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John Esposito


University Professor, Professor of Religion and International Affairs and Professor of Islamic Studies, Georgetown University

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Recent Commentary

OF BURKHAS AND BALLOTS: The Future of Democracy in the Arab World

with John Esposito, Azim Nanji, Vali Nasrvia Uncommon Knowledge
Monday, November 17, 2003

The spread of democracy around the world was one of the most significant developments of the twentieth century. At the beginning of the last century, democracy was limited to a handful of Western nations, while today perhaps 120 nations have some form of democratic government. Yet among Muslim countries, democracy is rare, and among Arab states, essentially nonexistent. Why? Is the Islamic faith compatible with the essential features of a democratic society—separation of church and state, freedom of expression, and women's rights, to name a few—or not? Just what is the future of democracy in the Arab world?

PROPHETS AND LOSSES: The Rise and Decline of Islamic Civilization

with John Esposito, Azim Nanji, Vali Nasrvia Uncommon Knowledge
Monday, November 17, 2003

For nearly a thousand years after the death of the prophet Muhammad, the Islamic world was powerful, creative, and self-confident. In science, in trade, and in the arts, Muslim civilization rivaled and often surpassed the best achievements of the European world. But beginning sometime around the seventeenth century, Islamic power and dynamism began to wane, to be eclipsed by the West. Today, by nearly every measure of social and economic development, Islamic nations fall far short of Western nations. Why? Did the historical rise and decline of Islam result from processes internal to the Muslim world or from its interaction with the West? What can and should be done to revive Islamic civilization?