Islamism (also often called political Islam or Islamic fundamentalism)[1] is a political ideology which posits that modern states and regions should be reconstituted in constitutional, economic and judicial terms, in accordance with what is conceived as a revival or a return to authentic Islamic practice in its totality.[2][3][4][5]

Ideologies dubbed Islamist may advocate a "revolutionary" strategy of Islamizing society through exercise of state power, or alternately a "reformist" strategy to re-Islamizing society through grassroots social and political activism.[6] Islamists may emphasize the implementation of sharia,[7] pan-Islamic political unity,[7] the creation of Islamic states,[8] or the outright removal of non-Muslim influences; particularly of Western or universal economic, military, political, social, or cultural nature in the Muslim world; that they believe to be incompatible with Islam and a form of Western neocolonialism. Some analysts such as Graham E. Fuller describe it as a form of identity politics, involving "support for [Muslim] identity, authenticity, broader regionalism, revivalism, [and] revitalization of the community."[9]

The term itself is not popular among many Islamists who believe it inherently implies violent tactics, human rights violations, and political extremism when used by Western mass media.[1] Some authors prefer the term "Islamic activism",[10] while Islamist political figures such as Rached Ghannouchi use the term "Islamic movement" rather than Islamism.[11]

Central and prominent figures in 20th-century Islamism include Sayyid Rashid Rida,[12] Hassan al-Banna, Sayyid Qutb, Abul A'la Maududi,[13] Hasan al-Turabi,[14] and Ruhollah Khomeini. Many Islamist movements, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, have been willing to pursue their ends by peaceful political processes, rather than revolutionary means.[15] Others, notably Qutb, called for violence, and his followers are generally considered Islamic extremists. However, Qutb openly denounced the killing of innocents.[16] According to Robin Wright, Islamist movements have "arguably altered the Middle East more than any trend since the modern states gained independence", redefining "politics and even borders".[17] Following the Arab Spring, some Islamist currents became heavily involved in democratic politics,[17][18] while others spawned "the most aggressive and ambitious Islamist militia" to date, such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).[17]

Islamism is a concept whose meaning has been debated in both public and academic contexts.[19] The term can refer to diverse forms of social and political activism advocating that public and political life should be guided by Islamic principles.[19][20] In academic usage, the term Islamism does not specify what vision of "Islamic order" or sharia is being advocated, or how the advocates intend to bring about that vision.[21]

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