Islamic Statehood and the Origins of Arab Self-Determination (1916-2016)

Event summary by our intern Kathrina Dabdoub:

Throughout the last two decades, several pivotal events have shaken the Arab world and caused regional instability, notably the Arab Spring and the rise of ISIS. Such phenomena have revealed the current crisis of governance within Islam, incited polarized debate worldwide, and raised questions of how to resolve regional conflict. Professor Malik Dahlan addressed these issues in a recent lecture based on his upcoming book The Hijaz: Integration, Islamic Statehood and the Origins of Self-Determination. Professor Dahlan posits that a reconceptualization of legal and political approaches can give insight into the problems afflicting the Middle East. The core of Prof Dahlan’s thesis is the Hijaz, the geographical region on the coast including Mecca and Medina, which has historically held political and religious significance within the Middle East. Focusing on the diplomatic affairs of the period between World Wars I and II, Prof Dahlan noted that the West acknowledged the political autonomy of the Hijaz as an independent, Islamic state and highlighted its role during the peace conferences of the era. This overview demonstrated that the Hijaz played an important role one hundred years ago when the idea of the nation state was evolving, as it did one thousand years ago during the rise of Islam. Thus, Prof Dahlan proposes an analysis of the nation state and governance through a new lens, one which takes into account Islamic principles and the value of the Hijaz. This idea can be pushed forward, toward the end of political development and regional stability.