Futures Studies of Convergence of Islamic Countries by Scenario Planning Method

Document Type : Research Paper


Department of Political Geography, Payam Noor University, Tehran, Iran


Extended Abstract

Introduction: The Islamic world is a vast geographical region of which Southwest Asia, Central Asia, South and Southeast Asia and North Africa are among the most important regions. The majority of the inhabitants of this vast territory is followers of the religion of Islam and is distinguished from other according to the Qur'anic teaching of "Ummah" or "Muslim nation". However, The Islamic world is a broad concept and its geographical boundaries are not clear. Islamic countries are a more accurate concept for examining Muslim nations. There are 57 Islamic countries in the world that more than fifty percent of their population are Muslims. The unity of the Islamic countries has always been considered as an ideal of the Islamic world. Accordingly, the purpose of this study is to examine the situation and alternative futures of the Islamic countries from the perspective of convergence and unity. So, the main problem of the research is what are the alternative futures and different scenarios for cooperation and convergence of Islamic countries?

Methodology: This research has been done by Futures Studies and scenario planning method. Scenario planning seeks to provide an imaging of a believable future. Scenario techniques are varied. Bishop et al. (2007) categorized eight types of scenarios. The answer to this question has been done in the framework of futures studies and with the method of explorative scenario planning and the use of the aggregation of elite votes. Among these, the essential and widely used scenario is judgmental technique and method of explorative scenario that is considered and used in this research. Judgment and explorative Scenario is based on individual or group judgment about the future. Creative foresight and visualization of the future are the main processes of this method. The necessary information and research data have been collected in a library method and an attempt has been made to explore the research issue in different possibilities. After eliminating the weak scenarios, four reliable scenarios were presented.

Discussion: The Islamic world, which in the first centuries of Islam in the form of a unified Islamic state in a convergent and synergistic way, has experienced great and brilliant power and civilization since the nineteenth century has suffered from colonialism, weakness, passivity, dependence, fragmentation and differentiation. In the twentieth century, with the currents of nationalism and ethnicism in the form of the state-nation system, it has been completely disintegrated and has suffered from political-spatial divergence. In recent decades, some thinkers, reformers and political activists of the Islamic world, based on the theory of a single nation and Ummah, have sought to rebuild and revitalize Islamic civilization and to think about the convergence and unity of the Islamic world. The ideal of unity and convergence in the Islamic countries can be examined in the form of scenario planning. There are four convergence scenarios in the Islamic countries:

1. Scenario of full convergence and formation of a unified Islamic state: According to the theory of an “Ummah” or "single nation", the followers of Islam are a coherent whole of ideology, culture and politics that for common purposes, securing the interests and repelling the enemy in a coherent way under the banner of a Great Islamic State. Which was in the early centuries of Islam, gather. Based on such a scenario, the habitat of Muslims and Islamic values and beliefs determine the territory of the Islamic State. Thus, the political boundaries of nation-states, nationalism and ethnicity (Pan-Arabism, Pan-Turkism, Pan-Iranism, etc.) and the laws governing it have no place in this structure.

2. Convergence scenario of the Islamic world in the form of the Islamic Confederation: In this scenario, the diversity of ethnicity, nations and cultures and even religious and ritual differences in the Islamic world is recognized and political units are part of maintaining political autonomy and relative political independence. There will be a larger government called the Islamic Confederation. Political units and local governments, in order to unite and support the theory of a single nation, will transfer part of their political authority and independence to the government of the Central Islamic Confederation, and in return will enjoy the umbrella of support of the government of the Islamic Confederation.

3. Convergence scenario of forming the Union of Islamic Countries: In this scenario, the level of convergence is lower than the previous two scenarios and convergence will be at a level of international cooperation between Islamic countries. This scenario is more in line with the realities of the Islamic world, and the realists seek to realize this future.

4. Scenario of the current situation and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation: What exists today as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation is the lowest form of cooperation between Islamic countries. Focusing on national interests and competing for interests with other countries is one of the fundamental principles of this scenario. In this scenario, the Islamic world is a mental concept and cooperation and convergence are at the lowest level.

Conclusion: Four scenarios can be presented for the Islamic countries: the scenario of full convergence and the formation of an integrated Islamic state as a desirable future, the scenario of convergence of the Islamic countries in the form of the Islamic Confederation as the preferable future, the scenario of convergence and the establishment of the Union of Islamic countries as the probable future. The continuation of the current situation and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation will be as a possible future. From the viewpoint of convergence, the scenario of full convergence and the formation of an integrated Islamic state will be the best scenario and the continuation of the current trend and the segregation of Islamic countries under the Organization of Islamic Cooperation will be the worst scenario.


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