Title page for ETD etd-11192009-142211

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Keskin, Tugrul
Author's Email Address tugrulk@vt.edu
URN etd-11192009-142211
Title A Comparative Analysis of Islamist Movements in the Neoliberalization Process: Jama’at-e- Islami in Pakistan and the Fethullah Gulen Movement in Turkey – Reactions to Capitalism, Modernity and Secularism
Degree PhD
Department Sociology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Wimberley, Dale W. Committee Chair
Fuhrman, Ellsworth R. Committee Member
Fuller, Theodore D. Committee Member
Luke, Timothy W. Committee Member
  • : Islam
  • Modernity
  • Neoliberalism
  • Secularism
  • Social Theory
  • Islamic Movements
  • Turkey
  • Pakistan
  • Fethullah Gulen
  • Mawdudi
  • and the Jama’at-e Islami.
Date of Defense 2009-09-09
Availability unrestricted
In my research, I will attempt to examine the way in which Neoliberal Capitalist Globalization and economic conditions in the marketplace have shaped and continue to shape the assessment by Islamic groups of modernity, secularism and their place within it as a mutually constitutive process. I will conduct this analysis utilizing two country case studies: that of Turkey and Pakistan, each within the context of the theoretical frameworks of Karl Marx, Max Weber and Emile Durkheim and their study of the impact of religious ideas upon economic structures.

In the last 30 years, from the start of market Neoliberalism, the political economy has shaped religious ideas in Muslim-populated regions as a result of privatization, deregulation of the market and urbanization. I found this process similar to that of the industrialization and emergence of modern capitalism in the beginning of 19th century Europe, which produced rapid urbanization. This, in turn, created a different lifestyle, family structure and (most importantly) produced a unique and secularized individual that was and is a product of modernity. The process can also be described as a departure from tradition and God. Economic transformations of this period restructured the concept of social and politics. The politics of God have been replaced by the politics of economy. On the other side, neoliberal economic policies have instigated a desecularization process within Muslim-populated countries.

In Turkey, privatization and deregulation of the market have actually helped Muslims and Political Islam to move upward in the social stratification ladder and the result is the emergence of an Islamic-oriented middle class. The Gulen movement in Turkey is one of the best examples of this process.

In Pakistan, the Jama’at-e-Islami has been a key player in the political and social sphere and has been supported by the middle class since the country was established in 1947. However, the polarization of Pakistani politics has weakened Jama’at and has consequently led to the formation of even more religious groups and movements. Both countries have in common similar social, political and economic characteristics and the desecularization process is taking place rapidly.

In my research, I will compare the Fethullah Gulen Movement and the Jama’at in the context of the strengthening Neoliberalist economic process, and will look at how and why economic policies have created and led to a de-secularization of the social and political spheres, unlike the case of 19th century Europe. According to this research, desecularization in Muslim populated societies is a temporal process, which represents the larger social and political patterns of transformation that have been fueled by the market economy. Although we do witness an increasing trend of Islamization in Pakistan and Turkey, these movements will in time become weakened and absorbed by new market conditions. In the Turkish case, the Gulen Movement has already been integrated into the market economy and should be understood as a market oriented movement rather than an Islamic-based Nurcu movement. This is because in the Gulen Movement, establishing an Islamic order is not the primary objective, but the movement instead seeks political power as well as economic prosperity. I therefore describe the Gulen Movement as an ‘Islamic movement without Islam.’ On the other hand, The Jama’at in Pakistan represents a persisting form of classical Islam, which conflicts with and directly opposes the market conditions. However, powerful economic forces have transformed the Jama’at-e-Islami of Pakistan from a classical form of Islam to a more reactionary form of Islam. I argue that both the Gulen Movement in Turkey and the Jama’at in Pakistan will be domesticated by powerful market forces; however, this change will occur over the longer term. In this global era, there will continue to be less space for traditional community, and instead, market-based-individualism will play a dominant role in social relations. I contend that Islam will not be able to escape from this domestication process.

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