Islam, Authoritarianism, and Underdevelopment

A Global and Historical Comparison

by Ahmet T. Kuru

Subject categories
ISBNs
  • 9781108419093
  • 9781108321242
  • 9781108317528
Why do Muslim-majority countries exhibit high levels of authoritarianism and low levels of socio-economic development in comparison to world averages? Ahmet T. Kuru criticizes explanations which point to Islam as the cause of this disparity, because Muslims were philosophically and socio-economically more developed than Western Europeans between the ninth and twelfth centuries. Nor was Western colonialism the cause: Muslims had already suffered political and socio-economic problems when colonization began. Kuru argues that Muslims had influential thinkers and merchants in their early history, when religious orthodoxy and military rule were prevalent in Europe. However, in the eleventh century, an alliance between orthodox Islamic scholars (the ulema) and military states began to emerge. This alliance gradually hindered intellectual and economic creativity by marginalizing intellectual and bourgeois classes in the Muslim world. This important study links its historical explanation to contemporary politics by showing that, to this day, ulema-state alliance still prevents creativity and competition in Muslim countries.

  • Cambridge University Press; August 2019
  • ISBN: 9781108321242
  • Read online, or download in secure PDF or secure ePub format
  • Title: Islam, Authoritarianism, and Underdevelopment
  • Author: Ahmet T. Kuru
  • Imprint: Cambridge University Press
Subject categories
ISBNs
  • 9781108419093
  • 9781108321242
  • 9781108317528

In The Press

'In these pages can be found a grand solution to a grand problem - nothing less than The Islam Question, that is, why one religion is prone to violence, authoritarianism, and economic underdevelopment. Kuru sets out to refute the two most publicly prominent positions on this question, essentialism and post-colonialism, by unearthing centuries of political and economic development in Islam and discovering that its contemporary problems result from shifts in religious and political authority of many centuries past. In this courageous and compelling piece of scholarship, Kuru does for religion what great historical sociologists like Barrington Moore and Theda Skocpol did for democracy, dictatorship, and social revolution.' Daniel Philpott, University of Notre Dame