DOI: 10.3390/rel14080980 ISSN: 2077-1444

Political Islam as an Incomplete and Contested Category: A Post-Foundationalist Revision

Abbas Jong, Rami Ali
  • Religious studies

The exploration of the quiddity of political Islam and the diverse range of categories and terms associated with it has emerged as a prominent research agenda within the social and political sciences. The application of these terms to a wide array of heterogeneous phenomena and currents among Muslim populations worldwide, coupled with the utilization of multiple theoretical approaches to define and formulate them within the realm of social studies, has posed significant challenges to their usage. The inherent ambiguity and lack of determinacy surrounding the dominant categories and definitions prevalent in the study of political Islam have led to a decline in their explanatory capacity, giving rise to a host of theoretical, methodological, normative, and political dilemmas and predicaments. This problematic state, compounded by the extensive body of research in the field of political Islam, necessitates an epistemological interrogation into the prevailing categories and definitions within this scholarly domain. Through a critical examination of prevailing definitions within the field, particularly in relation to the idea of foundation, the present article draws on the post-foundationalist approach to propose a distinctive conceptual apparatus for understanding and interpreting the phenomena categorized under political Islam. By juxtaposing the notions of discursive tradition and social configuration, the article endeavors to construct a nuanced understanding of political Islam that not only incorporates and comprehends the singular characteristics of the objects of inquiry but also encompasses varying levels of universality in elucidating the social phenomena observed among Muslims and in the Islamic world.

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