Behind the Veil of Fundamentalism

By Hussein, Mahmoud | UNESCO Courier, December 1994 | Go to article overview

Behind the Veil of Fundamentalism


Hussein, Mahmoud, UNESCO Courier


For the moment the splits in Islamic societies are encouraging a return to the reassuring certainties of the fundamentalist message. How long will it last?

It is impossible to appreciate the real danger of fundamentalism if it is reduced, as it often is, to its excesses, to the manifestations of a blind and criminal terrorism, which is only its extreme outcome. This political nebula is actually divided into many tendencies, some of which, although they may be less barbaric, are not necessarily reassuring. For this reason it is important to grasp the inner logic of fundamentalism, especially those aspects of it that may seem attractive. For fundamentalism has a message, part of which responds in the modern world to unsatisfied expectations.

The fundamentalists, although themselves divided into more and less radical wings, find the climate particularly favourable to their development in countries where the powers-that-be appear to most people to be iniquitous and to be leading to the accelerated dissolution of links of social and cultural cohesion as a result of an uncontrolled opening up towards the world market and a dualization of society. In this context, some people adopt Western interests and ways of life whilst others feel excluded from them.

Thus the very identity of these countries is at stake. And it is questions like "What has become of us?" and "Where are we going?" that enable fundamentalists to articulate a global and radical approach. Their discourse is a political one. It would like to think of itself as submissive to God but not to the order of things. It is anti-Western and anti-modernistic, but it would like to think of itself, paradoxically, as anti-archaic. It rejects the fatalism of the traditional brotherhoods just as it rejects the conformism of the religious authorities associated with power.

The absence of a precise message consisting of clear and evaluated objectives does not weaken this discourse--the religious content fills the vacuum. The function of this content is not to provide a programme but an incantation; its purpose is not to resolve but to exorcise. It is not primarily aimed at reason but at blind faith. At a time when no one knows precisely what form the future may take, the strength of fundamentalism lies in its ability to promise radical change without having to specify its outlines--since God is claimed as its guarantor.

The emergence of the modern individual

In this context, what are the current prospects for those who preach secular and republican ideals? Some have immersed themselves in the study of the sacred texts in the search for quotations, metaphors and arguments to support the democratic ideas they put forward. They are fighting from a position of weakness on their opponents' own ground, ideologically and psychologically trapped.

As for those who openly defend--sometimes even at the risk of their lives--a vision clearly based on values such as the separation of the temporal and the spiritual, equality of status for all religions away from the political sphere, the freedom of the governed to choose those who will govern them, they are, quite obviously, in the minority.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Behind the Veil of Fundamentalism
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.