Islamic Fundamentalism is Political Islam, says a Muslim Feminist

June 4, 2015

Islamic Fundamentalism is Political Islam, says a Muslim Feminist

by Shafiqah Othman

mmocol-shafiqah-othman-hamzah“Muslim fundamentalism is an ideology which stands against choice, hope, change, and humanity. Islamism is a danger for the Muslim population. It is a danger for us.”

So what is Islamism and Muslim fundamentalism? These two terms are often interchangeable and most times mean the same thing. We see it being used a lot, but what does it really mean?

Marieme Hélie-Lucas, Algerian sociologist and founder of Women Living Under Muslim Laws, described fundamentalisms generally as “political movements of the extreme right which in a context of globalisation… manipulate religion… in order to achieve political aims.”

Now that we have established the meaning of fundamentalism, it is important to now understand that Islamist movements are primarily political, not spiritual. So if you think that their aim is to guide you to the “right path”, think again.

Islamic Fundamentalists

Islamism is a type of Islam that uses religion as an ideology to create a totalitarian political platform, which means creating a centralised government that does not tolerate parties of differing opinion. This kind of rule exercises dictatorial control over many aspects of life, including the will or thought of the people of its nation.

To fundamentalists, their social model is the only one that can exist, it is the “absolute truth”.The most common line you’d hear from a fundamentalist would be, “This is Islam, and you cannot question it!”

They deny the possibility of interpretation and reinterpretation, even though their adherents have been a part of it for centuries. I mean, how else could you explain the emergence of the different schools of thought?

Fundamentalists embrace absolutism and refuse to accept questioning, insisting on a monolithic system of Islam based on their beliefs, and prosecuting you for thinking against their conventional thoughts.


Islamists denounce secularists, often painting those who support secularism as anti-religion. They are against an ideology that promotes religious harmony because they wish to govern the state under their own rules, in this case, “Islamic rules”.

In a Muslim-majority country, what easier way to make people succumb to you than by using religion as a tool to garner support? Fundamentalists aim to bring political religion into all spheres of life. They will police, judge and change anyone that is Muslim into their monolithic system. Sometimes even going overboard and demanding non-Muslims to conform.

A lot of times, they aim sharply at women’s rights, policing and restricting our clothes, speech, and career, but this is usually bolstered with the soothing language of respect and protection. No doubt, there are women fundamentalists who advocate for these movements, but usually they don’t realise that they do so at the expense of other women as well.

Most people associate Islamism and Muslim fundamentalism with violence, advances that are physical. But there is one type of fundamentalism that is just as deadly, and that fundamentalism is given the term “diffused fundamentalism.” This kind of fundamentalism is naturalised into your daily lives, and most times we don’t even realise it.

They are absorbed and then spread through Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, the internet, television, radio, sermons and word of mouth. A lot of times, they are being spread as forms of entertainment. Shows on who is a good Muslim or who is not, talk shows in which you can enquire about what kind of sex you can have with your spouse and still “be a good Muslim”, pronouncements (with a little bit of humour added in) on how to talk, walk, dress, eat, sleep and all the little things you do in your daily lives.

This fundamentalism is invisible in its pervasiveness and that’s what makes it so dangerous. Once absorbed and socially accepted, they become hard to combat and overturned. Diffused fundamentalism has essentially taken the beautiful and aesthetic religion that I grew up with, and turned it into a series of bodily functions.

Diffused Muslim fundamentalism is dangerous because it is the seed that supports the growth of a society that condones violence and discrimination. It is the seed that sprouts the mentality that excuses the actions of Islamist groups such as ISIS, the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and Boko Haram. It is the seed where it all begins.

Any kind of fundamentalism creates an oppressive environment. That, we all know. It’s not rocket science. After everything that we have seen so far, in the news and media, are we falling into religious fundamentalism?

25 thoughts on “Islamic Fundamentalism is Political Islam, says a Muslim Feminist

  1. The pictures on this thread tell it all. They are terrorists, mentally deranged individuals and dummies who act in the name of Islam. Islamic fundamentalism is political islam. It is not my Faith which is one of compassion, respect for the dignity of difference, love of knowledge and peace among man.–Din Merican

  2. Yes all is correct but we forget basic principal of Islam all Muslims are brothers. See when prophet migrated the people of Madinah shared every thing including property,wealth servants.What is happening now confirms that Muslims are hypocrites. There are 10 to 15 thousand Muslims from Myanmar asking for help but the whole Muslim world has closed its eyes to this. What have we have learned from Islam?
    We have become selfish and indifferent, lacking in compassion.–Din Merican

  3. Islam called it nafs(nafsu). There are seven stages. Nafs is closed to satan if muslims fail to adopt true Islam. Simply “Wali Setan” that was prevailed in Al Quran. Allah already warned the muslims !

    Islam is not a common sense.

    Well so much so, one’s own discretion. Islamophobhia, who created it?

    When we search for fairness, logical and progressive thinking, this article by the writer must be balanced too, in the perspective of moderate Islam, lots of them in the whole world.

    I don’t expect any good comments about Islam. Its like having a beer party and in same time do the solat ! Why, I still believe in my God ! He..he..

  4. I would sincerely like to be convinced of Islam as a faith of “compassion, respect for the dignity of difference, love of knowledge and peace among men”, as Dato’ eloquently states. With well over a billion Muslims on earth, we must all pray this interpretation prevails.

    However, the terrible problems besetting Islam today are not caused by erroneous interpretations recently conveyed by alien space ship to earth. The justifications lie right there in the Koran. ISIS, for one, is meticulous at quoting scripture for every one of its acts.

    Are these doctrines wrong or is violence embedded in gthe DNA of the religion? Remember the Prophet Mohamed is the only founder of a world religion who charged into battle to chop his enemies’ heads off. Of the four ‘right-minded caliphs’ who succeeded him, three were murdered usually by family members. Can one imagine the reaction if Jesus Christ’s disciples had started murdering each other?! It is unthinkable.

    The fact is, you don’t expand all over a large part of Asia and Europe without doing a lot of killing. Both the Koran and Hadiths contain a long list of violent punishments authorized. If then, Muslims today are convinced that the Koran needs reinterpretation, does it not behoove such Muslims to speak out?

    I don’t mean speak out in principle, expressing shock at the ongoing horrors of massacring schoolchildren, crucifying Christians etc. I mean real practical campaigns against the powers of darkness that hold sway over their religion. Which Malay leader for example is prepared to stand up and demand Saudi Arabia be divested of its role as Guardian of the Holy Places? Not a squeak, you may be sure. Yet how can any peaceful Muslim reconcile Saudi leadership in islam with any belief in compassion and peace?? This appalling, barbarous regime, that has deliberately destroyed so much of historical Mecca by order of its Wahhabi clerics, beheads its citizens wholesale. They are on track for a record 2015, having beheaded 85 people so far this year, not to mention several crucifixions, and recently placed advertisements for 8 new executioners. When Saudi extremists blasted themselves and Shia worshippers in their mosques to smithereens a few days ago in the Eastern Province, the police chief arriving on the scene was captured on video pronouncing “God rest his soul”. He meant the suicide-bomber’s soul, for what he had done, not the souls of the victims. That is how perverted these people are.

    It will be easier to believe in Islam as a religion of peace when Muslims everywhere stand up and firmly denounce this poisonous well infecting Islam world wide. But I am not holding my breath.

  5. by the way, a question, not a loaded one, just curious? Why do we almost never hear of Shia suicide bomber outrages, blowing up Sunni mosques + worshippers they disapprove of, or of Shias putting a bullet into a school girl’s head, massacring school kids wholesale, beheading non-Shias, trying to blow up the London underground, etc? The Iranian cleric-run regime does not sound like a lot of fun, but Shia behaviour does seem quite a lot more civilized than that of many Sunnis. On average they would make less dangerous neighbors, methinks.

  6. Din
    Disagree with her interpretation of Islam foundamentalist. You really must have strong knowledge in Islam in order to appreciated the beauty of Islam.

    I am sure she don’t even know what is rukun Islam and Rukun Imam.
    We need more Muslim like Tariq Ramadhan. Or Syed Naquib al Attas.

  7. Nora, it sound like you are the person with strong knowledge in Islam. How about expounding rukum Islam and Rukun Imam in layman term. I would like to appreciate the beauty of Islam as you so interprets.

  8. Islam is used by some Malay/Muslim ‘ leaders ‘ as a cover up for discrimination, intolerance, prejudices, corruption, gross mismanagement and etc..

    Freedom of religion is a fundamental underpinning any modern, progressive and civilised society.

    Religious fundamentalism, extremism and terrorism are sickness……….you got to start the process of recovering before it is too late and harmful and dangerous to yourself, family, community and society.

  9. Quote:- “compassion, respect for the dignity of difference, love of knowledge and peace among man”

    You don’t need any religion to achieve these.

    In fact throughout human history, religion has achieved the exact opposites.

  10. I much prefer not to comment on Islamic issues even though a third of my extended family are not just Muslims but really Muslims who adhere to all Muslim practises. But that last comment from Nora changed my mind. To suggest that one must have strong knowledge on Islam in order to appreciate the beauty of Islam is absurd.

    My knowledge of Islam is at best just elementary but still I appreciate the beauty of that faith. What I just cannot comprehend is the way Islam is being interpreted to meet aims of our politicians. UMNO and PAS leaders are the biggest corruptors of this beautiful religion. And PAS’s policy to introduce hudud regardless of how other Muslims and non Muslims feel show their utter contempt for their fellow Malaysians. There is no country in the world that has implemented hudud successfully. And pray tell how many Islamic countries have prospered in modern times? Even that guardian of Islam’s holiest sites have a brand of Islam which is not acceptable by a third of the world’s Shites Muslims.

    No wonder we have this disastrous state of affairs in the Middle East and elsewhere in Asia. No, it is not education that we need but compassion not just for fellow Muslims and other humans. Leaders of Islam should have a long hard look at the way Islam is perceived by the wider world and then work to improve that image. Islam is indeed a beautiful religion but there is work to be done.

  11. ” In God We Trust” – which country pronounced this ?

    Why don’t they exclude religion or faith or believe in such worldly order?

  12. I don’t think the author of this piece defined fundamentalism and Islamism in any way that differentiates between the two. In most of the world Islam is political except where it isn’t.

    And in these places it isn’t, it’s not because it has been replaced by another Religion but because it (as all religions) is constrained by secular ideologies.

  13. Quote:- “Islam is indeed a beautiful religion”

    Anyone here please explain to me how “Islam is indeed a beautiful religion”?

    This beautiful word “beautiful” has been haphazardly thrown around as though it is self-evidently so. It is not self-evidently so.

  14. Din, the blog you follow at number four is interesting…
    That is computer generated. I will ask the IT boys at the University to delete it. –Din Merican

  15. When my Chinese grandparents newly resided in Malaya in 1930, they gave away two daughters and one son to other families out of desperation and superstition. The son went to a Chinese family. My father, who was the only son retained by my grandparents, told me the reason to give the daughters to Malay families was because Malay families were more likely to treat girls humanely and with love than the contemporary Chinese families. This story was retold multiple times within our family giving us a compassionate image of traditional Kampong Malays. My Chinese Malaysian part of the family have just attended the Malay-Chinese Malaysian forth generation’s wedding last week.

    I think when Din mentions about his faith of of compassion, respect for the dignity of difference, love of knowledge and peace among man, I think he referred to those Kampong Malays who one time subscribed to traditional Islam (The traditionalists), prior to revival of fundamentalists in 1970. Traditional Islam is Islam as what is adapted as seen fit in the local environment. The fundamentalism is a “reform” back to 7th century’s desert culture.

    maae, when good deed was done, it will be cherished for a long long time.

  16. ” In God We Trust” – which country pronounced this ?

    Why don’t they exclude religion or faith or believe in such worldly order?

    Oh but they do :

    “In God we trust” as a national motto and on U.S. currency has been the subject of numerous unsuccessful lawsuits.[30] The motto was first challenged in Aronow v. United States in 1970, but the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled: “It is quite obvious that the national motto and the slogan on coinage and currency ‘In God We Trust’ has nothing whatsoever to do with the establishment of religion. Its use is of patriotic or ceremonial character and bears no true resemblance to a governmental sponsorship of a religious exercise.”[31] The decision was cited in Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow, a 2004 case on the Pledge of Allegiance. These acts of “ceremonial deism” are “protected from Establishment Clause scrutiny chiefly because they have lost through rote repetition any significant religious content.”[32] In Zorach v. Clauson (1952), the Supreme Court also held that the nation’s “institutions presuppose a Supreme Being” and that government recognition of God does not constitute the establishment of a state church as the Constitution’s authors intended to prohibit.[33] – Wikipedia (I know but it was an easy cite to make)

  17. Shiou, that is an valuable insight, thank you. The peoples of Malaysia and Indonesia (kecuali Aceh) seem by and large to have distilled the best out of Islam and tempered its original aggression with the humaneness and courtesy that are (were) so natural here. The wave of Saudi oil money-fuelled intolerance that has washed through the region since the 70s has been an unmitigated disaster

  18. Malays have 2 extremes – the good very good and the bad very bad.

    If you truly know the Malays, as most are extremely political, you will realise even the Malays do not trust each other… unite them for narrow, divisive and damaging political purposes, they create imaginary ‘ enemies ‘ to hold on to power at all cost.

    Religion, let alone race, is irresponsibly used as a political weapon to bully, intimidate, threaten and etc….. destroying unity and harmony essential to a multi racial and religious country which would eventually lead to violence.

    After decades of corrupt political leadership and gross mismanagement, you cannot even trust them with your cat.

  19. /// lawrenceab June 4, 2015 at 1:31 pm
    Are these doctrines wrong or is violence embedded in gthe DNA of the religion? Remember the Prophet Mohamed is the only founder of a world religion who charged into battle to chop his enemies’ heads off. Of the four ‘right-minded caliphs’ who succeeded him, three were murdered usually by family members. Can one imagine the reaction if Jesus Christ’s disciples had started murdering each other?! It is unthinkable. ///

    lawrenceab, you don’t have to imagine – it happened. The Protestants and Catholics in Ireland are butchering each other for decades and are still at it.

    Yes, it is embedded in the religious text. Go and read the Old Testament and you can find all the gory details.

  20. Your short comment on 4th June, dinobeano is Sublime……we should’nt allow ignorant people to hijack the pristine value of a religion, any religion….

  21. ( Belatedly, my PC got botched….) –

    Whatever one’s religious belief does not matter : nafsi-nafsi…..

    A short verse repeatedly revealed by Prophet Muhammad in the Quran , as an Edict from Al’ Mighty :


    So, people of all Faiths , be mindful of this injunction, It is highly accountable come Judgement day…. , it does not matter what belief system one adheres to…

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