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Western-style Democracy and non-Western religions – the case of Islam

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IEP lyon

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documents in English
term papers
5 pages
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  1. Introduction
  2. Compatibility of western style democracy with non-western religions
    1. Religious traditions
    2. Compatibility between the Islamic traditions and precepts and the western-style democracy
    3. The dynamics of democratization in Muslim societies
    4. The responsibility of the khalifah and society
    5. Different Islamic concepts
    6. The important role played by the Islamic Republican Party and the Islamic revolutionary guards
  3. Conclusion
  4. Bibliography

"Is Western-style democracy compatible with non-Western religions? Discuss primarily the question of the Islamic religion."

Although the suggestion that certain religious traditions were more suitable for democracy came under increasing attack from the early 1980s onwards, scholars as Huntington state a link between spread of democracy and religion. Thus in his book on democratization's third wave, Huntington starts by noting the ongoing relationship between democracy and Protestantism, quoting a 1960s study which suggested that in 91 countries studied, the greater the proportion of protestants the higher the level of democracy. In the same way, he links the catholic tradition with the democratic transition from the mid 1970s to the early 1990s since around three-quarters of the countries had a predominantly catholic tradition. So, according to Huntington Western Christianity is a crucial element for the implementation of democracy (Anderson citing Huntington, 2004). Then, in his later Clash of Civilizations, Huntington tackles the question of the compatibility of democracy with some non-Western religions. He argues that ?democracy might have reached its civilizational limits, and seeing Islam in particular as provided infertile ground for the development of democratic institutions? (Anderson citing Huntington, 2004). So what is stated is that if Western religions are suitable with democracy, non-Western are not. In fact, one can take the example of the Middle East, the core of the Muslim world, in which apart from Israel, very few evidence of democratic transition can be found. Yet, one can wonder to what extent the lack of democracy in these countries can be linked with a religious factor.
To tackle the question of the compatibility of Western-style democracy with non-Western religions, especially with the Islamic religion, one can try first to analyze the Islamic traditions and precepts to see to what extent they can be compatible with democracy. In a second part, one can examine the current polities in the Muslim world to see to what extent democracy is compatible in practice.

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