Amidst recent hype about events in the Middle East, there have been few attempts to get below the surface and develop a fuller understanding of what politics means there. The Middle East: The Politics of the Sacred and Secular redresses this balance and provides essential historical and theoretical context.
In this book, Shahrough Akhavi shows that the way people think about politics in the Middle East has developed in response to historical experience. Islam has obviously played a pivotal role and the book does much to disentangle myth and reality about Islamic responses to politics. Refreshingly, however, the book focuses on the universal concepts of the individual, civil society, the state, justice, authority and obligation and how these have been interpreted by Middle Eastern thinkers in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
Akhavi builds a dynamic picture of a politically exciting and engaged region. The fresh perspective this book brings to global political theory, and the background it gives students of politics in the Middle East make it an important addition to the World Political Theories series.
Shahrough Akhavi is Professor of Political Science at the University of South Carolina, Columbia. His research focuses on the sociology of Islam and social theory, particularly in Iran and Egypt. He was President of the International Society for Iranian Studies from 2002-2003. He is the author of Religion and Politics in Contemporary Iran and many related articles and book chapters. He has also edited several book series, dictionaries and resources on Islam.
Acknowledgements 1. Introduction 2. The Sacred and the Secular 3. History and Social Change 4. The Individual 5. Society 6. The State 7. Conclusions Notes Bibliography Index