The Myth of the Islamic State: The History of a Political Idea

The goal of a worldwide modern caliphate may be impossible for diverse Muslim nations that lack consensus over universal standards on governance. Phrases like “golden age” are tossed about, yet ignore the challenges, explains Mohammed Ayoob for Foreign Affairs. The Prophet Mohammed died in the year 632, when the world’s population was about 200 million, and Ayoob details the history of the early caliphates, including fissures, assassinations and use of military force during transitions of power. “Today, around the world, each purported model of the Islamic state is distinctive and is a product of specific contexts – and each advocates the implementation of an Islamic polity within discrete national borders,” he contends, adding that leaders who use religion to promote their legitimacy threaten “its essential role as the fount of societal morality and a constraint on temporal power.” – YaleGlobal

The Myth of the Islamic State: The History of a Political Idea

Political leaders who use religion and coercion to promote their legitimacy threaten morality and its constraints on temporal power
Mohammed Ayoob
Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Read the article in Foreign Affairs.

Mohammed Ayoob is University Distinguished Professor Emeritus of International Relations, Michigan State University, and author most recently of Will the Middle East Implode? (Polity, 2014).


©2016 Council on Foreign Relations, Inc. All Rights Reserved.