Mohammad Salih Mustafa

Department: Arab and Islamic Studies
Research Centre/Unit: Exeter Centre for Ethno-political Studies

Project Summary


Religious Nationalism in the Middle East: a New Wave

There has been a huge political transformation among the political parties in the Middle East.  The Islamic political parties, too, have been influenced by the political changes in the region. My study will focus on these Islamic political parties with the emphasis on the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU), in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, which I see as a reflection of this on-going transformation. I am interested in the extent to which an examination of the Kurdish phenomenon -- with its special features  --  elucidates this region-wide process.

The KIU was established in 1994. Its ideology and strategy was based on that of the Muslim Brotherhood. However, over the last few years, there has been a significant transformation in the political aims and objectives of this party.

Background of the Study

In the era of the late Ottoman Empire, two kinds of nationalisms emerged in the Middle East.  There was the secular version such as the Kamalist nationalism in Turkey, which started as a secular movement, and has stayed so till the present time. The other type of nationalism was led by non-secular religious figures, in the sense that neither the ideology of the movements nor their leaders were secular. The Kurdish movements, led by religious figures such as Shaikh Ubaidullah Nahri, Shaikh Saaid Peeran, Shaikh Mahmood Hafeed, and Mullah Mustafa Barzani, were examples of this kind of nationalism.

After the foundation of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), in 1928, in Egypt by Al-Banna  another wave of political change swept through the Middle East. This movement, calling for Islamic glory, was different from the previous nationalisms. Nevertheless, since the 1990s, a phenomenon has been observed with regard to the MB. This is another nationalism. This can be called Religious Nationalism in the Middle East: a new wave.


Supervisory Team

  • First Supervisor: Prof. Jonathan Githens-Mazer.
  • Second Supervisor:  Prof. Gareth Stansfield.
  • Mentor: Dr. Omar Ashour.

Wider Research Interests

My PhD grew out of a long-standing interest in reading, studying, and living the events in the Middle East over the last two decades. Studying at SOAS ended me up with many other researches as essays for my MA and Certificate in Politics:

-          'The (Shia-Sunni) Politics of   Sectarianism in Iraq',

-          'What Role did Religion Play in the Iranian Revolution of 1978-79?',

-          'The Role of Recipient Need and Donor Interest in Determining the Flow of Aid to the Middle East and North Africa Countries',

-          'The Salient Features of the Trends in Labour Migration in the MENA Region, and the Impact of Labour Migration on MENA Labour Exporting Countries',  

-          'Religious, Sectarian, Tribal and Loyalties, not the Practices of the Modern State, Hindered the Development of a Cohesive National Community in Iraq During the Monarchy',

-          'The Late Ottoman Empire Resisted Processes of Modernisation Because Religion Could not be Separated Entirely from the State',

-          'Islamic and Western Democracy: Exactly the Same Thing',

-          'Promoting the General Will in Egypt: Rousseau Representation and Opposition',

-          'Iranian Constitution is Not an "Islamic Democratic" Constitution',

-          'How Successfully does Rousseau Reconcile Freedom and Authority in the Social Contract?',

-          'What Distinguishes Nationalism as a Political Ideology?',

-          'How Would You Explain the Emergence of the Shii Clergy as the Dominant Force in the Revolution of Iran in 1978/79?',

-          ‘Why do Some Revolutions Succeed and Others Fail?’,  

-          'To What Extent did Egypt Undergo a Revolution in the 15 Years that Followed the Military Coup D'état of July 1952?'.