What is Islamic Fundamentalism?
"Muslim fundamentalism is fast becoming the chief threat to global peace and security as well as a cause of national and local disturbance through terrorism. It is akin to the menace posed by Nazism and fascism in the 1930's and then by communism in the 50's"
According to the Reader's Digest Universal Dictionary "fundamental" means "having to do with the foundation; elemental; basic", and "fundamentalism" an "unswerving belief in a set of basic and unalterable principles of a religious or philosophical nature". The term was traditionally used for christians who believed the Bible to be the literal truth even when it was found in conflict with modern scientific discoveries. "Fundamentalism" soon became a derogatory term. What purpose does the term serve when used in connection with Muslims?
Western science is built on the foundation of scientific discoveries of Muslim Spain before the inquisition, and unlike the bible, the Qur'an has never yet been proven to contradict reality. The Qur'an encourages scientific research. somebody believing the Qur'an to be the fundamental or elemental and basic truth, can hardly be accused of being irrational. nor can there be anything wrong with firmly holding on to "basic and unalterable principles" . Modern secular society, for example, has agreed on a Universal Declaration of Human Rights to establish such "basic and unalterable principles". To try and frighten people of Muslim fundamentalism, therefore, make little sense. Still it is being done every day.
When democratic elections were cancelled in Algeria or when Muslim campaigners for democracy in Egypt were hung without proper trial, it was enough of a justification to brand them as Muslim fundamentalists. No further questions needed to be asked. Fundamentalist meant terrorist. Terrorist meant danger. Danger justified eliminating those responsible. On the other hand, when Israel bombed civilian areas in Lebanon or when Serb militia massacred innocent Muslim men, women and children in Bosnia, the term Jewish, or Christian fundamentalists was never used to refer to them.
In his book Pity the Nation on the long conflict in the Lebanon, Robert Fisk, one of the longest serving British Middle East correspondents, spells out how emotional and ambiguous this use of language is. He says: "But 'terrorism' no longer means terrorism. It is not a definition; it is a political contrivance. 'Terrorists' are those who use violence against the side that is using the word. The only terrorist whom Israel acknowledges arre those who oppose Israel. The only terrorist the United States acknowledges are those oppose the United States or their allies. The only terrorists Palestinians acknowledge - for they too use the word - are those opposed to the Palestinians. To adopt the word means that we have taken a side in the Middle East, not between right and wrong, good and evil, David and Goliath, but with one set of combatants against another. For journalists in the Middle East, the use of the word 'terrorism' is akin to carrying a gun".
Yet, The Timeshe worked for, and The Independant he now writes for still happily "carry a gun" and shoot at "Musilm Fundamentalists" or "Muslim terrorist" instead of objectively reporting the news. Prejudice against Islam is deep seated, because nobody bothers to find out what Islam really means and what code of conduct the Qur'an prescribes for a Muslim.
Here, then are some of the "fundamentals", "basic and unalterable principles" of the Qur'an, Muslims believe in.
These then, are the fundamentalists of Islam. do you find anything fundamentally wrong with them? do they make you feel afraid? do you feel endangered by someone who follows them? Surely not.
So next time, somebody talks about "Muslim Fundamentalism" or "Islamic Fundamentalism" , laugh at them, because you know better, and they don't know what they are talking about. Let no - one frighten you about Islam, which literally means "a religion of peace through submission to God".
Sahib Mustaqim Bleher was Born in in 1959 in Heidelberg, Germany into a protestant Christian family. During his school days he took an Interest in newspaper journalism which became his later career. He embraced Islam in 1980, and later moved to Britain. He has translated several titles of Islamic Literature from Arabic to German and presently maintains a small publishing enterprise in the UK, where he lives with his wife and children. He also holds the position of general secretary of the Islamic Party of Britain .
Copyright © 2000 Sahib Mustaqim Bleher