Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Understanding the Moslem world

The Brookings Brief email yesterday contained a link to an article providing valuable insight into Moslem perceptions of religion and state, and the appeal of Islamic State, pointing out how much western policy is ill founded, or founded on misperceptions. The article is here. It points to the necessity of understanding the complex, not to any simple solutions.

ISIS draws on, and draws strength from, ideas that have broad resonance among Muslim-majority populations. They may not agree with ISIS’s interpretation of the caliphate, but the notion of a caliphate—the historical political entity governed by Islamic law and tradition—is a powerful one, even among more secular-minded Muslims. The caliphate, something that hasn’t existed since 1924, is a reminder of how one of the world’s great civilizations endured one of the more precipitous declines in human history. The gap between what Muslims once were and where they now find themselves is at the center of the anger and humiliation that drive political violence in the Middle East. But there is also a sense of loss and longing for an organic legal and political order that succeeded for centuries before its slow but decisive dismantling. Ever since, Muslims, and particularly Arab Muslims, have been struggling to define the contours of an appropriate post-caliphate political model.

originally posted in The Atlantic.

See also this earlier thoughtful piece in the Boston Globe.

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