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Islamism: Emancipation, protest and identity

Ali, A. (2000) Islamism: Emancipation, protest and identity. Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, 20 (1). pp. 11-28.

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Just as there are `Islams’ in practice there are also Islamic revivalisms in operation. The various revivalist models differ from each other in terms of their organizational structures, political and economic objectives and strategical directions. Islam and Islamism are therefore multifarious and to treat them as monolithic is to sacrifice reality at the altar of simplicity. Basically, all the Islamist movements that are current today can be grouped into two broad categories, those operating in countries where the Muslims are a ruling community and those in countries where the Muslims are a minority and therefore a subject community. In the former, Islamism is both a Wertheimian emancipatory as well as a Tourainian protest movement, which has its political, economic and cultural rami® cations3; while in the latter, it is mostly a quietist and cultural force striving to protect and promote the religious identity of the Muslim community. As an emancipatory movement Islamism represents the collective struggle on the part of groups, which will be identified later, for a new society based on the norms and values ingrained in the shariah. It is also a protest movement in Tourainian terms because it has an identity, i.e. Islam; an adversary, i.e. the present world order - an order of jahiliyya (an Arabic term for the pre-Islamic world of ignorance); and a societal goal, i.e. the re-establishment of proto-Islam of the Prophetic era. In addition, Islamism, both in its majority and minority contexts, has a pure religious reformist aspect whereby it aims to revitalize the religion by cleansing it of all bid’ a or acquired novelties. In short, Islamism aims to eliminate all forms of political oppression, socio-economic inequities and cultural pollution. It is, as Voll defines, `a distinctive mode of response to major social and cultural change introduced either by exogenous or indigenous forces and perceived as threatening to dilute or dissolve the clear lines of Islamic identity, or to overwhelm that identity in a synthesis of many different elements’.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Business
Publisher: Taylor and Francis
Copyright: Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs
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