Historical Muslim Fundamentalism

Many media voices claim that Islamic fundamentalism, radicalism and terrorism are new forces created by the spread of Western bigotry and prejudice against Islam - Islamophobia. This fundamentalism is supposedly a modern development caused by Western political oppression and the creation of Israel in 1948. ISIS openly state the actual reasons for their terrorism in their magazines Dabiq and Rumiyah but the media and the political elites refuse to publicly accept the truth straight from the camel's mouth.

However, Islamic fundamentalism and its results - violence, revolutions and military invasions - are an original and recurring part of Islam. As Muslim societies relax their obedience to Muhammad's commandments to jihad and strict interpretation of Shariah, fundamentalism amongst disaffected sections of the Muslim populations and in newly converted groups arises and, no doubt, will continue to arise. This happened many times before European culture developed the organisation and technology to dominate the Muslim world and many times before 1948, the establishment of the modern nation of Israel. Today, the conditions for creation of Muslim fundamentalism no longer exist only in the Muslim majority areas but exist wherever there are substantial Muslim minorities in Western countries.

A few examples from Islamic history should suffice to demonstrate the regular recurrence of "fundamentalism" and its resultant violence.

  • The Khawarijites revolted against the authority of the Rashidun Caliph Ali after he agreed to arbitration with Muawiyah I, to decide the succession to the Caliphate following the Battle of Siffin in 657. The Khawarij opposed this arbitration because "judgement belongs to God alone" ie victory in battle. They continued to hold fundamentalist views that opposed the Realpolitik of the Caliphates.
  • The cosmopolitan lifestyle of luxury and social privilege of the Umayyad Caliphs was seen by disaffected groups as a non-Islamic way of life. After just 120 years the fundamentalist ideology of a restoration of the Islam of the time of Muhammad became a common theme amongst Muslims and became the major propaganda of the Abbasids who finally conquered the Umayyads in 750AD.
  • In 1070 the Seljuk Turks captured Jerusalem from the more live-and-let-live Fatimids. They destroyed churches and synagogues and mistreated Christian pilgrims thereby destroying the Holy Land tourist trade. This persecution and oppression, while fundamentally Islamic, caused them severe economic and military problems - the Crusades.
  • Al-Andulus is a mainly mythical time of tolerance and freedom in Muslim Spain. When the Almovarids, fundamentalists who took the words of the Koran literally and preached uncompromising jihad - the imposition of religious "reform " through war - arrived from Morocco in 1086 things quickly worsened for the non-Muslims. The famous Jewish philosopher Maimonides was unfortunate enough to be living when the Almohads, even more fundamentalist Islamic jihadists of the times invaded Cordoba in 1148, replaced the the Almovarids who they considered insufficiently Islamic and offered non-Muslims the choice of conversion, exile or death.
  • The eighteenth-century preacher and scholar, Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1703–1792) started a revivalist movement in the remote, sparsely populated region of Najd, in Arabia. He demanded a purging of widespread Muslim practices such as the "cult of saints" and shrine and tomb visitation, which he considered idolatry (shirk), impurities and innovations in Islam (Bid'ah). The Wahhabists allied with the Saud family providing military help in turn for religious conformity. Much of modern Islamic fundamentalism is due to this unholy pact.
  • In the 1870s, a Muslim cleric named Muhammad Ahmad proclaimed himself the Mahdi (“Right-Guided One”), the promised redeemer of the Islamic world and preached renewal of the faith and the liberation of Sudan. He began a successful revolt against the Egyptians (and British) and this was not crushed until 1898. The causes of the uprising include ethnic Sudanese anger at the foreign Turkish Ottoman rulers, Muslim revivalist anger at the Turkish and Egyptian lax religious standards, willingness to appoint non-Muslims to high positions and abolition of the slave trade.