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Faithlines: Institutional Configurations and Trust in Religious Institutions in Muslim Societies

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Historical scholarship indicates that the institutional configurations of Islamic societies can be classified into two types, namely, differentiated social formations (societies in which religion and state occupy different space), and undifferentiated social formations (societies in which religion and state are integrated i.e., Islamic state). Using survey data from a comparative study of four Muslim societies, this paper examines the level of trust in religious institutions in these two types of Muslim social formations. The evidence reveals that the level of trust in religious institutions tends to be significantly higher in differentiated Muslim social formations. The paper discusses the possible sociological implications of this finding for Muslim societies and proposes an explanatory model to account for the finding. It concludes that an Islamic state may not always be in the best interests of Islamic institutions and religious elite. The empirical evidence also suggests that the trust in religious institutions in Muslim societies is positively associated with trust in key institutions of the state. Implications of this finding are also discussed.


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