The Rise of Islam as a Political Ideology

Political ideology is a broader term that encompasses not only the mechanisms of government and the institutions of the state but also the structures and processes through which these interact with the large society. Regimes can change only by either military intervention from without or by revolutionary upheaval from within.

Islam as a religion can be traced back to 610 AD when Muhammad was called to be a Prophet. A Muslim is one who follows the five pillars of Islam. Muslims believe that Quran is a Holy book because it was not written by Prophet Muhammad but rather written by God himself since Muhammad could not read or write.

Islam has been marked as the fastest growing religion in the contemporary world. There are more than one billion Islam followers. Islam is not only growing as a religion but also as a political factor. Muslim writers such as Sayyid Qutb (1906- 66) have suggested that Islamic belief should constitute to the overriding principles of social life and politics. Such writing provoked different activities to establish Islamic state based on the principles of Sharia law.

The first Islamic state was established on 1979 after Iranian revolution under Ayatollah Khomein. Since then the idea of bringing Islamic states spread through Middle East, North Africa and some part of Asia. According to the Pew Research Center in 2015 there were 50 Muslim-majority countries.

Islamic fundamentalism has also been growing so fast. Islamic fundamentalist are those Muslims who seek by whatever means to restore or establish and Islamic state. Thus there has been Islamic resurgence and revival for Islam to be recognized as a global trend. Muslims are generalized as engaging in a political struggle to over throw political leaders and use any means possible to achieve their goal.  There has been a need to develop programmes that develop political Islam which is described by Dessouki as increasing political activities in the name of Islam by government and opposing groups alike.

Revivalism has made Islam take control of the state as the way forward to accomplish their goal. They take control of sovereignty, power, citizenship, law and accountability since that is what reflects a state. Islamist ideologues advocate for the reform or overthrow of states across the globe. For example, Osama bin Laden advocated for the overthrow of the Saudi state, the state of Israel and the United State of America.

In Islam according to the fundamentalists, there is no place for a secular state. Many Muslim consider secularism as a sub-facet of Christian heresy or an aid to establish a godless society and condemn this as anti-spiritual. A secular state is a state which guarantees individuals and corporate freedom of religion, deals with individuals as citizens irrespective of his religion, it is not constitutionally connected to a religion nor does it promote or interfere with religion. For a Muslim there is no separation between politics and practice, thus all states should become religious and for that matter become Islamic states.

Democratization is strongly opposed by Islam since it is considered as western. The west pours millions of dollars in promoting democracy in the Muslim domain although it has been rejected. Muslims consider freedom of speech, participation, free and fair election and free market economy as a week root to democracy. Democracy has been argued as a way in which the west used its economic and political influence not only to shape but also to dominate the globe. In the Middle East, democracy was rejected not because of the core principles associated with it but because of the political factor that has been tired with it ‘secularism’.

There are Philosophers such as Sayyid Qutb (1906-66) who argue  that the new Islamic order should be established though the sword, through the violent acts of vanguard clearing the path for the liberation of the whole society, the overthrow of tyranny, secularism and modernity. The fundamentalist doctrine of jihad has been embraced by a number of Islamic groups in the contemporary era including al-Qaeda, Hezbollah and Jihad al-Islami. Thus, the true meaning of Jihad has been distorted in fulfillment of an ambition for political power, through terrorism rather than spiritual freedom in the modern age.


Featured image | Osama bin Laden (L) sits with his adviser and purported successor Ayman al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian linked to the al Qaeda network, during an interview with Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir (not pictured) | Wikimedia commons 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Best of Africa.

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