In 1996, Dale F. Eickelman and James Piscatori published a book titled Muslim Politics. In this book, Eickelman and Piscatori observed the politics of diverse actors in various settings. Despite the shared similarities of Muslim politics to politics elsewhere around the world— involving competition and bargaining among political actors, what differentiates Muslim politics from any other politics is that it entails the struggle over ideas and symbols of Islam. Many political actors in this Muslim politics often attempted to invoke ideas and symbols identified as “Islamic” to support their claims or counterclaims (Eickelman and Piscatori 1996, p. 4).

In 2004, Eickelman and Piscatori revised this book and examined how contemporary issues like the 9/11 and Iraq War reshaped the politico-religious landscape of Muslim-majority countries and Muslim communities. Like the 1996 edition, the main theme of this updated version still focuses on symbolic politics in which political actors compete and contest over both the interpretation of symbols and control of the institutions, formal and informal, that produce and sustain them (Eickelman and Piscatori 2004, p. 5). Embedded in the tradition of social constructivism, both scholars meticulously blended empirical (historical) cases with concepts and theoretical arguments. Their central theme of symbolic politics helps explain why, how, and the conditions under which political actions are recognized as “Islam” and this shows how it is a distinctive characteristic of Muslim politics.

Now, more than a quarter-century after the book was first published, there is a need to reflect on the theme given the various changes that Muslim states and societies around the world have undergone and the new challenges that they face. Muslim societies today live in a political context different from the era when Eickelman and Piscatori wrote their first and second editions of the book. Since the second edition of the book was published, there have been many changes in the politico-religious landscape of Muslim politics. The Arab Spring, the rise of the post-truth era, and the COVID-19 pandemic are only a few very important phenomena that we should take into account when revisiting Muslim politics today.

Today, we also have seen the power of social media unforeseen by Eickelman and Piscatori when they published their first and second books. Social media has provided new avenues as well as the battleground for contesting ideas and symbols. It is not an exaggeration to say that the everyday politics of the Muslim world is inseparably intertwined with social media.

On this symposium, Muslim Politics Review invite some of the brightest minds on Muslim politics to reflect on the theme and reinterpret it according to their professional experience and intellectual traditions to which they are attached themselves. They will discuss how they (re)think about Muslim politics today and what brings them to (re)think it that way. Their rereading of Muslim politics today could help us grasp the complexity of political phenomena in the Muslim world. In addition, we invite young scholars, researchers, and graduate students to submit papers to be presented in this symposium. Selected papers from the symposium will be published in the founding edition of Muslim Politics Review, a new journal initiated by Faculty of Social Sciences of the Indonesian International Islamic University, in December 2022, and/or as working paper series on Muslim politics and world society curated by the Center of Muslim Politics and World Society (COMPOSE).