Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Ramon E. Arango


Contrary to many theories attempting to explain "political development" in the contemporary world, the recent experience of the Middle East indicates that religious values, principles, and institutions have to be taken into account in any adequate understanding of political processes in developing nations. This dissertation is an attempt to identify and analyze in detail the specific contribution of the Islamic religious tradition in the political development of Sunni Tunisia in comparison and contrast to three selected case studies: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. These four nation-states were chosen for examination because they provide evidence illustrating patterns or "models" of mosque-state relations. The contribution of religion, in this case the Sunni branch of Islam, may be positive or negative and it may take diverse forms. As in Turkey, the religious tradition may be viewed by the political elites as a major obstacle to national development. Alternatively, in Egypt it may lead to parallel development or a symbiosis between spiritual and temporal establishments. In Saudi Arabia the "partnership" model provides the Saudi system with legitimacy. The case of Tunisia presents an "authentic" vision of Islam developed by Habib Bourguiba who sought to purify Islam from excesses and from decadent traditions. Theories of political development conceiving of modernization solely in secular terms are inadequate or misleading. On the basis of the evidence offered by these case studies, it is clear that for a number of societies throughout the Third World any satisfactory theory of political development must devote considerable attention to the role played by religion in the evolution and operation of the nation's political system.