• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

This book explores the character of the political transformation and democratic transition in the Asian Muslim world. It asks whether democracy is appropriate and desirable as a political system for non-Western societies, and assesses the extent of actual democratization in each of the countries studied, namely, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Pakistan and Turkey.

The book questions the widely held view that the socio-political ethos of Islam as a religion, and/or of Muslim countries as societal units, prevents Muslims from adopting democracy as a form of government. The contributors argue that this perception comes from post-9/11 studies of Arab states and that non-Arab Muslim populations in Asia and Africa do not fit the same mold. At the same time, it is clear that a single model of democracy cannot work across these six countries because each country has a different history and treaded on a different path in the quest for democracy.

Ultimately, this book concludes that there is no fundamental incompatibility between Islam and democracy in the Asian Muslim world.


The tragedy of 9/11 and its aftermath focussed the world's attention on Muslim politics. The shattering events in New York provoked a number of hard questions about Islam and the Muslim world. George W. Bush's description of the attack on the World Trade Center as an attack on human freedom suggested images of a clash between militant intolerant Islam and the pluralist liberal free world, and between democracy and authoritarian regimes. It once again raised questions about the compatibility of Islam with democracy and the democratic deficit in the Muslim world. Is democracy the exception rather than the norm in Muslim societies?

The debate over democracy, its definition and fundamentals, as well as its impact on governments' domestic and foreign policies, has continued for a ...

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