Challenging the incompatibility paradigm: a democratic audit of Jordan, 1990-2010

Hawwari, A.A.S. 2012. Challenging the incompatibility paradigm: a democratic audit of Jordan, 1990-2010. PhD thesis University of Westminster School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Languages

TitleChallenging the incompatibility paradigm: a democratic audit of Jordan, 1990-2010
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsHawwari, A.A.S.

This thesis assesses the state of democracy in Jordan over a period of twenty years (1990-2010), and revisits the claims of incompatibility between democracy and both Islam and Islamism. It subjects the claims to theoretical and empirical tests. This is possible through a case study of Jordan. The state was established by Britain, and is ruled by a dynasty, which highlights its lineage to the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad. Jordan also allowed the Muslim Brothers to take part in the process characterised by King Hussein in 1989 as the ‘resumption of our democratic life.’

Incompatibility is taken to mean that Islamic teachings prohibit adopting democracy as a system of government, as Qutb and Mawdudi have argued; and that democracy cannot take root in a Muslim society because the state and church (mosque) are inseparable, as argued by Lewis and others. The thesis outlines the procedure Muslim jurists use to declare an act or a notion to be allowed (halal) or forbidden (haram). It also engages with various democratic theories including the argument that democracy is ‘an essentially contested concept.’

The thesis establishes that, theoretically, Islam is not incompatible with democracy, whether as claimed by Qutb and Mawdudi, or Lewis and Huntington. Moreover, the thesis posits that if the democratic audit establishes that Jordan is a democracy, the compatibility of democracy and Islam is validated empirically. The audit revealed that Jordan was not a democracy. The roles of Islam and Islamism in hindering the development of democracy in Jordan were examined. The evidence indicated that they did not. Therefore, other reasons were examined, such as rentierism, Arab-Israel conflict, and Rustow’s modernisation theory. The latter offers the most plausible explanation, as Jordan has not satisfied Rustow’s four antecedents to democracy. The Islamist groups have not yet managed to be in power through democratic means. It remains debatable whether they will adhere to democracy after it brings them to power. The case of Jordan provides counter-evidence that the Islamists can hold the belief that Islam provides a superior form of government, but can simultaneously play by democratic rules. One could even argue that in Jordan there was a case of a democratic paradox in reverse.

PublisherUniversity of Westminster
Publication dates
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Permalink -

Share this

Usage statistics

182 total views
565 total downloads
These values cover views and downloads from WestminsterResearch and are for the period from September 2nd 2018, when this repository was created.