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Political Order, Religion, and Pluralism in Afghanistan
The proposed paper investigates the triadic relations between the state, society, and religion’s relations in republican Afghanistan (2001-2021) with respect to political order. It contends that Afghanistan’s failure of the political order is inherent in the state’s inability to carve out a suitable model of pluralism to administer the role of religion both in polity and society. The tension between secular and Islamist forces has put the political order at bay. To understand the tension, the paper borrows Stephen Monsma and Christopher Soper framework of pluralism to examine three sets of questions. First, how did the state regulate religion, or in the other words, how did the state strike a balance between public order and social safety on the one hand and religious practices on the other? Second, to what extent the state employed Islam to manufacture unified national culture and forge common values? And lastly, how neutral was the state in terms of supporting or weakening a specific religious or secular idea? Following an examination of different conceptions of secularism in Afghanistan, the paper proposes pluralist secularism as an appropriate model to construct what Alfred Stepan calls “twin tolerations” for a deeply divided but at the same time religious society.
Political Science
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