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The Decline and Rise of DemocracyA Global History from Antiquity to Today$
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David Stasavage

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691177465

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691177465.001.0001

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How Democracy Disappeared in the Islamic World

How Democracy Disappeared in the Islamic World

(p.166) 7 How Democracy Disappeared in the Islamic World
The Decline and Rise of Democracy

David Stasavage

Princeton University Press

This chapter assesses the compatibility of Islam with democracy and points out why modern democracy has a very weak track record in the Middle East. It explores the deep roots of governance in the Middle East and shows how early democracy was actually the norm in pre-Islamic Arabia until after the Islamic conquests. It also mentions the Koranic principle of shura that embodied the idea that rulers should be collectively selected and consult those they governed. The chapter shows how early practices of democracy died out under the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates for reasons that had little to do with religious doctrine. It describes Umayyad and Abbasid rulers that inherited a state bureaucracy, which allowed them to pursue the autocratic alternative.

Keywords:   modern democracy, Islam, Middle East, pre-Islamic Arabia, Koranic principle, Islamic conquests, state bureaucracy, autocratic alternative, Abbasid rulers, Umayyad rulers

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