Political Islam and international relations theory

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Scholars of political science tend to address religion as either an independent or dependent variable. The most prominent example of the former is the clash of civilizations theory which asserts that conflicts result from clashes across civilizations and religions. However, social scientists have proven that the clash of civilizations perspective fails to properly understand conflicts based on religion and culture since the most intense conflicts happen within civilizations (Grim and Finke 2008; Fox 2019). There is also a body of literature that analyses religion as the dependent variable, most significantly social movement theories. Scholars in this group rightly point out that religion is only one aspect of political mobilization (McAdam and Snow 2010; Tarrow 1998), but they do not really address this religious dimension by reducing it to a tool at the hands of political leaders to frame their strategy. This chapter contends that the role of religion in politics is better understood as a continuous set of interactions between institutions, actors and ideas in different national and international contexts. The scale to conduct this investigation on religion is not the individual but the community level. In this respect, the chapter suggests going back to the basics of sociology to approach religion as a societal community. It is then easier to capture tensions or alliances between religious communities and the modern political community i.e. the nation. The chapter applies this approach to the understanding of political Islam in international relations through the examples of Turkey and Egypt.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook on Religion and International Relations
EditorsJeffrey Haynes
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing Ltd.
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781839100246
ISBN (Print)9781839100239
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jul 2021

Publication series

NameElgar Handbooks in Political Science
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing Ltd


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