The Middle East is a predominately Islamic region. Islam is not only a religion, it is the Muslim way of life and law. The western world follows a more modern system of government, in the form of democracy. Democracy is not modern, as in new, since it was started by the ancient Greeks, but it is modern, because it is the main system being adopted in contemporary times.
Muslims follow the ideals found in the Holy Quran, the book dictated by the prophet Muhammad. The Middle East has had a strong Islamic influence since the mid-seventh century. Islam originated in Mecca in 610 C.E. About twelve years later, in 622 C.E., after much persecution in Mecca, Muslims migrated to Medina. This was in 622 C.E. and it marked the start of the Muslim calendar. Soon, by 655 C.E., Islam had begun spreading over the regions along the Mediterranean Sea, Arabian Peninsula, Asia, and Africa. This research will span the political systems from pre-Ottoman, to Ottoman, to the Modern era. The beginning of the modern Middle East is marked by the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the end of World War I. Since the end of World War I, much of the Middle Eastern region has been exposed to the western system of government and western culture.
The intent of this Thesis is to analyze and draw a conclusion on the possibility of Politically Islamic states having Democracy and following Democratic ideologies. It will examine the ideologies of Islam to determine if democracy, a system of government that includes the citizens of the nation having the right to speak and receiving civil liberties to choose their leaders, is actually present. It will use data from Turkey, Iran, and Egypt, Middle Eastern nations located either in, or bordering, three different continents of the world. In each country the research will examine, the governmental system, the regime type, the leaders past and present, and the policies, including how each country vary according to a specific Islamic sector (Sunni or Shia). This thesis will draw conclusions from the comparative analysis on each case study, on whether it is possible to have democracy in a state where Islamic ideologies are a major factor.
From the case study findings, there were clear differences between all the countries studied. Turkey was found to be majority Sunni with a secular republic government but it is showing signs of reverting into the realm of political Islam. Iran was found to be majority Shia with a religious republic government, one that freely allows religion into the law-making body and has emphasized policies that are based on Islamic law. In addition, Iran shows adversity to western democratic bodies, which falls in line with the idea that Islam and democracy are at odds. Finally, Egypt the most revolution-plagued has changed leaders constantly through coups and protests, when the citizens find the leaders as corrupt or not acting in the best interest of the country. Like Turkey, Egypt is a secular republic with the majority of its citizens being from the Sunni Islamic sect it has recently shown an inclination to be the most democratic nation of those studied.
The research showed that the Middle East is still having trouble adjusting to the idea of democracy and democratic ideology. The issues were found on various cultural, social, and leadership levels. There were not only civil and regional disputes among the nations of the Middle East, some of the issues have been extended to international levels. The split between Democracy and traditional Islamic values, appeared to only deepen the conflicts of the region.
Sadri, Houman A.
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
College of Sciences
International Relations and Global Studies
Orlando (Main) Campus
Browne-Michael, Mikellon S., "Political Islam and Democracy" (2017). Honors in the Major Theses. 238.