Islamic Fundamentalism And Modernity

August 2018 ยท 3 minute read

This review explores the ideas put forward by A.S. Khan about Islamic Fundamentalism. By showing that Islamic Fundamentalism is not a monolithic affair - there are many different movements and states of Islamic Fundamentalism in terms of the application of Islamic values, governance and attitude towards the West, the book allows the reader to see beyond the common belief that ‘Fundamentalism’ in Islam leaves little or no place for peaceful relations. By going through the discourses given by several fundamentalists, one is given basis and solid arguments behind the concepts and points made in the various chapters.

Audience for the Book:

The audience for this book is widespread, and it is difficult to finger one or two targeted groups since the book explains the meaning of Islamic Fundamentalism by delving into its history and outlining its adherents over time. It also analyzes what Islamic fundamentalists believe and want.

Content Thesis:

Islamic Fundamentalism is a phenomenon that has evolved in two phases since the beginning of Islam. The author interprets the First phase as the positive phase - where Islamic Fundamentalism was looked upon as an optimistic and exemplary period, to be studied and put to practical use in the present. At the same time, the second phase took a complete U-Turn and the period is marked as one of decline. It constitutes corruption, loss of territory, military defeat and the advent of Western colonialism. The reason of the stark change and loss in this phase is attributed to the loss of religious piety and faith.

The author consequently takes a journey through history to trace the roots and evolution of Islamic Fundamentalism and how it has changed over centuries - its perceptions and its consequences. He argues that the advent of fundamentalism was a consequence of the failure of Muslims in resolving their problems in the face of an ever changing modern world. Muslims simply stood watch as non-Muslim influences eroded their religious values, culture and polity. Asadullah Ali al-Andalusi of moral and political decay became the happening in the public and private lives of Muslims. The environment that thus dominated the world of Muslims ‘fractionalized the Islamic Community through the creation of both imperially imposed national boundaries and a westernized upper class alienated from its own Muslim cultural roots. ’ As a result, the true Muslim values and dictates lay forgotten somewhere in the pages of history.

One must not however, confuse Islamic Fundamentalism with a simple belief or culture dominant in the Islamic World - the author points out. It has, over the centuries and its evolution, found itself as a sociopolitical force that has often displayed revolutionary tendencies. As such, it is habituated by the process of multi-faceted dialectical relationships, and nine such have been identified by the author. Select examples are Secularism vs. Theocracy, Establishment Islam vs. Fundamentalist Islam, Sufi Islam vs. Fundamentalist Unity, etc.