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Emin Poljarevic
The Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and Politics What is This? Provides in-depth coverage of the political dimensions of Islam and the Muslim world through thematic examination of the major topic areas of political science as they relate to the Muslim world.


Islamism is one of many sociopolitical concepts continuously contested in scholarly literature. It is a neologism debated in both Muslim and non-Muslim public and academic contexts. The term “Islamism” at the very least represents a form of social and political activism, grounded in an idea that public and political life should be guided by a set of Islamic principles. In other words, Islamists are those who believe that Islam has an important role to play in organizing a Muslim-majority society and who seek to implement this belief. As such, Islamist activism is a public manifestation of religiously informed political will, often expressed as resistance to various types of competing ideas, policies, and even lifestyles. The ideological dimension of Islamism has developed primarily during the second half of the twentieth century.

The primary method of diffusion of activists’ ideas has always been through the persuasion of the Muslim masses—daʿwah or tarbīyah. This form of awareness-raising campaigns has been used by virtually all Islamist groups, be they violent (radical) or nonviolent (moderate). Increasingly, many Islamist groups have adjusted their claims to sociopolitical realities in various political contexts, translating these claims through liberal and human rights discourse. Many of the organizations have toned down their previous emphasis on the past, resulting in increased popular support and gradual Islamization of the political discourse centering on democratization of their societies. Most notably, Islamists have become increasingly aware of the sociopolitical and economic “needs” of the populations they addressed. They have responded by organizing social welfare and education programs, as well as political parties and lobby associations. Such organizations are frequently labeled as moderate Islamists.

Other organizations are reactionary in their approach to social change. Many of these groups tend to employ violence to achieve their goals. Their ideas for the transformation of contemporary Muslim majority societies into ideal Islamic polities are frequently linked with some form of coercion. Some of the contemporary reactionary organizations are located in places that have experienced protracted periods of violence before the emergence of Islamist ideas. Such groups are often labeled as radical Islamists because they demonstrate little interest in adjusting their ideological claims to the political realities of their respective locations. An explicit trait of intransigent groups in this category is the ideology of takfīr, excommunicating or pronouncing their Muslim opponents as unbelievers.

Early Islamic Revivalist Movements.

Islamism's political dimension is complex and is largely attached to its supporters’ identity politics. Nevertheless, Islamist ideas are to a great extent a part of Muslim modernism, which can be traced back for more than a century. Islamism has its roots in the late nineteenth century, when a number of Muslim intellectual movements were formed. These were essentially the intellectual elites’ response to the political decline of the Ottoman Empire and the subsequent strengthening of colonial control of Muslim societies by European imperial powers. One of the main early intellectuals to formulate the idea of Islamic revival was Jamāl al-Dīn al-Afghānī (d. 1897). He promoted the idea of the restoration of Muslim-majority societies’ scientific and cultural vitality. His activism was directed primarily toward developing an Islamic response to European secularism and materialism. As a methodological tool for revival, al-Afghānī proposed ijtihād, a process of deductive reasoning derived from the Islamic legal tradition. Ijtihād was necessary, al-Afghānī argued, to recapture the dynamism of early Islamic intellectual life. This principle became a rallying cry of modernists across the Muslim world.

One of al-Afghani's most prominent students was Muḥammad ʿAbduh (d. 1905), an Egyptian jurist and a graduate of al-Azhar University. He was an outspoken critic of British colonial authorities, earning him exile first from Cairo (1879) and briefly from Egypt (1882). Gradually, ʿAbduh developed his own ideas of revival and distanced himself from al-Afghānī. He focused on developing a methodology of ijtihād by analyzing the legislative reasoning of the early Muslims, the so-called pious predecessors, or al-salaf al-ṣāliḥ. They had, argued ʿAbduh, been remarkably innovative in solving complex sociopolitical issues encountered through Islamic expansion, creating a new, syncretistic civilization. They were creative enough to interpret the Qurʾān in a way that was beneficial for the populations at the time. This principle, called maṣlaḥah, was central in ʿAbduh's reformist methodology and resonated well with the Egyptian conservative intelligentsia.

After his falling out with al-Afghānī, ʿAbduh was allowed to return to Cairo, where he promptly rose through the administration of the prestigious al-Azhar University, becoming an influential member of its ruling body. Soon thereafter he was installed as Egypt's highest ranking Islamic jurist (muftī). During his brief tenure ʿAbduh was able to promote his ideas of revival far and wide. In the process he started cooperating with another Islamic scholar, Muḥammad Rashīd Riḍā (d. 1935). The principal outcome of their collaboration had been establishment of the influential journal Al-Manār. ʿAbduh used the journal as a platform for furthering his revivalist agenda. ʿAbduh and Riḍā attempted to develop a non-literalist reading of Islamic sources as a way of more effective reconciliation of the Islamic tradition with the Western scientific progress. They hoped to stimulate cultural reform (iṣlāḥ) and religious moderation (iʿtidāl) in Muslim societies, which, according to them were pillars of the success of the early Islamic civilization. After Abduh's death and under the continued European colonialism of the Middle East, Riḍā gravitated towards religious conservatism as a method for cultural revival and resistance to foreign domination.

During the same period there was a parallel intellectual awakening in India. Its central figures were Sayyid Ahmad Khan (d. 1898) and Muhammad Iqbal (d. 1938). These two thinkers were concerned with largely the same issues as al-Afghānī and ʿAbduh: the sociopolitical stagnation of Muslim societies. Iqbal's primary contribution to Islamic revivalist thought is his conception of a dynamic and purposeful interpretation of the religious sources. His constant referral to the early generation of Muslims, their interpretive approach to the Qurʾān, and their cultural success matches the ideas of ʿAbduh point by point.

However, Sayyid Ahmad Khan and Muhammad Iqbal faced a political challenge at home that was peculiar to the Indian subcontinent. The large Muslim population of British India constituted a relatively small percentage of the total Indian population. Both men thought that Muslims in India would need to separate from the majority Hindu population. Iqbal strongly urged that the northwestern provinces (today's Pakistan) should be ruled by an autonomous Muslim authority in order to facilitate a viable sociocultural revival.

Muhammad Ali Jinnah (d. 1948) was the inheritor of Khan's and Iqbal's ideas and the driving force behind the formation of Pakistan. Initially, Jinnah favored Muslim-Hindu political unity, but with the tilt of the Indian independence movement toward Hindu motifs and appeals under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, Jinnah came to fear that Muslim identity and privileges would not be safeguarded in a united India and thereafter adopted Iqbal's separatist agenda. Jinnah was also wary of religious zealotry in any form. It is possible that his wariness came from the fact that he belonged to the Shīʿī Muslim minority, making him a part of a minority within the overwhelming Sunnī majority, which in turn was a small minority among a large Hindu majority.

Islamist Trajectories.

In Egypt, the early modernist discourse of ʿAbduh and Riḍā was adopted and applied by a schoolteacher named Ḥasan al-Bannā (d. 1949). In 1928 he and a group of his close associates organized a society of Muslim Brothers, one of the first Islamist social movements and, later, political organizations. Al-Bannā and the first generation of Muslim Brothers rendered their world meaningful through a process of reinterpretation of sociopolitical conditions. This was primarily done by a process of reconceptualizing modern notions of science, politics, the state, and so on, in an Islamic idiom, most prominently by linking them to the classical Islamic juridical and ethical tradition. This effort was essentially rooted in the ideas of ʿAbduh and Riḍā; however, the Brothers took those ideas a step further, organizing an educational program that they applied by forming small neighborhood groups all across Egypt. The organization quickly attracted large numbers of followers. They represented a new perspective on Islamic teachings in contrast to the traditional elite of Azharī ʿulamāʾ. Even though ʿAbduh and Riḍā were educated as traditional Islamic scholars, the overwhelming number of subsequent Islamist thinkers, such as al-Bannā, were not.

The Muslim Brotherhood's popularity depended greatly on al-Bannā's charisma and his straightforward analysis of the sociopolitical conditions of the Egyptian state. The Brotherhood's Islamist vision has traditionally been presented through a religious discourse relating contemporary problems with analogous difficulties from the Islamic past. Al-Bannā proposed solutions to many of the social problems of the time in a language that people could understand and relate to. Many different groups of people, from peasants and workers to middle-class professionals, could relate to the Islamists’ core message that social ills can be remedied through improved personal piety and effective social mobilization. The core of the Islamist message has always been an appeal to the notion of authenticity: their vision and their agenda is the true Islamic worldview as it is based in the divine sources of Islam.

Al-Bannā's articulation of the Brotherhood's overall purpose and the organization's mobilization strategies inspired many Egyptians at the time. Al-Bannā explained that the Brotherhood was guided by and organized through “a salafīyah message, a Sunnī way, a Ṣūfī truth, a political organization, an athletic group, a scientific and cultural union, an economic enterprise, and a social idea” (Mitchell, 1969, p. 14). A “salafīyah message” implies that Muslims in general and the Muslim Brotherhood specifically have a responsibility to strive for authenticity in their doctrinal beliefs and religious practices in what relates to their socio-political convictions. This had not been directly related to the reactionary salafīyah movement of the time. Authenticity alludes to conformity with the message of the Qurʾān and the practice (sunnah) of the Prophet and his pious companions (the salaf). Adherence to the sunnah is the way to revive moral values and thereby rejuvenate Islamic civilization. The emphasis on revival was important for al-Bannā, as it diminishes the need to rely on “imported” ethical values (e.g., European cultural influences, such as arts, fashion, and political traditions). Al- Bannā was here much closer to the late Riḍā's attitude towards foreign influences than ʿAbduh's reconciliatory ideas. These ideas are akin to the “Ṣūfī truth” focused on a purity of faith, introverted religious practice, and individual spiritual development; indeed, Sufism's influence on al-Bannā is evident not only in the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood but also in its organizational structure.

In the decades to come, the Brotherhood branched out to virtually every country in the region, establishing local cells of committed members loosely attached to national leaderships. Shortly after al-Bannā founded the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Abūal-Aʿlā Mawdūdī (d. 1979) began building the most important Islamist organization in South Asia, the Jamāʿat-i Islāmī. As a young contemporary of Jinnah, Mawdūdī was attracted to his use of Islamic symbols and rhetoric to mobilize the Indian Muslim masses. Mawdūdī shared Jinnah's vision of Muslim unity and cultural independence for the millions of Indian Muslims, but he viewed Jinnah as a rival and doctrinal deviant primarily because of Jinnah's scant religious credentials and openly secularist vision. Mawdūdī saw himself—not Jinnah—as the true heir to Muhammad Iqbal's legacy.

Like ʿAbduh, Mawdūdī believed that power came from the written word. He expressed his ideas for Muslim revival in the newspaper Tarjumān al-Qurʾān. His goal was to encourage a Muslim minority among the Hindu majority to create a separate polity based on the Islamic principles derived from the divine sources, the Qurʾān and the sunnah. Initially, he was supported by Iqbal, who assisted him in establishing an activist base in Punjab. Mawdūdī focused much of his attention initially on the negative impacts of colonial occupation of India. Subsequently he gave more consideration to issues of internal reform within the Muslim community as a way to establish a stabile Islamic polity.

His organization, Jamāʿat-i Islāmī, was the primary tool to reform what he considered detrimental parts of the Muslim Indian culture. These included the general public's reverence of traditional Muslim religious and landed notables. Most important, however, Mawdūdī intended to purify the Indian Muslims’ religious practices from any not found in the religious sources. A Muslim, Mawdūdī argued, is a person who is obedient to God in practice, not one who merely accepts the validity of Islamic teachings. He therefore saw the institutional process of creating a Muslim-majority state as a way of implementing his doctrinal framework. Politics was a set of practical tools for instituting the Sharīʿah-based polity. He also maintained that the separation of administrative and judicial functions of government is necessary to secure the supremacy of the Islamic legal system.

What is common among the modernist Islamist organizations has been their nonviolent, reformist, and gradualist approach to establishing the Sharīʿah-based society. Both the Muslim Brotherhood and Jamāʿat-i Islāmī consider politics as an inseparable part of the Islamic tradition; however, a framework within which politics is practiced should be delineated by religious principles. In order for such framework to function well, these groups argue, the reform process starts with education of an individual Muslim, then families, followed by social institutions and lastly political authority. The organization's strategy and structure was copied throughout the Muslim communities in the Southeast Asian region.

Similar movements exist in almost every Muslim majority country. In North African states, a variety of Islamist organizations can be found. Some, such as Morocco's Justice and Development Party, which has its roots in a small political group founded in the late 1960s, have accepted participation in parliamentary elections, much the same as the Muslim Brotherhood and Jamāʿat-i Islāmī. In Algeria, the Islamist experience has been far more volatile.

The Islamic Salvation Front, one of the major Islamist organizations, was formed in 1989 to promote the establishment of a Sharīʿah-based Algerian state. Their political discourse, similar to that of the Brothers, combined Islamic terminology with political solutions to social problems. As a result of their grassroots activism, good communication skills, and a widespread network of supporters, they swept the polls in the local elections in 1990. Their rhetoric, based on the reestablishment of Islamic-Arab identity, resonated well with the disenfranchised urban masses, especially young university graduates. The regime quickly reacted and arrested the movement's leadership before going ahead with the first round of parliamentary elections.

The Islamic Salvation Front won more votes than any other political party, including the ruling National Liberation Front. The results were quickly canceled by the regime and the Islamist party was effectively banned. The brutal civil war that followed was initially not endorsed by the organization; however, a year later (1993), a part of its leadership called for armed resistance. Soon after, several small factions of armed Islamist guerrilla groups disassociated themselves from the Islamic Salvation Front's ideology, denouncing democratic politics and the majority of the Algerian population as Muslim heretics. The most notable of these violent Islamist groups is the Armed Islamic Group. The organization can be considered a radical Islamist organization holding explicit takfīr-based ideology.

Takfīr, excommunication of a Muslim from the realm of Islam, can be found at an extreme end of the Islamist ideological spectrum. In Egypt, the Society of Muslims (later dubbed al-Takfīr wa-al-Hijrat) was formed in the early 1970s and represented an intensely reactionary view of Islamist politics. For instance, the takfīrīs’ main premise regarding the ruling regimes in Muslim-majority countries is that they are apostates because of their “un-Islamic” beliefs and political practices. This intransigent custom is not new. Ideas of takfīr can be traced to the first Muslim sectarian group, the Khawārij. The group formed about 657 CE in the midst of inter-Muslim fighting between followers of Muʿāwiyah I and ʿAlī. Their name, which means “those who secede,” was given to them by their detractors because they left ʿAlī after he agreed to arbitration with Muʿāwiyah. They understood that God decides who is right and who is wrong by giving victory and political dominance to the righteous. Because of their stringent notions of piety they declared any Muslim who committed a major sin (e.g., adultery, consumption of alcohol, rape, murder, etc.) as an apostate (kāfir), and thus subject to killing. The Khawārij, as a takfīrī sect, did not last; those who were more tolerant, such as the Ibāḍīyah and Ṣufrīyah, accepted other Muslims as muʿāhadūn (monotheists) but not muʾminūn (true believers).

In the early twenty-first century, there are very few Islamist groups who adopt the concept of takfīr in their activism. Nevertheless, these are the groups that are readily labeled as radical and reactionary, primarily due to their readiness to engage in violence against other Muslims in order to bring about sociopolitical change. Some al-Qaʿida affiliated groups certainly fall into this category, as well as the above mentioned organizations.

Another type of Islamist organization includes those who passively support other Islamists’ violence at the same time distancing themselves from violent tactics. Ḥizb al-Taḥrir (Liberation Party) is one such organization that is considered to be an Islamic party working toward the establishment of a pan-Islamic state (khilāfah). The party is, at least in part, an ideological spin-off of the Muslim Brotherhood. Its founder, Taqī al-Dīn al-Nabāhni, was a Palestinian cleric who was initially a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. The party had primarily been a response to the Muslim Brotherhood's loss of political influence in Egypt after Gamal Abdel Nasser's 1954 coup d’état. The party had based all its organizational and strategic decisions on its own interpretation of Islam, strictly staying away from liberal political jargon (e.g., human rights and democracy).

The party rejects political participation of any kind, except in an Islamic system where the Caliph would be responsible for the socio-political and economic affairs of Muslims. The organization works for the establishment of a confederate system of Muslim states, held together by the office of a khilāfah (i.e. the Prophet's, or God's, representative, depending on the interpretation). Such a confederation would essentially be governed through a Sharīʿah-rooted judiciary—thus implementing Islamic version of the rule of law. On the other hand, individual states would be free to organize their particular political systems, as long as such processes do not contradict the principles of Sharīʿah. Ḥizb al-Taḥrir could therefore be considered ideologically radical but strategically moderate. Its primary bases of popular support are in the Central Asian republics and Indonesia.

Shīʿī Islamism is likewise diverse and multifaceted, albeit more geographically constrained. It includes a variety of groups and interpretations of the divine sources. Nevertheless, what is most noticeable about this version of Islamism is that one of its strands actually gained political control of a state—Iran. The chief ideologue of Shīʿī Islamism has been Ayatollah Khomeini, who succeeded in taking control of the state in the wake of the popular revolution in 1979. The main principle around which the political authority was organized has been vilāyat-i faqīh (guardianship of the jurisprudent). The concept of supreme authority of a scholar, or group of scholars, is seemingly a new concept in the classical body of Shīʿī (Jaʿfarī) jurisprudence. Although some political freedoms are allowed in Iran, the religious clerics are ultimately setting the pace and limits of the political process. Other competing Islamist groups are either marginalized or banned.

Iran Freedom Movement is one such opposition group that has opposed the concept of vilāyat-i faqīh, arguing that it contradicts Sharīʿah principles developed in the traditional Shīʿī teachings. The organization had been formed in 1961 with no real Islamist agenda, but rather with liberal ideas, similar to the political understanding of former Iranian prime minister Mohammed Mossadegh. The group was formed by Mehdi Bazargan. After the revolutionary events of 1979, the organization was marginalized and later banned from politics by Khomeini himself.

Khomeini's writings have also had a great influence on Shīʿī communities in Iraq and Lebanon. Shīʿī Islamism has not developed significantly among significant non-Arab Shīʿī population centers (e.g. Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Pakistan). Ḥizbullāh (Party of God) is one the most notable Shīʿī Islamist organizations. It was formed in 1982 by two Lebanese students of Khomeini, ʿAbbās al-Musawī and Subḥī al-Tufaylī. The organization received the full support and endorsement of the Iranian regime, which viewed it as a useful tool for exporting the Islamic revolution. Ḥizbullāh's primary initial task was to organize armed resistance against the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon. The party has since branched out its activities, endorsing party politics and regularly participating in parliamentary elections, and it is today a part of the Lebanese government. The organization views itself as a part of an Islamist resistance to Israeli occupation. In reality, however, the party functions as a political representative of the Shīʿī in the Beirut suburbs and southern Lebanon, its primary popular strongholds. Ḥizbullāh could be described as an armed Islamist organization and a pragmatic political party with a highly sophisticated administrative structure.

Dynamics of Islamism.

As Islamist social movement organizations operate in many different sociopolitical contexts, they have also learned to adjust their claims and adapt their strategies, all in accordance with the character of their relationship with various domestic ruling regimes. During this process of discursive and strategic calibration, many Islamist organizations have progressively incorporated much of what was thought to be “foreign” political terminology into their reform programs. One reason behind such adjustment might have been these organizations’ ideological pragmatism. This is primarily connected to the positive resonance of their modification process and their nuanced messages with large segments of the marginalized public in many Muslim-majority countries.

These various forms of Islamist activism are products of institutional and sociocultural contexts of Muslim-majority countries. The ideological components of religiously inspired groups are important, as they provide a general framework of meaning to their supporters. This includes specific normative guiding principles for the organization. On the other hand, external and structural factors have had a highly significant impact on the size, shape, and mobilization strategies of Islamist groups.

For instance, the violent conflict between Hosni Mubarak's security forces and Jamāʿat al-Islāmīyah, the Islamic Group, in 1992–1997 forced the Islamist organization to reconsider its strategies. The leadership denounced violence as an activist strategy, hence refocusing their mobilization toward the grassroots. Such decisions allowed them to renew popular support, most notably among the most disadvantaged inhabitants of rural Upper Egypt and the poor urban areas of Cairo and other cities. Their efforts were focused mostly on proselytizing a version of a nonviolent salafī movement. Due to its strategic evaluation and denunciation of violent tactics in 1997, a group of the organization broke off, consisting mainly of activists outside Egypt, who rejected the change of course. These activists readily adopted the takfīrī ideas, joining other groups that shared a similar understanding.

Those in the organization who denounced violence refocused their activism on the poorest regions (e.g., the Cairo suburb of Imbābā), engaging in social work and solving the practical problems of the inhabitants. The organization established soup kitchens for the poorest, literacy courses for the illiterate, and health services, and provided help with small-scale entrepreneurship. Often during the Islamic holidays, they organized celebrations and additional assistance to the poor. Its activists were most frequently energetic and religiously zealous young men in their early and late twenties who were largely responsible for rapidly organizing and deploying these social services.

In the early 2000s, the Islamic Group, although a shadow of its former organizational presence, has been transformed into a salafīt piety movement, attracting a massive following among a new generation of Egyptians. The wide reach of satellite TV stations and the emergence of independent salafī televangelists had broadened support for this type of Islamism. Consequently, salafī activism has promoted high standards of individual piety and generally an apolitical stance in relation to the regime. In the face of state repression and restricted political participation, many young people found salafī mobilization an alternative to the more pro-active and pragmatic Muslim Brotherhood.

In 2006, another, much smaller, salafī-oriented Islamist organization in Egypt, Islamic Jihād (Jihād al-Islāmī) followed the example of the Islamic Group, revising its ideological justification for violent government overthrow. One of its founding members and an early associate of Āyman al-Zawāhirī, Sayyid Imam al-Sharīf, a well-known reactionary ideologue, renounced violence as a legitimate Islamist mobilization tactic. He proclaimed in a series of texts that his previously held stance was essentially breaching the rules of Sharīʿah, the very thing he wanted to uphold. In his revisionist texts, al-Sharīf argues that the priority of Muslims’ basic rights is far greater than the obligation to change rapidly (i.e., violently) the sociopolitical system. Sociopolitical reform, in other words, can be legitimate only if it does not break the basic principles given by God, such as causing insecurity in society, harming and killing individuals, and destroying property).

In the post-revolutionary Egyptian context, salafī-oriented Islamist groups have formed several political parties. All have won a substantial number of seats in the lower house of the Egyptian parliament. Previously violent and reactionary Islamist groups have shifted their mobilization tactics, substantially demonstrating the power of sociopolitical context on Islamist activism. In contrast, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood's slow-grinding reformist strategy has given the organization enough popular support to outperform all other political forces after the fall of the Mubarak regime. The Brotherhood's efforts to win over critical elements within the general public (e.g., middle-class professionals, university students, and merchants) have resonated strongly with the Egyptian masses.

Contemporary Islamism.

Contemporary Islamism has as much to do with identity politics as with party politics. On the organizational level, Islamist political parties propagate for a general Sharīʿah-informed political system—differing widely on its format and contents. On the personal level, Islamism guides individual political actions delineating between insiders and outsiders, conformists and non-conformists, and so on. Therefore an understanding of such ideological precept is not fixed, including its contents. What is certain, however, is that Islamism is concerned with identity creation, and focuses on the particular and local, incorporating partly the uniform and abstract. Islamic movements in general have set about reforming Muslim political identity and encouraging Muslims to become active participants in a collective whole—be they moderate or radical. Islamist organizations often refer to their interpretation of Islam as a comprehensive (including social, political, economic issues) and authentically pious lifestyle, which should be appealing to insightful Muslims. In general, Islamists have developed a local culture of resistance to the ruling elites, authoritarian or otherwise. This does not necessarily include resistance to modernity and consumerism, but more readily to perceived socioeconomic and political decadence. It is because of this perception of being engaged in collective resistance that many Islamists have developed a deep sense of solidarity, comradeship, and a set of affirmative attitudes. This makes many of them deeply committed to their respective organizations. Islamists re-adjust contemporary meanings by referring to traditional Islamic authenticity, thus creating friction with other competing understandings of, among other things, globalization, modernity, and most notably politics. Islamist claims have evolved and thus have been adjusted to the present institutional order far beyond the Middle East.

Islamism, therefore, is the religiously informed ideological framework of a broad social movement and should not be treated as sui generis, distant and separate from socioeconomic and political realities and moral dilemmas. Islamism and its proponents are interlinked with larger sociopolitical contexts, and as such, ultimately are subjected to a continuous process of organizational change and even ideological and strategic modifications. Due to increasing secularization and volatile political fragmentation in a number of Middle Eastern and North African states after the Arab Revolutions in 2011 there is heightened risk of open confrontation between Islamists and their political opponents, including the powerful remnants of the old regimes. Regardless of a short-term outcome of these political tensions, Islamists seem to remain, if not the principal part, a pivotal part in the evolving political landscapes in the region.


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