Muslim Nations and Their Crisis of Leadership Essay

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Muslim Nations and Their Crisis of Leadership Muslim nations face a crisis of leadership, which affects both them and their relationship with other countries. In Muslim society the leader embodies both political and moral authority. Yet even the best-known thinkers who comment on Islam, like Professor Samuel Huntington and Francis Fukuyama, have failed to identify the importance of Muslim leadership. On the surface there is a bewildering range of leadership: kings, military dictators, mullahs, democrats, and, as in the Taliban in Afghanistan, young and inexperienced tribal men running a country. Overshadowing all these, we are witnessing new Muslim movements and a new kind of populist, aggressive and literalist Muslim leadership…show more content…
The former sought survival in a transitional world; the latter demand purity in an impure one. Although many Muslim kings and military dictators will see in the new century, their numbers will dwindle. With the passing of old rulers their ranks are thinned further. Neither really has sanction in Islam itself, and the populist leaders ceaselessly challenge them from inside society. What then is going on? What factors are encouraging the dramatic changes in leadership, and how will they impact on the rest of the world? Perhaps Ibn Khaldun, the medieval Muslim scholar, can give us a hint. Ibn Khaldun spoke of asabiyah or social cohesion, as binding groups together through a common language, culture, and code of behavior. Asabiyah is what traditional societies possess, but which is broken down in urbanized society over a period of time. Ibn Khaldun famously suggested that rural and tribal peoples come down from the mountains to urban areas and three generations on, as they absorb the manners and values of urban life, they lose their special quality of social cohesion and become effete and therefore vulnerable to new invasions from the hills. This cyclical, if over-simplified, pattern held for centuries up to the advent of European colonialism. Even the disruptive force of European imperialism over the last two centuries did not break the cycle. It was only after independence from the European colonial powers after the

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