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This book explores the lineages of political and social justice discourses to explain Muslim political attitudes. It combines historical and empirical treatments of the subject to provide a fuller account of the scholarly inquiry concerning “Islam and democracy.” It is not the first book to study this subject as numerous scholars looked into whether Islam as a major world religion is detrimental or favorable to democratic government. This study, however, brings new insights into this field in two ways. First, it focuses on Muslim agency and proposes that we should focus on “Muslims and democracy” rather than “Islam and democracy” to explain democratic leanings among the devout. Second, it explains Muslim political attitudes from a novel perspective by putting values at the center of its inquiry. One of the assumptions of this volume is that justice is the most significant value in Islam’s ethico-political system. For that reason, it is proposed that different conceptions of justice have significant sway on political attitudes of the devout.
In this book, we posit the existence of general socio-religious spatial positions with distinct outlooks within the domain of those generally categorized in public opinion research as “religious” Muslims. Such a conceptual framework allows us to make an important contribution to the literature by moving away from instrumentation of religiosity along dichotomous binaries like “religious and non-religious” or “secular-Islamist” to better understand the religious and social roots of Muslim political attitudes. Inspired by the findings of social theory and the economics of religion literature, the book presents an argument based on the simple observation that significant intrafaith variation exists among the devout within a country. The book provides new conceptualization and theory about Muslim political attitudes. We apply the insights from distinct literatures including economics of religion, sociological theories on moral cosmology and religious identity, and the burgeoning empirical research on Muslim political attitudes to examine the synergies between religion and political/economic preferences.