Investigating the Prospects for Reform Movements in the Muslim World: Conditions and Initial Evidence

Renat Shaykhutdinov


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While the Muslim world has historically been no stranger to reform movements, it is currently seen as lacking dynamism associated with the reformist momentum. This question is especially critical in the wake of the “Arab Spring”, which relatively quickly died out or turned into violent contestation. In relation to this important problem, in this paper, I purport to critically assess the following questions: What are the conditions for the rise of reform movements in the Islamic world? In what specific geographies such movements are more likely to appear? Is the legacy of the jadidi reformists of the Volga-Urals region and Central Asia (in the second half of the 19th and first decades of the 20th centuries) still alive among the general populace in the region? The purpose of this paper is to provide contours for the study of these questions, consisting of both theoretical frames and initial statistical data. After offering an outline for what can be considered as conditions for the rise of reform movements, I analyze individual-level survey data from the 6th wave of World Values Survey. While in this study I do not claim to explain the rise or fall of existing or historical reform movements, my objective is to provide an exploratory and descriptive investigation for such potential in the Muslim-majority areas.


Reforms in Islam; Jadidi movement; World Values Survey


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