Stream: International and Comparative Politics Refereed: Yes Islamic Fundamentalism: Myth and Reality Confronted?



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Dr Zaniah Marshallsay

School of International Studies



University of South Australia

zaniah.marshallsay@unisa.edu.au
Stream: International and Comparative Politics
Refereed: Yes
Islamic Fundamentalism: Myth and Reality Confronted?
Language is power, and terms consistently used take on a reality that truth belies. Thus with the term Islamic fundamentalism, which has been bandied about and used lightly and interchangeably with Islamism, Political Islam, Radical Islam, and even Islamic terrorism. But, do they mean the same thing? In much of the literature (including media reports) on Islam and the political activities of certain Muslims, the tendency is to depict the phenomenon of fundamentalism as the spectre of religious fanaticism which gives rise to terrorism, and in the process induces fear of Islam, the religion. Subsuming the various Islamic movements (political, social, cultural, economic and local) under the general rubric of Islamic fundamentalist movements blinds us to the divergencies, internal divisions and evolutionary nature of the various groups.
This paper argues for the need to make specific distinctions in the usage of terms/words such as Islamic fundamentalism, Islamism, political Islam among others so that their meanings, connotations and limitations are made clear. The aim of this paper then is to review the concept of fundamentalism and how Islamic fundamentalism fits into the general understanding of fundamentalism, and that correct terminology be used in discussing movements that are more radical and militant in their orientation and activities. The major concepts and issues that are the main points of contestation between conventional understanding of Islam and Islamism and the success of the Islamists in projecting their version of Islam indicate the need to challenge and recognize the militant and radical vision as just another voice in the complex and diverse myriad of voices, visions and missions of Muslims in general.


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