Home » Uncategorized » Proposed ISA Panel: International Relations and Islam: The Peculiar Case of Nation-State

Proposed ISA Panel: International Relations and Islam: The Peculiar Case of Nation-State

Chair: Raffaele Mauriello
Discussant: Deina Abdelkader
The first section discusses the theoretical and empirical comparative analyses on nation-state between Islamic and Western scholars. It includes three categorical responses whether there is an Islamic nation-state, then comparing Western and Islamic understandings of nation-state which the author concludes that there is probable applicability of modern nation-state paradigm in light of Islamic law. The third panelist seeks to contribute a redefinition of geopolitics, which may generate a theoretical framework for modern geopolitical analysis that is compatible with Islamic interpretations of world politics. The last two panelists will provide special case studies of foreign policies of Iran and India, and how their processes are influenced by elements of Islamism or Islamic politics in their interactions with other nation-states in international fora.
1. Nassef Manabilang Adiong’s “Is There an Islamic Nation-State?”[1]
Placing an adjectival term ‘Islamic’ before ‘nation-state’ entails that it carries all characteristics and may be deduce in a way that its nature is not peculiar to Islam. That is, the idea, concept, and utility of nation-state may find traceable tracks from the historical development of Islamicate (Hodgsonian term) civilization and their encounters with Greek, Roman, Indian, Sinic, and European civilizations. This is difficult to surmise and contemplate since some elements of European nation-state, e.g. sovereignty, secularism, modernity, and level of analysis, have different understandings and interpretations for Islamicists (scholars of Islam). To ameliorate our focal understanding, the paper will firstly present the Islamic jurisprudential and political understanding of nation-state, i.e. how Islamicists responded with the colonial project and forceful application of European-styled nation-state to the entire Islamicate civilization regardless of existing polities such as the caliphate and sultanate systems. Secondly, the paper will provide critique on Wael Hallaq’s “The Impossible State: Islam, Politics, and Modernity’s Moral Predicament” (Columbia University Press, 2013). And lastly, it will argue that there were three dominant answers whether there is an Islamic nation-state and these are traditional, reformative, and progressive categorical responses coming from selected Islamicists.
2. Hossam El Din Khalil Farag Mohammad’s “Contemporary Problems of the Modern Islamic State: A Comparative Study”[2]
Prior to the twentieth century, the Islamic character of the state in the Muslim world was axiomatic. However, political transformations since the abolition of the Islamic Caliphate, emancipation from colonialism, and the spread of modernity has raised the problem of identifying characteristics of the State in the Islamic world.  Attempts at alignment between the modern state and Islamic State have created ideological and political conflict in the Arab world between advocates of adherence to revealed doctrine and advocates of Westernization and secularization. Through comparative and inductive analysis, I explore the religious foundations of the modern Islamic State by identifying the characteristics and definition of both modern Western and Islamic states.  I then go on to identify the political form of the state in Islam and address key problems, including opposing visions of national and religious loyalty and its effect on citizenship, the conflict between secularism and application of Islamic law, and promotion of virtue and prevention of vice (Hisbah).  I conclude that just as many Western countries have applied the modern state concept to fit their context and definition of secularism, Islamic countries can apply the modern state paradigm in light of Sharia, solving problems of the modern state.
3. Jason E. Strakes’ “Towards an Islamic Geopolitics: Reconciling the Ummah and Territoriality in Contemporary IR”[3]
The contemporary study of Islamic perspectives in international relations has often been occupied by an internal contradiction. While the global role of Islam was originally defined by the classical Quranic conception of a borderless community of faith (Ummah) rather than the sovereign territorial state, the relationship between Muslim-majority and non-Muslim societies has historically been represented by Islamic jurists as a spatial and territorial construct, or a division between geographic zones belonging to the House of Islam (Dar al-Islam) and the House of War (Dar al-harb). The present study seeks to reconcile this tension by examining the gradual redefinition and adaptation of spatial dualism by clerical and political elites that has occurred alongside the evolution of the modern post-colonial state, particularly in North Africa and the Middle East. It draws upon two concepts introduced by the medieval Muslim geographers, the absence of literally defined borders between nations and the degrading of power projection across distances between capital cities, to identify variations in the definition of boundaries within and between Muslim and non-Muslim populations as manifest in physical territory. These are applied in order to generate a theoretical framework for modern geopolitical analysis that is compatible with Islamic interpretations of world politics.
4. Amir Mahdavi’s “Iran’s Direct Negotiations with the United States: Ideological or Pragmatic [Foreign Policy]?”[4]
Did Iran utilize Islamism in its international affairs? The paper is aimed to address the posited question by examining terms of direct negotiations between Iran and the United States. According to Iranian political elites, the hostility between Iran and the USA symbolizes a clash of divine rights and blasphemous actuations. Therefore, studying their direct interactions will manifest whether Iranian foreign policy is ideological, pragmatic or both. Iran and the USA have had three rounds of direct negotiations over the past four decades. These negotiations include:
• The Algerian-mediated talks in 1980 which aimed to resolve Iran’s hostage conflict.
• A focus on Iraq’s internal crisis in Baghdad in 2007.
• Nuclear program after Iranian’s presidential election in June 2013.
Consequently, by analyzing these negotiations, the paper will investigate and assess the relevance and impact of Islamism on its foreign policy making procedures.
5. Joerg/Jörg Friedrichs’ “Hindu-Muslim Communalism and Indian Foreign Policy”[5]
The claim that Indian-Muslim relations are fraught with communalism is as often stated as rebutted, but usually without much consideration of its substantive merits. This paper takes the communalism hypothesis seriously and assesses it against other approaches to explaining Hindu-Muslim segregation and occasional violent clashes. Alternate explanations familiar from the literature include elite-driven electoral politics, competition over economic turf, and lack of inter-group social capital. Most such explanations are not mutually exclusive, although they are often treated as such. At the international level, Hindu nationalism is frequently seen as a game changer for India’s policy not only in its regional neighborhood but also in the wider “Muslim world”. After the recent victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), some observers expect an Indian fall-out with Muslim-majority countries. While similar expectations were hardly fulfilled during the BJP’s tenure from 1998 to 2004, the paper provides another assessment nine months after the party’s 2014 victory. Is there an intensification of communalism under Modi, and what implications does the landslide of the BJP as India’s sole ruling party have for the quality and management of India’s diplomatic and business relations with Muslim-majority countries from Pakistan to Bangladesh and from Iran to Saudi Arabia?
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[1] Nassef Manabilang Adiong is a student of theories of International Relations and politics of Islam(icate) with research interests in the concepts of nation-state and civilization. He is the author of the following articles: “Nation-State in IR and Islam” in the Journal of Islamic State Practice in International Law, “The U.S. and Israel Securitization of Iran’s Nuclear Energy” in The Quarterly Journal of Political Studies of Islamic World, “The Palestinian Refugee Question: A Constitutive Constructivist Interpretation” in Alternatives: Turkish Journal of International Relations, “Ideology that Spawns Islamist Militancy” in Frank Shanty’s Counterterrorism: From the Cold War to the War on Terror, and encyclopaedic entries such as civilization, nation, nation-state, International Relations, nationalism, pan-Islamism, Philippines, Qatar, and Suez Canal for various publishers including ABC-CLIO, SAGE Publications, Inc., and Wiley-Blackwell. His first edited book entitled “International Relations and Islam: Diverse Perspectives” is published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing on August 2013.
[2] Hossam El Din Khalil Farag Mohammad (Hossam E. Mohamed) is a Researcher at the Qaradawi Center for Islamic Moderation and Renewal, Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies.  Previously he was a member and expert for the Islamic Legal Opinion Committee at the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs in Qatar. Mr. Mohammad holds an M.A. from Cairo University in comparative law, an M.A. from the Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies in Islamic Jurisprudence, a B.A. in Islamic Law from Qatar University, and a B.A. in Commerce from Helwan University.  He is currently a PhD candidate at Cairo University completing his thesis on Political Reform Theory in Islamic Law in light of the modern state. 
[3] Jason E. Strakes is an associate researcher in the Department of Modern History and Politics of the Middle East at the G. Tsereteli Institute for Oriental Studies, Ilia State University, Tbilisi, Georgia. He received an M.A. in International Studies and a PhD in Political Science from the School of Politics and Economics, Claremont Graduate University. His current research interests include alternative perspectives of international order, non-Western IR theory, interactions between the former Soviet and developing world/Global South, and comparative politics of the Middle East, Caucasus and Central Asia.
[4] Amir Mahdavi is the editor of many Iranian newspapers. He was also a member of the board of Mujahedin Enghelab, the Iranian main reformist party. Mahdavi holds an MA in Conflict Resolution from Brandeis University. Currently, he is a junior researcher at the Crown Center for Middle East Studies. His op-eds have been published in The Guardian and Al-monitor. His research papers have been accepted by the Iranian International Society of Iranian Studies and the International Association of Conflict Management conferences. Mahdavi will contribute to the Near Eastern Studies Department of New York University during the next academic year a graduate student.
[5] Joerg/Jörg Friedrichs is University Lecturer at the Department of International Development and Fellow of St Cross College, University of Oxford. His latest book, on climate change and energy, has appeared with MIT Press (2013). He has published articles in peer-reviewed journals such as International Organization, Asian Survey, and European Journal of International Relations. Recently, Jörg has worked on global Islamism and cosmopolitan world society as rival globalization projects. Following up, he is now interested in the topic of situating Islam in a post-Western world. More specifically, he is interested in the quality and management of Chinese-Muslim, Indian-Muslim, and Russian-Muslim relations.
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