Current events in Egypt, Syria and Tunisia - and before that in Iraq, Sudan, Pakistan, Iran and Turkey - point to a great struggle between religious authorities and state powers. At play are various claimants to religious authority; states in pre- and post-colonial and pre- and post-nationalist periods; and the role of religious authorities in existing monarchies. [...] The scholars, despite being included, and contributing to unfolding events, have collectively been dragged into the political arena, an area they are ill-prepared or ill-qualified to respond to in clear and meaningful ways. And referencing classical texts only complicates the matter - for it brings history into the contemporary struggle without the prerequisite knowledge needed to examine the past. In this manner, the past becomes a tool for asserting claims to the contemporary.
His discussion ties in with the upcoming volume of essays, which Susanne Olsson and I have edited, and which is due to appear later this year under the title Alternative Islamic Discourses and Religious Authority.