The heaven and the earth have been founded on justice. (A proverb or a hadith.)
This book is about Muslims and democracy. It is not the first volume to study this subject, but it is original in two ways. First, it focuses on Muslim agency and proposes that we study “Muslims and democracy” rather than “Islam and democracy.” Numerous explanations for the lack of democracy in Muslim-majority societies focus on institutional, cultural, economic, or historical factors. While the macrostructural approach provides deep insights about Islam and democracy, studying the microcognitive dimension of Muslim support for democracy will expand our understanding beyond structural factors. Second, this book employs a novel perspective in studying Muslim political attitudes toward democracy by focusing on one of the principal values of the Islamic faith, namely justice (al-‘adl). In Islam, justice is not merely one of the values; it is the value that permeates all aspects of life. This book examines this central notion as a religious value related to Muslim political preferences and behaviors. As such, this study is a scholarly attempt to explain how ordinary Muslims use the conceptions of divine justice to make sense of real-world problems, mainly those encountered in the realm of politics.
There are vastly different perspectives on Islam and democracy, and any attempt to infer a common position from this vast field seems futile. Religious scholars, pundits, academics, politicians, and ordinary people all have their views about why and to what extent Islam is friendly or hostile to democracy. However, we can bring some order to this complex field by separating an infamous perspective that sees an irreconcilable contradiction between principles of Islamic faith and democracy from other approaches that view the issue as a matter of complete, partial, or conditional agreement between the two concepts.1 For the proponents of the first view, also known as the essentialist approach, Islam and democracy cannot coexist because Islam serves as a comprehensive blueprint for life, leaving no room for human legislation, secular institutions, and democratic participation.2 In the opposite camp are scholars who either redeploy classical Islamic concepts or rely on flexible interpretations of the scripture to introduce a native Islamic democratic theory.3 At the moment, we can somehow confidently argue that scholars have largely discredited the essentialist view, yet it continues to motivate the theoretical and empirical studies about the subject.4
The popular sentiment on the ground presents a different reality than the disagreement among scholars in the intellectual field. When Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire on December 17, 2010, to protest a repressive regime with zero respect for his dignity, he sparked a massive movement against the Arab region’s dictators. The Arab Spring took many by surprise as a solid confirmation of people’s desire for democracy and justice in the Middle East. Arab Spring was not the first instance of prodemocracy popular mobilization, and it will not be the last. Since the nineteenth century, people across the Muslim world have participated in large-scale protests demanding constitutional governments, independence, democracy, and justice. The protests rocking the Arab streets and squares were the latest incarnations of the desire for democracy held by ordinary Muslim women and men. Contrary to the lack of consensus among scholars and pundits about the exact nature of the relationship between Islam and democracy, there appears to be widespread support for democracy among ordinary people.
So far, the scholarly debate about Islam and democracy has focused on the principles of faith to make a case for democratic government in Islam. In this debate, primarily neglected are ordinary Muslims’ attitudes and behaviors as principal democratization agents.5 While it is essential to explain the theoretical and conceptual foundations of democracy in Islam, the thoughts and actions of Muslim agency about the normative principles of faith should also matter. It is crucial to explore how individuals interpret values stemming from their faith and use them to inform their political preferences. This book adds to the vast scholarship on the subject by combining this empirical perspective with several theoretical accounts on the subject.6
The recent scholarship provides the needed theoretical background for examining the association between religious values and democracy. This scholarship argues that religious values can engender democratic attitudes in Muslim-majority societies where faith remains a potent force.7 The proponents of this research program favor either a theological approach utilizing elements of doctrine, law, or scripture or religious mobilization by the elites or masses to explain the Islamic roots of democracy. Khaled Abou El Fadl,8 for example, argues that Islamic values of mercy and justice are the foundations of democratic ideals. In The Caliphate of Man, Andrew March9 contends that in Islamic political theology, God’s sovereignty on earth rests on the entire Muslim community (umma). This idea stems from the principle that God has appointed man as his vicegerent (khalifa). The universal theory of the caliphate, according to March,10 necessitates the idea of popular sovereignty as a founding principle of government. Abdullahi Ahmed An-Náim11 argues that democratic government will be acceptable to Muslims insofar as the renegotiation of sharia is possible and civic reasoning and participation allow pious Muslims to influence public policy according to their beliefs. In a critical essay, Ahmed Khanani12 contends that Islamists substantiate democracy by linking it to religious concepts such as dignity (karama), as seen in the Arab uprisings. For Nader Hashemi,13 liberal democracy can be implemented in the Muslim world only when an indigenous secular order is established due to Islamist mobilization. Finally, Jeremy Menchik14 argues that historical and political conditions, in conjunction with faith principles, bring about tolerant attitudes in Indonesian religious organizations. In turn, this tolerance engenders favorable views of a specific type of democracy involving the acceptance of communal rights within a legal pluralist framework. The prevailing wisdom following this new genre of scholarship is that Islam can nurture the seeds of democratic government. This conclusion is based on novel interpretations of scripture or the prevalence of religiously inspired participatory and contentious political acts by those who hold religious worldviews.
While agreeing with the central premises of this research program, Islam, Justice, and Democracy differs from it on two fronts. First, it argues that the principles of any faith do not necessarily engender political outlooks in only one direction. Like any religion or ideology, Islamic values may engender democratic or authoritarian preferences. This book does not make a claim about the one-way causal effect linking principles of Islamic faith to a regime type. Regime transitions and survival are complex phenomena and individual political preferences about these phenomena will be nuanced. They will be informed by a multitude of factors and may evolve in different directions. Nevertheless, this book argues that Islam will have a significant standing among these factors, which can engender democratic attitudes. Second, it attacks the puzzle about Islam and democracy from a different perspective. Its main contention is that justice is the most significant value in Islam’s ethicopolitical system. Therefore, the conception of justice will play a significant role in shaping Muslim political attitudes, whether authoritarian or democratic. This book provides a novel account of attitudinal linkages between different conceptions of Islamic justice and political preferences.
The scholarship cited above recognizes the significance of conceptions of justice in Islamic political theory, but it does not provide a systematic treatment of this notion in relation to democracy, save El Fadl’s15 masterful essay on Islamic foundations of democracy. El Fadl delivers a jurisprudential treatment of the interplay of justice and democracy but does not provide an empirical account of Muslim political preferences. The current volume explores the origins and the legacies of Islamic justice discourses to explain contemporary political preferences, especially those related to democracy. It provides a systematic treatment of associations between conceptions of justice and their attitudinal implications in Muslim political practice.16 Therefore, it aims to close the gap between theoretical studies17 focusing on the reinterpretation of doctrine, scripture, and Islamic law and praxis-oriented scholarship focusing on Muslim agency and mobilization.18 This book demonstrates how theological, historical, and ideological underpinnings of a central Islamic value relate to Muslim agency’s political attitudes and behavior by putting justice at the center of this integrative framework.
This volume can also be situated within a different research program that puts Islamic justice at the center of scholarly inquiry. In this vein, a study by Dina Abdelkader19 provides the first account of Muslim activism and Islamist mobilization through the lens of Islamic jurisprudence. In her Social Justice in Islam, Abdelkader shows that the goals of Islamic law (maqāṣid al-shariʿ a) may motivate contemporary Islamic activism.20 Abdelkader’s volume is an important contribution that links a native theory of social justice to contemporary social activism. She proposes that Islamic law principles can motivate Islamist activism in Muslim-majority societies to the extent that these principles and social activists’ demands overlap in seeking public interest and social welfare implementation. Abdelkader, however, does not fully explore the reasons for Muslims’ acceptance or rejection of democracy according to the native theory of justice she employs in her analysis. This book explores this missing link between various conceptions of justice as a religious value and Muslim political preferences. In addition, and differently from Abdelkader, the current volume moves beyond the effect of Islamic legal principles on Islamic activism and highlights the role of historical and intellectual foundations of Islamic justice values in Muslim politics. The analysis also employs a mixed-method approach and brings considerable evidence from public opinion surveys, archives of Islamist journals, and in-depth interviews to establish the linkages between Islamic justice values, on one hand, and Islamist ideology, political attitudes, and behavior, on the other.
Two historical treatments of social justice in the Muslim world are also worthy of mentioning within this second research program. In A History of Social Justice and Political Power in the Middle East, Linda Darling21 explores the historical origins of the essential notion of circle of justice. Since the early ages, this concept was foundational to state legitimacy and efficient governance in the Middle East. The circle of justice refers to the interdependence of the rulers, military, and people in governance. Such interdependence leads to adequate public goods provision, egalitarian welfare policies, and continued security to bring about state legitimacy.22 Darling argues that the circle of justice has been part of the statecraft since before the Islamic period and is a cultural element of governance in the Middle East. This idea undergirded the state legitimacy in the gunpowder empires, but it lost its prominence with the rise of the Western political and economic models. However, the main principles of the circle survived in the popular culture to resurface in contemporary mass movements (e.g., the Iranian Revolution, the Arab Spring).23
In another impressive volume, Justice Interrupted: The Struggle for Constitutional Government in the Middle East, Elizabeth Thompson24 challenges the conventional view that Islam and liberal democracy are antithetical. She argues that the people of the Middle East have revolted since the 1850s in the name of justice and the rule of law, but the domestic autocrats and the foreign powers complicit in repressive regimes silenced these democratic demands. From the Urabi Revolt in Egypt (1879–1882) to the Arab Spring, democratic movements and popular struggles for justice have been the rule rather than the exception. For Thompson, the ideals of justice and demands for the rule of law have motivated the leftist and Islamist movements. Overall, Darling and Thompson recognize the importance of the notion of justice, whether it has been invoked for the legitimacy of a traditional monarchy, an authoritarian government, or a constitutional democracy. They trace the lineages of Islamic justice conception related to the state, democracy, and popular mobilization, an inquiry this volume also undertakes. However, unlike these two studies, Islam, Justice, and Democracy investigates the religious roots of justice values. It also explores how justice as a religious value manifests itself in contemporary political preferences. For a full account of the interplay of Islamic conceptions of justice and democracy, we need to understand how historical and intellectual conceptions of justice engender democratic (or authoritarian) attitudes or whether they motivate political acts conducive to democracy.25
What are the historical origins of Islamic conceptions of justice? Are these origins related to such notions as legitimacy and popular sovereignty? Can we trace pluralistic or authoritarian ideas in the Islamic conceptions of justice? Are social justice values such as charity conducive to support for a democratic government or benevolent dictatorship? This book aims to answer these and similar questions by using a mixed-methods design. This volume’s method is rooted in ethnographic research spanning over several years of fieldwork in Turkey. Many of this volume’s insights come from participant observation and in-depth interviews. The methodological tool kit also includes a content analysis of articles obtained from the archives of Islamist journals and quantitative analysis of survey data in the Arab and Muslim-majority countries. This mixed-methods approach provides rich data and robust empirical tests about individuals’ attitudes and behavior. Islam, Justice, and Democracy is a social scientific investigation to uncover and explain the microfoundations of the association between justice and democracy in Islam.
Islam, Justice, and Democracy: The Argument
Justice is a broad concept with many dimensions, including but not limited to its political, social, legal, economic, commutative, and distributive facets. We can start to examine the connections between Islamic conceptions of justice and democracy by focusing our inquiry on some of these facets. This is not to claim that specific dimensions of justice are more crucial than others, but such simplification is necessary to better understand the association between conceptions of justice and political preferences.
Some justice dimensions may become more prevalent than others in shaping conceptions of justice over time and across different contexts.26 For example, in the West, economic distribution has gained significance in the study of justice, presumably due to the Industrial Revolution’s unique conditions.27 By and large, two important traditions have influenced the intellectual debate about social justice in the West. First, religion (Christianity) played a vital role in reconciling social tensions that arose with industrialization and modernization. This development gave way to social democratic and religiously inspired egalitarian ideologies such as liberation theology.28 Second, a liberal ideology played an instrumental role in reconciling free market and social justice outcomes in the twentieth century.29
In the Muslim world, justice discourses evolved along two discernible trajectories. The first trajectory is the political justice dimension. The origins of this trajectory go back to the conflicts during the beginning periods of Islamic history over the political leadership. The disagreement about who would be the leader of the Muslim community, after the death of its religious and political leader Muhammad, gave way to political strife in a community that had seen only peace and unity during the span of its short existence.30 The political struggles over the succession problem eventually led to the first civil war (fitna)31 and culminated in the sectarian division between Sunni and Shia. Sectarianism consolidated over time as the rift between these two sects widened in the doctrinal realm. However, justice and its political implications always remained salient matters in Muslim politics. As Majid Khadduri succinctly says, “At the outset the debate on justice began on the political level. In a community founded on religion, it was indeed in the nature of things that public concern should focus first on the question of legitimacy and the qualifications of the ruler whose primary task was to put God’s Law and justice into practice.”32 This debate gradually spilled over into the theological and philosophical fields to inform intellectual discussions about thorny issues like free will, predetermination, justice, and the Islamic government.
Apart from this scholarly vibrancy, practical political issues related to justice and governance continued to inform the politics over centuries. Naturally, conceptions of political justice continued to evolve in response to the changing contexts and problems of different ages. For example, Shia political theory evolved along the lines of a belief that the community deprived Prophet Muhammad’s son-in-law ʿAli of his right to lead the community, creating an injustice. The emphasis on the importance of political justice and a just ruler among the Shia is perhaps the result of this initial position.33 In the medieval period, conceptions of political justice concerned the qualities of a just ruler among the Sunni thinkers. In the age of modernity, conceptions of political justice resurfaced in the ideologies of Islamist intellectuals and the protesters’ chants in various mass movements. Manifestations of Islamic justice ideals can be traced to the constitutionalist uprisings of the early twentieth century and postcolonial independence movements,34 the Islamist ideology and the discourse of religious activism, the Iranian Revolution,35 and the demands of antiregime protesters as most notably observed in the Arab Spring.
The second trajectory, social justice, is rooted in Islam’s emphasis on charity and helping the poor. Scripture and hadiths (words of the Prophet) are replete with passages about altruism and giving. The notion of ʾiḥsān,36 translated as benevolence toward people or graciousness in individuals’ dealings with others, is a central aspect of Islamic social justice.37 Despite this emphasis, conceptions of social justice were not utilized as political tools until the weakening and fragmentation of the Islamic Empire in the thirteenth century. During the weakening period of the Islamic Empire and especially following the Mongol invasion, social justice emerged as a significant social problem.38
The political conditions of that time required a positive definition of justice that would ensure general welfare and the provision of public goods. Although political justice continued to receive scholarly attention in the works of ethics (akhlaq) and the political advice texts, most scholarly attention gravitated toward the notion of public interest (maṣlaḥa), especially among legal scholars. For example, Ibn Taymiyya laid out the foundation of a new political theory called al-siyāsa al-shar’iyya39 that put the notion of maṣlaḥa at the center of political thinking. The discourse of justice increasingly came to be defined by such norms as welfare, public goods provision, and security. Obedience to rulers was seen as an absolute necessity to ensure the implementation of these policies. In practice, the Islamic jurisprudential theory (uṣūl al-fiqh) came up with a theory of public interest, leading to what Abdou Filali-Ansary calls the “medieval compromise”40 between the rulers and the scholars. In this arrangement, it was the duty of the scholars to keep the rulers in check. The balance tilted toward political authority and subjugated the religious authority to the rulers’ will. Ahmet Kuru argues that this political formula and the end of scholars’ independence from the ruling class due to a decline in trade are the leading causes of stagnation in Islamic societies.41 Nonetheless, this model continued to inform political relations. Indeed, it conveniently served the rulers’ interests, because of its capacity to create perceptions of legitimacy. The siyāsa model’s legally bound and highly nuanced social justice paradigm played a significant role in these developments.
This study argues that the conceptions of political and social justice, as disclosed within the Muslim political experience, will inform contemporary political preferences, democratic or authoritarian, in two different ways. Figure 1.1 summarizes these different paths and their implications for political preferences.
The political justice trajectory originates from the early communal divisions over the question of choosing a leader. To reiterate, one outcome of this initial division is the development of sectarian differentiation between the Sunni and Shia groups. These political and sectarian divisions took on a life of their own over time. What started as a disagreement about politics spilled over into the areas of doctrine, culture, and lifestyle. The divergence within the Islamic political theory between the proponents of popular sovereignty/accountability axis and the proponents of obedience/social order axis follows the same division. The contrast between these two axes stands in sharp contrast to the idea of a unified political community, as seen during the Prophet’s time.
One manifestation of this split emerged within theological debates between the proponents of free will and the proponents of predestination. The former implies that individuals have free will and they are responsible for correcting injustices and taking action against tyranny. This path is highly conducive to support for democracy and political accountability and leads to active engagement in political life. The latter advises obedience and quietism even under the political authority of an unjust ruler. Historically, proponents of free will and individual responsibility encouraged opposition and rebellion in the name of justice. The opposite camp’s ideology has been conducive to unconditional obedience since they believed that God predetermines everything, including an unjust ruler’s reign. This second path is likely to engender political apathy and indifference, if not opposition, toward democracy. This book demonstrates the evolution of these legacies by tracing their manifestations in contemporary Muslim politics.
The social justice trajectory also follows two different paths, but the transition from one path to another is possible, as shown with the dashed lines in Figure 1.1. All else being equal, a devout Muslim should hold economically egalitarian views due to the strong emphasis placed on altruism, benevolence, and charity in Islam. Pious Muslims should lean favorably toward democratic governance because democracy has an advantage in implementing egalitarian distributive policies.42 This statement is also in line with Islam’s doctrinal focus on benevolence. This path relies on the assumption that democracy has an advantage over other regime types, as the most compatible regime type with Islamic social justice.43
An alternative explanation may be in order given the historical evolution of conceptions of social justice, especially the increased emphasis on social order and public interest during the Islamic Empire’s fragmentation in the thirteenth century. The need to institute social justice in a declining society gave way to a unique political coalition between religious scholars (ulema) and rulers to implement sharia as the quintessential governing formula. Ideally, this political arrangement necessitated constraining the rulers to ensure the implementation of justice. In practice, the rulers came to employ the ulema to create perceptions of legitimacy among their subjects.44 Consequently, obedience to a benevolent but unjust ruler is legitimized as a necessary condition for ensuring social order and public interest. This second path implies support for nondemocratic forms of government.
The stylized distinction between two social justice paths is not as clear-cut as the distinction in political justice paths because charity and benevolence may also underlie support for a benevolent dictator implementing egalitarian distribution within a supposedly Islamic political system. Meanwhile, public interest as the primary goal of sharia may engender support for democracy. This is because, in democracies, pious Muslims will find the necessary channels for contributing to society’s general welfare, according to their religious beliefs, through deliberation and policy influence, which is not the case in nondemocratic regimes.45
Islamic law requires that certain religious norms constrain rulers. In settings where existing institutions give a ruler disproportionate power, such informal rules may be the only way for executive constraints. The process defined here is the norm of “institutional forbearance.” Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt46 define forbearance as “patient self-control; restraint and tolerance.” Forbearance refers to the choice by those who hold power not to apply a legal prerogative. Sometimes, rulers may avoid a specific action they are entitled to because this would violate the spirit of the system or undermine it.47 As Levitsky and Ziblatt argue,48 forbearance norms have their roots in premodern government when the rulers had the divine right to rule. Even then, they would restrain themselves according to the accepted wisdom.
The notion of forbearance has direct relevance to the Islamic governance models. In the lack of institutions that could effectively constrain the ruler, religious norms may be the only path to forbearance. When followed by the rulers, these values could ensure general welfare. Specifically, Islamic justice requires that the ruler act wisely according to maṣlaḥa principle.49 Any unjust act that violates citizens’ rights or jeopardizes the welfare of society is against the spirit of religion. The classical Islamic state is a system of the past. However, its principles, especially those related to the general welfare provision based on forbearance norms are most similar to democracy. Devout Muslims’ may not want to reinstitute the classical Islamic state, but they are likely to view democracy as a system that has the most significant potential to enact its normative outcomes. All else being equal, devout Muslims should prefer democracy over its alternatives because it constrains the executive either by formal institutions or by informal norms to protect the public interest and general welfare.
In conclusion, the historical lineages of political and social justice provide a foundation for understanding contemporary political preferences, especially those related to democracy. The analysis does not propose a causal relation linking historical patterns to contemporary political preferences. Nor does the theoretical framework maintain that the lineages of conceptions of justice shape current attitudes in an exclusive manner. A fuller explanation will clarify specific mechanisms that make democracy more (or less) preferable to its alternatives for pious individuals. The subsequent chapters elaborate on these mechanisms and present microlevel empirical evidence to explain Muslim support for democracy and authoritarianism.
Outline of the Book
This volume attempts to trace the lineages of political and social justice trajectories and their implications for Muslim support for democracy. It moves beyond the exclusively historical or empirical treatments of the subject to explain contemporary incarnations of justice orientations as they appear in Islamist ideology, mass protest movements, and public opinion. Chapter 2 surveys the scholarship on Islam and democracy to point to the lack of focus on “justice” as a crucial element of Islamic political theory. It first provides a review of the essentialist approach that is skeptical about the compatibility of Islam with democracy. The review shows that this skepticism is more nuanced than a simple rejection of Islamic faith’s pluralistic origins. It then summarizes the counteressentialist scholarship that makes a case for the compatibility of Islam and democracy. This second line of research traces the roots of Islamic democracy in scriptural principles or in Islamic legal methodologies. This section demonstrates that the counteressentialist scholarship either neglects the role of justice as a constitutive principle of democratic thinking in the Muslim experience or it does not adequately examine the linkages between conceptions of justice and attitudes of Muslim agency. This chapter sets the stage for the subsequent analysis that explores the effect of justice values on attitudes.
Chapter 3 provides an overview of political and social justice trajectories to explain the connections between religious values and Muslim political attitudes. Starting from the first divisions in the early Muslim community and focusing on the paradigm shift from political to social justice during the decline of the Islamic Empire, it traces the development of justice discourses in political struggles and intellectual debates. This chapter does not claim to account for historical details of all important events in Islamic history but approaches the subject from a longue durée perspective50 to provide a broad overview of the evolution of justice discourses. It focuses on the conceptual evolution of political and social justice rather than presenting a simple historical description of events. This chapter also discusses the linkages between historical trajectories of political and social justice and support for democracy and authoritarianism.
The remaining chapters examine the contemporary manifestations of political and social justice trajectories and their formative effects on Muslim political attitudes. These chapters bring evidence from the works of Islamist ideologues, archives of Islamist journals, the ideas of Islamist youth, widespread protests of the Arab Spring, and attitudes of ordinary men and women as reported in public opinion surveys. To that end, these chapters use a mixed-methods design, including such techniques as a close reading of primary texts, content analysis of Islamist journals, in-depth interviews, and statistical analysis of survey data.
Chapter 4 explores the Islamist justice theory in the works of ʿAli Shariati and Sayyid Qutb, arguably the two most influential Islamists of the modern era. For both scholars, the human agency plays a critical role in applying divine justice principles to the practical realm. Qutb believes that man can gain freedom of conscience through exclusive servitude to God and engagement in charitable acts. Shariati, on the other hand, focuses on man’s capacity and free will, both of which can be realized by taking action against the polytheist world orders that have replaced the divine monotheist order. While Qutb is concerned about establishing a just order through inner purification and religious law, Shariati assigns this duty to the human agency engaged in continuous struggles against the oppressor. Man, for Shariati, can reach emancipation through the benevolent act. This chapter shows that building contemporary incarnations of Islamist justice is, in essence, a highly practical political project at the intersection of political and social justice. The main concern of Islamist justice theory is the emancipation of human agency through belief in an all-powerful single God and the establishment of a nonoppressive political order and harmonious society that can ensure social justice for all. Finally, Chapter 4 compares Qutb and Shariati’s ideas to the views of Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, Said Nursi, and Rāshid al-Ghannūshī. This chapter demonstrates that the lineages of Islamic conceptions of justice continue to inform the political philosophies of contemporary Islamists who appear to develop democratic utopias for an ideal Muslim society.
Chapter 5 uses a discourse analytic account of Islamist texts to demonstrate how social reformism and anti-imperialism emerge as the new manifestations of the classic debate between proponents of communal order and those who call for rebellion against an unjust ruler. It traces the lineages of the tension between social justice and political justice using the archives of the Turkish Islamist journals during the 1960–2010 period. This analysis provides the first systematic qualitative treatment of Islamist ideas about justice and democracy in the Turkish context. During the Cold War, Islamist writers presented a rudimentary treatment of justice conception to address the challenge of communist ideology. The primary focus of Turkish Islamists was public interest and social order at that time. Since 1980, Islamists have developed sophisticated theories to address the challenges stemming from the neoliberal economic system, globalization, and American hegemony. During this period, Islamists increasingly focused on ethics and politics, Islamic governance, and resistance to the new world order. The analysis in Chapter 5 demonstrates that the early genealogies of justice discourses continue to shape Muslim political preferences.
Chapter 6 explores how pious individuals form cognitive pathways from a central value of Islam to inform their attitudes toward democracy and authoritarianism. It uses in-depth interviews conducted with the members of new Islamist movements in Turkey (2017–2019) to demonstrate how devout individuals problematize justice in forming their political preferences. As such, it presents a fine-grained empirical assessment of individual attitudes about justice and democracy and provides conceptual validation for the theory presented in this book. The interviews demonstrate no single uniform path linking religion to justice and justice to democratic orientations. While the quest for “justice” has been at the center of political debates concerning legitimacy, obedience, and rebellion against tyrants over many centuries, for contemporary Islamists, the mechanisms linking conceptions of justice to political attitudes and behavior, particularly those related to democracy, are ambiguous for the Islamist youth. The chapter argues that this should not come as a surprise to the extent that historical trajectories of Islamic justice discourses are characterized by dualities between free will and predestination, freedom and necessity of order, or rebellion against tyranny and obedience to a benevolent dictator. The analysis of Islamist outlooks implies that the legacy of complex historical trajectories concerning justice and democracy, although containing a gray zone, continue to inform Muslim political preferences. Finally, Chapter 6 highlights the main theoretical mechanisms underlying religion, attitudes, and support for democracy.
Chapter 7 explains the microfoundations of Muslim support for democracy. It proposes that distributive preferences and individualistic value orientations stemming from Islamic conceptions of justice mediate religion’s effect on support for democracy. The statistical analysis of the extensive World Values Survey (WVS) conducted in two dozen Muslim-majority countries shows that religiosity increases distributive preferences. Meanwhile, pious individuals are less likely to hold self-direction values emphasizing individual autonomy but more likely to hold self-determination values cherishing individual resolve and control over life decisions. In turn, piety, egalitarian distributive preferences, and self-deterministic orientations increase support for democracy. Overall, the analysis demonstrates that legacies of political and social justice trajectories inform political attitudes directly or indirectly by mediating the effect of religiosity.
Chapter 8 focuses on protest behavior and examines the Arab Spring as an example of popular mobilization for political and social justice. It compares these protests to the constitutionalist movements of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in the Middle East to demonstrate the continuities and ruptures in the discourse of these movements set one century apart. The chapter argues that the Arab Spring constituted a popular democratic movement demanding both social and political justice. The statistical analysis of the Arab Barometer data demonstrates that perceptions of political and social injustices played a large role in protest participation. Although religiosity’s effect on protest participation is not consistent across statistical models, religion strengthens the association between indicators of political justice—including perceptions of corruption, access to state services, and political distrust—and the decision to protest.
Chapter 9, the conclusion, discusses the findings of this volume in the context of the vast scholarship on Islam and democracy. This chapter also discusses the policy implications of this volume for democratization in Muslim-majority societies. By putting justice at the center of democratic thinking in the Muslim world, the conclusion invites Islam and democracy scholars to reconsider Islam’s potential for engendering democratic ideals and authoritarian preferences.