The Dual Nature of Islamic Fundamentalism

By Yavuz, M. Hakan | The Middle East Journal, Summer 1998 | Go to article overview

The Dual Nature of Islamic Fundamentalism


Yavuz, M. Hakan, The Middle East Journal


The Dual Nature of Islamic Fundamentalism, by Johannes J.G. Jansen. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997. xvii + 180 pages.

Notes to p. 191. Index to p. 198. $29.95.

This book seeks to employ "a theologian's outlook to understand what fundamentalism is about" (p. 5). By defining Islamic "fundamentalism" as "both politics and religion" (p. xi), Johannes Jansen identifies avowed Islamic theologic doctrines and ideas, rather than socio-political conditions, as the causes of fundamentalism.

The essence of Jansen's thesis is that Islamic fundamentalists believe they could restore an "Islamic golden age" if only they could fully implement Islamic law. Such implementation is seen as both a religious and a political obligation. The fundamentalists argue that since existing governments are an obstacle to the full implementation of Islamic law, it is a religious duty to overthrow these governments in order to institute an Islamic government. Using Egypt as his case study, Jansen diligently and successfully cites many examples that dovetail neatly with his portrayal of fundamentalism.

Jansen argues that "Islamic fundamentalism is very much a creation of an Islamic religious imagination" (p. 5). Since both the interpretation and imagination of Islam are debated and contested in different temporal and spatial dimensions, Jansen selects those views that best fit his explanatory scheme. There is little room in his argument for Muslim scholars who present more pluralist views of Islam, such as Taha al-'Alwani and Muhammad 'Umara. Moreover, academics such as Nazih Ayubi, Dale F. Eickelman and Sami Zubayda have demonstrated that the phenomenon of "fundamentalism" is a modern invention and has no deterministic roots in Islam as a religion.

Jansen rightly indicates that there is a small yet noteworthy group of Muslim fundamentalists who seek to impose on the rest of society their vision of truth. This, however, cannot fully explain the politicization of Islamic idioms and symbols. If Jansen's only goal is to examine fundamentalists who "derive the right to kill from the traditional Islamic rules concerning apostasy from Islam" (p. 23), he should have constructed their position vis-a-vis pluralist Muslims. Indeed, there are fundamentalists who believe that Islam as a religiopolitical system can solve all human problems. Islam, for fundamentalists, becomes a totalitarian regime of truth to decide what is right and wrong. This is, indeed, a dangerous illusion. By examining the apostasy cases of Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd and Faraj Fuda, and the issues of female circumcision and anti-Semitism, Jansen demonstrates the way in which some fundamentalists use Islam to control public morality and to establish the rules of governance. At times resorting to fanaticism and violence, they play a part not only in preventing the evolution of a civic culture, but also in undermining Islamic values of tolerance, mercy and self-reflection. Jansen, however, fails to consider seriously that despotic political systems, cynically claiming to represent Western values, worsen the distribution of income and use appalling violence to suppress virtually all demands for political reform and for accountability, resulting in the radicalization of some Islamist movements which then resort to the ruthless logic of their foes. …

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

The Dual Nature of 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

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.