IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/wdevel/v39y2011i2p243-260.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Political Instrumentalization of Islam and the Risk of Obscurantist Deadlock

Author

Listed:
  • Platteau, Jean-Philippe

Abstract

Summary The empirical literature has established a strong link between being a Muslim country and indicators of political performance and democracy. The idea of the "clash of civilizations" put forward by Samuel Huntington and applied to Islam by Bernard Lewis and others points to unique aspects of the Islamic religion and culture that make the advent of democracy especially difficult. In this paper, I show that there is a systematic misconception about the true nature of the relationship between Islam and politics: far from being fused into the religious realm, politics tends to dominate religion. Because of some characteristics, namely the lack of a centralized religious authority structure and the great variability of interpretations of the Islamic law, there is a risk of an "obscurantist deadlock" in the form of a vicious process whereby both the ruler and his political opponents try to outbid each other by using the religious idiom. This risk looms particularly large in crisis situations accentuated by international factors such as witnessed during the second half of the 20th century. From a short comparative analysis, it is however hard to conclude that unique aspects of the Islamic faith are ultimately responsible for the persistent autocratic feature of Muslim polities.

Suggested Citation

  • Platteau, Jean-Philippe, 2011. "Political Instrumentalization of Islam and the Risk of Obscurantist Deadlock," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 243-260, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:39:y:2011:i:2:p:243-260
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0305-750X(10)00200-7
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. McCleary, Rachel & Barro, Robert, 2003. "Religion and Economic Growth across Countries," Scholarly Articles 3708464, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    2. Noland Marcus, 2008. "Explaining Middle Eastern Political Authoritarianism I: The Level of Democracy," Review of Middle East Economics and Finance, De Gruyter, vol. 4(1), pages 1-30, January.
    3. La Porta, Rafael, et al, 1997. "Trust in Large Organizations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 333-338, May.
    4. Marcus Noland, 2005. "Explaining Middle Eastern Authoritarianism," Working Paper Series WP05-5, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
    5. Kuran, Timur, 2003. "The Islamic Commercial Crisis: Institutional Roots of Economic Underdevelopment in the Middle East," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 63(02), pages 414-446, June.
    6. Timur Kuran, 2004. "Why the Middle East is Economically Underdeveloped: Historical Mechanisms of Institutional Stagnation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(3), pages 71-90, Summer.
    7. Badawi, Ibrahim El & Makdisi, Samir, 2007. "Explaining the democracy deficit in the Arab world," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 46(5), pages 813-831, February.
    8. Noland, Marcus, 2005. "Religion and economic performance," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 33(8), pages 1215-1232, August.
    9. Desai, Meghnad, 2005. "Development and Nationhood: Essays in the Political Economy of South Asia," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195667608.
    10. Platteau, Jean-Philippe, 2008. "Religion, politics, and development: Lessons from the lands of Islam," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 329-351, November.
    11. Weiffen, Brigitte, 2008. "Liberalizing Autocracies in the Gulf Region? Reform Strategies in the Face of a Cultural-Economic Syndrome," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(12), pages 2586-2604, December.
    12. repec:hrv:faseco:30726298 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. North, Douglass C. & Weingast, Barry R., 1989. "Constitutions and Commitment: The Evolution of Institutions Governing Public Choice in Seventeenth-Century England," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(04), pages 803-832, December.
    14. World Bank, 2003. "Better Governance for Development in the Middle East and North Africa : Enhancing Inclusiveness and Accountability," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 15077.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Islam, Authoritarianism and Intolerance
      by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson in Why Nations Fail on 2012-09-13 20:00:00

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Rougier, Eric, 2016. "“Fire in Cairo”: Authoritarian–Redistributive Social Contracts, Structural Change, and the Arab Spring," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 148-171.
    2. Michalopoulos, Stelios & Naghavi, Alireza & Prarolo, Giovanni, 2010. "Trade and Geography in the Economic Origins of Islam: Theory and Evidence," MPRA Paper 23136, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Auriol, Emmanuelle & Platteau, Jean-Philippe, 2017. "Religious co-option in autocracy: A theory inspired by history," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 395-412.
    4. Auriol, Emmanuelle & Platteau, Jean-Philippe, 2017. "The Explosive Combination of Religious Decentralisation and Autocracy: the Case of Islam," TSE Working Papers 17-759, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    5. Ishac Diwan & Zafiris Tzannatos, 2002. "Debunking Myth: Economic Values in the Arab World Through the Prism of Opinion Polls," Working Papers 1104, Economic Research Forum, revised 06 Aug 2002.
    6. Platteau, Jean-Phillipe & Sekeris, Petros G., 2013. "Seduction of Religious Clerics and Violence in Autocratic Regimes - with special emphasis on Islam," NEPS Working Papers 3/2013, Network of European Peace Scientists.
    7. repec:bla:etrans:v:25:y:2017:i:2:p:313-350 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Jared Rubin, 2014. "Islamic institutions and underdevelopment," Chapters,in: Handbook on Islam and Economic Life, chapter 29, pages iii-iii Edward Elgar Publishing.

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:39:y:2011:i:2:p:243-260. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/worlddev .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.