by NJ Brown · 2017 · Cited by 1 — Brown’s latest work is Arguing Islam After the Rebirth of Arab These include the Office of the State Mufti (Dar al-Iftaa al-Misriyyeh), the. Office of the Sheikh In theory, a ministry’s control over Muslim houses of worship is nearly com- plete legislation/fr/Nouveautes/Code%20de%20la%20Famille.pdf. 11.
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© 2017 Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. All rights reserved. Carnegie does not take institutional positions on public policy issues; the views represented herein are the author™s own and do not necessarily re˜ect the views of Carnegie, its sta˚, or its trustees. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without permission in writing from the Carnegie Endowment. Please direct inquiries to: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Publications Department 1779 Massachusetts Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20036 P: +1 202 483 7600 F: +1 202 483 1840 CarnegieEndowment.org ˛is publication can be downloaded at no cost at CarnegieEndowment.org/pubs. CP 306
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Contents About the Author vSummary 1Introduction 3The Modern Roots of the Religion-State Complex 4Mapping O˜cial Islam 7Lebanon: An Exception That Proves the Rules 10O˜cial Islam and Regime Islam 12Reasserting State Control Over O˜cial Islam in Morocco 13The Struggle Over Religious Authority in Post-2013 Egypt 17The Crisis of Credibility in O˜cial Religious Institutions 21The Uncertainty of Enforced Tolerance in Oman 22 Shaping Islam at an International Level 26 Conclusion 29Notes 31Carnegie Endowment for International Peace 34
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vNathan J. Brown is a professor of political science and international a˚airs at George Washington University, where he directs the Institute for Middle East Studies. He is also a nonresident senior fellow in the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He has served as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow, and a Fulbright Scholar. Brown is the author of seven books, including Palestinian Politics After the Oslo Accords: Resuming Arab Palestine and When Victory Is Not an Option: Islamist Movements in Arab Politics . Brown™s latest work is Arguing Islam After the Rebirth of Arab Politics (Oxford University Press, 2016). About the Author
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1Summary All Arab states have large, o˝cial Muslim religious establishments that give governments a major role in religious life. ˛ese establishments have devel -oped di˚erently, according to each state™s historical experience. ˛rough them, the state has a say over religious education, mosques, and religious broadcast -ingŠturning o˝cial religious institutions into potent policy tools. However, the complexity of the religious landscape means they are rarely mere regime mouthpieces and it can be di˝cult to steer them in a particular direction. Religious Institutions in the Arab World Ł O˝cial religious institutions in the Arab world, though generally loyal to their countries™ regimes, are vast bureaucracies whose size and complexity allow them some autonomy. Ł Arab regimes hold sway over o˝cial religious structures. However, their ability to bend these religious institutions to suit their own purposes is˙mixed. Ł ˛e evolution of o˝cial religious establishments is rooted substantially in the process of modern state formation. Ł O˝cial religious institutions play multiple roles. ˛ese include involve -ment in endowments and charity, advice and scriptural interpretation, education, prayer, family law, and broadcasting. Ł Increasingly, the authority of o˝cial religious voices has been challenged by uno˝cial actors. Some of these actors stand wholly outside o˝cial structures, but others may ˆnd shelter in more autonomous parts of o˝cial religious institutions, adding to the complexity of the religious landscape in many countries. Ł International actors would like to see o˝cial religious representatives oppose violent extremism. However, religious o˝cials have limited ideo -logical tools to confront radical Islamists, and their priorities are di˚erent than those of actors from outside the region.
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2˚|˚ O˜cial Islam in the Arab World: The Contest for Religious Authority Regimes™ Relations With Religious Establishments Ł By acting intrusively in religious a˚airs and seeking to increase their con -trol, regimes risk making religious o˝cials appear to be mere functionar -ies, undermining their credibility. ˛ey also risk pushing dissidents into underground organizations. Ł By allowing o˝cial religious institutions some autonomy, regimes can enhance their monitoring ability and the integrity of religious o˝cials. However, it also means they lose some control and indirectly create spaces for their critics to organize. Ł Western states should know the size and complexity of religious institu -tions means they are not always e˚ective at ˆghting extremism as Western actors may wish. ˛e regimes controlling them often have broader agendas than just combating radical groups. Ł For those seeking to defeat radical ideologies, aligning with authoritarian regimes and their religious establishments is attractive. However, by plac -ing unrealistic expectations on what regimes and their establishments can and are willing to deliver, and by replicating an often self-defeating strat -egy of relying on authoritarian controls to combat nonconformist move -ments and ideas, this approach may o˚er only the illusion of a solution.
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3Introduction In summer 2016, readers of the Egyptian press were regaled with daily stories about a very public confrontation between the ministry of religious a˚airs and the leadership of Al-Azhar, the sprawling educational and research complex that is constitutionally recognized as Egypt™s main authority on Islamic a˚airs. ˛e ministry sought to have a single, ministry-written Friday sermon delivered in all mosques throughout Egypt. Al-Azhar harshly criticized the move and soon gained the upper hand in the battle between the two powerful institu -tions. ˛e Egyptian state appeared to be battling itself in full public view over who was responsible for determining what preachers say from the pulpit. It was a bewildering incident, touching on a controversial subject. State religious institutions in the Arab world provoke strong but contradictory evaluations, not merely in the countries where they operate but also through -out the world. Are they partners in the struggle to counter violent extrem -ism, discredited regime mouthpieces, or incubators of radicalism? All three of these descriptions contain a germ of truth. But above all, such institutions are sprawling bureaucracies that are hardly irrelevant to religious and political life, even as they are di˝cult to steer in any particular direction. ˛eir authority is often contested by individuals and organizations outside of the state, but these bureaucracies are present in many di˚erent realms. Generally loyal to existing regimes, they also show signs of autonomy. Normally hostile to radical forces, they are at best lumbering bulwarks against them. ˛ose who follow politics in the Arab world are accus -tomed to encountering religion. Matters of faith seem closely connected with many political controversies. Religion, in turn, has served as a rallying point for oppo -sition groups and social movements as well. But focusing only on religion as it relates to personal faith and political opposition means overlooking other ways that it is woven into matters of governance in Arab states. Ministries of education write religious textbooks, ministries of religious a˚airs administer mosques, state muftis o˚er interpretations of religious law, and courts of per -sonal status guide husbands and wives as well as parents and children in how to conduct their interactions in an Islamic way. Yet while states structure religion in many diverse fashions, o˝cial religious establishments, such as Al-Azhar, have encountered a two-sided challenge in recent years. Supporters of existing political orders view them as useful tools. Focusing only on religion as it relates to personal faith and political opposition means overlooking other ways that it is woven into matters of governance in Arab states.
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4˚|˚ O˜cial Islam in the Arab World: The Contest for Religious Authority Arab regimes have sought to use the panoply of state religious institutions to cement their own rule. ˛ey have also come under international pressure to counter violent extremism through the religious institutions that they oversee. At the same time, o˝cial institutions are compelled by their religious pub -lics to represent authentic voices of religious truth. A host of uno˝cial actors have shattered the monopoly over religious authority that religious o˝cials had grown accustomed to enjoying. In this environment, o˝cial religious establishments have retained signiˆ -cant in˜uence but are unlikely to be able to wield it in any coherent fashion, whether to serve their own agendas or those seeking to use them for their own ends. Egypt and its religious institutions are particularly helpful in illustrating this reality, but other countries in the region also deserve consideration when examining the di˚erent patterns of behavior of their religious establishments. The Modern Roots of the Religion-State Complex It is not unusual for states to show an interest in religion. Almost all constitu -tions in the world make some reference to religion, mostly in a manner that accommodates religious beliefs and practices, while deeply shaping their struc -ture. O˝cial religions are not uncommon in many countries, and state support for, and regulation of, religious institutions comes in many guises. What is unusual in the Arab world is not the public role of religion but the extent and range of that role. Some of the distinctive ways that relations between the state and religion are structured might be traceable from before the modern era to Islamic doctrine, the experience of the early community of believers, and core principles derived from sacred texts. But as the process of state formation began across the Arab world during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, in each place it developed di˚erently. As a consequence of this, o˝cial religious institutions evolved quite di˚erently as well. In its particularitiesŠand even in many of its most general featuresŠthis evolution was rooted substantially in the process of modern state formation. Indeed, state formation and the organization of religion have gone hand in hand, so that ﬁmodern religion in Muslim countries is positioned on the platform of the state.ﬂ 1 ˛e commonalities among Arab states are straightforward. Most grant Islam o˝cial status, have institutions that o˚er advisory interpretations of Islamic law ( fatwas ), administer religious endowments and charities, oversee mosques, and apply some version of Islamic family law. State muftis are largely a nineteenth- and twentieth-century innovation. It was then that states began What is unusual in the Arab world is not the public role of religion but the extent and range of that role.
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