Article: The 21st-century impact of European Muslim minorities on ‘Official Islam’ in the Muslim-majority world

by Jonathan Laurence Philosophy & Social Criticism, May/June 2014, Vol. 40 No. 4-5


The article argues that the growth of religious service provision directed at the Muslim diaspora in Europe has led to greater professionalization and pluralism within the Islam state in Muslim countries. Contemporary Muslim governments have claimed a monopoly over public prayer and religious education and have heavily invested in a network of infrastructure and services – the Islam state. The recent breakthrough of Islamist parties into governments in Turkey and across North Africa poses a challenge to the continued ‘civilian control’ over religion. What will become of the enormous Islamic Affairs ministries that Islamist parties have inherited – the hundreds of thousands of public servants of state Islam across the region, the tens of thousands of mosques and thousands of religious schools? Liberals demand the abolition of the Islam state because it violates the separation of religion and state; Islamists detest it for its repressive qualities. Despite progressive liberalization, governments in the past decade have not sought disestablishment, and have instead increased the resources and policing of state-run religion. I draw on the experience of Muslim governments in the competitive field of state–Islam relations in European countries to explain the modest beginnings of reform of the official religion apparatus in Muslim-majority countries.

Article available via Sage Publications.

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