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Rivals in the Gulf by David H. Warren

James M. Dorsey

Rivals in the Gulf: Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, Abdullah Bin Bayyah, and the Qatar-UAE Contest Over the Arab Spring and the Gulf Crisis (Routledge, 2021) goes to key questions of governance at the heart of developments in the Muslim world.

Warren looks at the issue through the lens of two of the foremost Middle Eastern religious protagonists and their backers: Egyptian-born Qatari national Yusuf a Qaradawi, widely seen as advocating an Islamic concept of democracy, and UAE-backed Abdullah Bin Bayyah who legitimizes in religious terms autocratic rule in the UAE as well as the Muslim world at large.

In doing so, Warren traces the history of the relationship between the two Islamic legal scholars and their Gulf state sponsors, their influence in shaping and/or legitimizing polices and systems of governance, and their vision of the proper relationship between the ruler and the ruled. He also highlights the development by Qaradawi and Bin Bayyah of new Islamic jurisprudence to religiously frame their differing approaches towards governance.

Warren’s book constitutes a significant contribution to the literature on the positioning of Islam in the 21st century, the regional competition for religious soft power in the Muslim world and beyond, and the struggle between autocratic regimes and social movements that strive to build more open systems of governance.

Dr. James M. Dorsey is an award-winning journalist and scholar, a Senior Fellow at the National University of Singapore’s Middle East Institute and Adjunct Senior Fellow at Nanyang Technological University’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, and the author of the syndicated column and blog, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer.


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