Definition:
Islamist, Islamiste, Islamicist


Definition: Islamism, Islamist, Islamiste, Islamicist
The term Islamist was adapted from the French term Islamiste, replacing the term Islamicist that was previously in use in the English language.1 1 Translator's note, Gilles Kepel, The Prophet and Pharaoh.
Islamism is an umbrella term commonly applied to a variety of Islamic movements that are actually quite diverse. Examples of movements commonly grouped under the 'Islamist' heading are Saudi Wahhabism, al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hizb ut-Tahrir, the Taliban and less militant Muslim groups. Sometimes the term is used so broadly as to include the revolutionary doctrine of the Iranian regime (a radical form of Shi'ism).
The most useful definition of Islamism is encapsulated in the synonym 'Political Islam', which refers to those political movements that treat Islam as their political ideology. Indeed,
This definition differentiates Islamism from secular political groupings such as socialism and from mainstream/traditional Islam, which does not treat the Islamic scriptures as a blueprint for political theory. The term Islamism does not necessarily imply militancy.
Aside from the term's utility as an umbrella term where it is unclear to what theory a particular group or individual subscribes, lumping together very different groups under the heading of Islamism can lead to confusion by implying that Wahhabism, the Taliban and the Salafis of al-Qaeda constitute an ideologically homogeneous wing of Islam. In fact, Wahhabism is a form of neo-Hanbali Islamic Revivalism, the Taliban is a debased form of Hanafism and many radical Salafis actually reject the division of Sunni Islam into madhhabs (such as Hanbalism and Hanafism).
Author Trevor Stanley
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See AlsoShirk, tawhid, takfiri.


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Copyright 2005 Trevor Stanley, PWHCE