The Middle East is a key geopolitical strategic region in the international system but its distinctive cultural and political divisions present a mosaic of states that do not lend themselves to simplistic interpretations. A thoughtful analysis of the Middle East requires an understanding of the synergism between tradition and modernity in the region as it adapts to a globalizing world. Religious education and activism continue to remain a significant factor in the modernization process and the development of modern governance in the states of the Middle East. This interdisciplinary book explores the historical and contemporary role of religious tradition and education on political elites and governing agencies in several major states as well as generally in the region. The relationship between democracy and authority is examined to provide a better understanding of the complexity underlying the emergence of new power configurations. As the region continues to respond to the forces of change in the international system it remains an important and intriguing area for analysts.
’This volume provides an excellent theoretical, historical and empirical infrastructure for understanding the contemporary crises and turbulences in the Middle East. It rightly focuses on the key forces behind major developments and events, and the often neglected linkages among them. The volume is a significant contribution to the scholarly literature on the Middle East frequently marred by political and ideological agenda.’ Eytan Gilboa, Bar-Ilan University, Israel ’...a thoughtful, engaging, and analytically rigorous collection of path-breaking studies on a vitally important region of the world. Understanding the political dynamics of this rapidly changing region requires an appreciation of culture and identity, context and nuance. Each of the chapters is carefully conceived, the arguments are clear, the exposition is concise, and the supporting documentation is thorough. Readers with a general interest in the Middle East as well as specialists in the areas of political development and Islamic Studies will benefit from the original and insightful treatment of the interplay between religion and political behavior.’ Gregory A. Raymond, Boise State University, USA ’Today’s Middle East is torn between efforts to maintain traditional cultures, and efforts to modernize. This book provides excellent regional overviews and country case studies of how this tension is playing out. It clearly shows that responsible practitioners, analysts, and students do not have the luxury of asserting that the Middle East can be viewed as a monolithic region.’ Daniel S. Papp, President, Kennesaw State University, USA