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A World Of Nation-states

The division of the Muslim world into nation-states has given rise to new strands of pan-Islamism. First, transnational organizations like the Organization of Islamic States (OIC) have been formed to express the collective sentiments and concerns of Muslim peoples. It remains to be seen whether the OIC or similar organizations can be effective in a world of nation-states, a question made more serious in light of the events following September 11, 2001. Like the United Nations, the OIC depends on its integrity and moral authority to effect change unless it has the backing of a strong state. Second, Islamism, or Muslim fundamentalism, has laid claim to the pan-Islamic heritage in order to remake, if not undermine, the modern system of nation-states that divides Muslim societies. While pan-Islamism advocates Muslim unity and strength, it is not conducive to the totalizing agenda espoused by Islamists who wish to (re-)Islamize every aspect of society. Lastly, pan-Islamism remains a current of feeling and thought—typically associated with calls for justice and hope—that runs throughout Muslim societies and also minority Muslim communities in the West. Like religion itself, there is a certain ambiguity and ambivalence about the purposes to which it is put and the events that evoke it. The only certainty surrounding pan-Islamism is its perennial nature.


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Jeffrey T. Kenney

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Overdamped to PeatPan-Islamism - Jamal Al-din Al-afghani, Late Ottoman Politics, The Khilafat Movement, A World Of Nation-states