Ziauddin Sardar and Merryl Wyn Davies are authors of The No-Nonsense Guide to Islam, which is an extremely useful book that provides information to students that are not well informed on the topic of ideologies and beliefs of various sects of Islam. In the 8th chapter of the book they introduce Islamic fundamentalists in regards to contemporary issues. Regarding the historic foundation of the current fundamentalist “jihadi” movement, it actually dates back to the 1950s. In the 1950s there was a lot of hope placed on the economic development as a catalyst for equality. The Muslim countries ended up gaining their independence but still ended up being ruled by the Westernized elites. There was a constant conflict between the Westernized rulers and the hopes of the majority of citizens who were more traditionally inclined. The Muslim people started to feel as if their values and attitudes were being suppressed because these leaders were not reformists or traditionalists. The authors suggest that after the Islamic revolution in 1979 that traditional scholars were being motivated by their successes and the taste of power they got. The Militant jihadis sought to create an ideal Islamic state, and the Taliban was a push towards accomplishing that goal. There are currently militant jihadis in all of the Muslim countries and they create nervousness and fear amongst their surrounding communities. Sardar and Davies also state that although this is just the history of the fundamentalist jihadis, 21st century fundamentalists are actually entrenched in fear of the innovation. These are the exact people who strive to practice Islam precisely as it was in the medieval times, in the hopes that others perceptions of Islam will reflect that past times as well.
To the fundamentalists the sharia Islamic law is no joke and is taken very seriously and literally. How they see it is, “Everything must be rejected; and everything must be based on the sharia.. it is ‘Islamic law’ that makes an Islamic state Islamic”. Such keen followers of this sharia law are better known as puritan fundamentalists. They are known as puritan fundamentalists because of their confidence and belief in following the word of sharia law literally and with little to no context. The puritan fundamentalists are mainly concerned with the crime and punishment aspects of the sharia law. They are especially concerned with the hubud laws, which are the most extreme punishments possible for a given crime there. They actually prefer to practice the hubud laws “as demonstrable proof the state is enforcing the whole of Islam”.
I do not personally believe that the Islamic law has always been consumed with punishment. There are obviously aspects of every religion that address the conflict management and the “punishment,” but I intensely believe that it is up to the individual to determine how literally to take and believe these words. Sardar and Davies explain, even the sharia cannot be taken as “Divine” because it has not a lot to owe to the Qur’an. Furthermore, when Sardar and Davies discuss hubud, they state that, although cutting off the hands of a thief is part of sharia law, it is only appropriate and justifiable in the environment in which there is no need to steal and any effort to do so is of evil intent, and we purely do not live in such a world.
Another noteworthy aspect of today’s Islam is the concept of “Islamic feminism” which is actually different from “Western” or “Secular” feminism. They have clear differences. What Western feminism does is focuses on separating religion and government and stresses the importance of women’s rights as individuals. There seems to be a pattern of Western women arguing for equality in the public sphere but utilizing gender roles in the home. On the other hand, Islamic feminism is built upon the idea of women analyzing and then acting on the Qur’an by their own interpretations of the text. Trailblazers for Islamic feminism do not enjoy the term itself, they favor to be recognized as Islamic scholars. Just recently the term Islamic feminist became more widely accepted and appropriate. Unlike Islamic fundamentalists, Islamic feminists are not hostile when fighting for what they believe. The Islamic feminists are activists but lack the militant nature. A community called the Sisters in Islam was started by a group of women in the 1980s in Malaysia. Women in this community were dedicated to investigating the word of the Qur’an, as it is commonly used to justify violence and oppression to women. They have found that several common acts upon women in Muslim families, such as wife beating, are not condoned whatsoever by the Qur’an. The effort to prove such inequalities is now known as scholarship activism and it has become central to the Islamic feminism movement, sparking change in communities and treatment of Muslim women worldwide
Badran, M. (2011, January). “From Islamic Feminism to a Muslim Holistic Feminism.” Retrieved from: https://bblearn.missouri.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-3161660-dt-content-rid-31263463_1/courses/SP2017.GERMAN.4810.01/From%20Islamic%20feminism%20to%20a%20Muslim%20Holistic%20feminism.pdf
Hunter, S. (2002). “Islam, Europe’s Second Religion.” Print.
Sardar, Z. (2007). “The No-Nonsense Guide to Islam.” Print.