, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 59-73
Date: 28 Jan 2011

The Terrorist War against Islam: Clarifying Academic Confusions

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Pseudo-Salafism and Wahhabism

Since the terrorist atrocities of September 11, 2001, Westerners have been challenged to understand the ideological and theological concepts, derived from Islam, that motivated the actions of Al-Qaida on that day and in other attacks before and since. Differences in taxonomy have proven to be a major issue. In my view, it is insufficient to assign to the terrorists an “Islamist” intent.

Although “Islamism” and “political Islam” are widely used to designate radicalism in the religion, neither has been provided by scholars with a precise meaning. In the past, “Islamism” was generally applied to the religion of Islam, somewhat like the terms Judaism and Christianism (the latter used more in French and other continental European literature than in English). “Islamism” may be defined as the transmutation of religion into ideology, but except for the analytic historiography of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, relatively little has been done to explain how this proc