Religious resurgence and democratization have been two of the most significant developments of the last quarter of the twentieth century. Frequently they work together; other times they are at odds. In the muslim world, this relationship is of special importance because of the strength of the Islamic resurgence, and the intensity of muslim demands for greater popular participation in political processes. Esposito and Voll use six case studies to look at the history of this relationship and the role played by new Islamic movements. At one end of the spectrum, Iran and Sudan represent two cases of militant, revolutionary Islam opposing the political system. In Algeria and Malaysia however, the new movements have been legally recognized and made part of the political process. The authors identify several important factors, such as the legality or illegality of the new Islamic movements and the degree to which they co-operate with existing rulers, as being key to understanding the success or failure of these movements. Still, the case studies prove that despite the commonalities, differing national contexts and identities give rise to differences in agenda and method.
This broad spectrum of experience contains important lessons for understanding this complex and subtle relationship, and will also provide insight into the powerful forces of religion and democracy in a broader global context.