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Only 100 years of islamism?

Reader comment on item: My Views of Islam and Islamism

Submitted by Henk (Spain), Jan 7, 2014 at 21:59

Dear mr Pipes,

I have repeatedly hear you say that islamism in your view is a relative new phenomenon, about 100 years old. Studying islamic literature and the history of jihadism one very often comes across the name of the islamic scholar Ibn Taymiyya, who was born at the end of the 13th century. He inspired Sayyid Qutb, Maududi and scores of other modern radicals and they seem to have broadly just adopted his views and apply them to modern times. So couldn't one say that islamism an sich is a much older phenomenon than 100 yrs? Also, do you contend that there is a link between the crumbling of the Ottoman empire and the surge of radicalism?

Thirdly, and I might be asking much here, how much overlap is there between islamic orthodoxy and radicalism? One often reads that the ulema are very much opposed to sharia interpretations by non-clerics, as they seem to often get it wrong and lack "true" knowledge.

Much obliged and regards, Henk.


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Daniel Pipes replies:

Yes, Ibn Taymiya laid groundwork for Islamism but the modern phenomenon dates to the 1920s.

Indeed, the Ottoman collapse was a spur to Islamism.

There is certainly an overlap between the ulema and the Islamists - Khomeini was both. But in general, they offer competing visions of what it means to be a Muslim.

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