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The Islamist Challenge in West Asia: Doctrinal and Political Competitions After the Arab Spring


The Islamist Challenge in West Asia: Doctrinal and Political Competitions After the Arab Spring

Publisher: Pentagon Press
ISBN 978-81-8274-737-1
Price: Rs. 695 [Download E-Copy]

About the Book

Following the Arab Spring, the West Asia-North Africa (WANA) region is witnessing interactions between the various strands of Islamism-Wahhabiya in Saudi Arabia; the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and its affiliates in other Arab countries, and the radical strand represented by Al Qaeda and its associated organisations - in an environment of robust competition and even conflict. After a long period in opposition, some Islamists are facing the challenge of democratic governance, with the principal protagonists attempting to define their vision, agenda and institutions in terms that would reconcile the aspirations of their citizens for a modern political and economic order that would also respect their religious traditions. In this endeavour, the Islamists are in competition not only amongst themselves but also with non-religious groups representing liberal-secular elements and the armed forces representing the anciens regimes and seeking to affirm the political status quo.

This work examines these issues in some details. It provides an overview of the political aspects of Islamic law – the Sharia, as it evolved from early Islam and, over the last two hundred years, experienced the impact of Western colonialism. After looking at the development of political Islam in a historical context, it examines contemporary political competitions across WANA, particularly in Egypt and Syria, and offers prognoses pertaining to domestic and regional scenarios. Finally, it discusses some of the larger challenges the Arab Spring poses for Islamist discourse, particularly with regard to accommodating the Sharia and a democratic order in a reformed Arab polity.

This book draws on a rich variety of source material which has been embellished by the author’s extensive diplomatic experience in the Arab world over three decades.

About the Author

Talmiz Ahmad joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1974. Early in his career, he was posted in a number of West Asian countries such as Kuwait, Iraq and Yemen, and later, between 1987-90, he was Consul General in Jeddah. He also held positions in the Indian missions in New York, London and Pretoria.

He served as Indian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia (2000-03; 2010-11); Oman (2003-04), and the UAE (2007-10). He was Additional Secretary for International Cooperation in the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas in 2004-06. In July 2011, the Saudi Government conferred on him the King Abdul Aziz Medal First Class for his contribution to the promotion of Indo – Saudi relations. After retirement from Foreign Service, he is working with an energy company and is based in Dubai.

He has published two books earlier: Reform in the Arab World: External Influences and Regional Debates (2005) and Children of Abraham at War: The Clash of Messianic Militarisms (2010). He writes and lectures frequently on Political Islam, the politics of West Asia and energy security issues.



  1. Islamism: A Textual and Historical Overview
    The Sharia
    The Ottoman Period
    Response to Colonialism
  2. Wahhabiya in Saudi Arabia
    Anti–Shia discourse in Wahhabiyya
  3. Muslim Brotherhood
    Political Theory and Practice
    Philosophical Moorings
    Brotherhood Ideology
    The Islamic State
    Political Practice
    Towards Political Participation
  4. Wahhabiya—Brotherhood Engagement and Estrangement
    The Sahwa Movement
    Sahwi Critique of the Saudi Order
    The Sahwa-Liberal Combine after 9/11
    The Wahhabi–Brotherhood Estrangement
  5. The Arab Spring and its Aftermath
    Turkey as a “model” for the Arab Spring Countries
    Saudi Arabia
  6. Proliferation of Radical Islam
    Al-Qaeda Ideology
    After the Arab Spring
    Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
    Al Shabaab in Somalia
    Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghrib (AQIM)
  7. Islamist Politics: Competition, Conflict and Prognosis
    The Domestic Situation
    Islamist Parties
    Radical Islam
    Arab Monarchies
  8. Regional Islamist Confrontations
    The Saudi-Iran Competition
    The Saudi/UAE—Brotherhood Estrangement
    Egypt-Iran Ties
  9. Military Takeover in Egypt
    Implications: Domestic
    Implications: Regional
    The Future of Islamist politics
  10. Institutionalising Sharia and Democracy
  11. Glossary