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Origins and history of Islam Mainstream vs. radical/fundamentalist Islam Radical Islam human nature freedom democracy Radical Islam as ideology. Islam and radical islam. One of three great monotheistic religions Arabic word islam means “submission”

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Islam and radical islam


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islam and radical islam

Origins and history of Islam

  • Mainstream vs. radical/fundamentalist Islam
  • Radical Islam
    • human nature
    • freedom
    • democracy
  • Radical Islam as ideology
Islam and radical islam
islam

One of three great monotheistic religions

  • Arabic word islam means “submission”
    • submission of individual will to greater will of Allah (God)
  • Originated in teachings of prophet Mohammed in Arabia (early 7th century A.D.)
  • Angel Gabriel revealed to him the Qur’an (or Koran), Islam’s holy book
  • Along with Sunna (sayings and teachings of Mohammed), scriptural basis of Islamic faith and Shar’ia (Islamic law)
  • Spread rapidly through Middle East, North Africa, and west to Spain
  • Displaced local religions and deities
  • Common thread among diverse countries, cultures, regions
Islam
islamic teachings

Subordinate individual will to greater will of single all-wise, all-knowing, and loving God (Allah)

  • Care for poor and needy
  • Lead a pious and upright life
    • Turning toward holy city of Mecca to pray five times/day
    • Fasting during holy month of Ramadan
    • Engaging in jihad, which in Arabic means “struggle”
      • Individual’s spiritual struggle to resist sin and ever-present temptation to sin, “the greater jihad”
      • Distinguishable from “the lesser jihad,” struggle to preserve faith from critics, detractors, and enemies
Islamic teachings
crusades

One of Islam’s earliest enemies was Christian Europe

  • Monarchs in medieval Europe invaded Holy Land to retake territory and rescue inhabitants from “infidel” Islam
  • Crusades – European armies conquered large parts of Middle East, killing or converting Muslim inhabitants, incurring enduring enmity among Muslims
Crusades
defending the faith

Many Muslims fear military power, cultural influence of West

  • Western, particularly American, attitudes disturb and offend conservative Muslim sensibilities
  • Western liberalism’s emphasis on religious toleration, sexual equality, separation of religion and politics, and secularism considered offensive and dangerous, threatening to spiritual wellbeing of faithful Muslims, especially young and impressionable
  • American media depict decadent Western culture and threaten to infect young Muslims with distorted visions and values
Defending the faith
radical islamists

Western imperialism (military, economic, cultural), along with America’s support of Israel and its military presence in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other parts of the Middle East, are viewed as attempt to destroy Islam

  • Jihad – “holy struggle” – discredit and cast out infidel American “crusaders” and Israeli allies, to reclaim Middle East and elsewhere for Islam
  • Any available means legitimate, including terrorism
Radical Islamists
sayyid qutb

Especially influential theorist, SayyidQutb (1906-1966), an Egyptian journalist, high-ranking member of Ministry of Education

  • Critic of corrupt King Faruq
  • Exiled to U.S., earned M.A. in Education from Colorado State College of Education (1949)
  • Appalled by consumerism, secularism, relaxed sexual mores, high divorce rate, racial inequality, alcohol, and support for Israel
  • On return to Egypt, joined radical Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, became leading theorist
SayyidQutb
death of qutb

Nationalist Colonel Gamel Abdul Nasser overthrew King Faruq, courted Qutb and Muslim Brotherhood

  • Qutb proposed Nasser remake Egypt as Islamic theocracy
  • Secularist, Arab-nationalist Nasser refused
  • Qutb and Muslim Brotherhood turned against him
  • Qutb arrested, imprisoned, tortured; executed for opposition to Nasser (1966)
  • Became martyr, hero of radical Islam
  • Inspiration for ideas, actions of Al Qaeda, Taliban, radical Islamists
Death of Qutb
discussion questions

What is the meaning of “jihad”? How do radical Islamists differ from moderate, mainstream Muslims in their interpretation, and what implications do the Islamists’ interpretation of jihad have for their political program?

Describe Radical Islam as an ideology. What is its view of human nature, freedom? Describe how it functions in terms of explanation, evaluation, orientation, and program.

Is Radical Islam a democratic ideology? If so, how? If not, why not? What features of Radical Islam make it democratic or undemocratic/antidemocratic?

Discussion questions