Tuesday, 23 February 2010

An Article Written by: John Turner, 3 August 2009
An Article Review Written By: Me

This article was written in response to the book written by J. Harris Proctor, where he argued in his book Islam and International Relations, that Islam is irrelevant as a subject of inquiry within the study of International Relations has clearly been demonstrated to be a false proclamation in light of the events over the course of the last half century.

In this article John Turner very broadly elaborate the significance trends occurred in the Muslim world particularly in theorizing the concept of International Relation characterized through various phases. And how the notion of Islam could be influential in international affairs, that somehow it needs to be as an independent subject to study because Islam unlike the Wesphalian theory of state system and as an approach of itself and on itself stand on different ground, not on the basis on any positivist theory. He then characterized different trend in term on international relation emerged in the Muslim world as a result of prevailing political trend in a particular era.

He further explain that Islamic International Relation is systemic theory where it emphasis on the concept of world order that focuses on the relations between the Muslim/Arab and the non-Muslim/Arab sphere and how that realm should be ordered and not how state interact among each other, therefore the term Daar Islam and Daar Harb, the concept of Umma (community of believers) and Assabiya (group feeling) are well known among Muslim political thinkers. However it was easy to identify this concept in the earlier of Islamic development until and at last with the disrememberment of Ottoman Empire it was then difficult for the Muslim to build solid bloc on the basis on Muslim umma, and particularly with the fall of many ex-Ottoman Empire's territory was subjugated in the hand of colonial power.

Upon this end, there has been polarization in the Muslim community in conceptualizing the theory of Islamic International Relation in which the writer characterized it as follow:
The first Islamic debate was a product of Islam’s formative years characterized by persistent conflict, where initially was defensive in nature and later offensive. As the new religion struggled to survive and then propagate the faith through force a particular attitude was entrenched in the minds of Islamic scholars. Thus the faith was connected with war and survival, like the Hobbesian state of nature, which perceived an insecure world laden with violence and an eternal existential struggle which defines the human experience, so to do the thinkers who influenced the traditionalist school of Islamic International Relations.
The second debate began towards the end of the 19th century as the Islamic world became increasingly encroached upon by European power, culture and ideas. Here three attitude among Muslim thinkers were there, either to adopt, adapt or to reject.
Those thinkers challenging the long sustained traditionalist approach by asserting that the Islamic world was no longer capable of supporting trans-nationalism and universalism. They began to advocate a position that mediated between the modernists who sought to fully engage with Western civilization and the traditionalists who would take a rejectionist stance in an attempt to preserve the purity of the Islamic world.
The first traditionalist theories were forged in Islam’s Hobbesian origins, the second debate and the rise of non-traditional thinking the product of encounters with Europe, the third a traditionalist backlash resulting from a feeling of disenchantment and marginalization caused by European colonialism and the post colonial disorder.
The contemporary period could best be described as a fourth debate that may speak to a struggle for the Muslim world to define itself or struggle for Muslim identity. This trend unlike the previous trend was not as a result from the opposition from traditionalist and non-traditionalist paradigm nor it a result from the global political trend, rather it tends to be perceived influence to bring about global change. This trend appear to be new wing of traditionalist school in which apparently more radical than even the radicals of the traditionalist school such as the Muslim Brotherhood.
Al Qaeda as an ideology that has emerged from the thinkers like those of the Muslim Brotherhood, influenced by both the traditionalist and non-traditionalist side of Islamic International Relations.
Al Qaeda’s ideology contains elements of both Salafi and Jihadi thought. It embodies certain key concepts that differ from the broader range of traditionalist scholarship such as that embraced by the Muslim Brotherhood.
But somehow in his lengthy explanation of his article, indeed he has contributed good remarks to convince the reader about the reality of the Muslim world and it needs to be studied distinctively on its own not on Western term, and the current political trend Islamic International Relation has been influential as a catalyst of political thought within and more recently outside of the Islamic sphere. In fact Islam as it has been demonstrated here is even more than just a subject of study for scholars of International Relations; it is a theory in its own right.
Westphalian state system are only one type of tool of analysis and positivist and post positivist modes of inquiries don’t necessarily represent finite epistemological boundaries. Where an ontological position believed to be divinely inspired may be out of place in the traditional understandings of orthodox political theory it does not render such an approach invalid. To truly grapple with many of the most perplexing questions regarding global terrorism theorists need an Islamic theory of International Relations along side Orthodox thinking if we are to move beyond our theoretical confines.


xitalho said...

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Nassef M. Adiong said...

Call for paper proposals for a MESA 2011 panel: 'Islam and International Relations: Mutual Perceptions'

Dear Colleagues,


I would like to invite you if you would like to contribute a paper for a panel proposal I am forming for the MESA conference, which will take place 1-4 December 2011, in Washington DC. Below is the abstract of the panel:

For a very long time, the Muslim world was regarded as an outsider from the cultural and normative pretext and state relations of the West. Even during the reign of the Ottoman Empire, scholars of International Relations (IR) excluded her as a subordinated non-ally or stealth ally of major European powers. It is now apparent that there is an imperative motivation why Islamic discourses gradually dominate contemporary international relations and events, e.g. Palestinian question, Iranian nuclear issue, Arab oil, gas and Turkish water resources, rise of extremist movements, terrorism, post-war Afghanistan and Iraq, tensions in the Maghreb countries, Sudanese conflict, Muslim rebels in Southeast Asia, and how all of these events affect the West in a theory-praxis spectrum.
If IR scholars and members of the English School of International Relations were able to associate and converge their thoughts on conceptualizing International Relations with Christianity, this is of course majority of them are Christians. Then, it is a precedent and an indication that along the strand of the Abrahamic Faiths Islam is putatively feasible and probable to understand and interpret IR.
The objectives of the panel are to show juxtaposed positions of mutual perceptions between Islam and IR based on conceived notions of sensitive conceptions like sovereignty, state, human rights, gender, and etcetera, to eliminate deplorable and pejorative (mis)conceptions of IR scholars towards Islam and vice versa, and add or put Islam in the epitome of global discourse of international relations as a major causal factor that affects the behaviors of every actors in the international community particularly those which have interest and peculiar relations with the Muslim world. The panel will examine two outstanding inquiries that will guide the panel in hoping to find, discover or create patterns of tangency. Questions below magnify the totality of where the panel will lead at and to what extent it is presented and analyze.
1. How International Relations scholars perceived the field of Islam?
2. How Islamic scholars (Muslims or non-Muslims) perceived the field of IR?
The organizer humbly hopes that through this panel, we may able to add to the realm of literature on how human races and civilizations are linked through intellectual, cultural, economical, and social exchanges particularly on the relations between the East (Islam) and the West (International Relations).

I welcome proposals from experts and researchers willing to contribute study/research papers that could tie in well with the panel theme. Please e-mail proposed topics (or abstracts) as soon as possible to nassef.adiong@yahoo.com

The final deadline for MESA panel proposals is 15 February.

Thank you,

Nassef Adiong
PhD student in International Relations
Middle East Technical University,
Ankara, Turkey

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