Muslim Democracy explores the relationship between politics and religion in forty-seven Muslim-majority countries, focusing especially on those with democratic experience, such as Indonesia and Turkey, and drawing comparisons with their regional, non-Islamic counterparts. Unlike most studies of political Islam, this is a politically-focused book, more concerned with governing realties than ideology. By changing the terms of the debate from theology to politics, and including the full complement of Islamic countries, Schneier shows that the boundaries between church and state in the Islamic world are more variable and diverse than is commonly assumed.
Through case studies and statistical comparisons between Muslim majority countries and their regional counterparts, Muslim Democracy shows that countries with different religions but similar histories are not markedly different in their levels of democratization. What many Islamists and western observers call "Islamic law," moreover, is more a political than a religious construct, with religion more the tool than the engine of politics. "Women who drive in Saudi Arabia," as the author says, "are not warned they will go to hell, but that they will go to jail." With the political salience of religion rising in many countries, this book is essential reading for students of comparative politics, religion, and democratization interested in exploring the shifting boundaries between faith and politics.
"This is a ground-breaking comparative study of the Muslim world’s struggle for democracy that transcends the simple cliches and polemics of an oft-asserted 'incompatibility' between the two. The book applies democratization theories to highlight events, factors and solutions explaining 'crucial' cases of Muslim democracy – Turkey and Indonesia – but also broader trends in the nexus between Islam, modernization, and democracy in the Muslim world. Written in an accessible language, the book will provide a valuable guide for students and researchers working in the areas of comparative democratization, Islamic politics, and twilights of democracy, secularism, religion and politics, and human rights in Muslim societies."
-- Arolda Elbasani, European University Institute, Florence
"Sometimes it seems like we have shifted seamlessly from ignoring religion's role in politics to overstating it when it comes to explaining the relative dearth of democracy in Muslim-majority societies. In his challenging and provocative new book, Schneier persuasively insists on the re-emphasis of political factors in accounting for the complex relationship between Islam and democracy across the globe."
-- Timothy A. Byrnes, Colgate University
Introduction: Indonesia, Turkey and "Islamic World." 1. A Brief History of the Islamic World 2. Religion, Development and Democratization 3. The Middle East and North Africa: Strong States, Weak Democracies 4. The Road to Democracy in the Islamic World 5. Pathways to Democratization: Turkey 6. Indonesia 7. Islam and Democracy