Recent Research Topics
My research investigates democracy in Muslim-majority settings first and foremost as a theoretical question, considering both its philosophical and theological dimensions. Probing the relevance of normative theory and theology for the recent democratic developments and breakdowns in the Middle East and North Africa with the explanatory tools of comparative politics complements my analytical and normative reflections. Consequently, how democracy, as a political theory, and Islam, as a religious tradition, come together in the ideas of political and intellectual leaders and masses alike are issues of utmost significance for me.
Most recently, my work has branched out to new theoretical interests in the conception of “good government”. My investigations of the democracy gap in Muslim-majority settings, coupled with Muslim political thought on democracy, brought about a new interest in good government, as it pertains to the “ethos” of democracy. My last APSA paper, titled “Tunisi, Good Government, and Overcoming Non-Authenticity of Democracy” (2018), inquires whether the relative lack of theological reconciliation with democracy may have undercut its internalization among religiously oriented thinkers and politicians, thus its “authenticity.” This becomes all the more significant as Islamists entertain an authoritative voice in the wider segments of Muslim-majority societies on the Islamicity of modern concepts. This understanding has arguably held back the indigenization of democratic values at the theoretical and theological level, with significant ramifications for the contentious political landscape. By discussing a lesser known Tunisian thinker Khayr al-Din al-Tunisi (d.1890), I consider whether his formulation of “good government” can help to indigenize the democratic ethos more robustly. As I am just starting to explore the literature on good government, my future research will be geared towards the philosophical and normative dimensions of good government. Empirical work situated in international development and international political economy literature dominates this field; very few works take up conceptual and theoretical discussions. My normative approach will inquire whether good government can sustain a democratic ethos as a pathway to genuine democratization at the ideational level among religious actors in Muslim-majority settings.