Today, two-thirds of all Arab Muslims are under the age of thirty. Young Islam takes readers inside the evolving competition for their support—a competition not simply between Islamism and the secular world, but between different and often conflicting visions of Islam itself.
Drawing on extensive ethnographic research among rank-and-file activists in Morocco, Avi Spiegel shows how Islamist movements are encountering opposition from an unexpected source—each other. In vivid and compelling detail, he describes the conflicts that arise as Islamist groups vie with one another for new recruits, and the unprecedented fragmentation that occurs as members wrangle over a shared urbanized base. Looking carefully at how political Islam is lived, expressed, and understood by young people, Spiegel moves beyond the top-down focus of current research. Instead, he makes the compelling case that Islamist actors are shaped more by their relationships to each other than by their relationships to the state or even to religious ideology. By focusing not only on the texts of aging elites but also on the voices of diverse and sophisticated Muslim youths, Spiegel exposes the shifting and contested nature of Islamist movements today—movements that are being reimagined from the bottom up by young Islam.
The first book to shed light on this new and uncharted era of Islamist pluralism in the Middle East and North Africa, Young Islam uncovers the rivalries that are redefining the next generation of political Islam.
Avi Max Spiegel is assistant professor of political science and international relations at the University of San Diego and associated fellow at the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law at the University of Texas at Austin.
"This book offers a fascinating look at the competition between different Islamist groups in Morocco. Spiegel presents a rich political narrative, but also a nicely textured look at the lived experience of Islamist political participation by young Moroccans."--Marc Lynch, WashingtonPost.com's Monkey Cage blog
"Spiegel is that rare creature, an academic who presents serious fieldwork in a totally accessible form. This book is therefore not only a valuable contribution to understanding Moroccan youth today but has relevance to the entire Islamic world."--Jonathan Fryer, Interlib
"[E]legantly written. . . . Instead of simplistic dichotomies between secularism and its Islamist critics, readers discover a range of perspectives. The author is conversant with sophisticated scholarly debates, but the book is nonetheless engaging and readable."--Choice
"Spiegel breaks new ground in the study of Islamic political parties by moving beyond the framework of opposition-state dynamics that focus on either repression or inclusion/exclusion dynamics of Islamic political participation. Instead, he focuses upon the interrelationship, competition, and coevolution of Islamic parties and movements with one another and the ramifications these processes hold for Islamic activism and the future of political Islam. . . . A unique contribution to the field and to the study of Islamic political movements within an ever increasingly complex environment."--Payam Mohseni, Journal of Church and State
"An impressive ethnographic account which breaks successfully with simplified binary perceptions of Islamism. For all scholars interested in Islamist organizations and Arab demography, the author delivers a well-informed micro-analysis of contemporary Islamism in North Africa and opens a usually locked door into the real life of young Islamists."--Tanja Eschenauer, Democratization
Table of Contents:
A Note on Language vii
A Note on Anonymity ix
Introduction ISLAMIST PLURALISM 1
Part I RELATIONSHIPS
1 SHUTTLE ETHNOGRAPHY 21
2 COEVOLUTION 33
Part II IDENTITIES
3 RANK AND FILE 61
4 WHAT YOUTH WANT 87
Part III SHADOWS
5 UNHEARD VOICES OF DISSENT 115
6 REGULATING ISLAM 129
Part IV INDIVIDUALS
7 EVERY RECRUITER IS A REINTERPRETER 151
8 SUITS AND DJELLABAS 165
9 STRATEGIZING THE SACRED 177
Conclusion THE NEXT ISLAMIST GENERATION 193