By G. Marranci
During this well timed booklet, Marranci significantly surveys the on hand theories on Islamic fundamentalism and extremism. Rejecting essentialism and cultural reductionism, the book means that identification and emotion play an important function within the phenomenon that has been known as fundamentalism.
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Extra resources for Understanding Muslim Identity: Rethinking Fundamentalism
Social identity theory has the advantage/disadvantage of producing a clear dualistic process of social dynamics. As we shall see, I believe that the reason behind the attempt to present fundamentalism as inscribed in such a dualism is not just a simple analytical mistake but rather part of a social political ideology. Similarly, the fact that most Western scholars have reduced what they have called fundamentalism to a strictly modern religious phenomenon has more to do with how they conceive and imagine Western society than hard ethnographic evidence.
It is represented by the religious scholar and the moralistic preacher. To this, ‘charismatic’ fundamentalism additionally emphasizes the extraordinary experience of divine gifts and miracles. It represents a more emotional and enthusiastic religiosity embodied by the living saint and miracle worker. ‘Legalistic-literalist’ and ‘charismatic’ fundamentalism are sometimes integrated into one movement, sometimes they are separated. ‘Legalistic-literalist’ fundamentalism is connected usually with the ideal way of life of urban middle-classes, and ‘charismatic’ fundamentalism with the ecstatic and magical needs of urban lower classes and rural population.
The scholarly debate on the role of religion, and the sacred text, in the formation of Islamic fundamentalism, or other Islamic-isms, has shown three main different positions: Islam, as religion, is more prone to violence and fundamentalism (Bruce 2000); fundamentalists are Muslims with political aims who manipulate Islam for their own ideological purposes (Esposito 2002, Hafez 2003, Milton-Edwards 2005); and finally, the representation of Islamic fundamentalism as a historical process was started by charismatic Islamic ideologues (such as Mawdudi, Al-Banna and Qutb).