Democracy and Islam: A Tale of Democratic Struggle in a Muslim Majority State

In: Sociology of Islam
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  • 1 The University of Sydney, Australia

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The relationship between democracy and Islam is very complex, hence requires a rigorous scholarship to understand this complex interplay. The present paper examines the “success” as well as impediments in democratic consolidation in a Muslim majority state, Bangladesh. Through assessing electoral competitiveness, constitutional guarantees and implementation, women’s rights and political participation, and victory of secular party over Islamist, this paper considers Bangladesh as a “successful” Muslim democracy. Islam, this paper argues, is not a problem in democratization while there are a number of factors obstructing democratization in the Muslim majority states. To analyse the nexus between Islam and democracy, it is imperative to pay meticulous attention to explain the nature of the state and its social formation, origin, nature and practices of Islam in a particular society rather than just labelling Islam as incompatible with democracy. In the Muslim majority state like Bangladesh, as this paper argues, civil-military-bureaucratic structure leading to a symbiotic nexus between politicians, bureaucrats and military oligarchs, fragmentation, familialization and clienteistic party politics leading to neo-patrimonilism, lack of social capital and trust, and unequal distribution of economic and political resources are hindering democratic consolidation.

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