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Muslims in Prayer: “Praying time at Al Tahrir square” by Zeinab Mohamed licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Yilmaz, I., Morieson, N. (2023). Islam and Civilizational Populism. In: Religions and the Global Rise of Civilizational Populism. Palgrave Studies in Populisms. Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore.


This chapter discusses civilizational populism in Muslim majority nations. It begins by discussing the relationship between Islam and populism, and describes how many forms of Islamic populism carry within them an inherent civilizationalism. This is expressed in many Islamist populist discourses, the chapter explains, through the use of the concept of ‘ummah’, or the entire body of Muslims. Many Islamist populists parties and movements, the chapter shows, divide society not merely between ‘the people’ and ‘elites’, but between ‘ummah’ and non-Ummah. This final category often includes ‘the West’, often portrayed in Islamist populism as the civilizational enemy of Muslims. The chapter then provides two case studies of Islam- based civilizational populism: the explicitly civilizational populism of Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party, and the implicitly civilizational populism of the Islamic Defenders Front in Indonesia, a banned militant group led by cleric Muhammad Rizieq.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.