. K. Chesterton observed, the vices of the modern era are Christian virtues gone mad. The greatest threat to the future of the West is the post-Christian West.

Richard Eaton – Islam in India (2016)

Richard Eaton is Professor of History at the University of Arizona. His research interests focus on the social and cultural history of medieval and early modern India (1000-1800), and especially on the range of interactions between Islamic and Indian cultures that took place at that time. He is also active in the growing subfield of world history, as well as comparative history. He has published monographs on the social roles of Sufis (Muslim mystics) in the Indian sultanate of Bijapur (1300-1700), on the growth of Islam in Bengal (1204-1760), and on the social history of the Deccan from 1300 to 1761. Most recently, he co-authored a monograph entitled Power, Memory, Architecture: Contested Sites on India's Deccan Plateau, 1300-1600. These four historical monographs employ as analytical tools, respectively, Weberian social thought, Annales School methodology, biography, and architecture.

He is also the recipient of multiple book awards including the Albert Hourani Book Award for the best book in Middle Eastern Studies and the A. K. Coomaraswamy Book Award for the best book in South Asian Studies, as well as three film awards for his 2002 film on European contact with Asia entitled, “Through the Looking Glass.”