Islamic Fundamentalism: An Introduction

By Lawrence Davidson | Go to book overview

Preface

Islam is one of the most rapidly growing religions in the world, and Islamic fundamentalism is one of its more forceful manifestations. The violent activities and pronouncements of a small number of Islamic fundamentalists often appear in our newspapers, news magazines, and television reports, yet Islamic fundamentalism is a phenomenon that continues to be little understood. Perhaps because this is so, it is increasingly feared. This book seeks to give a clear picture of what Islamic fundamentalism is by explaining its history and identifying its adherents over time. It also seeks to analyze what Islamic fundamentalists believe and what they want.

Chapter 1 presents a brief history of the Muslim people, as one of the basic factors shaping the perceptions and goals of all Islamic fundamentalists is their reading of Muslim history. This chapter also describes how Islamic fundamentalists see their contemporary situation and what reforms they want to bring about.

With this foundation laid, Chapter 2 describes the first successful modern Islamic fundamentalist organization, the Society of the Muslim Brothers. In many ways, this organization has inspired most of today’s Islamic fundamentalists, as well as providing them with lessons on what can be expected when Islamic reformers come up against hostile and resistant governments.

Chapters 3 and 4 examine two cases of functioning Islamic states. The first is the Islamic Republic of Iran. Established by a revolution in 1979, the subsequent evolution of Iranian society has been

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