Malika Zeghal (born 1965) is the Tunisian Professor in Contemporary Islamic Thought and Life at , and formerly an associate professor of the and in the . She was a student of the and received her from the .
Malika Zeghal’s book, , illuminates the modern state’s ineluctable engagement with religion and its consequences by reflecting on several varieties of authoritarian religious establishments in the contemporary Middle East. Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, and Jordan—the post-colonial authoritarian states of the Arab Middle East—have sponsored and controlled Islam and have acted as theological actors with the help of the official ulama. This was, in fact, the continuation of a process of legal transformations that started in the nineteenth century, much earlier than the emergence of nationalism.
Malika Zeghal analyzes the historical roots and recent evolution of Moroccan Islamist movements in the context of a new political system that combines pluralistic electoral competition with authoritarian government. To elucidate these ideological and institutional transformations, she stresses the role of 'ulama and Islamic institutions and the history of their tense and unequal relationship with an authoritarian monarchy constrained by the religious origins of its legitimacy. She analyzes the transformations in the movements' political strategies and religious discourses generated by the legalized Islamist party's integration into the political process. This book provides an original perspective on the prospects for democratization in an Arab country and the role religion plays in that process. In a clear and compelling presentation that encompasses reactions to the 2003 suicide attacks in Casablanca and the legislative election of 2007, the author combines historical analysis with her perspective, as a political scientist, on the rapidly changing dynamics of Islam and politics in Morocco.