From Prospect Magazine:
Despite the contradictions within the west, mainstream Orientalism holds that all cultures are developing towards the universal—or, more specifically, globalised—model of secular modernity and the market. According to this view, the Muslim world experiences backwardness to the extent that it resists secularisation. The Crisis of Islamic Civilization, a subtle and erudite book by former Iraqi minister Ali A Allawi, challenges this thesis. Surveying the Muslim world’s social, economic and moral failures, and the terror espoused by certain Islamist groups, Allawi suggests the problem might not be too much Islam, but too little.
Islam is a civilisational framework that rests on the tripod of private ritual, public ethics and individual spiritual striving—and the legs of the tripod must balance each other. But, Allawi argues, the current Islamic “revival” is operating only in the field of religiosity: focusing on naked symbols and rules, proclaiming the superiority of Islam while adopting indiscriminately the technology, economics and cultural products of the west. It emphasises Sharia as a set of fixed punishments rather than as a framework of legislative principles. For the revivalists, the public sphere is too often reduced to the state—and their political project is simply to seize control of repressive state apparatuses.