International Relations – Islam

Notes on Readings for Review #4:  The readings for this section are extensive so you need to pace yourself accordingly; start early! (You have additional time for this section-almost three weeks; that should give you sufficient time to get through the readings.)  This section deals with the role of the Islamic revival in revolutionary changes, state building, domestic transformations, democracy, human rights, and foreign policy, as well as its role in shaping Muslim transnational dynamics, from the Iranian Islamic revolution in 1979 to the “Arab Spring” in 2011 and beyond.  The chapters from Mandaville’s book provide considerable, systematic information and analysis on how Muslim politics has manifested itself via socio-political movements, political parties, and attempts at state building and governance. These important chapters need your particular attention in your review. The Iranian revolution in 1979 had a profound impact on Iran and Muslim world relations with the US and the West, as well as significant implications for global politics since 1979. Abrahamian provides a sweeping account of the Iranian Islamic revolution and formation of an Islamic state and its significance. Beeman reflects on difficult relations between the US and Iran, Milani analyses the dynamics of the rivalry between the two important Muslim states, Iran and Saudi Arabia, while Hunter addresses the impact of US policy towards Iran on emerging intra Islamic tensions and conflict.   Vali Nasr’s article deals with the rise of Shi’i Islam, especially after the downfall of Saddam Hussein.  Kayaoglu, addresses the role of Islam in Qatar’s foreign policy. Two articles on Turkey by Pandya and Karaahmetoglu, discusses the role of Islam in domestic and foreign policy of Turkey, a key regional player and the major US ally in the region. The remainder of the readings in this section is devoted to the revolutionary and the democratic upheaval in the Arab/Muslim world. The chapter by Abou El Fadl addresses the connection between human rights and Islam. The article on “Is Islam an Obstacle to Democracy?” to provides a platform for several leading scholars (including among others, Robert Kaplan, Reza Aslan, Richard Bulliet, and Omid Safi) debate this question. Two Chapters by Esposito/Sonn/Voll, and the articles by Patterson, Marc Lynch, Oliver Roy, and Salloukh, address the role of Islamic politics in impacting democratization dynamics and challenges, including sectarianism, in the Arab Spring and beyond.   The readings in this sections end with two conceptually oriented works by Noah Feldman on the significance of Sharia, and Shadi Hamid, on what he calls, “Islamic Exceptionalism”.               In the Required video section,  the BBC award winning documentary on Iran looks at the Iranian revolution, Ambassador Bill Luers (in his lecture at FIU) looks at the Iranian Nuclear Deal. Vali Nasr discusses the origin and the evolution of Shia-Sunni sectarian divide in the Muslim world. Two lectures by Gause and Milani provide a very good outline of the new regional rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia and its regional and international implications, while Makdisi reflects on the historical and contemporary dynamics of sectarianism.

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