"This book tackles a question central to the literature on secularism and religion and offers a comparison that critically reflects on the binaries of radical versus moderate religion, and rigid versus moderate secularism. Turkey is the longtime critical case of whether (and how) secularism can travel to a Muslim majority country. France is the critical case in Europe whose history has constituted many of the political ideals of western modernity and has set an example for many countries. There is a strong claim in the literature that Turkey is one of those countries following the French model; therefore, an in-depth comparison of these cases can address the general question of how secularism travels that is central to multiple modernities debates. The relevant IR literature has predominantly argued that secularism in Turkey has followed French laïcité and that both Turkey and France struggle between rigid forms of secularism and challenges of diversity. Akan's objective is to resolve this deadlock and explore the possibility of a shared political field which can account for trajectories of secularism across the boundaries of Europe" --
Established institutions and policies of dealing with religious diversity in liberal democratic states are increasingly under pressure. Practical politics and political theory is caught in a trap between a fully secularized state (strict separation of state and politics from completely privatized religions based on an idealized version of American denominationalism or French republicanism) and neo-corporatist or 'pillarized' regimes of selective cooperation between states and organized religions. The book offers an original, comprehensive conceptual, theoretical and practical approach to problems of governance of religious diversity from a multi-disciplinary perspective combining moral and political philosophy, constitutional law, history, sociology and anthropology of religions and comparative institutionalism. Proposals of associative democracy - a moderately libertarian, flexible version of democratic institutional pluralism - are introduced and scrutinized whether they can serve as as plausible third way overcoming the inherent deficiencies of the predominant models in theory and practice.
The central question of the Arab Spring - what democracies should look like in the deeply religious countries of the Middle East - has developed into a vigorous debate over these nations' secular identities. But what, exactly, is secularism? What has the West's long familiarity with it inevitably obscured? In Questioning Secularism, Hussein Ali Agrama tackles these questions. Focusing on the fatwa councils and family law courts of Egypt just prior to the revolution, he delves deeply into the meaning of secularism itself and the ambiguities that lie at its heart. Drawing on a precedent-setting case arising from the family law courts -- the last courts in Egypt to use Shari`a law -- Agrama shows that secularism is a historical phenomenon that works through a series of paradoxes that it creates. Digging beneath the perceived differences between the West and Middle East, he highlights secularism's dependence on the law and the problems that arise from it: the necessary involvement of state sovereign power in managing the private spiritual lives of citizens and the irreducible set of legal ambiguities such a relationship creates. Navigating a complex landscape between private and public domains, Questioning Secularism lays important groundwork for understanding the real meaning of secularism as it affects the real freedoms of a citizenry, an understanding of the utmost importance for so many countries that are now urgently facing new political possibilities.
Benevolent secularism: a theory of the religious politics of democracy -- Secular emergence in Ireland: home rule and rome rule -- Secular evolution in post-Catholic Ireland -- Secular emergence in Senegal: Laicite in translation -- Secular evolution: Sopi and institutional change in Senegal -- Secular emergence in the Philippines: beyond the colonial stalemate -- Secular evolution: people power and pluralization in the Philippines -- Concluding thoughts on religion, secularism and democracy