Exploring the Social-Political Nexus in Islam: A Comparison of the Middle East and Southeast Asia


Political Islam
Shari’a Law
Muslim Brotherhood

How to Cite

Fealy, G. (2022). Exploring the Social-Political Nexus in Islam: A Comparison of the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Muslim Politics Review, 1(1), 59-77. https://doi.org/10.56529/mpr.v1i1.52


One of the fulcrums of change in political Islam is the relationship between traditional patterns of Islamic politics, which focus upon the pursuit and wielding of formal power, particularly with the aim of enacting of shari’a law, and the more recent emergence of dynamic social spheres of Islamic activism, which emphasise values and moral order and operate with considerable autonomy from Islamic parties. This article explores the nature of the interactions between political and social activism and identifies the ways in which more established form of political Islam are changing as a result of pressure from the social realm.  It compares case studies from the Middle East and Southeast Asia, paying particular attention to Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist expressions of social and political activism in both regions.  It argues that burgeoning pietistic social activism presents both challenges and opportunities to Islamic political actors, and that failure to engage with these new forces will lead to further marginalisation and the risk of declining relevance.


Al-Anani, K. 2016. Inside the Muslim Brotherhood: Religion, Identity and Politics. New York: Oxford University Press.

Eickelman, Dale F. and James Piscatori. 2004. Muslim Politics. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Esposito, John L., Tamara Sonn and John O. Voll. 2016. Islam and Democracy After the Arab Spring. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 26-49.

Mandaville, Peter. 2019. Islam and Politics (3rd edition). London: Routledge.

Hamid, S. 2015. Temptations of Power: Islamists and Illiberal Democracy in a New Middle East. Oxford: Oxford University Press,

Obaid, Nawaf. 2017. The Muslim Brotherhood: A Failure of Political Evolution. Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center Paper.

Peterson, Daniel. 2020. Islam, Blasphemy and Human Rights in Indonesia: The Trial of Ahok. London: Routledge.

Roy, Olivier. 1992. The Failure of Political Islam. New Haven: Harvard University Press.

Saat, Norshahril. 2017. The State, Ulama and Islam in Indonesia and Malaysia. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

Saat, Norshahril, and Afra Alatas. 2022. Islamisation in Malaysia Beyond UMNO and PAS. Singapore: ISEAS Yusok Ishak Institute Perspective, 26 September.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


Download data is not yet available.