Some Thoughts on Islamic Fundamentalism

By Bullough, Vern L. | Free Inquiry, Spring 1995 | Go to article overview

Some Thoughts on Islamic Fundamentalism


Bullough, Vern L., Free Inquiry


One of the after-effects of the collapse of communism has been the growing influence of fundamentalism. In fact, some of the same forces that in the past led to the growth of communism have now resulted in individuals embracing fundamentalism. This is particularly true in the Islamic world, which has been undergoing a period of rapid change over the past fifty years. Though Westernization and modernization have benefitted many, particularly members of the upper economic and professional classes, it has unsettled even larger numbers. When such changes took place in the United States and other Western countries in the nineteenth and first part of the twentieth centuries, it gave rise to movements ranging from secular socialism to the rebirth of Protestant fundamentalism, to utopian dreaming.

For a time, communism seemed to be the movement of the future, and many fell under its sway. Communism differs from fundamentalism in its ultimate worldview. It looked to the future rather than the past. Communism claimed to accept the modern world but hoped to make it more egalitarian. Fundamentalists, for their part, have responded to the crises of today by attempting to turn the clock back.

With the weakening not only of communism but of democratic socialism, it is easy to understand why Islamic fundamentalism with its simplistic answers appears to be so attractive. The communist alternative seems no longer viable to most, and Islam never had the utopian tradition of the West. Fundamentalism, however, is stronger than it might otherwise have been, particularly in Islamic third-world countries, because the United States' fear of communism led it to support any alternative, including fundamentalism, which previously had been only a fringe movement. The United States also had another reason for supporting fundamentalism - namely, vast quantities of Arab oil, mostly in more conservative Arabic countries such as Saudi Arabia - and it did not want to threaten the American investments there.

The result was that money from both the U.S. government and U.S. businesses (as well as those of some other Western countries) supported Islamic fundamentalism. The most noticeable result of this effort was the defeat of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan by a coalition of forces, made up mostly of Islamic fundamentalists. The defeat caused tremendous disillusionment in the Soviet Union.

In Egypt, when Nasser broke with the United States over its refusal to build the Aswan Dam, he turned to the Soviets. American policy makers saw the Islamic fundamentalists, whom Nasser opposed, as an irritant in his side. Fundamentalists were also seen as a potential source of opposition to Khadafi in Libya. Even in countries that were friendly to us, as Egypt later came to be, and as the Shah in Iran was, we gave refugee status to fundamentalists who opposed them, in part to curry favor with the conservative Arab powers.

Similar action was taken by France regarding regimes in French-speaking North Africa and by England with many parts of its former empire. In fact, Islamic fundamentalism thrived in France, in England, and to some extent in the United States, and the fundamentalists funneled money and arms to their compatriots back home, often assisted by the Central Intelligence Agency as in Oliver North's arms deals. As the United States began to slowly awaken to the dangers of its policy with the assassination of Sadat in Egypt and the fall of the Shah in Iran, it began to withdraw some support. The United States supported Saddam Hussein and his efforts against Islamic fundamentalists. It also took some tentative steps toward ending our long dispute with Syria. Since both Iraq and Syria claimed to be "secular" states, this marked some change in our policy. Even when Saddam Hussein attacked Kuwait, the United States government was reluctant to force him to resign, fearful that his removal would make fundamentalist Iran more dangerous. …

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 ...
Default project is now your active project.
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

Some Thoughts on Islamic Fundamentalism
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
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

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.