Islamic fundamentalism

ideology which seeks to return to the fundamentals of Islam
(Redirected from Islamic fundamentalist)

Islamic fundamentalism (الأصولية الإسلامية, al-oṣooleyyah al-eslaameyyah) has been defined variously as a movement of Muslims who harken back to earlier times and seek to return to the fundamentals of the religion and live similarly to how the prophet Muhammad and his companions lived. Islamic fundamentalists favor "a literal and originalist interpretation" of the primary sources of Islam (the Quran and Sunnah), and seek to eliminate (what they perceive to be) "corrupting" non-Islamic influences from every part of their lives, and see "Islamic fundamentalism" as a pejorative term used by outsiders for Islamic revivalism and Islamic activism.


  • By the late 1970s, after the appeal of Arab nationalist and Marxist-Leninist ideologies had declined, another transnational revolutionary movement, Islamic fundamentalism, began to spread rapidly and score political victories or pose serious threats to governments. One version emerged from the Shia branch of Islam largely through the religious interpretations of Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Khomeini’s call for a government in which clerical leaders would play a leading role contributed to the elimination of the Iranian monarchy and the creation of the Iranian Islamic Republic. Shia fundamentalism had significant international effects: Its victory in Iran over a government backed by the United States, the world’s most powerful nation, attracted many to conservative versions of Islam and encouraged Islamic fundamentalists, both Shia and Sunni, to aspire to achieving political goals.
    • James DeFronzo, Revolutions and Revolutionary Waves (2018), p. 297
  • Shia fundamentalism was limited to places where the Shia were a major component of the population, such as Iraq and Lebanon. But fundamentalist movements among the Sunni also began to have major political impacts from the early 1980s on, including the 1987 creation of Hamas among the Arab Palestinians, the 1988 formation of Al Qaeda among Islamic volunteers in the Afghan war against the Soviets, and the 1994 founding of the Taliban movement in Afghanistan. The victory of Islamic fundamentalism in Iran also alerted the secular republican and monarchal governments in the Middle East to the threat of fundamentalism. Non-Islamic nations either supported secular governments against the fundamentalists or fundamentalists against secular political leaders, depending on the self-interests of the non-Islamic nations.
    • James DeFronzo, Revolutions and Revolutionary Waves (2018), p. 297
  • The term 'fundamentalist', which was coined in 1920, derives from the title of a series of tracts - The Fundamentals - published in the United States from 1910 to 1915. It has since been implicitly defined as meaning a person who believes that, since The Bible is the Word of God, every proposition in it must be true; a belief which, notoriously, is taken to commit fundamentalist Christians to defending the historicity of the accounts of the creation of the Universe given in the first two chapters of Genesis. On this understanding a fully believing Christian does not have to be fundamentalist. Instead it is both necessary and sufficient to accept the Apostles' and/or The Nicene Creed. In Islam, however, the situation is altogether different. For, whereas only a very small proportion of all the propositions contained in the Old and New Testaments are presented as statements made directly by God in any of the three persons of the Trinity, The Koran consists entirely and exclusively of what are alleged to be revelations from Allah (God). Therefore, with regard to The Koran, all Muslims must be as such fundamentalists; and anyone denying anything asserted in The Koran ceases, ipso facto, to be properly accounted a Muslim. Those whom the media call fundamentalists would therefore better be described as revivalists. This conceptual truth not only places a tight limitation upon the possibilities of developmental change within Islam, as opposed to the tacit or open abandonment of one or more of its original particular claims, but also opens up the theoretical possibility of falsifying the Islamic system as a whole by presenting some known fact which is inconsistent with a Koranic assertion.
    • Antony Flew, Turning away from Mecca (The Salisbury Review, Spring 1996) quoted from Goel, Sita Ram (editor) (1998). Freedom of expression: Secular theocracy versus liberal democracy. [1]
  • The principal tenet of Jainism is non-harming. Observant Jains will literally not harm a fly. Fundamentalist Jainism and fundamentalist Islam do not have the same consequences, neither logically nor behaviorally.
  • The only problem with Islamic fundamentalism are the fundamentals of Islam.
  • The objective of these barbaric acts is to terrorise, to paralyse through fear, to subjugate or to censor. Undisputedly after this act that traumatised the whole nation, fear is there. It is my responsibility to say that this fear must be overcome. And to say that this attack must continue to prompt free speech in the face of Islamic fundamentalism. We must not stay silent. And we must say what happened. We must not be scared of words: this is a terrorist act committed in the name of radical Islamism. Denial and hypocrisy are no longer an option. The absolute refusal of Islamic fundamentalism must be proclaimed high and loud by whomever. Life and liberty are among the most precious values.
  • The emancipation of women, more than any other single issue, is the touchstone of difference between modernization and westernization. The emancipation of women is westernization; both for traditional conservatives and radical fundamentalists it is neither necessary nor useful but noxious, a betrayal of true Islamic values.
  • Remembering the evils of the past helps to sustain the faithful. Yes, the present may look dark, but that, too, is part of the story before the triumph of the faithful, and paradise comes on earth or in heaven. A few weeks after September 11, 2001, Osama bin Laden released a tape in which he exulted about the destruction of the World Trade Center towers: “Our Islamic nation has been tasting the same for more than eighty years, of humiliation and disgrace, its sons killed and their blood spilled, its sanctities desecrated.” Few people in the West knew that, for him, Muslim degradation had started in the modern age with the abolition of the caliphate. In 1924, in a move that caused little comment in the West, Atatürk, the founder of a new and secular Turkey, had abolished that last office held by the deposed Ottoman sultans. As caliphs they had claimed spiritual leadership of the world’s Muslims. The last one, a gentle poet, had gone quietly into exile. For many Muslims, from India to the Middle East, the abolition was a blow to their dream of a united Muslim world governed according to God’s laws. For Bin Laden and those who thought like him, disunity among Muslims had allowed Western powers to push the Middle East around; to take its oil and, with the establishment of Israel, its land; to corrupt its leaders; and to lead ordinary Muslims astray. The Saudi rulers had committed the ultimate sin of allowing the United States to bring its troops on to the holy land where Muslims had their most sacred sites. Bin Laden's history includes much more than the past eighty years. The Crusades, the defeat of the Moors in Spain, Western imperialism in the nineteenth century, and the evils of the twentieth all add up to a dark tale of Muslim humiliation and suffering. Such history keeps followers angry and motivated and attracts new recruits.
  • The cruelty of Islamic fundamentalism is that it allows only to one people—the Arabs, the original people of the Prophet—a past, and sacred places, pilgrimages, and earth reverences. These sacred Arab places have to be the sacred places of all the converted peoples. Converted peoples have to strip themselves of their past; of converted peoples nothing is required but the purest faith (if such a thing can be arrived at), Islam, submission. It is the most uncompromising kind of imperialism.
    • Naipaul, V.S. - Beyond Belief (Vintage, 1999)
  • The cruelty of Islamic fundamentalism is that it allows only to one people—the Arabs, the original people of the Prophet—a past, and sacred places, pilgrimages, and earth reverences. These sacred Arab places have to be the sacred places of all the converted peoples. Converted peoples have to strip themselves of their past; of the converted peoples nothing is required but the purest faith (if such as thing can be arrived at), Islam, submission. It is the most uncompromising kind of imperialism.
    • VS Naipaul, (1998) Beyond Belief: The Islamic Incursions among the Converted Peoples, Random House, New York page 64
  • In the fundamentalist scheme the world constantly decays and has constantly to be re-created. The only function of intellect is to assist that re-creation. It reinterprets the texts; it re-establishes divine precedent. So history has to serve theology, law is separated from the idea of equity, and learning is separated from learning. The doctrine has its attractions. To a student from the University of Karachi, from perhaps a provincial or peasant background, the old faith comes more easily than any newfangled academic discipline. So fundamentalism takes root in the universities, and to deny education can become the approved educated act. In the days of Muslim glory Islam opened itself to the learning of the world. Now fundamentalism provides an intellectual thermostat, set low. It equalizes, comforts, shelters, and preserves.
    • Naipaul, V.S. - Among the Believers (Vintage, 1982)
  • The fundamentalists, insecure, with their unhistorical view, feared alien contamination. But fundamentalism offered nothing. It pushed men to an unappeasable faith; it offered a political desert. It violated the “basics”; it could never wall out the rest of the world. And I thought it was possible, looking not many steps ahead, to see how in Pakistan, by the very excesses of fundamentalism, Islam might be preparing its own transformation.
    • Naipaul, V.S. - Among the Believers (Vintage, 1982)
  • The principal objection to succumbing to the temptation to call Islamic fundamentalist movements like al-Qaeda and the Taliban fascist is that they are not reactions against a malfunctioning democracy. Arising in traditional hierarchical societies, their unity is, in terms of Émile Durkheim's famous distinction, more organic than mechanical. Above all, they have not "given up free institutions," since they never had any.
  • Fundamentalism is not accidental but essential to Islam. It is inherent in those religious ideologies which are built on a narrow spiritual vision, have a limited psychic base, and which emphasise dogma and personalities, other than experience and impersonal truth. Islam's fundamentalism is rooted in its theology, its founder and his practices. It means that it will also have to be fought there. But this point is ill understood and, therefore, the struggle is at the best of times phoney war.
    • Ram Swarup, Swords to sell a god, ( 16 June 1992 in The Telegraph) quoted from Goel, Sita Ram (editor) (1998). Freedom of expression: Secular theocracy versus liberal democracy. [2]
  • The term "Islamic fundamentalist "is in itself inappropriate, for there is a vast difference between Christianity and Islam. Most Christians have moved away from the literal interpretation of the Bible; for most of them, "It ain't necessarily so." Thus we can legitimately distinguish between fundamentalist and nonfun- damentalist Christians. But Muslims have not moved away from the literal inter- pretation of the Koran: all Muslims—not just a group we have called "fundamen- talist"—believe that the Koran is literally the word of God. *I have already pointed out that, unlike Protestants, who have moved away from the literal interpretation of the Bible, Muslims—all Muslims—still take the Koran literally. Hence, in my view, there is no difference between Islam and Islamic fundamentalism. Islam is deeply embedded in every Muslim society, and "fundamentalism" is simply the excess of this culture. (185)
  • With regard to the formal structure of the tradition, we need not beat about the bush. In obvious ways the Islamic heritage lends itself so easily to fundamentalization that it could almost be said to invite it.
    • Cook, Michael - Ancient religions, modern politics _ the Islamic case in comparative perspective-Princeton University Press (2014)

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