The Balanced Nation: Islam and the Challenges of Extremism, Fundamentalism, Islamism and Jihadism

Abstract

As will be made clear below, the terms extremism, fundamentalism, Islamism and Jihadism are often used interchangeably by the public, something that has negative implications for both the integration of the Muslim community into Western society, and the efficacy of counter-extremism efforts. This paper aims to provide working for these terms by understanding them independent from their misinformed socio-political contexts, and by determining how they relate to one another in what will be identified as a series of conceptual subsets (See Fig. 1). In doing so, this paper will attempt to provide a framework for the usage of these terms in the governmental, academic, and public contexts, while removing some of the noise surrounding the important, and often highly sensitive contexts within which these terms are referenced. In this paper, religious extremism will defined as an ideological prerequisite to fundamentalism, Islamism and jihadism. It is a rejectionist, and dogmatic orientation that neglects balance in all elements of an individual’s ideological outlook. However, a fundamentalist, when defined in terms of faith, seeks to legitimise his or her beliefs through a non-contextual analysis of the relevant religious texts. An Islamist seeks to implement his or her fundamentalist views (that are by necessity, extremist) with a view to altering the structures of governance in accordance with the aforementioned rejectionist traits. Finally, and in relatively simple terms, a jihadist is an individual that champions the violent, global imposition of the Islamists’ beliefs. Jihadism is a subset of Islamism, Islamism is a subset of fundamentalism, and fundamentalism is a subset of extremism.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    http://lexicon.ft.com/Term?term=globalisation

  2. 2.

    Indeed, for many extremist Muslims in the West, there is a sort of phobic reaction towards modernity and its technology, especially when these are made manifest in entertainment, something that, in the Islamic extremist’s skewed worldview, is opposed to a life of worship. Cf. Hasan (2012)

  3. 3.

    For a close study of the role identity has in the so-called radicalisation process, see (Al-Raffie 2013).

  4. 4.

    For a comprehensive history of Protestant fundamentalism in North America, see (Marsden 2006).

  5. 5.

    For more on secularisation theory, see (Weber 1946).

  6. 6.

    However, it is worth noting that, in an Islamic context, usūlī also refers to a rigorous foundational approach in theology and jurisprudence. In that sense, it sometimes appears in a positive context.

  7. 7.

    On apostasy and blasphemy laws, see (Hasan 2013).

  8. 8.

    Fascism is an example of this: a non-religious extremist ideology with many parallels to religious extremism, characterised by a glorification of force and xenophobic hatred of an out-group, but one whose totalitarianism is not religious, in as much as it does not revolve around worship of a deity – although an existing leader often embodies this role.

  9. 9.

    For an example of this circular defamation, it is worth glancing at Berman et al. (2010).

  10. 10.

    A. Edwards was among the first to speak of islamism. See (Edwards 1913).

  11. 11.

    For an example of this sort of modern nation-state rejection, see (Taji-Farouk 2000).

  12. 12.

    This concept – known as ḥakimiyyah – was first developed by Abu al-A’la al-Mawdudi, founder of Jamaat-e-Islami. See (Mawdudi 1976).

  13. 13.

    The likes of Samuel Huntington have added fuel to this confusion. See (Huntington 2002).

  14. 14.

    This refers to regimes in and around the Middle East, and is as opposed to the Far Enemy, the rest of the world, perceived to be oppressive by dint of being un-Islamic or anti-islamist. For a more in-depth explanation, see (Gerges 2009).

  15. 15.

    The Arabic text of Tunisia’s new constitution, in which there is no mention of sharī’ah, is available on http://www.marsad.tn/constitution.

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Winter, C., Hasan, U. The Balanced Nation: Islam and the Challenges of Extremism, Fundamentalism, Islamism and Jihadism. Philosophia 44, 667–688 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11406-015-9634-2

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Keywords

  • Islam
  • Extremism
  • Radicalisation
  • Fundamentalism
  • Islamism
  • Jihadism
  • Qur’an
  • Hadith
  • Islamic political philosophy