|When the concept of the 'New World Order' was initiated in the 1990s, the Muslim world was challenged by the HUNTINGTON'S theory of 'clash of civilizations' which seemed to be ignoring the fact that the Islamic-Arab civilization has spread throughout the centuries from Asia to Africa to Central Europe to the Middle East to the Arab Peninsula and the Persian Gulf. The ethnic diversity and cultures as well as religions of the people have resulted in evolving patterns of governing in the Muslim countries which have distinctive cultural practices.
The seminar will explore the theories of development, culture, and modernization and the role religion is playing in search for answers of many questions such as : Can economic progress take place without massive shifts in societal and cultural values? Is there a correlation between religion and politics? Why were some Muslim countries able to be inclusive and achieve high rate of development , while other Muslim countries seem to be lagging behind? The course will explore case studies from the Muslim world such as Malaysia, Indonesia and other countries that can demonstrate the enabling factors that factored positively in their 'modernization' process. Defining the conceptual terms of 'modernization ', 'development', 'patriarchal society' and 'democratization' will provide students with the needed tools to put in perspective the complex nature of the cases being studied to understand the barriers to development and is Islam compatible with democracy. Another important issue that will be examined is the relationship between religion, culture and gender issues in the development process in these societies with focus on case studies from the MENA countries -such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey in search for answering the question: Is gender inequality in Muslim societies barrier to progress and development?
Exploring the narratives of various enlightened Muslim scholars like Mohamed Abdou from Egypt and Rachid Ghanouchi from Tunisia and other leading reformers will link theory to practice which will help the students in understanding the challenges facing many societies in the Muslim world in their struggle for universal acceptance in a globalized world.