The problematic addressed in this article is the challenge initiated by the Arab revolutions to reform the Arab political system in such a way as to facilitate the incorporation of ‘democracy’ at the core of its structure. Given the profound repercussions, this issue has become the most serious matter facing the forces of change in the Arab world today; meanwhile, it forms the most prominent challenge and the most difficult test confronting Islamists. The Islamist phenomenon is not an alien implant that descended upon us from another planet beyond the social context or manifestations of history. Thus it cannot but be an expression of political, cultural, and social needs and crises. Over the years this phenomenon has presented, through its discourse, an ideological logic that falls within the context of ‘advocacy’; however, today Islamists find themselves in office, and in a new context that requires them to produce a new type of discourse that pertains to the context of a ‘state’. Political participation ‘tames’ ideology and pushes political actors to rationalize their discourse in the face of daily political realities and the necessity of achievement. The logic of advocacy differs from that of the state: in the case of advocacy, ideology represents an enriching asset, whereas in the case of the state, it constitutes a heavy burden. This is one reason why so much discourse exists within religious jurisprudence related to interest or necessity or balancing outcomes. This article forms an epilogue to the series of articles on religion and the state published in previous issues of this journal. It adopts the methodologies of ‘discourse analysis’ and ‘case studies’ in an attempt to examine the arguments presented by Islamists under pressure from the opposition. It analyses the experiences, and the constraints, that inhibit the production of a ‘model’, and monitors the development of the discourse, its structure, and transformations between advocacy, revolution and the state.

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