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  • Talmiz Ahmad

As Political Islam is being erased from the Middle East landscape, what comes next?

Bio:

Talmiz Ahmad is the former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Oman and the UAE, and holds the Ram Sathe Chair for International Studies, Symbiosis International University, Pune. His latest book, West Asia at War: Repression, Resistance and Great Power Games, was published by HarperCollins in April 2022.


Abstract

Political Islam -- in the form of the doctrine of Wahhabism, the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood and the transnational violence of jihadi groups – has dominated Middle East politics for over four decades. In recent years, its influence appears to be receding. In Saudi Arabia, the fountainhead of Wahhabism, the present leadership headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has begun to downplay the place of Wahhabism in the narrative of state-formation and in terms of its influence in the contemporary political order. It is being replaced by a new focus on “nationalism”, largely conflated with the persona of the crown prince himself.

The Muslim Brotherhood has received hammer-blows in all the states where it had appeared influential after the Arab Spring uprisings – Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Sudan. Its senior leadership in Egypt has now either been executed or incarcerated or is in exile, mainly in Qatar and Turkey. These setbacks have led to considerable introspection among its cadres, many of whom have begun to question the continued relevance of linking their agenda for political reform with Islam. Radical Islam in its transnational expressions, as manifested by Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, has been militarily defeated and deprived of secure bases. It is today confined to certain spaces in sub-Saharan Africa or manifests itself through sporadic “lone-wolf” attacks.

This retreat of political Islam has opened the doors for “Post-Islamism” – this does not abandon Islam’s influence on the shaping of the political order, but prioritises freedom, rights and democracy over faith. This paper argues that, while the existing state order in the Middle East remains authoritarian and actively hostile to demands for political reform, resistance to domestic tyranny and foreign interference in national affairs, that has consistently defined contemporary political activism, will persist despite the ruthless power of the state.


Key-words:

Political Islam, Saudi Arabia, Wahhabism, Muslim Brotherhood, Jihad, Al Qaeda, Islamic State, Post-Islamism


Text:

Introduction

Political Islam in its diverse expressions --- the Wahhabi state order in Saudi Arabia, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Jihad --- has dominated Middle East politics for over four decades, usually with its votaries being in harsh competition with each other.

Islam as a political influence in contemporary times first made itself felt in the late 1960s, when the defeat of the Egyptian and Syrian armies in 1967 shifted the pendulum of regional influence from the secular Arab republics in favour of the monarchies, led by Saudi Arabia, which were anchored in Islam. The kingdom lost no time in asserting its leadership of the Arab and Islamic worlds by convening the summit of Islamic countries in Rabat in 1969 and then institutionalising the Islamic conclave through the Jeddah-based Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in 1972.

Outside state control, some Arab intellectuals in the 1960s also used the principles and values of Islam to develop a radical ideology of resistance to confront the perceived enemies of the faith and its followers – the tyrannical regimes in the region and the western powers that kept them in place with political, economic and military support.

The state-sponsored Islamic assembly and the reflections of intellectuals found fertile space in Afghanistan in 1979, where the state and radical thought collaborated to mobilise a “global jihad” against the Soviet Union, that was espousing a “godless” ideology in a Muslim country.

This jihad, the first in the twentieth century after the one declared by the Ottoman sultan in 1914, was organised by three states which were allies in the Cold War --- the United States, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan – which funded, indoctrinated, armed, trained and gave battlefield experience to several thousand Muslim youth from almost all Muslim countries and communities.

States in West Asia and beyond vied with each other to send holy warriors to this battlefield where faith contended with godlessness. The jihad obtained logistical support from Osama bin Laden, who belonged to his Saudi Arabia’s premier business family; in 1988, he named his organisation, Al Qaeda.

This state-sponsored global jihad in Afghanistan had unintended consequences. The jihadis viewed the withdrawal of Soviet forces in 1989 as a God-given victory, the first major success of Muslim arms against a western power in several centuries. Afghanistan thus laid the foundations of transnational jihad and launched it against state powers – both near and far – that were the enemies of the faith, the rulers in the Middle East and their foreign sponsors.

The jihad in Afghanistan placed political Islam at the heart of Middle East politics for the next forty years.


Expressions of Political Islam


Political Islam or Islamism are terms that have emerged only in the last few decades to describe the doctrines and tenets of Islam that are used by their votaries to shape an Islamic political order.[1] All votaries of political Islam assert that the principles of Islam, as understood by them, are drawn from the “golden age” of the faith – the period of the holy prophet and his companions. This period is referred to as the age of the Salaf al-Salih, the “pious ancestors”, usually referring to the first three generations of Muslims.[2]

By drawing selectively on the Koran and what the prophet said and did during this period (Hadith or ‘Traditions’), as also commentaries on these sources by scholars, Islamists believe that an ideal Muslim society can be recreated in modern times. Hence, Islamism is also referred to as “Salafism”. However, though Islamists go back to the same sources of Islam, the meanings they draw from them are very different. Present-day political Islam thus has three main expressions: Quietist Islamism, Activist Islamism, and Radical Islamism.[3]

Quietist Islamism is the purist strand in political Islam. Its adherents insist on a deep study of Islam’s primary sources and mastery of the true teachings of the faith. In the political area, they enjoin obedience to the ruler, even one who is tyrannical; they reject open rebellion and advocate instead quiet advice to the ruler. This approach to Islamism is best reflected in the use of the Wahhabi doctrine as the foundational source of Saudi state order in which political authority reposes in the ruler who is responsible for the security and welfare of his citizens. In turn, the latter owe him unquestioning loyalty and obedience.

Activist Islamism is reflected in the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood. This organisation was set up in Egypt in 1928 by the scholar, Hasan al-Banna, to counter the influence of western culture that was dominant in the Muslim world. Al-Banna saw his mission as upholding the values and principles of Islam in an environment suffused in western laws and norms. He called for a “return to Islam”, an Islam that, in his view, was “a faith and a ritual, a nation and a nationality, a religion and a state, spirit and deed, holy text and sword”.[4]

As the Brotherhood gathered large numbers of followers in Egypt, its popular influence alarmed the monarchy and the later republican leaders, Nasser, Sadat and Hosni Mubarak, who saw it as a political threat. For most of the last century it was banned; its members functioned underground and provided services at grassroots level. The Brotherhood also had ideological affiliates in several Arab countries, though most functioned independently of the organisation in Egypt.

From the 1980s, a set of younger Brotherhood members in different Arab countries began to marry the principles of Islam with those of parliamentary democracy by drawing on their understanding of Islamic sources. They gave central place to the concept of maslaha (‘public welfare’) and drew from the principles of shura (‘consultation’), adl (‘justice’), and karama (‘dignity’) the democratic principles of religious freedom, equality, pluralism, and accountability of the ruler.[5]

The first modern intellectual forays into the area of radical Islam occurred in the mid-twentieth century when the Indian intellectual and political leader, Maulana Abul Ala Maududi, and the Egyptian scholar, Sayyid Qutb, prioritised jihad as the instrument to protect Islam from its enemies and establish God’s order on earth. Sayyid Qutb, called for “an all-embracing and total revolution” to replace the regimes of repression, incarceration and torture with a “God-centred society”.[6] Neither saw any scope for compromise with God’s enemies.

The influence of these expressions of political Islam on Middle East politics is examined in the following paragraphs.


Wahhabism shapes the Saudi state


The first Saudi state, set up in Najd in central Arabia in the mid-eighteenth century, adopted the tenets of Islam as preached by the cleric, Sheikh Mohammed ibn Abdul Wahhab, as its foundational doctrine. This resulted from a formal covenant between the cleric and ruler of Dirriyah, Mohammed ibn Saud.

This affiliation between doctrine and state continued into the twentieth century, when the third Saudi state was set up by King Abdulaziz in 1932 as the ‘Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’. It conferred a unique faith-based legitimacy to the ruling order, distinguishing it from other claimants to power. The tenets of Islam propagated by Mohammed ibn Abdul Wahhab, loosely referred to as Wahhabism, reflect the most narrow, rigid and demanding understanding of Islam.

The arrangement in the modern Saudi state was that the Wahhabi clerics would enjoy untrammelled influence in the areas of education, the judiciary, and social and cultural matters, and in turn they would give doctrinal support to the political and economic policies of the rulers.

This novel arrangement enforced the most rigid norms of public conduct – modest attire of women, restrictions on the free movement of women (including a ban on women driving), and gender segregation. While justified as having been drawn from Islam’s core tenets, they were an effective instrument of coercion exercised by the ruling authoritarian order.

Throughout this period, Saudi Arabia was also in the vanguard in propagating its brand of Islam in different parts of the world, with generous funding for mosques, clerics, education, scholarships, etc. This provided the kingdom with a solid base of support in different countries.


Saudi Arabia abandons Wahhabism


Last year, on 27 January, the Saudi ruler, King Salman bin Abdulaziz issued a royal decree declaring 22 February as the country’s “Founding Day”, ie, the day on which his ancestor Mohammed ibn Saud had founded the first Saudi state. A logo was also published to commemorate this day; it had four symbols: dates, representing growth and generosity; the majlis council signifying unity and social and cultural harmony; an Arabian horse, representing courage and chivalry, and a market, reflecting economic activity, openness and diversity. Religion was left out of this national symbol.[7]

The “Founding Day” overturned the central founding narrative of the Saudi state: so far, the national narrative had asserted that the first Saudi state came into being in 1744, following a “covenant” between Mohammed ibn Saud and the cleric, Sheikh Mohammed ibn Abdul Wahhab. Now, the foundation of the state has been pushed back 27 years, even as the significance of the affiliation of the state with Wahhabism has been excluded from the national narrative.

This shift away from Wahhabism had begun some years earlier when, from 2018, the crown prince had liberalised social norms in his country, doing away with gender segregation, the hijab and restrictions on women driving, and allowing cinema, music and other public shows for mixed audiences. The ulema, who had earlier enforced social restrictions in the name of Islam, now rushed to assert that these royally-ordained relaxations were not prohibited by Islamic tenets.

This new Saudi approach serves a dual purpose: one, it deepens the ties of the crown prince with the youth of his country, who rejoice in their new liberal environment and associate it with their prince. And, two, by removing faith from national discourse, it helps to further stigmatise the Brotherhood. Thus, the Saudi Minister of Islamic Affairs has explained that these new norms reflect “a moderate nation that rejects extremism”. As Yasmine Farouk and Nathan Brown have noted, in the Saudi perspective, “the fight against extremism, so-called deviance, and terrorism is equated with the fight against the Muslim Brotherhood”.[8]


Muslim Brotherhood triumphant


Islamist parties affiliated with Brotherhood ideology were described initially as the success story of the Arab Spring. In Tunisia, where the uprisings had started in December 2010, the Islamist Ennahda party, banned in the country earlier and its leaders exiled, obtained 37 percent of the popular vote in elections in 2011 and formed the government. Later, in 2016, Ennahda shed its Islamist identity and declared itself an ‘Islamic Democratic’ party, on the lines of Christian Democratic parties in Europe.

In Egypt, as noted above, at the end of the last century, Brotherhood intellectuals had attempted to infuse their organisation with modern ideas relating to democracy. However, in the early 2000s, actual authority in the organisation was vested in traditional scholars who, in the words of a disgruntled Brotherhood member, adhered to “an old-fashioned, dated, rigid, shallow and monotonous ideology”.[9] Not surprisingly, they were ill-prepared for the challenges of free elections and governance thrown up by the Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt that led to the fall of Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.

In power in 2012-13, the Brotherhood displayed political inexperience and naivete throughout its tenure, opening itself to being blamed for all the nation’s shortcomings. It is now also known that the two Gulf states, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, funded the widespread anti-Morsi demonstrations across Egypt that led to the military takeover on 3 July 2013, by former defence minister, General Abdel Fatah el-Sisi.

The armed forces then made it clear they would not accommodate any dissent by killing several hundred Brotherhood members at Raba’a Square in Cairo in August. Over 60,000 persons, mostly Brotherhood members, were imprisoned; former president Morsi died in jail in June 2019. Nader Hashemi has written that “state repression in Egypt today far exceeds the darkest days of dictatorial rule under Hosni Mubarak”.[10]

The two Gulf monarchies view the Brotherhood, which espouses an ideology that integrates Islamic principles with modern democracy, as an existential threat to their “quietist” political order. Hence, from the perspective of the monarchies, the Morsi government had to be unseated while it was still inexperienced politically, making mistakes and alienating the people. It was feared that, if the government remained in power for another couple of years, it would get a grip on governance issues, shed some of its doctrinal rigidities, and build its own support base.


Gulf monarchies against activist Islamism


Saudi Arabia and the UAE have also played the lead role in undermining Tunisia’s brief experiment with democracy. Here, the bete noire was the Islamist Ennahda, despite the party having learnt from the Egyptian experience to play down the Islamic part of its ideology. To combat Ennahda, from 2014, the two monarchies funded the secular, nationalist and anti-Islamist party, Nidaa Tounes. The electoral gains it obtained in the 2014 elections eroded Ennahda’s vote base and enabled it to form a coalition government with Ennahda. However, this consensus between Islamist and liberal parties did not make for quick decision-making or reform.[11]

The presidential elections of 2019 brought Kais Saied, an academic with no political background, to power as president. He immediately expressed his unhappiness with the paralysed political system and his “disgust” at the pervasive corruption among national assembly members, referring to them as “monsters” and “birds of prey”. From July 2021, the president initiated the end of Tunisia’s democratic order by dissolving the assembly and assuming full powers. In August 2022, he got the constitution amended to enshrine presidential authority.

Gulf and Egyptian media have celebrated Saied’s constitutional coup as a defeat of Political Islam precisely because, as Sarah Yerkes has noted, “Ennahda proved that political Islam could be compatible with democracy”.[12]

The most serious intervention of the two Gulf monarchies and Egypt has been in Sudan. Sudan’s president from 1989, Omar al-Bashir, was believed to have Islamist leanings, with close ties to Qatar. Saudi Arabia and the UAE attempted to win him over with generous development assistance. But when the two countries initiated the blockade of Qatar from June 2017, it seemed that al-Bashir still retained his links with Qatar.

Hence, in April 2019, they supported the military officers who brought him down – army chief, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the head of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, General Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo. After the coup, several figures associated with the Brotherhood were arrested. Later, the two monarchies helped to end Sudan’s first experiment with democracy by backing a military coup against the civilian prime minister in October 2021.

But matters have not progressed as the monarchies had planned: their two military proteges fell out in April 2023 and have plunged Sudan in a bloody and destructive civil conflict.[13]

The UAE and Egypt have also been actively involved in the civil conflict in Libya in order to ensure that the Islamist elements that dominate the administration in Tripoli do not take over the country, and have supported the administration in Tobruk. In 2019, they support a military effort to end the Tripoli administration; after it failed, there is a political stalemate in the country.

Political Islam, as represented by the Muslim Brotherhood, now seems to have reached its lowest point. The movement has all but collapsed in Egypt; an observer has described it as “very disrupted, with no organised activities and no real chains of command”.[14] Several of its younger members have become harsh critics of their leaders for remaining dogmatic and ill-prepared to learn from their past mistakes. Its enemies, Egypt and the two Gulf monarchies, have identified it with extremism and violence – the “gateway drug” or “conveyor belt” towards radicalism represented by Al Qaeda or ISIS.[15]


The scourge of Jihad


The most dramatic and the most controversial expression of political Islam has been jihad. The wanton violence and cruelty of its two transnational organisations, Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, has been seen by people across the world on television screens. Not surprisingly, jihadi violence has come to be conflated not just with political Islam but with Islam itself and has fed a frenzied Islamophobia in several countries.

As the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989, Osama bin Laden now saw confrontation with the ‘far enemy’ – the US – as his God-given mission. This came to fruition in the attacks on the American homeland on 11 September 2001. Later, in the face of US counter-attacks, Al Qaeda and their Taliban partners found sanctuary in different parts of Pakistan.

Following the US-led military attacks, Al Qaeda, earlier a tightly-controlled centralised organisation, restructured itself: it now had a number of local affiliates in different parts of West Asia and North Africa – Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, southern Algeria, Mali and Nigeria – which, while sharing the ideological zeal of ‘Al Qaeda Central’, were largely autonomous in terms of their operations. They carried out several heinous attacks in the 2000s in different parts of the world.[16]

Osama bin Laden was killed in May 2011 by an American special forces team. The leadership of Al Qaeda then went to his long-term associate, Ayman al-Zawahiri, who was also the principal ideologue of the organisation.

But Al Qaeda was soon overshadowed by a new transnational scourge, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). President Obama said in 2015 that ISIS ``grew out of our invasion [of Iraq in 2003], which is an example of unintended consequences”.[17]

ISIS was the product of the disruptions deliberately affected in the Iraqi political order by the US military assault in 2003 and its subsequent occupation of the country. The privileging of Iraq’s Shia community by the US occupation as part of divide-and-rule policies gave rise to the first jihadi organisation in the country, the ‘Al Qaeda in Iraq’, under the zealot Abu Musab Zarqawi. In 2007, it evolved to become the Islamic State of Iraq, and in 2013, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), when Iraq’s jihadis crossed the border and joined the anti-Assad conflict.

Between 2014-16, under Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, ISIS set up a ‘caliphate’ across Iraq and Syria through a campaign of horrific violence that helped create a proto-state the size of Britain, with a population of 6-9 million and a standing army of 200,000. The ISIS attracted thousands of Muslim youths to join its cadres by imbuing them, in Gerges’ words, with “a greater purpose in life: to be part of a historical mission to restore Islamic unity and help bring about redemption and salvation”.[18] This also provided ISIS with several suicide bombers, hundreds of whom carried out “martyrdom operations”.

ISIS projected itself as a rival of Al Qaeda in terms of ideology and operations. Crucially, while Al Qaeda continued to focus on the ‘far enemy’, al-Baghdadi now focused on the ‘near enemy’, prioritising the politics of identity, particularly sectarian identity. Al-Baghdadi followed in Zarqawi’s footsteps by wreaking extraordinary violence on the Shia in Iraq.


Jihad in retreat


Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed in a US missile attack on his residence in Kabul on 31 July 2022. During his decade-long leadership of Al Qaeda, the organisation went into steady decline. As Daniel Byman has noted, despite sporadic attacks by some affiliates, the core group did not conduct any spectacular attacks on western targets.[19] Cole Bunzel says Zawahiri left behind “an organisation in disarray”.[20]

ISIS fared no better. During 2015-17, ISIS steadily lost territory in Iraq to well-trained Iraqi armed forces, backed by US military advisers. Mosul was retaken in July 2017; in December 2017, Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi announced the end of the war.

In Syria, the US mobilised the largely Kurdish Syrian Defence Forces (SDF) and retook the major towns under ISIS control – Manbij in 2016, Raqqa in 2017, and the last stronghold, Baghouz, in 2019. Al-Baghdadi committed suicide in October 2019 when he was confronted by US forces at Barisha, in Syria’s Idlib province.

The outlook for transnational jihad is bleak. Though Zawahiri was residing in Kabul, there is no evidence that the Taliban have allowed Al Qaeda to set a substantial presence in the country; Bunzel quotes a UN team as saying in July 2022 that the Taliban “had prohibited Al Qaeda from plotting external attacks from Afghan soil”, while in August that year an American official said that Al Qaeda had only a dozen core members in Afghanistan.[21]

ISIS, on its part, has been reduced to a few stragglers in Iraq and Syria who carry out sporadic acts of violence, but pose no threat outside the two neighbouring countries. The ‘Islamic State – Khorasan’ in Afghanistan draws the bulk of its members from Afghanistan and Pakistan. They do carry out attacks in different parts of Afghanistan, but are the enemies of the Taliban and there are frequent reports of fighting between them.

The principal source of jihadi violence in western countries are “lone-wolf” attacks by self-radicalised individuals who do not seem to have any links with extremist organisations. Recent attacks have included: stabbings in London and Reading in the United Kingdom, Paris, Conflans-Sainte-Honorine and Nice in France, and Dresden, in Germany.[22]

The principal area of organised jihadi operations today is sub-Saharan Africa; this includes: Somalia; the territory that links Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, and the area around Lake Chad and northeast Nigeria. While militant groups in these territories function in the name of Islam, their support-base emerges from local grievances relating to poor or non-existent governance and the failure of governments to deliver services and economic opportunities. None of them has the capacity or the interest to launch attacks outside their immediate domain.


Post-Islamism: outlook and prognosis


As all expressions of political Islam are being systematically erased from the public space across the Middle East, are we looking at a post-Islamist order in the region?

In 1996, the US-based Iranian scholar, Asef Bayat had invented the term “Post-Islamism”, which he had described as a “political and social condition where, following a phase of experimentation, the appeal, energy, and sources of legitimacy of Islamism are exhausted even among its once-ardent supporters”.[23]

Post-Islamists, he went on to say, do not abandon the role of faith in the state and society, but seek to reinterpret it. This leads to:

“an attempt to turn the underlying principles of Islamism on their head by emphasising rights instead of duties, plurality in place of a singular authoritative voice, historicity instead of fixed scriptures, and the future instead of the past. It wants to marry Islam with individual choice and freedom and modernity …”[24]

There is little doubt that we are now in a “Post-Islamist” stage in West Asian politics: while political Islam is in retreat, several attempts to set up a liberal state order have been thwarted.

The Arab Spring uprisings from 2010, impelled by the slogans “Freedom, Justice, Dignity”, had no Islamic content or inspiration, even though Islamist parties, being the best organised at the time, had been the beneficiaries of these upheavals in early elections. The second set of uprisings in 2018-20, in Sudan, Algeria, Lebanon and Iraq, brought down another four leaders, but Islamism, already under pressure, had no role in those movements.

Despite these major convulsions, the region has witnessed no political change; the forces of counter-revolution have proven much too strong. In response to the Arab Spring uprisings, while the oil-rich Gulf states did proffer billions of dollars as sops to their citizens to cool their ardour for change, the mailed fist of coercion was also used extensively; the great scholar Nazih Ayubi had told us four decades ago that “the Arab state … is often violent because it is weak”.[25] Petitioners for reform were incarcerated in Gulf monarchies. The latter, in turn, have helped overturn nascent democracies in several Arab states to wipe out the whiff of activist Islamism that upheld the right of citizens to choose their governments and change them periodically.


The persistence of resistance


In response to demands for reform, most Gulf states have produced ambitious “Vision” documents to prepare their countries for a post-oil future. They also seek to make young people their partners in reshaping their polities as vibrant and exciting spaces for creativity and enterprise, founded on cutting-edge technology, that will take their nations to global leadership.

This makes sense since the under-25s constitute the bulk of the population. However, there is no place in these “visions” for any kind of political reform or popular participation in governance. The focus on the centrality of national identity, buttressed by slogans, “Saudi Arabia is Great” or “Saudi Arabia for Saudis”, has within it the sub-text of silencing all challenge and dissent.

Is this sustainable?

This author’s study of West Asian politics over the last century and a half contained in his book, West Asia at War, has revealed a persistent pattern of resistance in Arab states to domestic tyranny and external interventions. Thus, both activist and radical Islamism have been expressions of resistance as evidenced by the fight against foreign occupation in Afghanistan and Iraq and the attempts to obtain a democratic order to replace authoritarian rule in the wake of the Arab spring uprisings. Thus, political Islam, in its diverse expressions, provided the motive-force to safeguard national dignity or obtain reform in the political order, just as anti-colonial uprisings and republican revolutions had done in earlier eras.[26]

While political Islam has now exhausted its capacity to effect change and authoritarian rule appears entrenched, the Egyptian scholar, Tarek Osman, had warned in 2016, that behind the façade of stability in several West Asian politics, there was immense anger among young people about the failure of their uprisings and there would be “new waves of demonstrations and revolts” that state authorities would not be able to quell by demanding loyalty and obedience.[27]

Middle East history suggests that the authoritarian state order will evoke popular resistance despite the prospect of harsh response, when, as Ayubi told us, “the carefully erected façade [will] crack open to reveal all manner of horrid monsters that many thought History had long since laid to rest”.[28]

[1] Leonid Grinin and Andrey Korotayev, “Islamism and its Role in Modern Islamic Societies”, in L Grinin et al. (Ed), Islamism, Arab Spring, and the Future of Democracy, New York, Springer International Publishing, 2019, p. 63 [2] Talmiz Ahmad, West Asia at War: Repression, Resistance and Great Power Games, Gurgaon, India, HarperCollins, 2022, pp 150-51 [3] Bernard Haykel, “On the Nature of Salafi Thought and Action”, in Roel Meijer (Ed), Global Salafism: Islam’s New Religious Movement, London, Hurst & Co, 2009, pp 48-49 [4] Richard P Mitchell, The Society of the Muslim Brothers, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1993, pp 232-33 [5] Bruce K Rutherford, “What do Egypt’s Islamists Want?”, in Mehrzad Boroujerdi (Ed), Mirror for the Muslim Prince, Syracuse, NY, Syracuse University Press, 2013, p 245 [6] Giles Kepel, The Roots of Radical Islam, London, Saqi Books, 2005, p 258 [7] Yasmine Farouk and Nathan J Brown, “Saudi Arabia’s Religious Reforms are touching nothing but changing everything”, Carnegie, 7 June 2021; Hassan Hassan, “The ‘Conscious Uncoupling’ of Wahhabism and Saudi Arabia”, New Lines Magazine, 22 February 2022 [8] Ibid [9] Andrew England, “A broken Muslim Brotherhood struggles for relevance”, Financial Times, 2 October 2019 [10] Nader Hashemi, “Political Islam: A 40 Year Retrospective”, Religions, 12:130, 19 February 2021 [11] Eid Mohamed, and Bessma Momani, “The Muslim Brotherhood: Between Democracy, Ideology and Distrust”, Sociology of Islam 2, (2014), 196-212 [12] Sarah Yerkes, “Tunisia and the future of Political Islam”, Wilson Center, 17 August 2022 [13] Talmiz Ahmad, “No End in Sight to Widening Gulf in Sudan”, Frontline, 2 June 2023 [14] England, Andrew, “A broken Muslim Brotherhood struggles for relevance”, Financial Times, 2 October 2019 [15] Ibid [16] Abdul Bari Atwan, After Bin Laden: Al Qaida, The Next Generation, London: Saqi Books, 2012 [17] Fawaz A Gerges, ISIS: A History, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2016, p 51 [18] Ibid, p 229 [19] Daniel Byman,“Al-Qaida after al-Zawahiri”, Brookings, 3 August 2022 [20] Cole Bunzel, “The Jihadi Threat in 2022”, Wilson Center, 22 December 2022 [21] Ibid [22] Ibid [23] Dokhanchi, Milad, “Post-Islamism Redefined: Towards a Politics of Post-Islamism”, Journal of the Contemporary Study of Islam, Vol 1, Issue 1, 2020 [24] Ibid [25] Nazih Ayubi, Overstating the Arab State: Politics and Society in the Middle East, London, IB Tauris Publishers, 1995, p 450 [26] Ahmad, West Asia at War, p 419-22 [27] Osman, Tarek, Islamism: What it means for the Middle East and the World, London, Yale University Press, 2016, p 245 [28] Ayubi, p 448

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