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HIST2087 Islamism – from the 1980s to the present

Module Overview

Since the end of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1980s, the modern world has witnessed the emergence of Islamist states and powerful Islamist political movements including in West Asia and the Near and Middle East: the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Islamic Republic in Iran, the Islamic Da’wa Party in Iraq, the Moslem Brotherhood in Egypt, the Ennahda Party in Tunisia, and the Islamist Justice and Development Party in Turkey. Paradoxically, the rise of Islamism that is best known for its anti (or at least non)-Western characteristics, has been either tolerated or supported by the Western World and the United States in particular both as a discourse borne of Orientalism and as a political convenience during the last stages of the Cold War . In fact Islamist states in the region were considered by the West to constitute a new “security” belt that was to protect the Western interests against the Soviet Union and its successor, the Russian Federation. Unpredictable developments in Afghanistan and Iran, however, caused costly wars but in exchange provided more opportunities for the USA to consolidate its military presence in the Middle East and Central Asia.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

? Examine the development of Islamist movements as a revival of Islamic value and culture as opposed to Western and Christian values ? Explore the ideological origins of political Islam from the anti-imperialist movements in the nineteenth century to today ? Examine Islamist movements in relation to the emergence and expansion of the middle class in Islamic countries ? Assess the relationship between Islamism and the modernity/tradition dichotomy ? Compare and contrast different Islamist persuasions such as traditionalists like the Wahhabis and Taleban and modernists such as the so-called ‘reformists’ in Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the Islamist Justice and Development Party in Turkey. ? Understand the rise of Islam in the modern world

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • The key concepts in Islam on which the Islamist parties rely to justify their claims
  • The historical and socio-political contexts within which Islamist movements took shape
  • The latest debates on the historical and socio-political factors behind the rise of Islamism
  • Major sources including primary sources and recent scholarship that will equip you with an scholarly understanding of Islam and Islamism
Cognitive Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Read primary and secondary sources critically
  • Explain, and engage with, the different historiographical approaches, in writing and in discussion
  • Express your own view when engaged in scholarly debate
  • Structure your ideas and research findings into well-ordered presentations and essays
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Use a range of perspectives in problem-solving
  • Critically analyse a diverse range of source material
  • Organise and structure material to write and present confidently
  • Participate actively in group discussions and debate
  • Communicate a coherent and convincing argument in both oral and written formats

Syllabus

This module will study the development of Islamism at state level (Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, and Turkey) in the last 40 years within the wider historical and geopolitical contexts since the early twentieth century. As a post-Cold War phenomenon, Islamism is different from the pan- Islamism of the nineteenth century that combined Western science with traditional Islam in order to fight back the spread of Western imperialism. The module will examine these differences, both politically and ideologically. Drawing on some historical cases and contexts, for instance the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan, Khomeinism in Iran, and Moslem Brotherhood in Egypt, it will analyse the ideological and political differences of Islamism, or political Islam, with traditional Islam. It will also explore the political and ideological roots of Islamist terrorist groups as one of the components of the rise of Islamism. Throughout the module the hypothesis that Islamism has been a direct result of ‘modernism’ and ‘modernisation’, in other words, Western influence, will be tested and discussed. Islamism, unlike the common wisdom, is not a mere cultural or political reaction to modernisation or Western influence, but the very product of Western influence. The idea of ‘revolution’ did not exist in traditional Islam. Although there are concepts of terror (qatala= killing) in the term jihad (endeavour, effort, fight for Islam), terrorism as practised by the Islamist groups is a legacy of the ‘communist’ liberation guerrillas during the twentieth century under the Cold War period. The module will examine cases like Ali Shariati in Iran (a Sorbonne- educated historian and sociologist, died in Southampton in June 1976 and known as the ideological father of the Islamic Revolution), and the Palestinian Liberation Movement that blended Islamic ideology with Marxism and/or Socialism to provide a new ‘revolutionary’ and ‘bloody’ picture of Islam. For Shariati this was ‘Modern Islam’ as opposed to ‘Traditional, or ‘Apolitic Islam’. For Ayatollah Khamenei, the leader of the Islamic regime in Iran and the erstwhile follower of Shariati, “political Islam is killing, is giving blood, and is to be killed. Political Islam and its discourse are, and have to be, parts and parcels of all religious festivals, rituals and ceremonies” (Khamenei, Tehran, Dec. 2013). The module will also examine how modern institutions, such as parliament, Constitution, Fundamental Law, universal suffrage, referendum, and even the women’s emancipation and their right to take part in social activities, have become the very legitimating tools for the Islamists to recruit and to take power. Seminar topics will likely include: Religion and politics in Islam From Pan-Islamism to Islamism Islam and Modernity Political Islam and its different persuasions in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and North Africa Islamist guerrillas and proxy war (Al-Qaeda, Salafite and Taliban, as political and military arms of the regional powers)

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • Short Lectures • Seminar Discussions Learning activities include • Independent reading using resources available in the library • Using and examining primary sources • Note-taking in lectures • Active participation in class discussions You will use reading lists provided by the module convener to guide your reading and preparation for weekly seminars. You will be expected to make contributions to seminar discussions based on your preparatory reading.

TypeHours
Seminar12
Preparation for scheduled sessions100
Completion of assessment task40
Follow-up work100
Revision24
Lecture24
Total study time300

Resources & Reading list

Aziz al-Azmeh (2009). Islam and Modernities. 

John Rawls (1999). The Law of Peoples. 

John L. Esposito (2002). Unholy War: Terror in the Name of Islam. 

D. Springer, J. Regens, D. Edger (2008). Islamic radicalism and global Jihad. 

Ali Rahnema (ed) (1994). Pioneers of Islamic Revival. 

Asta Olesen (1995). Islam and Politics in Afghanistan. 

Lutz Kleveman (2003). The new Great game: Blood and Oil in Central Asia. 

Aziz Ahmad Sayyid Ahmad Khan, Jamal al-Din al-Afghani and Muslim India. Studia Islamica. ,0 , pp. 0.

Michael E Salla (1997). Political Islam and the West: a new Cold War or convergence?. Third World Quarterly. ,18 , pp. 729-742.

François Burgat (2008). Islamism in the shadow of al-Qaeda (translated by P. Hutchinson). 

John L. Esposito & John Donohue (eds) (1982). Islam in transition: Muslim perspectives. 

John L. Esposito (ed) (1997). Political Islam. 

Gilles Kepel (2003). Jihad, The Trail of Political Islam. 

Bernard Lewis (1982). The Muslim Discovery of Europe. 

Ignaz Goldziher (1981). Introduction to Islamic Theology and Law. 

Peter Mandaville (2007). Global Political Islam. 

John L. Esposito (ed) (1980). Islam and development: religion and socio-political change. 

John L. Esposito (1991). Islam: the straight path. 

Gilles Kepel (2004). Muslim Extremism in Egypt: The Prophet and Pharaoh. 

Kingshuk Chatterjee (2011). ‘Ali Shari’ati and the Shaping of Political Islam in Iran. 

M. Ayoob Two faces of political Islam: Iran and Pakistan compared. Asian Survey. ,19 , pp. 535-547.

Bernard Lewis (2003). The crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror. 

Assessment

Assessment Strategy

Assessments designed to provide informal, on-module feedback: ? non-assessed oral presentations ? tutorials to provide consultation on assessed essays ? guidance and advice in class on preparation, completion and presentation of assignments ? regular work with primary sources to prepare for the essay and examination exercises Link Between Assessment and Learning Outcomes. • The essays and exam will be used to test your knowledge of political Islam, different persuasions of Islamism and various scholarly debates about the rise of Islamism by focusing on Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran and Turkey case studies since the 1980s. Throughout the module you will also engage in directed and self-directed study, for example through pre-seminar reading and through library research. The presentations (by you and your fellow students) and your reading will provide you with a broad overview of the secondary literature, using the bibliography provided at the start of the module. The discussion generated by these presentations will provide you with the opportunity to explore the relevant major historical debates on a weekly basis. In addition, you will study in depth a range of primary written sources. These sessions will allow you to prepare for the essay and examination exercises. Feedback on your progress and development will be given via seminars and group discussions. Responses from tutor and your fellow students to your presentation will also give you formative feedback.

Summative

MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (4000 words) 70%
Essay proposal  (2000 words) 30%

Referral

MethodPercentage contribution
Resubmit assessments 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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