AmirAshkan Pishroo
by AmirAshkan Pishroo

The term post-Islamism was originally introduced by Asef Bayat. In 1996, he argued in a short essay the “coming of a post-Islamist society” where he emphasized that the Islamic Republic of Iran is witnessing a remarkable set of changes in its social fabric, political discourses, and religious thoughts.

So, the paradigm case of post-Islamism is Iran: “Islamists,” Bayat writes, “become aware of their anomalies and inadequacies as they attempt to institutionalize their rule.” Although at that time the post-Islamism was purely an Iranian experience, since then, it has become a widespread phenomenon in the Islamic world.

In his book, Making Islam Democratic, Bayat explores the category post-Islamism to its current development, and provides a fresh assessment of the highly contested relationship between religion, politics, and everyday life in the Middle East. He sees ground for hope in post-Islamist social movement. What follows is Bayat’s op-ed article in Middle East Times where he discusses the main tenets of his excellent book:

No democracy without Muslim citizenry:

Discussions of a “democratic deficit” in the Middle East are not new. What is novel is the persistent claim that Islam hinders democratic reform; with its emphasis on God’s sovereignty and its patriarchal cultures, Islam is argued to be essentially incompatible with democracy. (more here)


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Thanks very much for your

by sadegh on

Thanks very much for your post AmirAshkan, very thought-provoking; I hope you continue with your diligence...

Ba Arezu-ye Movafaghiat, Sadegh


AmirAshkan Pishroo

Thanks for your interesting remarks, Sadegh.

by AmirAshkan Pishroo on

You are probably right about Bayat's intent. The best guess I have about why Bayat thinks the term post-Islamism might help is that he wants to invoke the idea that the initial phase of Islamization runs cheap, but as they attempt to institutionalize their rule they face difficulties, and are forced to rethink Islam in terms of democracy, human rights and liberty.

Thanks for your interesting remarks, Sadegh.



Dear AmirAshkan, I've

by sadegh on

Dear AmirAshkan, 

I've read Bayat and I'm not sure if that's his intent. His point was more concerned with illustrating its insufficiency to exist hermetically sealed, pure and textually untarnished independent of socio-political developments which compel adaptation and development and assimilation of perhaps hitherto unacceptable norms etc... It about how political existence compels the transformation of islamist movements and their ideology...Also how do you account for the thought of thinkers such as Soroush who contends in his qabz va bast e theorik e shariat that the two can coexist or Kadivar's Hokumat-e-Velayei where he critiques on the basis of Islamic sources Khomeini's conception of Hokumat-e-Islami? Nothing is cut and dried...Also how does one account for the Turkish AKP who are akin to Germany's Christian democrats?

I think Chris Hedges' recent book 'I don't beleive in atheists' holds a lesson for us all...particularly his critique of the 'new atheists' such as Sam Harris, Hitchens and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, some of whom vehemently supported the Iraq war and vociferously advocate some kind of 'Islamic exceptionalism', whereby Islam is erroneously branded as the only religion with an intrinsic capacity for intolerance, terrorism etc...etc...I am an atheist myself but recognize by means of a hermeneutic exercise it's not very taxing to make a religion, philosophy or ethic say pretty much whatever one wants.

As Hedges says 'there is nothing intrinsically moral about being a believer or non-believer. There are many people of great moral probity and courage who seek meaning outside of formal religious structures, who reject religious language and religious ritual and define themselves as atheists. There are also many religious figures that in the name of one god or another sanctify intolerance, repression and violence.' Both harbor these possibilities and capacities and neither can legitimately exclude a priori the other from the sphere of moral action.

Ba Arezu-ye Movafaghiat, Sadegh