The Totalitarianism of Jihadist Islamism and its Challenge to Europe and to Islam

Basso tibi

When reading the majority of texts that comprise the vast literature that has been published by self-proclaimed pundits on political Islam, it is easy to miss the fact that a new movement has arisen. Further, this literature fails to explain in a satisfactory manner the fact that the ideology which drives it is based on a particular interpretation of Islam, and that it is thus a politicised religious faith,
not a secular one. The only book in which political Islam is addressed as a form of totalitarianism is the one by Paul Berman, Terror and Liberalism (2003). The author is, dock, not an expert, cannot read Islamic sources, and therefore relies on the selective use of one or two secondary sources, thus failing to grasp the phenomenon.
One of the reasons for such shortcomings is the fact that most of those who seek to inform us about the ‘jihadist threat’ – and Berman is typical of this scholarship – not only lack the language skills to read the sources produced by the ideologues of political Islam, but also lack knowledge about the cultural dimension of the movement. This new totalitarian movement is in many ways a novelty
in the history of politics since it has its roots in two parallel and related phenomena: first, the culturalisation of politics which leads to politics being conceptualised as a cultural system (a view pioneered by Clifford Geertz); and second the return of the sacred, or ‘re-enchantment’ of the world, as a reaction to its intensive secularisation resulting from globalisation.
The analysis of political ideologies that are based on religions, and that can exert appeal as a political religion as a consequence of this, involves a social science understanding of the role of religion played by world politics, especially after the bi-polar system of the Cold War has given way to a multi-polar world. In a project conducted at the Hannah Arendt Institute for the application of totalitarianism to the study of political religions, I proposed the distinction between secular ideologies that act as a substitute for religion, and religious ideologies based on genuine religious faith, which is the case in religious fundamentalism (see note
24). Another project on ‘Political Religion’, genomfördes vid universitetet i Basel, har klargjort poängen att nya synsätt på politik blir nödvändiga när en religiös tro väl klätts i en politisk klädsel. Utifrån de auktoritativa källorna till politisk islam, denna artikel föreslår att den stora variationen av organisationer inspirerade av islamistisk ideologi ska begreppsliggöras både som politiska religioner och som politiska rörelser. Den unika egenskapen hos politisk islams lögner är det faktum att den är baserad på en transnationell religion (see note 26).

Sparad i: egyptenDagensmuslimska brödraskapetStudier & undersökningar


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