The Politics of Islam: The Good, the Bad and the Future

Tarek Masoud – Harvard University

A brief survey of the fates of Muslim-majority countries during these opening decades of the twenty-first century reveals a world wracked by violence, economic underdevelopment, the systematic oppression of women, and a dearth of representative, accountable, democratic, decent government. It has thus become commonplace for scholars, policymakers, and concerned citizens to wonder whether Islam—the world’s second largest and fastest growing religion—is somehow implicated in the political and economic dysfunctions of the countries where it is practiced. In this session, we will explore the evidence, ranging widely over the work of historians, economists, anthropologists, and sociologists to emerge with a more nuanced picture of the past, present, and future of the Muslim world and of the West’s encounter with it.