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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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)
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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.
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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
- Islamic political philosophy