Encyclopedia of Contemporary Islam provides thorough analysis of numerous and various concepts. These concepts can be categorized in the following manner:
a) Concepts arising from Islamic civilization such as: Tawhid (monotheism), Shahādat (martyrdom), Jihād (holy war),Shawrā (consultation), Fitna (sedition) and so on.
b) Concepts arising from Western civilizations such as: Ideology, Democracy, Liberty, Colonialism, Feminism and so on.
c) New concepts that have become prevalent in the political culture of Muslim societies such as: Return to Self, Clash of Civilizations, Reform of the United Nations, Religious Intellectuality, Nationalization and so on.
The main objective of ECI is to analyze these concepts within the context of the political culture and the contemporary transformations of the Islamic world. ECI’s approach to the three categories listed above is as follows:
a) Concepts from Islamic Civilizations: There are historical, linguistic and jurisprudential aspects to such concepts, analysis of which exceeds the scope of ECI’s mandate. ECI is focused on the political interpretation and social application of such concepts. Thus, they will only be addressed to the extent necessary to help ECI achieve its main objective.
b) Concepts from Western Civilizations: ECI’s objective is not to describe the primary cultural and social setting in which such concepts appeared, but to explain the appearance of these concepts in the Islamic world, and the various reactions Muslims have formed towards them. ECI is particularly interested in exploring how various Muslim countries interpreted these concepts in theory and how they reacted to them in practice. In other words, the opportunities and challenges created by the entry of such concepts into the political context of Muslim societies are of great importance to ECI.
c) New Concepts: These are general concepts and ECI is only interested in examining how Muslim countries have approached them. For instance, “Reform of the United Nations” is a general process in which all countries take part. However, when ECI addresses this concept, the approach of Islamic countries, their priorities and procedures are in mind.
Considering the explanations above, when composing relevant entries, it is essential to state the following details:
1. The concept, definition and a brief description
2. The political and historical significance of the concept (the context in which it has entered into modern discourse)
3. Its place within the contemporary political discourse
4. Various theoretical standpoints with regards to the concept (whether in agreement or disagreement)
5. The reaction of Muslims towards the concept (confront, compromise, concede, acquire and so on)
6. Challenges and opportunities