The toppling of Muslim Brotherhood’s (MB) President Mohammad Morsi from power has once again sparked a debate about the role of religion in politics, the gradual approach towards change and democracy as a governance model for the Muslim World. So what did millions of people marching in Egypt tell us, that the Muslim world has once again shown its disillusionment with democracy and its lack of reverence for it? This is a phenomenon which has been consistently observed across the Muslim World. This rejection of democracy by the Muslim’s is often interpreted as the backwardness of our societies and the refusal to adopt the modern form of governance.

In reality such a rejection only confirms the notion that democracy was and remains to be a system of governance of the West. It is time that a new paradigm is developed in understanding decades of rejection of democracy by the Muslim World. Democracy is not a universal form of governance and the Muslim World in particular does not believe in its superiority.

Some have argued that MB’s failure in Egypt is a setback for political Islam. The reality is quite the opposite. In fact MB’s failure demonstrates the incompatibility of Islamic principles of governance and the secular state structures which are present throughout the Muslim World. MB symbolized a brand of political Islam which believed in operating within the secular state structure and was willing to reform Islamic principles to make them compatible with Western conception of governance. It can be argued that it was movements like MB, whose participation in secular politics and secular governance models provided these structures and such politics a degree of legitimacy in the eyes of Muslim masses that are deeply conservative.

The failure of MB therefore is the failure of attempts at making democracy and Islam compatible. Moreover MB believed in gradual change. However the Brother’s soon learnt that partial power meant that they never really enjoyed control over policy making. This will further strengthen the argument in the Muslim World that change is indeed radical and not gradual. With call of reviving the institution of caliphate gaining strength in the Muslim World, the failure of MB and its brand of politics would only serve to unite the Muslim masses towards this solution. The liberals may celebrate, but the fall of Morsi will only serve to strengthen a more radical and clearer version of political Islam.


Islamabad, July 6.