Is Islam exceptional? And what does it mean for the future of Western democracy? In his book “Islamic Exceptionalism: How the Struggle over Islam is Reshaping the World”,  Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Shadi Hamid argues that Islam is exceptional in how it relates to law, governance and politics, and plays an outsized role in public life in the Arab world. He also posits that the hope that Islam will eventually undergo a reformation and secularise may be misplaced. This has implications for the future of not just West Asia but also Western democracy.

Hamid presented this talk at Brookings India in New Delhi on May 3, 2018, and on May 9 in Mumbai.

Hamid uses Islamic exceptionalism in a value-neutral sense i.e. exceptionalism can be either good or bad, depending on its manifestation. Nevertheless, it is true that Islam has proved resistant to secularisation and is therefore exceptional.


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