Islam, Justice, and Democracy

Sabri Ciftci
Book Cover

PB: $32.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-2150-0
Publication: Dec 21

HC: $104.50
EAN: 978-1-4399-2149-4
Publication: Dec 21

240 pages
6 x 9
19 tables, 12 figs.

Explores the connection between Muslim conceptions of justice and democratic orientations


Justice ( al-‘adl) is one of the principal values of the Islamic faith. In Islam, Justice, and Democracy, Sabri Ciftci explores the historical, philosophical, and empirical foundations of justice to examine how religious values relate to Muslim political preferences and behavior. He focuses on Muslim agency and democracy to explain how ordinary Muslims use the conceptions of divine justice—either servitude to God or exercising free will against oppressors—to make sense of real-world problems.

Using ethnographic research, interviews, and public opinion surveys as well as the works of Islamist ideologues, archives of Islamist journals, and other sources, Ciftci shows that building contemporary incarnations of Islamist justice is, in essence, a highly practical political project that has formative effects on Muslim political attitudes. Islam, Justice, and Democracy compares the recent Arab Spring protests to the constitutionalist movements of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in the Middle East to demonstrate the continuities and rifts a century apart.

By putting justice at the center of democratic thinking in the Muslim world, Ciftci reconsiders Islam's potential in engendering both democratic ideals and authoritarian preferences.


This impressive and innovative book enriches the study of Islam and democracy by demonstrating the need to incorporate conceptions and trajectories pertaining to justice to account for variance in individual-level political preferences. Ciftci makes intelligent use of survey data but also draws on the works of leading Islamist theorists and an insightful discourse analysis of Islamist texts. Islam, Justice, and Democracy is an outstanding mixed-method study.
Mark Tessler, Samuel J. Eldersveld Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan, and author of Islam and Politics in the Middle East: Explaining the Views of Ordinary Citizens

This original and captivating study provides a definitive, timely, instructive analysis about how the Islamic conception of justice as well as institutional and constitutional frameworks of legal practices and codes influence, shape, and motivate the citizen’s understanding of democracy, liberation, and rights. Ciftci’s book will be of particular interest to readers who seek to comprehend the role of religious ideas in daily practices, social movements, political networks, and acts of civil disobedience, as well as uprisings, insurgencies, and rebellions. He identifies the spectrum of conditions under which specific Islamic ideas are most likely to promote systems that portend to become either democratic or authoritarian. This is an insightful, timely book for addressing issues that often have not been as widely explored in depth as they must be in the current geopolitical environment.
—M. Hakan Yavuz, Professor of Political Science at the University of Utah, and author of Islamic Political Identity in Turkey

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

1. Introduction
2. Islam and Democracy: A Never-Ending Debate
3. Historical and Conceptual Foundations of Justice Discourses in Islam
4. Islamist Justice Theory
5. Between Order and Freedom: Islamism and Justice Discourses
6. New Islamist Movements, Justice, and Democracy
7. Distributive Preferences, Individualism, and Support for Democracy
8. Constitutionalist Movements, Arab Spring, and Justice
9. Conclusion

Appendix A
Appendix B

About the Author(s)

Sabri Ciftci is a Professor of Political Science and Michael W. Suleiman Chair at Kansas State University.


In the Series

  • Religious Engagement in Democratic Politics edited by Paul A. Djupe

    The Religious Engagement in Democratic Politics series, edited by Paul A. Djupe, will collect work that explores in theoretically and empirically rigorous ways variations in and determinants of religious presence in the politics of democratic nations—from those with a long history of institutionalized democracy to those struggling to establish free, contested elections and systems of rights and liberties. Books in the series will demonstrate application of one or more of a variety of quantitative and qualitative methodologies to explore the robust and highly variable presence of religion in democracies. Prospective authors should contact series editor Paul Djupe or Senior Editor Aaron Javsicas at Temple University Press to discuss their work in progress for inclusion in the series.