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Modernity and Islamism in Morocco Essay


The Break between Modernity and Islamism in Morocco

In the Eighteenth century, Islam was the only aspect that bound all the Moroccans together, and this explains why Islam was dominant in the country. Another reason is the geographical location.

The country is situated at Islam’s far frontier which makes Jihadist very influential. The monarchial institution strongly identified with Islam, it influenced the way the communities led their lives.

However, modernism brought changes in the country’s governance and Sharia ceased to be the only way to define the government’s models (Ruedy 54).

This article will discuss on the period and events that resulted in a break between modernity and Islam Morocco. It will also compare the radicalization of political Islam in Morocco and in Egypt.

According to Ruedy (54), in the beginning of the Nineteenth century, Sharia began losing its popularity as the only mode of reference in the government. The government began implementing practices that were initially seen as contrary to Islamic religion.

The European colonists were determined to change the traditional setting in Morocco’s political system. Change in the political system was met by internal rebellion which threatened to collapse the state.

Moroccans in support of Islam practice sought support from Middle East in an effort to resist the new governance. The Moroccan intellectual elite, however, had a different view on the new form of governance.

They studied the Middle Eastern constitutional ideas through the Syrian and Egyptian publications. They represented heterogeneous communities who had some forms of secular ideas.

The Moroccan Islamic elite accepted the Pan-Arab and Pan-Islamic ideas wholly, and did not realize the secular content that was in these publications. The Muslims advising the government did not know of the ideological differences that existed in Middle East (55).

The Radicalization of Political Islam in Morocco

The political language used in the constitutional movement was too modern for the Moroccan Islamic consultants to understand. They were therefore, represented by the young educated Moroccans who participated in the publication of the constitution.

These scholars acted as co-authors, and did not participate much in the publication of the constitution. Eventually, the demands by the Muslim representatives came out as a protest against the new governance.

Egypt experienced less radicalization of political Islam because the leaders were well informed through publications. They represented the views of a heterogeneous community.

Such knowledge prepared the Islamic advisors to accommodate modernism in the government while at the same time preserving their religious values. Morocco was more affected than Egypt because its leaders were ignorant and less educated (Ruedy 55-56).

By 1923, leaders like Muhammad Ibn ‘Abd alKarim al-Khattabi acknowledged that independence could not be achieved without the freedom from religious fanaticism.

However, an Egyptian newspaper criticized the leader’s views and saw it as a way of destroying religious bonds and adopting secular views. These leaders simply accepted the European way of governance and were willing to discard their traditional values to adopt the secular ones.

Egyptians were educated and integrated modernism in their traditional values. In the 1930’s, Morocco’s main challenge was the two opposing political organizations, one working on how to modernize Islam while the other one worked on how to include Islam in modernity.

Modernists finally managed to make leadership effective through the monarchy. Modernization was embraced while at the same time the traditional Muslim culture was preserved. Religion in Islamic countries goes hand in hand with politics (Ruedy 66-69).

Unlike Morocco, Egypt was under authoritarian leadership by President Hosni Mubarak. Mubarak saved the country from opposition by Muslim leaders. The country did not experience the constitutional reforms that were in Morocco (Ottaway 2).

Politics and religions are closely related and should be addressed by nations to promote peace. Morocco experienced intense radicalization of political Islam as a result of separating the government from religion. While embracing modernity, communities should preserve their cultural values (Ruedy 69).

Works Cited

Ottaway, David B. Morocco’s Arab Spring. 22 June 2011. Web.

Ruedy, John. Islamism and Secularism in North Africa. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1996. Print.

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IvyPanda. (2019, May 14). Modernity and Islamism in Morocco. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/modernity-and-islamism-in-morocco/

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"Modernity and Islamism in Morocco." IvyPanda, 14 May 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/modernity-and-islamism-in-morocco/.

1. IvyPanda. "Modernity and Islamism in Morocco." May 14, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/modernity-and-islamism-in-morocco/.


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IvyPanda. "Modernity and Islamism in Morocco." May 14, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/modernity-and-islamism-in-morocco/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Modernity and Islamism in Morocco." May 14, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/modernity-and-islamism-in-morocco/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Modernity and Islamism in Morocco'. 14 May.

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