Islam and Democracy: A Critical Reappraisal of Adaptation and Contrast Theories

khalil Sardarnia, Yalda Bahrampour


With the expansion of Islamism, a wave of Islam phobia was launched by western Orientalists and intensified subsequent to September 11 Attacks. Theoretically, the subject of adaptation and compatibility or contrast between Islam and democracy has drawn the attention of academic circles. Using a comparative and analytical research procedure, the current article seeks to provide an answer to this question: In the area of Adaptation and Contrast Theories, what is the nature of the relationship between Islam and democracy? The research’s hypothesis is that: from Contrast perspective, adaptation between democracy and Islam is not possible due to ontological and epistemological differences. In contrast, given the existing rational and democratic potentials within the framework of genuine Islamic fundamentals, democratic empirical examples such as democratic attitudes and demands in Islam world and democratic governance in the Middle East countries and Islam world, adaptation oriented parties believe in the existence of contextualized democracy within the framework of Islam. Using a critical reappraisal, it must be noted that, in spite of some deficits, Adaptation is more tenable, while Contrast and Essentialism are not sufficiently tenable due to some causes including failure to make a distinction between Islam’s basic fundamentals and history of Islam, the performance of authoritarian regimes and radical Islamists, universalization of liberal-secular democracy discourse and its combination with western ethnic chauvinism and propaganda of Islam phobia and defamation to Islam.

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Journal of Politics and Law ISSN 1913-9047 (Print) ISSN 1913-9055 (Online)  Email:

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