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UNDERSTANDING RADICAL / FUNDAMENTALIST ISLAM

Fundamentalist Islam presents itself, on the one hand, as an intensified reaffirmation of faith in a transcendent God. But on the other hand, it is a militant ideology, demanding political action now. In one instance it takes the form of a populist party, asking for ballots. Showing another face, its spokesmen, evoking deep, longstanding historical resentments against the West, call for bullets. The moralists of fundamentalism pour scorn on Western consumer culture as debilitating to Islam, yet its strategists avidly seek to buy the West’s latest technologies in order to strengthen Islam.

Fundamentalist Islam remains an enigma precisely because it has confounded all attempts to divide it into tidy categories. “Revivalist” becomes “extremist” (and vice versa) with such rapidity and frequency that the actual classification of any movement or leader has little predictive power. They will not stay put. This is because fundamentalist Muslims, for all their “diversity,” orbit around one central idea: Islam must have power in this world. It is the true religion—the religion of God—and its truth is manifest in its power. When Muslims believed, they were powerful. Their power has been lost in modern times because true Islam has been abandoned. But if Muslims now return to the original Islam, they can preserve and even restore their power.

That return, to be effective, must be comprehensive and must accept one basic principle: Islam provides the one and only solution to all questions in this world, from public policy to private conduct. It is not merely a religion, in the Western sense of a system of belief in God. It possesses an immutable law, revealed by God, that deals with every aspect of life, and it is an ideology, a complete system of belief about the organization of the state and the world. This law and ideology can only be implemented through the establishment of a truly Islamic state. The empowerment of Islam, which is God’s plan for mankind, is a sacred end and can be pursued by any means necessary. At various times, these have included persuasion, guile, and violence.


Adapted from "Fundamentalist Islam: The Drive for Power," (Martin Kramer, 1997).

RESOURCES:

Fundamentalist Islam: The Drive for Power
By Martin Kramer
1997

Ballots and Bullets: Islamists and the Relentless Drive for Power
By Martin Kramer
1997

Reform vs. Islamism in the Arab World Today
By Menahem Milson
September 15, 2004

The Mismeasure of Political Islam
By Martin Kramer
1997

Coming to Terms: Fundamentalists or Islamists?
By Martin Kramer
2003

The Roots of Muslim Rage
By Bernard Lewis
September 1990

Radical Islam’s Goal Is Global Conquest
By Andrew G. Bostom
July 2, 2007

The Study of Political Islam
Interview with Bill Warner
February 5, 2007

Antisemitism in Islam's Foundational Texts
By Andrew G. Bostom
November 18, 2008

Understanding the Islam in Islamic Antisemitism
By Andrew G. Bostom
November 17, 2008

The Real Roots of Islamic Extremism
By Stephen Schwartz
May 22, 2003

Saudi Arabia's Export Of Radical Islam (3-Part Series)
By Adrian Morgan
January 2007

Who is the True Godfather of Islamic Fundamentalism?
By Adrian Morgan
July 30, 2007

Jihad and Jew-Hatred
By Jamie Glazov
February 21, 2008

Britain Bans Freedom Fighters
By Robert Spencer
June 27, 2013

My Name is Bosch and I’m a Recovered Muslim
By Bosch Fawstin
May 27, 2013

Islam: A Threat to World Stability (see pages 24-34)
By The Military Intelligence Division, U.S. War Department
February 14, 1946


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