The Organization of the Islamic Conference is the Muslim world's only intergovernmental body--the largest such system operating outside of the United Nations. Based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the OIC was founded forty years ago to respond to the Palestinian crisis and counts fifty-seven Muslim countries among its members. It has since branched out into economic development, education, culture, science, technology, conflict resolution, and countering Islamophobia. Sharing the history of the OIC with Western readers, this book details the achievements, successes, and failures of a singular political body and why modernization is so central to the development of Islamic society. In 2005, the OIC elected Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu of Turkey to transform its platform and intentions. Ihsanoglu has since confronted the difficult problems of illiteracy and poverty, economic underdevelopment, and ethnic and sectarian conflict. In this history he devotes an important chapter to Islamophobia and its impact on relations between Islam and the West.
The OIC treats Islamophobia as a form of racism and xenophobia, and Ihsanoglu explains why it is essential for international institutions to work together to combat violent extremism. He also argues that representative government, free speech, and equal rights for all citizens are critical for Muslim societies, and he envisions the need to reform the OIC as a necessary step toward renewing the Muslim world. One of the most important studies of Muslim politics to emerge directly from its participants, The Islamic World in the New Century ushers in an era of change.
Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu is the ninth and first democratically elected secretary general of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the founding director general of the Research Centre for Islamic History, Culture, and Arts, based in Istanbul. He is past president of the International Union for the History and Philosophy of Science and the author of Science, Technology, and Learning in the Ottoman Empire.