The Invisible Hand of Islam:Islamic Business and the State Relations in Turkey and Egypt
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This dissertation concentrates on the roles of Islamic business groups in creating opportunities to influence policy outcomes in countries with restricted political environments where secular regimes limited the space for Islamic groups to organize in both civil and political society. The comparative analysis of the experiences of Turkey and Egypt, with respect to state-Islamic business relations, illuminates more theoretical questions of why some states were able to transform their relations with political Islamic groups, while others failed to do so? By emphasizing the dynamic nature of state-Islam relations, this study suggests that Turkish Islamic entrepreneurs' commitment in favor of a liberal democracy and free market contributed to ease the tension between the secular state and Islam since the ascension of the AKP in the last decade. Egypt, in contrast, continues to experience severe crisis between political Islamic movements and the state, and the MB, the most influential Islamist organization in the country, keeps being excluded from the political system. This dissertation argues that the state's accommodation of Islam can be explained by the extent to which Islamic groups were attached to market forces. Islamic groups' behavior over time and their differences from one another in undertaking a market-oriented direction can be explained through different levels of engagement of Islamic groups with elements of the state during the process of market transformation. This dissertation specifically investigates two variables, which may have an effect on determining the levels of engagement of Islamists with the state: The nature of market coalitions during economic liberalization and localized versions of Islam with a particular emphasis on the strength of religious community structures.