Post-Islamism, the Failure of an Idea: Regards on Islam and Nationalism from Khomeini’s Death to the Arab Revolts



«Post-Islamism» remains a controversial concept in Western academia. Both the definition itself and its applicability have led to an intellectual debate that may be partially deemed a failure. Such a failure relates not only to the difficulty implicit in establishing its theoretical boundaries (which has in turn led to an internal response within academia itself),1 but also to the rather limited effect and repercussions that the notion itself has had in the Arab-Islamic world.2 Twenty years into the development of a post-Islamist theoretical framework, the prevalence of post-Islamism as a useful analytical tool in sociopolitical terms now faces the challenge of having to confront the 2011 Arab revolts. The revolts have challenged the theoretical underpinnings that served as a basis for the post-Islamist discourse, which argued for the decline of Islamism as a valid political alternative. Post-Islamist theoreticians had argued that Islamism would eventually be replaced by an individualistic experience of Islam based on the vindication of civil rights and the separation of the realms of political and religious legitimacy. The latest election results in North Africa show the strength and diversity of political Islam (under permanent questioning and re-elaboration) as well as the appropriateness of the «post-» categories of analysis («post-Islamism, post-modernity, post-nationalism»).