Muslim civil society in eastern and western contexts
Contemporary political discourses are replete with references to civil society, which is generally perceived to be a key element of modern society. However, there are varying views on what constitutes civil society. The rule of law- ensuring the equal treatment of all-is generally considered to be a necessary condition for its successful operation. In some opinions, civil society is integral to ideas of liberalism historically emanating from the Enlightenment and cannot be separated from dominant Western views of liberty, individualism, and citizenship (Chambers & Kymlicka, 2002). Such a notion of civil society has led some theorists to declare that it is alien to Islamic values and cannot be adopted into Muslim societies (e.g., Mardin, 1995). However, others disagree with this position (e.g., Hanafi, 2002; Sachedina, 2001; Sajoo, 2004).1.