Written by Athanasia Safitri
The persistence of ulema-state alliances in the contemporary Middle East has been a debate in our modern days, both religiously and politically. It raises questions as to whether it is still relevant in the context of the situations that are happening these days, and whether it plays any significant role in the development (or underdevelopment) of most Muslim-majority countries. There has been a large implication of authoritarianism in these countries which emanate problems not only compared to the Western countries but also with the terms of world averages. Ahmet T Kuru, Professor of Political Science at San Diego State University, shared his thoughts as an alternative argument in examining the participation of Muslim scholars in the state government. He wrote a book entitled Islam, Authoritarianism, and Underdevelopment: A Global and Historical Comparison (2019), which argues that neither Islam itself nor Western colonialism holds responsibility for the high levels of authoritarianism and low levels of socioeconomic development in these countries.