Ideology and Islam
Most Muslims claim that “Islam is one” and offers a blueprint for all aspects of life. Islam increasingly occupies a special place in school curricula, and states seek to control what is said in mosques. Catechism-like pamphlets and essays, often in question-and-answer format and popular language, offer believers quick, encapsulated formulations of belief and practice. Religious activists encourage Muslims to be able to explain why they pray and fast. Such organization reflects a conscious systemization of doctrine and practice, so that masses, rather than specialists, are able to formulate and answer questions about faith. The result is empowerment of Muslims and the creation of new patterns of religious authority free from reliance on traditionally educated religious elites. The concern with ideology in Islam stems from the recognition that other ideologies have been applied in social and political contexts. Islamists charge that Islam should play a central role in the social and political arenas, noting that the Islamic ideology upheld in many countries is not a reflection of genuine Islam, but rather principles that secure the interests of the ruling class. The formal ideologies of reformists and Islamists in particular have offered interpretations of Islam that appeal primarily to modern, educated elites, so that urban values have been incorporated into formalized doctrine and practice.