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Islamism (Islam+ism; Arabic: إسلام سياسي) is a set of ideologies holding that Islam is not only a religion but also a political system; that modern Muslims must return to their roots of their religion, and unite politically.

Islamism is a controversial term and definitions of it sometimes vary. Leading Islamist thinkers emphasized the enforcement of sharia (Islamic law); of pan-Islamic political unity; and of the elimination of non-Muslim, particularly western, military, economic, political, social, or cultural influences in the Muslim world, which they believe to be incompatible with Islam.

Some observers suggest Islamism's tenets are less strict and can be defined as a form of identity politics or "support for [Muslim] identity, authenticity, broader regionalism, revivalism, [and] revitalization of the community". Still others define it as "an Islamic militant, anti-democratic movement, bearing a holistic vision of Islam whose final aim is the restoration of the caliphate".

Many of those described as "Islamists" oppose the use of the term, and claim that their political beliefs and goals are an expression of Islamic religious belief. Similarly, some scholars favour the term "activist Islam" instead or "political Islam".

Central figures of modern Islamism include Muhammad Iqbal, Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, Abul Ala Maududi, Sayyid Qutb, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and Ismet Özel .

Definitions of Islamism

Islamism has been defined as:

  • “Islam as a modern ideology and a political program”,


  • “the belief that Islam should guide social and political as well as personal life”,


  • “the ideology that guides society as a whole and that law must be in conformity with the Islamic sharia”,


  • “a movement that seeks cultural differentiation from the West and reconnection with the pre-colonial symbolic universe”,


  • "the organised political trend, owing its modern origin to the founding of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in 1928, that seeks to solve modern political problems by reference to Muslim texts",


  • “the whole body of thought which seeks to invest society with Islam which may be integrationist, but may also be traditionalist, reform-minded or even revolutionary”, and


  • “the active assertion and promotion of beliefs, prescriptions, laws or policies that are held to be Islamic in character.”


  • a movement of "Muslims who draw upon the belief, symbols, and language of Islam to inspire, shape, and animate political activity." May contain moderate, tolerant, peaceful Islamists or those who "preach intolerance and espouse violence"


Islamism takes several forms and spans a wide range of strategies and tactics, and thus is not a united movement.

Moderate reformists who accept and work within the democratic process include the Justice and Development Party of Turkey, Tunisian author and reformer Rashid Al-Ghannouchi and Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. The Islamist group Hezbollah in Lebanonmarker participates in both elections and armed attacks, seeking to abolish the state of Israelmarker.

Groups such as Sudanese Brotherhood favored a top-down road to power by military coup d'état. The al-Qaeda and Egyptian Jihad reject entirely democracy and self-proclaimed ones find that overly moderate, and preach violent jihad, urging and conducting attacks on a religious basis.

Another major division within Islamism is between the fundamentalist "guardians of the tradition" of the Salafism or Wahhabi movement, and the "vanguard of change" centered on the Muslim Brotherhood. Olivier Roy argues that "Sunni pan-Islamism underwent a remarkable shift in the second half of the 20th century" when the Muslim Brotherhood movement and focus on Islamistation of pan-Arabism was eclipsed by the Salafi movement with its emphasis on "sharia rather than the building of Islamic institutions," and rejection of Shia Islam. Different Islamist groups have come to blows in places such as present day Iraq.

History of usage

The term Islamism was coined in eighteenth-century France as a way of referring to Islam. Earliest known use of the term identified by the Oxford English Dictionary is 1747. By the turn of the twentieth century it had begun to be displaced by the shorter and purely Arabic term Islam and by 1938, when Orientalist scholars completed The Encyclopaedia of Islam, seems to have virtually disappeared from the English language.

The term Islamism is considered to have first begun to acquire its contemporary connotations in French academia between the late 1970s and late 1980s. From French, it began to migrate to the English language in the mid-1980s, and in recent years has largely displaced the term Islamic fundamentalism in academic circles.

The use of the term Islamism was at first "a marker for scholars more likely to sympathize" with new Islamic movements; however, as the term gained popularity it became more specifically associated with political groups such as the Taliban or the Algerian Armed Islamic Group, as well as with highly publicized acts of violence.

An article in Middle East Quarterly in 2003 states, "In summation, the term Islamism enjoyed its first run, lasting from Voltaire to the First World War, as a synonym for Islam. Enlightened scholars and writers generally preferred it to Mohammedanism. Eventually both terms yielded to Islam, the Arabic name of the faith, and a word free of either pejorative or comparative associations. There was no need for any other term, until the rise of an ideological and political interpretation of Islam challenged scholars and commentators to come up with an alternative, to distinguish Islam as modern ideology from Islam as a faith."

Relation between Islam and Islamism

The concept Islamism is controversial, not just because it posits a political role for Islam, but also because Islamists believe their views merely reflect Islam, and the idea that Islam is, or can be, apolitical is an error. Scholars and observers who do not believe that Islam is a political ideology include Fred Halliday, John Esposito and some Muslim intellectuals like Javed Ahmad Ghamidi.

Islamists have asked the question, "If Islam is a way of life, how can we say that those who want to live by its principles in legal, social, political, economic, and political spheres of life are not Muslims, but Islamists and believe in Islamism, not [just] Islam?" A writer for the International Crisis Group maintains that "the conception of 'political Islam' ... is unhistorical as well as self-serving," a creation of Americans to explain the Iranian Islamic Revolution. In reality it is apolitical Islam that requires explanation — it was an historical fluke of the "shortlived heyday of secular Arab nationalism between 1945 and 1970."

On the other hand, Muslim-owned and run media have used the terms "Islamist" and "Islamism" - as distinguished from Muslim and Islam - to distinguish groups such as the Islamic Salvation Front in Algeria or Jamaa Islamiya in Egypt, which actively seeking to implement Islamic law, from other Muslim groups.

Another source distinguishes Islamist from Islamic "by the fact that the latter refers to a religion and culture in existence over a millennium, whereas the first is a political/religious phenomenon linked to the great events of the 20th century". Islamists have, at least at times, defined themselves as "Islamiyyoun/Islamists" to differentiate themselves from "Muslimun/Muslims".

According to Bernard Lewis, Islamists, or as he terms them "activist Muslims", follow the role that the Prophet Muhammad played as a "rebel" during his time in Meccamarker:
There are in particular two political traditions, one of which might be called quietist, the other activist.
The arguments in favour of both are based, as are most early Islamic arguments, on the Holy Book and on the actions and sayings of the Prophet.
The quietist tradition obviously rests on the Prophet as sovereign, as judge and statesman.
But before the Prophet became a head of state, he was a rebel.
Before he travelled from Mecca to Medina, where he became sovereign, he was an opponent of the existing order.
He led an opposition against the pagan oligarchy of Meccamarker and at a certain point went into exile and formed what in modern language might be called a "government in exile," with which finally he was able to return in triumph to his birthplace and establish the Islamic state in Mecca...The Prophet as rebel has provided a sort of paradigm of revolution—opposition and rejection, withdrawal and departure, exile and return.
Time and time again movements of opposition in Islamic history tried to repeat this pattern.
Scholars like Javed Ahmad Ghamidihave argued that all the actions of the Prophet Muhammad do not form an example for Muslims to follow, a sunnah. He holds that the da'wah (preaching and propagation) by a Messenger of God has targets defined by God and are specific to him. The role of the individual believer, the scholars and even a state with Muslim domination is different from that of a Prophet. The Prophet can after making the message clear to his addressees, under God's direction, fight the rejecters of the message. The Qur'an, after this stage in the Prophetic mission of Muhammad, did not leave the polythiests of Arabia with an option to live and adhere to polythiesm. They were to be executed if they did not enter Islam. This option is not available to any after the Prophet since no one can know who is rejecting the Message knowingly for no one is in a position to interact with God and no one receives revelation from Him. Political Canon of Islam

Influence of Islamism

Few observers contest the influence of Islamism. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, political movements based on the liberal ideology of free expression and democratic rule have led the opposition in other parts of the world such as Latin America, Eastern Europe and many parts of Asia; however "the simple fact is that political Islam currently reigns as the most powerful ideological force across the Muslim world today".

Even some of those who see Islamism as fraught with contradictions believe "the socioeconomic realities that sustained the Islamist wave are still here and are not going to change: poverty, uprootedness, crises in values and identities, the decay of the educational systems, the North-South opposition, and the problem of immigrant integration into the host societies".

The strength of Islamism draws from the strength of religiosity in general in the Muslim world. Compared to Western and other non-Muslim societies, "[w]hat is striking about the Islamic world is that ... it seems to have been the least penetrated by irreligion".

Where other peoples may look to the physical or social sciences for answers in areas which their ancestors regarded as best left to scripture, in the Muslim world, religion has become more encompassing, not less, as "in the last few decades, it has been the fundamentalists who have increasingly represented the cutting edge of the culture".

In Egypt and the rest of the Muslim world "the word secular, a label proudly worn 30 years ago, is shunned" and "used to besmirch" political foes.The small secular opposition parties "cannot compare" with Islamists in terms of "doggedness, courage," "risk-taking" or "organizational skills".

In the Middle East and Pakistan, religious discourse dominates societies, the airwaves, and thinking about the world.
Radical mosques have proliferated throughout Egypt.
Book stores are dominated by works with religious themes ...
The demand for sharia, the belief that their governments are unfaithful to Islam and that Islam is the answer to all problems, and the certainty that the West has declared war on Islam; these are the themes that dominate public discussion.
Islamists may not control parliaments or government palaces, but they have occupied the popular imagination.


Islamism has been described as "competing in the democratic public square in places like Turkey and Indonesia. In Moroccomarker, the Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) supported King Muhammad VI's "Mudawana," a startlingly progressive family law which grants women the right to a divorce, raises the minimum age for marriage to 18, and, in the event of separation, stipulates equal distribution of property.

In Egyptmarker, with the Muslim Brotherhood officially banned, it puts forward only independent candidates during election. Pundits have estimated it would receive at least thirty percent of the votes in free elections, and even more with a lower turnout at the polls, because of the ability to mobilize adherents at any time.

Socialists, liberals, and nationalists have long been marginalized in Islamic countries with apparent dictatorship. The fact that many regimes use a threatening theocracy as a pretext to deal with the secular opposition at the same time usually only plays into the hands of Islamists.

As countries like Egypt and Tunisiamarker have demonstrated, the price of suppressing Islamism in the name of freedom is the undermining of democracy. Today Islamists are among the most passionate advocates of freedom of speech, fair elections, and pluralism – genuinely Western values posing a dilemma for the west, much as the Palestinian legislative elections showed.

Sources of strength

Amongst the various reasons for the global strength of Islamism are:

Alienation from the West

Muslim alienation from Western ways, including its political ways.

  • The memory in Muslim societies of the many centuries of "cultural and institutional success" of Islamic civilization that have created an "intense resistance to an alternative `civilizational order`", such as Western civilization,


Outside Islamdom, Christian missionaries from Europe usually succeeded in making converts.
Whether for spiritual reasons or for material ones, substantial numbers of American Indians, Africans, Hindus, Buddhists, and Confucians accepted the Gospels.
But Muslims did not."


  • The proximity of the core of the Muslim world to Europe and Christendom where it first conquered and then was conquered. Iberiamarker in the seventh century, the Crusades which began in the eleventh century, then for centuries the Ottoman Empire, were all fields of war between Europe and Islam.


The Islamic world was aware of European fear and hatred:


For almost a thousand years, from the first Moorish landing in Spain to the second Turkish siege of Vienna, Europe was under constant threat from Islam.
In the early centuries it was a double threat – not only of invasion and conquest, but also of conversion and assimilation.
All but the easternmost provinces of the Islamic realm had been taken from Christian rulers, and the vast majority of the first Muslims west of Iran and Arabia were converts from Christianity ...
Their loss was sorely felt and it heightened the fear that a similar fate was in store for Europe.


and also felt its own anger and resentment at the much more recent technological superiority of westerners who,


are the perpetual teachers; we, the perpetual students.
Generation after generation, this asymmetry has generated an inferiority complex, forever exacerbated by the fact that their innovations progress at a faster pace than we can absorb them.
...
The best tool to reverse the inferiority complex to a superiority complex ...
Islam would give the whole culture a sense of dignity.


For Islamists, the primary threat of the West is cultural rather than political or economic. Cultural dependency robs one of faith and identity and thus destroys Islam and the Islamic community (ummah) far more effectively than political rule.


  • The end of the Cold War and Soviet occupation of Afghanistan has eliminated the common atheist Communist enemy uniting some religious Muslims and the capitalist west.


Resurgence of Islam

  • The resurgence of Islamic devotion and the attraction to things Islamic can be traced to several events. A tenet of the Quran is that Islam will deliver victory and success. For example 23:1: "Successful indeed are the believers"; Sura 9:14 "Fight them and God will punish them at your hands ... God will make you victorious over them" ; 22:40: "God will certainly aid those who aid His (cause): for verily God is Full of Strength, Exalted in Might."

    Yet,


by the end of World War I, there was scarcely such a thing left as a Muslim state not dominated by the Christian West.
How could this happen?
Only two answers were possible.
Either the claims of Islam were false and the Christian or post-Christian West had finally come up with another system that was superior, or Islam had failed through not being true to itself.


Obviously, a redoubling of faith and devotion by Muslims was called for to reverse this tide.


  • The connection between the lack of an Islamic spirit and the lack of victory was underscored by the disastrous defeat of Arab nationalist-led armies fighting under the slogan "Land, Sea and Air" in the 1967 Six Day War, compared to the near-victory, but humiliating defeat, of the Yom Kippur War six years later. In that war the military's slogan was "God is Great".


  • Along with the Yom Kippur War came the Arab oil embargo where the (Muslim) Persian Gulf oil-producing states' dramatic decision to cut back on production and quadruple the price of oil, made the terms oil, Arabs and Islam synonymous – with power – in the world, and especially in the Muslim world's public imagination. Many Muslims believe as Saudi Prince Saud al Faisal did that the hundreds of billions of dollars in wealth obtained from the Persian Gulf's huge oil deposits were nothing less than a gift from God to the Islamic faithful.


  • As the Islamic revival gained momentum, governments such as Egypt's, which had previously repressed (and was still continuing to repress) Islamists, joined the bandwagon. They banned alcohol and flooded the airwaves with religious programming, giving the movement even more exposure.


Saudi Arabian funding

Starting in the mid-1970s the Islamic resurgence was funded by an abundance of money from Saudi Arabian oil exports. The tens of billions of dollars in "petro-Islam" largess obtained from the recently heightened price of oil funded an estimated "90% of the expenses of the entire faith."

Throughout the Muslim world, religious institutions for people both young and old, from children's maddrassas to high-level scholarships received Saudi funding,"books, scholarships, fellowships, and mosques" (for example, "more than 1500 mosques were built and paid for with money obtained from public Saudi funds over the last 50 years"), along with training in the Kingdom for the preachers and teachers who went on to teach and work at these universities, schools, mosques, etc.

The funding was also used to reward journalists and academics who followed the Saudis' strict interpretation of Islam; and satellite campuses were built around Egypt for Al Azharmarker, the world's oldest and most influential Islamic university.

The interpretation of Islam promoted by this funding was the strict, conservative Saudi-based Wahhabism or Salafism. In its harshest form it preached that Muslims should not only "always oppose" infidels "in every way," but "hate them for their religion ... for Allah's sake," that democracy "is responsible for all the horrible wars of the 20th century," that Shia and other non-Wahhabi Muslims were infidels, etc. While this effort has by no means converted all, or even most, Muslims to the Wahhabist interpretation of Islam, it has done much to overwhelm more moderate local interpretations, and has set the Saudi-interpretation of Islam as the "gold standard" of religion in Muslims' minds.

Grand Mosque Seizure

The strength of the Islamist movement was manifest in an event which might have seemed sure to turn Muslim public opinion against fundamentalism, but did just the opposite. In 1979 the Grand Mosquemarker in Meccamarker Saudi Arabiamarker was seized by an armed fundamentalist group and held for over a week. Scores were killed, including many pilgrim bystanders in a gross violation of one of the most holy sites in Islam (and one where arms and violence are strictly forbidden).

Instead of prompting a backlash against the movement from which the attackers originated, however, Saudi Arabia, already very conservative, responded by shoring up its fundamentalist credentials with even more Islamic restrictions. Crackdowns followed on everything from shopkeepers who did not close for salah and newspapers that published pictures of women, to the selling of dolls, teddy bears (images of animate objects are considered haraam), and dog food (dogs are considered unclean).

In other Muslim countries, blame for and wrath against the seizure was directed not against fundamentalists, but against Islamic fundamentalism's foremost geopolitical enemy – the United States. Ayatollah Khomeini sparked attacks on American embassies when he announced:
It is not beyond guessing that this is the work of criminal American imperialism and international Zionism
despite the fact that the object of the fundamentalists' revolt was the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, America's major ally in the region. Anti-American demonstrations followed in the Philippinesmarker, Turkeymarker, Bangladeshmarker, Indiamarker, the UAEmarker, Pakistanmarker, and Kuwaitmarker. The US Embassy in Libyamarker was burned by protesters chanting pro-Khomeini slogans and the embassy in Islamabadmarker, Pakistan was burned to the ground.

Dissatisfaction with the status quo

  • The original heart of the Muslim world – the Arab world – has been afflicted with economic stagnation. For example it has been estimated that the exports of Finlandmarker, a European country of five million, exceeded those of the entire 260 million-strong Arab world, excluding oil revenue. This economic stagnation is argued to have commenced with the demise of the Ottoman Caliphate in 1924, with trade networks being disrupted and societies torn apart with the creation of new nation states - prior to this, the Middle East had a diverse and growing economy and more general prosperity.


  • Strong population growth combined with economic stagnation has created urban conglomerations in Cairomarker, Istanbulmarker, Tehranmarker, Karachimarker, Dhakamarker, and Jakartamarker each with well over 12 million citizens, millions of them young and unemployed or underemployed. Such a demographic, alienated from the westernized ways of the urban elite, but uprooted from the comforts and more passive traditions of the villages they came from, is understandably favourably disposed to an Islamic system promising a better world – an ideology providing an "emotionally familiar basis for group identity, solidarity, and exclusion; an acceptable basis for legitimacy and authority; an immediately intelligible formulation of principles for both a critique of the present and a program for the future."


Shelter of the mosque

While dictatorial regimes can preempt opposition nationalist or socialist campaigns by closing down their networks and headquarters, the centre for Islamist political organizing is the mosque. It is exempt from government crackdowns in the Muslim world (and often in the non-Muslim world) by virtue of its sacredness. "It is in the mosque where [Islamists] canvas neighbourhoods in the course of providing social services, spread their political messages and campaign for votes where permitted to participate."

Charitable work

Islamist movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood, "are well known for providing shelters, educational assistance, free or low cost medical clinics, housing assistance to students from out of town, student advisory groups, facilitation of inexpensive mass marriage ceremonies to avoid prohibitively costly dowry demands, legal assistance, sports facilities, and women's groups." All this compares very favourably against incompetent, inefficient, or neglectful governments whose commitment to social justice is limited to rhetoric.

Power of identity politics

Islamism can also be described as part of identity politics, specifically the religiously-oriented nationalism that emerged in the Third World in the 1970s: "resurgent Hinduism in Indiamarker, ultra-Orthodox Judaism in Israelmarker, militant Buddhism in Sri Lanka, resurgent Sikh nationalism in the Punjab, `Liberation Theology` of Catholicism in Latin America, and of course, Islamism in the Muslim world." (This is distinguished from ethnic or linguistic-based nationalism which Islamism opposes.) These all challenged Westernized ruling elites on behalf of `authenticity` and tradition.

Specific examples

Earliest history

Some Islamic militant or revivalist movements and leaders pre-dating Islamism include
  • Ibn Taymiyyah, a Syrian Islamic jurist during the 13th and 14th centuries who is often quoted by contemporary Islamists. Ibn Taymiyya argued against the shirking of Sharia law, and against practices such as the celebration of the Prophet's birthday or the construction of mosques around the tombs of Sufi sheikhs, believing that these were unacceptable borrowings from Christianity: Many Muslims `do not even know of the Christian origins of these practices.`


  • Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi (~1564–1624) was part of "a reassertion of orthodoxy within Sufism" and was known to his followers as the `renovator of the second millennium`. It has been said of Sirhindi that he `gave to Indian Islam the rigid and conservative stamp it bears today.`


  • Shah Waliullah of India and Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab of Arabia were contemporaries who met each other while studying in Meccamarker. Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab advocated doing away with the later accretions like grave worship and getting back to the letter and the spirit of Islam as preached and practiced by the Prophet Muhammad. He went on to found Wahhabism. Shah Waliullah was a forerunner of reformists like Muhammad Abduh in his belief that there was "a constant need for new ijtihad as the Muslim community progressed and expanded and new generations had to cope with new problems" and in his interest in the social and economic problems of the poor.


  • Sayyid Ahmad Barelvi was a disciple and successor of Shah Waliullah's son and emphasized the `purification` of Islam from un-Islamic beliefs and practices. He anticipated modern Islamists by leading a jihad movement and attempted to create an Islamic state with strict enforcement of Islamic law. While he waged jihad against Sikhs in North-Western India, his followers fought the British after his death and allied itself with the Indian Mutiny.


After the failure of the Indian Mutiny some of Shah Waliullah's followers turned to more peaceful methods of preserving the Islamic heritage and founded the Dar al-Ulum seminary in 1867 in the town of Deobandmarker. From the school developed the Deobandi movement which became the largest philosophical movement of traditional Islamic thought in the subcontinent and led to the establishment of thousands of madrasahs throughout modern-day Indiamarker, Pakistanmarker and Bangladeshmarker. Today, Deobandism is represented in Pakistan by the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam organization/political party and its splinter groups.

The Clash with the West

Sayyid Jamāl al-Dīn al-Afghānī


The end of the 19th century saw the dismemberment of most of the Muslim Ottoman Empire by non-Muslim European colonial powers. The empire spent massive sums on Western civilian and military technology to try to modernize and compete with the encroaching European powers, and in the process went deep into debt to these powers.

In this context, the publications of Jamal ad-din al-Afghani (1837–97), Muhammad Abduh (1849–1905) and Rashid Rida (1865–1935) preached Islamic alternatives to the political, economic, and cultural decline of the empire. Muhammad Abduh and Rashid Rida formed the beginning of the Salafist movement, as well as the Islamic modernist/secularist movement.

Their ideas included the creation of a truly Islamic society under sharia law, and the rejection of taqlid, the blind imitation of earlier authorities, which they believed deviated from the true messages of Islam. Unlike some later Islamists, Salafists strongly emphasized the restoration of the Caliphate.

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi was a "Deobandi alumni" and an important early twentieth-century figure in the Islamic revival in Indiamarker, and then after independence from Britainmarker, in Pakistanmarker. Trained as a lawyer he chose the profession of journalism, and wrote about contemporary issues and most importantly about Islam and Islamic law.

In the struggle for the creation of a separate Muslim state in South Asia Maudidi and his party first opposed the establishment of the state of Pakistan but later supported the idea. He was an inspirational figure for modern Islamist groups in South Asia and elsewhere.

Maududi founded the Jamaat-e-Islami party in 1941 and remained its leader until 1972. Although Maududi was educated at Deobandi institution(s) his party is a long-time rival of the Deobandi party/group Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam.

Abul Ala Maududi.
Maududi had much more impact through his writing than through his political organizing. His extremely influential book, Towards Understanding Islam (Risalat Diniyat in Arabic), placed Islam in a modern context and influenced not only conservative ulema but liberal modernizers such as al-Faruqi, whose "Islamization of Knowledge" carried forward some of Maududi's key principles.

Maududi believed that Islam was all emcompassing "Everything in the universe is 'Muslim' for it obeys God by submission to His laws... The man who denies God is called Kafir (concealer) because he conceals by his disbelief what is inherent in his nature and embalmed in his own soul."

Maududi also believed that Muslim society could not be Islamic without Sharia, and Islam required the establishment of an Islamic state. This state should be a "theo-democracy," based on the principles of: tawhid (unity of God), risala (prophethood) and khilafa (caliphate).

Because Islam is all-encompassing, Maududi believed that the Islamic state should not be limited to just the "homeland of Islam", it is for all the world:

Islam wishes to destroy all States and Governments anywhere on the face of the earth which are opposed to the ideology and programme of Islam regardless of the country or the Nation which rules it.
The purpose of Islam is to set up a State on the basis of its own ideology and programme, ... the objective of Islamic 'Jihad' is to eliminate the rule of an un-Islamic system"


Although Maududi talked about Islamic revolution, he was both less revolutionary and less politically/economically populist than later Islamists like Qutb.

The Muslim Brotherhood

Roughly contemporaneous with Maududi was the founding of the Muslim Brotherhood in Ismailiyah, Egypt in 1928 by Hassan al Banna. His was arguably the first, largest and most influential modern Islamic political/religious organization. Under the motto "the Qur'an is our constitution,"it sought Islamic revival through preaching and also by providing basic community services including schools, mosques, and workshops.

Like Maududi, Al Banna believed in the necessity of government rule based on Shariah law implemented gradually and by persuasion, and of eliminating all non-Muslim imperialist influence in the Muslim world. Jihad was declared against European colonial powers.

Some elements of the Brotherhood, though perhaps against orders, did engage in violence against the government, and its founder Al-Banna was assassinated in 1949 in retaliation for the assassination of Egypt's premier Mahmud Fami Naqrashi three months earlier. The Brotherhood has suffered periodic repression in Egypt and has been banned several times, in 1948 and several years later following confrontations with Egyptian president Gamal Abdul Nasser, who jailed thousands of members for several years.

In recent years its status has usually been described as "semi-legal." Despite periodic repression, the Brotherhood has become one of the most influential movements in the Islamic world, particularly in the Arab world. Along with being the only opposition group in Egypt able to field candidates during elections, it has fostered several offshoot organizations in many other countries.

Sayyid Qutb

Sayyid Qutb


Maududi's political ideas influenced Sayyid Qutb, one of the key philosophers of Islamism, and a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood movement. Qutb believed things had reached such a state that the Muslim community had literally ceased to exist. It "has been extinct for a few centuries," having reverted to Godless ignorance (Jahiliyya).

To eliminate jahiliyya, Qutb argued Sharia, or Islamic law, must be established. Sharia law was not only accessible to humans and essential to the existence of Islam, but also all-encompassing, precluding "evil and corrupt" non-Islamic ideologies like socialism, nationalism, or liberal democracy.

Qutb preached that Muslims must engage in a two-pronged attack of converting individuals while also waging jihad to forcibly eliminate the "structures" of Jahiliyya – not only from the Islamic homeland but from the face of the earth.

Qutb was both the most famous member of the brotherhood and enormously influential in the Muslim world at large. Qutb is considered by some to be "the founding father and leading theoretician" of modern jihadis, such as Osama bin Laden. Ironically, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and in Europe has not embraced his vision of armed jihad, something for which they have been denounced by more radical Islamists.

The Six Day War of 1967

The quick and decisive defeat of the Arab troops during the Six-Day War by Israeli troops constituted a pivotal event in the Arab Muslim world. The defeat along with economic stagnation in the defeated countries, was blamed on the Arab nationalism of the ruling regimes.

A steep and steady decline in the popularity and credibility of both secular and nationalist politics ensued. Ba'athism, Arab Socialism, and Arab Nationalism suffered, and Islamist movements inspired by Mawlana Maududi, and Sayyid Qutb gained ground.

Islamic Republic in Iran

Imam Khomeini


The first Modern Islamic state (with the possible exception of Zia's Pakistanmarker) was established among the Shia of Iranmarker. In a major shock to the rest of the world, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini led the Iranian Revolution of 1979 to overthrow the oil-rich, well-armed, Westernized and pro-American secular monarchy ruled by Shah Muhammad Reza Pahlavi.

Khomeini's beliefs were similar to Sunni Islamic thinkers like Mawdudi and Qutb:He believed that imitation of the early Muslims and the restoration of Sharia law were essential to Islam, that secular, Westernizing Muslims were actually agents of the West serving Western interests, and that the "plundering" of Muslim lands was part of a long-term conspiracy against Islam by the Christian West.

But they also differed:

  • As a Shia, the early Muslims whom Khomeini looked to were Ali ibn Abī Tālib and Husayn ibn Ali, not Caliphs Abu Bakr, Omar or Uthman.
  • Khomeini talked not about restoring the Caliphate, but about establishing an Islamic state where the leading role was taken by Islamic jurists (ulama) as the successors of Shia Imams until the Mahdi returned from occultation. His concept of velayat-e-faqih ("guardianship of the [Islamic] jurist"), held that the leading Shia Muslim cleric in society – which Khomeini and his followers believed to be himself – should serve as head of state in order to protect or "guard" Islam and Sharia law from “innovation" and "anti-Islamic laws" passed "by sham parliaments.”
  • The revolution was influenced by Marxism through Islamist thought and also by writings that sought either to counter Marxism (Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr's work) or to integrate socialism and Islamism (Ali Shariati's work). A strong wing of the revolutionary leadership was made up of leftists or "radical populists", such as Ali Akbar Mohtashami-Pur.


While initial enthusiasm for the revolution in the Muslim world was intense, it has waned as "purges, executions, and atrocities tarnished its image".

As a model for potential Islamic states, the Islamic Republic has not been notably successful in achieving many of its goals: raising standards of living; ridding Iran of corruption, poverty, political oppression and Westernization, or even protecting Sharia from innovation. Internally, it has been modestly successful in increasing literacy and health care.

It has also maintained its hold on power in Iran in spite of the US economic sanctions, and has created or assisted like-minded Shia Islamist groups in Iraq (SCIRI)and Lebanon (Hezbollah), (two Muslim countries that also have large Shiite populations).During the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict, the Iranian government enjoyed something of a resurgence in popularity amongst the predominantly Sunni "Arab street," due to its support for Hezbollah and to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's vehement opposition to the United States and his call for the annihilation of Israelmarker.

Lebanon

Hezbollah emblem
The Lebanese Civil War gave radical Shia movements in that country a new power and prominence after 1975. Expatriate Iranian cleric Musa al-Sadr founded the Amal movement well before his native country's own revolution (see below), heading a combination of political party and militia. After his disappearance in 1978 his organization survived, but the opportunity arose for other factions to mobilize potential support from the same social base. The most successful such movement is Hezbollah. Founded in 1985 by Lebanesemarker Shia aided by Iranian Shia Islamists, the movement is dedicated to the expulsion of Western "colonialist entities" from Lebanon. Hezbollah was instrumental in driving the Israeli military from Lebanon in 2000, which heightened its popularity in Lebanon even among non-Shia. In 2006, an Israeli invasion of south Lebanon was repelled yet again giving Hezbollah even more domestic support.

Pakistan's Islamization campaign

In July 1977 General Zia-ul-Haq overthrew Prime Minister Ali Bhutto's regime in Pakistan. Ali Bhutto, a leftist in political competition with Islamists, had banned alcohol, horse-racing, and nightclubs, and announced that the "sharia would be fully applied" within six months, shortly before he was overthrown. Ul-Haq was much more committed to Islamism, and "Islamization" or implementation of Islamic law (AKA sharia), became a cornerstone of his eleven-year military dictatorship and Islamism became his "official state ideology". An admirer of Mawdudi, Mawdudi's party Jamaat-e-Islami became the "regime's ideological arm", and its members prospered under ul-Haq.

Under his leadership anyone which showed to oppose his form 'Islam', was persecuted and legitimized to be a victim. The Ahmadi Community was severely persecuted under his dictatorial rule by various Islamist movements, who due to the non-action of the government rallied support and immensely grew in numbers and influence. The decades of build up and current Islamist wave in Pakistan is a result of ul-Haq's support for the various Islamist movements.In Pakistan this Islamization from above was "probably" more complete "than under any other regime except those in Iran and Sudan," but Ul-Haq was also criticized by some Islamists for imposing "symbols" rather than substance, and using Islamization to legitimize his means of seizing power. The program was a dramatic reversal of the traditional secularism of Pakistan's founding Muslim League and its leader Mohammad Ali Jinnah, but unlike neighboring Iran, ul-Haq's policies were intended to "avoid revolutionary excess", and not to strain relations with his American and Persian Gulf state allies.

Ul-Haq was killed in 1988 but Islamization is still proceeding in Pakistan.

Afghanistan: Jihad against the Soviets

In 1979 the Soviet Union deployed its 40th Army into Afghanistan, attempting to suppress an Islamic rebellion against an allied Marxist regime in the Afghan Civil War. The conflict, pitting indigenous impoverished Muslims (mujahideen) against an atheist superpower, galvanized thousands of Muslims around the world to send aid and sometimes to go themselves to fight jihad. Leading this pan-Islamic effort was Palestinian sheikh Abdullah Yusuf Azzam. While the military effectiveness of these "Afghan Arabs" was marginal, Azzam's group is said to have organized paramilitary training for more than 20,000 Muslim recruits, from about 20 countries around the world.

When the Soviet Union abandoned the Marxist Najibullah regime and withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989 (the regime finally fell in 1992), the victory was seen by many Muslims as the triumph of Islamic faith over superior military power and technology that could be duplicated elsewhere.

The jihadists gained legitimacy and prestige from their triumph both within the militant community and among ordinary Muslims, as well as the confidence to carry their jihad to other countries where they believed Muslims required assistance.


The "veterans of the guerrilla campaign" returning home to Algeriamarker, Egyptmarker and other countries "with their experience, ideology, and weapons," were often eager to continue armed jihad.

The collapse of the Soviet Union itself in 1991, was seen by many Islamists, including Bin Laden, as the defeat of a superpower at the hands of Islam, the $6 billion in aid given by the US to the mujahideen having nothing to do with the victory. As bin Laden opined: "[T]he US has no mentionable role" in "the collapse of the Soviet Union ... rather the credit goes to God and the mujahidin" of Afghanistan.

Persian Gulf War

Another factor in the early 1990s that worked to radicalize the Islamist movement was the Gulf War, which brought several hundred thousand US and allied non-Muslim military personnel to Saudi Arabian soil to put an end to Saddam Hussein's occupation of Kuwait. Prior to 1990 Saudi Arabia played an important role in restraining the many Islamist groups that received its aid. But Saddam embraced Islamic rhetoric and attacked Saudi Arabia, his enemy in the war, for violating Islamic unity and its role as custodian of the two holy cities by allowing non-Muslims on its soil (traditional Muslim belief holds that non-Muslims must not be allowed on the Arabian peninsula), and he also accused the Kingdom of being a puppet of the west.

These attacks resonated with conservative Muslims and the problem did not go away with Saddam's defeat either, since American troops remained stationed in the kingdom, and a defacto cooperation with the Palestinian-Israeli peace process developed. Saudi Arabia attempted to compensate for its loss of prestige among these groups by repressing those domestic Islamists who attacked it (bin Laden being a prime example), and increasing aid to Islamic groups (Islamist madrassas around the world and even aiding some violent Islamist groups) that did not, but its pre-war influence on behalf of moderation was greatly reduced. One result of this was a campaign of attacks on government officials and tourists in Egypt, a bloody civil war in Algeria and Osama bin Laden's terror attacks climaxing in 9/11 attack.

Jihad movements of Egypt

Ayman al-Zawahiri
While Qutb's ideas became increasingly radical during his imprisonment prior to his execution in 1966, the leadership of the Brotherhood, led by Hasan al-Hudaybi, remained moderate and interested in political negotiation and activism. Fringe or splinter movements inspired by the final writings of Qutb in the mid-1960s (particularly the manifesto "Milestones," aka Ma'alim fi-l-Tariq) did, however, develop and they pursued a more radical direction. By the 1970s, the Brotherhood had renounced violence as a means of achieving its goals.

The path of violence and military struggle was then taken up by the Egyptian Islamic Jihad organization responsible for the assassination of Anwar Sadat in 1981. Unlike earlier anti-colonial movements, Islamic Jihad directed its attacks against what it believed were "apostate" leaders of Muslim states - leaders who held secular leanings or who had introduced or promoted Western/foreign ideas and practices into Islamic societies. Its views were outlined in a pamphlet written by Muhammad Abd al-Salaam Farag, in which he states:
...there is no doubt that the first battlefield for jihad is the extermination of these infidel leaders and to replace them by a complete Islamic Order...


Another of the Egyptian groups which employed violence in their struggle for Islamic order was al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya (Islamic Group). Victims of their campaign against the Egyptian state in the 1990s included the head of the counter-terrorism police (Major General Raouf Khayrat), a parliamentary speaker (Rifaat al-Mahgoub), dozens of European tourists and Egyptian bystanders, and over 100 Egyptian police. Ultimately the campaign to overthrow the government was unsuccessful, and the major jihadi group, Jamaa Islamiya (or al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya), renounced violence in 2003. Other lesser known groups include the Islamic Liberation Party, Al-Najun min al-nar and Al-Takfir wa al-Hijra and these groups have variously been involved in activities such as attempted assassinations of political figures, arson of video shops and attempted takeovers of government buildings.

Sudan

Hassan al-Turabi
For many years Sudanmarker had an Islamist regime under the leadership of Hassan al-Turabi. His National Islamic Front first gained influence when strongman General Gaafar al-Nimeiry invited members to serve in his government in 1979. Turabi built a powerful economic base with money from foreign Islamist banking systems, especially those linked with Saudi Arabia. He also recruited and built a cadre of influential loyalists by placing sympathetic students in the university and military academy while serving as minister of education.

After al-Nimeiry was overthrown in 1985 the party did poorly in national elections but in 1989 it was able to overthrow the elected post-al-Nimeiry government with the help of the military. Turabi was noted for his commitment to the democratic process and a liberal government before coming to power, but strict application of sharia law, and an intensification of the long-running war in southern Sudan, human rights abuses, once in power. The NIF regime also harbored Osama bin Laden for a time (before 9/11), and worked to unify Islamist opposition to the American attack on Iraq in the 1991 Gulf War.

After Sudanese intelligence services were implicated in an assassination attempt on the President of Egypt, UN economic sanctions were imposed on Sudan, a very poor country, and Turabi fell from favor. He was imprisoned for a time in 2004-5. Some of the NIF policies, such as the war with the non-Muslim south, have been reversed, though the National Islamic Front (now named the National Congress Party) still holds considerable power in the Sudanese government.

Algeria

The FIS emblem
An Islamist movement influenced by Salafism and the jihad in Afghanistan, as well as the Muslim Brotherhood, was the FIS or Front Islamique de Salut (the Islamic Salvation Front) in Algeria. Founded as a broad Islamist coalition in 1989 it was led by Abbassi Madani, and a charismatic radical young preacher, Ali Belhadj. Taking advantage of liberalization by the unpopular ruling leftist/nationalist FLN regime, it used its preaching to advocate the establishment of a legal system following Sharia law, education in Arabic rather than French, and gender segregation, with women staying home to alleviate the high rate of unemployment among young Algerian men. The FIS won sweeping victories in local elections and it was going to win national elections in 1991 when voting was canceled by a military coup d'état.

As Islamists took up arms to overthrow the regime, the FIS's leaders were arrested and it became overshadowed by Islamist guerilla groups particularly the Islamic Salvation Army, MIA and Armed Islamic Group (or GIA). A bloody and devastating civil war ensued in which between 150,000 and 200,000 people were killed over the next decade. Civilians – including foreigners, University academics, intellectuals, writers, journalists, and medical doctors – were targeted by Islamist extremists. although government forces were also accused of killing civilians and of manipulating the brutal takfiri GIA

The civil war was not a victory for Islamism. By 2002 the main guerrilla groups had either been destroyed or had surrendered. The popularity of Islamist parties has declined to the point that "the Islamist candidate, Abdallah Jaballah, came a distant third with 5% of the vote"in the 2004 presidential election.

Afghanistan Taliban

Flag of Taliban


In Afghanistan the mujahideen's victory did not lead to justice and prosperity but to a vicious and destructive civil war between warlords, making Afghanistan one of the poorest countries on earth. In 1996, a new movement known as the Taliban, rose to power, defeated most of the warlords and took over roughly 80% of Afghanistan.

The Taliban were spawned by the thousands of madrasahs the Deobandi movement established for impoverished Afghan refugees and supported by governmental and religious groups in neighboring Pakistan.

The Taliban differed from other Islamist movements to the point where they might be more properly described as Islamic fundamentalist or neofundamentalist, interested in spreading "an idealized and systematized version of village customs to an entire country." Despite Afghanistan's great poverty, they had little interest in social, economic and technological development – at one time explaining that "we Muslims believe God the Almighty will feed everybody one way or another."

Their ideology was also described as being influenced by Pashtunwali tribal law, Wahhabism, and the jihadism pan-Islamism of their guest Osama bin Laden.

The Taliban considered "politics" to be against Sharia and thus did not hold elections. They were led by Mullah Mohammed Omar who was given the title "Amir al-Mu'minin" or Commander of the Faithful, and a pledge of loyalty by several hundred Taliban-selected Pashtun clergy in April 1996. Like most Islamists, the Taliban enforced strict prohibitions on women, but these were so severe – for example effectively forbidding most employment and schooling – that they created an international outcry.

The Taliban were also famous for other activities they banned – music, TV, videos, photographs, pigeons, kite-flying, beard-trimming, etc. – and for the energy and the resources which they used to enforce the bans, including hundreds perhaps thousands of religious police officers armed with "whips, long sticks and Kalashnikovs."

The Taliban also opposed Shi'ism and have been accused by human rights groups of indiscriminately killing thousands of Shia. They were also overwhelmingly Pashtun and were accused of not sharing power with the approximately 60% of Afghanis who belonged to other ethnic groups. (see: Taliban#Ideology)

The Taliban's hosting of Osama bin Laden, despite the attacks he organized against the United States, led to an American-organized attack against which drove them from power following the 9/11 attacks.Taliban are still very much alive and fighting a vigorous insurgency from bases in the frontier regions of Pakistan with suicide bombings and armed attacks being launched against NATOmarker, Afghan government targets and civilians.

Attacks on civilians

Some Islamist groups call for and/or engage in attacks on not only police/military enemies, but non-combatants as well. These groups include several mentioned above: al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya (Islamic Group) of Egypt, Islamist groups in Algeria, Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza and the West Bank, and perhaps most famously Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda group.

Both Muslims and non-Muslims have been among the targets and victims. Some of the groups have proudly proclaimed the attacks, others have been silent or denied involvement.

Justification for attacks on Muslims often comes as takfir, an implicit death threat since under traditional Sharia law the punishment for apostasy in Islam is death. Justification for attacks on non-Muslims is often the allegation that the targets had "waged war against God," are occupiers of Musilm land, or tourists unwelcome on Muslim land.

Suicide or "martyrdom operations" are a lethal technique among radical Islamists, sometimes motivated by the much disputed explanation that "God will give" those who kill themselves in the path of jihad 70 or 72 female "virgins" and "everlasting happiness."

Religious or sectarian attacks in situations where Islamists are active have been particularly serious following 2004. In Iraq, 8,262 people were killed in terror attacks in 2005 and 13,340 in 2006, although not all of theses casualties came from attacks by Islamist groups. Islamist or fundamentalist attacks are also on the increase in Afghanistan and in Pakistan, where hundreds have been killed in 2006 and 2007, although in both countries not all of the attacks have been on civilians.

Hizb ut-Tahrir

An influential international Islamist movement is the `party` Hizb ut-Tahrir, founded in 1953 by an Islamic Qadi (judge) Taqiuddin al-Nabhani. HT is unique from most other Islamist movements in that the party focuses not on local issues or on providing social services, but on unifying the Muslim world under its vision of a new Islamic caliphate spanning from North Africa and the Middle East to much of central and South Asia.

To this end it has drawn up and published a constitution for its proposed caliphate state. The constitution's 187 articles specify specific policies such as sharia law, a "unitary ruling system" headed by a caliph elected by Muslims, an economy based on the gold standard, public ownership of utilities, public transport, and energy resources, and Arabic as the "sole language of the State."

In its focus on the Caliphate, HT takes a different view of Muslim history than some other Islamists such as Muhammad Qutb. HT sees Islam's pivotal turning point as occurring not with the death of Ali, or one of the other four rightly guided Caliphs in the 7th century, but with the 1918 or 1922 abolition of the Ottoman Caliphate.

This is believed to have ended the true Islamic system, something for which it blames "the disbelieving (Kafir) colonial powers" working through Turkish modernist Mustafa Kamal.

HT does not engage in armed jihad or vote-getting, but works to take power through "ideological struggle" to change Muslim public opinion, and in particular through elites who will "facilitate" a "change of the government," i.e. launch a bloodless coup. It allegedly attempted and failed such coups in 1968 and 1969 in Jordanmarker, and in 1974 in Egyptmarker, and is now banned in both countries.

The party is sometimes described as "Leninist" and "rigidly controlled by its central leadership," with its estimated one million members required to spend "at least two years studying party literature under the guidance of mentors (Murshid)" before taking "the party oath." HT is particularly active in the ex-soviet republics of Central Asia and in Europe.

In the UKmarker its rallies have drawn thousands of Muslims, and the party is said to have outpaced the Muslim Brotherhood in both membership and radicalism.

Turkey

In Turkeymarker, something of an anomaly among Islamist movements and parties is the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi) (AKP) of Turkey headed by Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The successor to earlier Islamist parties of Necmettin ErbakanNational Order Party (Milli Nizam Partisi), National Salvation Party (Milli Selamet Partisi), Welfare Party (Refah Partisi) – AKP was the first Islamist party in history to win a free national election and form a government. In July 2007 it won 47% of the vote, (a landslide in Turkey's multiparty political landscape).

Since its victory in 2002 elections, the tensions between the AKP and those claiming secularism - the bureacracy (particularly the judiciary), the Armed Forces, and an important fraction of society, including the heterodox Alevi sect - have been on the boil. In 2008, Turkey's chief prosecutor filed a case asking that the AKP be banned for "anti-secular activities". The Constitutional Court accepted the case but decided against a ban. Instead the court ruled that the party's public financing be cut in half, as well as issue a “serious warning” that it was steering the country in too Islamic a direction.

Despite the aggressive opposition in Turkey, the AKP has been praised in the west for policies supporting "integration into the global economy, and membership in the EU," rather than aligning with Islamic countries. On the other hand, the AKP has also been criticised in the west for its alleged hidden agenda of transforming Turkey into an Islamic state and its procrastination in improving human rights, democracy, and freedom of speech in Turkey.

Ismet Özel, an ex-Marxist convert and the most prominent Islamist intellectual, argued that it was Atatürk’s reforms that, ironically Islamicized Turkey by forcing people to internalize and value their religious identity and not simply take it for granted as in the past.He has drawn upon his knowledge of Western philosophy, Marxist sociology, and radical Islamist political theory to advocate a modern Islamic perspective that does not hesitate to criticize genuine societal ills while simultaneously remaining faithful to the ethical values and spiritual dimensions of religion.

He says "As a political system in Turkey, socialism is possible, Turkism is probable, Islam is certain."

London

Greater Londonmarker has over 600,000 Muslims, (most of South Asian origins and concentrated in the East Londonmarker boroughs of Newhammarker, Tower Hamletsmarker and Waltham Forestmarker), and among them are some Muslims with a strong Islamist outlook. Their presence, combined with a perceived British policy of allowing them free rein, - heightened by exposes such as the 2007 Channel 4 documentary programme Undercover Mosque - has given rise to the term Londonistan. Following the 9/11 attacks, however, Abu Hamza al-Masri, the imam of the Finsbury Park Mosquemarker, and others were interned without charge which has caused many Islamists to leave the UK to avoid internment.

A February 2006 demonstration in London protesting the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons, featured banners calling for Muslims to "Behead those who insult Islam." Five of the protesters were later arrested.

Among the small minority of Muslims who hold the position that Western military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq justify attacks on civilians in Western countries (often considered to be terrorism), include the perpetrators of several bombing and planned bombing, the most deadly being the 21 July 2005 London bombingsmarker.

Criticism

Islamism has been criticised for: repression of free expression and individual rights, rigidity, hypocrisy, lack of true understanding of Islam, misinterpreting the Quran and Sunna, and for innovations to Islam (bid‘ah), notwithstanding Islamists' proclaimed opposition to any such innovation.

Action against

Several governments, including the U.S. government have engaged in efforts to counter Islamism, or violent Islamism, since 2001. These efforts were centered in the U.S. around public diplomacy programs conducted by the State Department. There have been calls to create an independent agency in the U.S. with a specific mission of undermining Islamism and jihadism. Christian Whiton, an official in the George W. Bush administration, called for a new agency focused on the nonviolent practice of "political warfare" aimed at undermining the ideology. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates called for establishing something similar to the defunct U.S. Information Agency, which was charged with undermining the communist ideology during the Cold War.

Post 9/11 Issues

It is important to distinguish between Islamists and Islamist terrorists: "While ignoring the overwhelming majority of Islamists who have nothing to do with terror and making them virtually irrelevant and stigmatized in Western political discourse ... To ignore the complexity of political Islam and tar all Islamists with the same brush of terrorism guarantees Bin Laden's success." International Crisis Group warns that the tendency of "policy-makers ... to lump all forms of Islamism together, brand them as radical and treat them as hostile ... is fundamentally misconceived." Furthermore, it states:
“...the issues and grievances which have been grist to the mill of Sunni jihadism across the Muslim world have not been resolved or even appreciably attenuated since 2001, but, on the contrary, aggravated and intensified.
The failure to address the Palestinian question and, above all, the decision to make war on Iraq and the even more extraordinary mishandling of the post-war situation there have unquestionably motivated and encouraged jihadi activism across the Muslim world.
Unsophisticated Western understanding and rhetoric that tends to discredit all forms of political Islamism, coupled with the lumping together of the internal, irredentist and global jihadis...”


Other countries

In the 1990s, Islamist conflicts erupted around the world. In 1995 a series of terrorist attacks were launched against France. Malaysia is described as a "soft" Islamist state, whereas Iran is considered a "hard" Islamist state.

A considerable effort has been made to fight against Western targets, especially the United Statesmarker. The United States, in particular, was made a target of Islamist fire because of its support for Israel, its presence on Saudi Arabian soil, what Islamists regard as its aggression against Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan, and because of its support of the regimes that Islamists oppose.

In addition, some Islamists have concentrated their activity against Israel, and nearly all Islamists view Israel with hostility. Osama bin Laden, at least, believes that this is of necessity due to the historical conflict between Muslims and Jews, and believes that there is a Jewish/American alliance against Islam.

On the other extreme (i.e. the moderate end) of the Islamist movement, the Muhammadiyah movement in Indonesia has stated that it is concerned with "far more important issues than the application of Sharia," namely strengthening the education, health, economy and society of that Muslim nation, a task they maintain represents "the greater Shari'a" or path of God.

Other moderate Islamist groups include the Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) in Moroccomarker which supports King Muhammad VI's "Mudawana," a progressive family law which grants women the right to a divorce, raises the minimum age for marriage to 18, and, in the event of separation, stipulates equal distribution of property. Muslim Brothers in Jordanmarker condemned the Iraq War, while their comrades in Iraq sat in the Iraqi government.

There is some debate as to how influential Islamist movements remain. Some scholars assert that Islamism is a fringe movement which is dying, following the clear failures of Islamist regimes like the regime in Sudan, the Habitué's Saudi regime and the Deobandi Taliban to improve the lot of Muslims.

However, others (such as Ahmed Rashid and Graham E. Fuller) feel that the Islamists still command considerable support and cite the fact that Islamists in Pakistan and Egypt regularly win 10 to 30 percent in electoral polls, despite the fact that they are prosecuted and that many believe the polls are rigged against them.

Islamist movements

Country or scope Movement or movements
International Al-Qaida Muslim Brotherhood Jamaat-e-Islami Hizb ut-Tahrir Afghanistanmarker Taliban Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin Algeriamarker Groupe Islamique Armé Islamic Salvation Front Groupe Salafiste pour la Prédication et le Combat Bahrainmarker Al Wefaq Al Asalah Egyptmarker Gama'at Islamiya Socialist Labour Party Egyptian Islamic Jihad Lebanonmarker Hezbollah Iraqimarker Kurdistanmarker Islamic Movement in Kurdistan Islamic Group of Kurdistan Islamic Union of Kurdistan Iranianmarker Kurdistanmarker Khabat Palestinian territoriesmarker Hamas Somaliamarker Islamic Courts Union Al-Shabaab South Asia Jamaat-e-Islami Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Lashkar-e-Taiba


See also



References

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  86. Mawdudi trained with two Deobandi ulama at the Fatihpuri mosque’s seminary in Delhi and received his certificates to teach religious sciences (ijazahs) in 1926. Bonney, R, “Jihad: From Qur’an to Bin Laden”, Palgrave Macmillan, Hampshire, 2004, p. 201
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  95. Maududi on social justice: "a man who owns a car can drive it; and those who do not own one should walk; and those who are crippled cannot walk but can hop along" (Nizam al-Hayat fi al-Islam, 1st ed., n.d. (Bayrut: Musassast al-Risalah, 1983), p.54) See also Radical Islamic Fundamentalism: the Ideological and Political Discourse of Sayyid Qutb by Ahmad S. Moussalli American University of Beirut, (1992)
  96. The Message of the Teachings – Hasan al-Banna
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  98. Free Republic. The day before, and after – It's been 25 years since the Islamist genie first went on the rampage
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  102. [4] Fawaz A. Gerges, The Far Enemy: Why Jihad Went Global (Bronxville, N.Y.: Sarah Lawrence College) prologue
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  110. Hokumat-e Islami: Velayat-e faqih #Criticism
  111. What Happens When Islamists Take Power? The Case of Iran
  112. "The Western Mind of Radical Islam" by Daniel Pipes, First Things, December 1995
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  117. Bakhash, Shaul, The Reign of the Ayatollahs, Basic Books, (c1984), p.233
  118. "Hezbollah is coy about revealing the sums it has received from Iran. ... Reports have spoken of figures ranging from 5 to 10 million dollars per month, but it is possible that Hezbollah has received larger sums. It is only in recent years (after 1989) that Iran has decreased its aid." from: Jaber, Hala, Hezbollah: Born with a vengeance, New York: Columbia University Press, (c1997), p.150
  119. 'Removing Saddam strengthened Iran' Quote: "They went directly for the kind of things that make them very unpopular in the West and very popular on the Arab streets. So Iranian President [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad started to attack Israel and question the Holocaust."
  120. Ahmadinejad: Wipe Israel off map OCTOBER 28, 2005
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  143. For example, in 1998 feminist groups in the United States applied serious pressure on the Unocal oil company to end its relationship with the Taliban regime. Rashid, Taliban, (2000), p.174
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  152. ... increasing number of armed attacks that either target civilians or are launched without regard for the impact on civilian life
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  160. Fuller, Graham E., The Future of Political Islam, Palgrave MacMillan, (2003), p.11
  161. Turkey's ruling party claims win assessed 1.9.2007
  162. Turkish Court Calls Ruling Party Constitutional By SABRINA TAVERNISE and SEBNEM ARSU, July 31, 2008
  163. Turkey's Justice and Development Party: A Model for Democratic Islam? assessed 1.9.2007
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  172. NOVEMBER 30, 2008, 1:36 P.M. ET Information Warfare Matters
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  174. Graham E Fuller, The Future of Political Islam, p.83
  175. Cohen, Stephen Philip, The Idea of Pakistan, Brookings Institution Press, (2004), p.297
  176. Fuller, Graham E., The Future of Political Islam, Palgrave MacMillan, (2003), p.199
  177. There are Jamaats in India, Pakistan and followers of Wahhabism.
  178. Pakistan's premier spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, created Lashkar-e-Taiba now supported by al Qaeda


Further reading

  • Ankerl, Guy Coexisting Contemporary Civilizations: Arabo-Muslim, Bharati, Chinese and Western. INU Press,Geneva, 2000. ISBN 2-88155-004-5
  • Hassan, Riaz Inside Muslim Minds Melbourne University Press, 2008
  • Hassan, Riaz Faithlines: Muslim Conceptions of Islam and Society Oxford University Press, 2002
  • Fuller, Graham E., The Future of Political Islam, Palgrave MacMillan, (2003)
  • " On Suicide Bombings" by Talal Asad
  • A Fundamental Fear: Eurocentrism and Emergence of Islamism' by S. Sayyid, London: Zed Press.
  • The Al Qaeda Connection: International Terrorism, Organized Crime, And the Coming Apocalypse by Paul L. Williams
  • Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam by Gilles Kepel
  • The War for Muslim Minds by Gilles Kepel
  • Gilles Kepel, The Roots of Radical Islam London: Saqi, 2005 (originally published in French as Le Prophete et Pharaon, 1984)
  • Paul Berman: Terror And Liberalism W. W. Norton & Company, New York 2003
  • Robert Dreyfuss: Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam. Henry Holt/Metropolitan Books, November 2005
  • Philip S. Khoury:, "Islamic Revival and the Crisis of the Secular State in the Arab World: an Historical Appraisal." in Arab Resources: The Transformation of a Society. ed. I. Ibrahim. London: Croom Helm, 1983.
  • Mandaville, Peter: "Transnational Muslim Politics", (2001), London: Routledge.
  • Bernard Lewis: The Emergence of Modern Turkey London, Oxford University Press, 1961
  • Beverley Milton-Edwards: Islamic fundamentalism since 1945. London: Routledge, 2005
  • Nazih Ayubi, Political Islam (London: Routledge, 1991).
  • John Esposito, Voices of Resurgent Islam Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983.
  • John Esposito, The Islamic Threat: Myth or Reality Oxford: Oxford University Press 1992.
  • John Esposito and Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad, Islam, Gender, and Social Change.
  • Fred Halliday, Islam and the Myth of Confrontation London: I.B. Tauris, 1996.
  • Khomeini, Ruhollah (1981). Algar, Hamid (translator and editor). Islam and Revolution: Writing and Declarations of Imam Khomeini. Berkeley: Mizan Press.
  • Mayer, Ann Elizabeth, "The Fundamentalist Impact on Law, Politics and Constitution in Iran, Pakistan and the Sudan", In: Fundamentalism and the State, Martin Marty & S. Appleby (eds.)


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