The appeal of Islamic fundamentalism

by Michael Cook

14 Apr 2016
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Full text of article by Michael Cook posted to Journal of the British Academy, volume 2, pp. 27-41.

Abstract: In terms of its political appeal the Islamic revival of the last few decades is in some ways a unique phenomenon. We can plausibly understand this appeal to arise from the relevance of certain elements of the Islamic heritage to the predicament of Muslim populations living in Third-World conditions. At the same time we can argue that other religious heritages have less to offer their contemporary adherents in this context. Here the idea of fundamentalism can be helpful: on one simple definition it serves to highlight a feature of the Islamic revival that is particularly adaptive under contemporary conditions. Finally, it is worth noting that despite its exceptional features, the basic elements of the Islamic revival are familiar in contexts closer to home.

Keywords: Islamic revival, Islamic fundamentalism, Islamic heritage, religion and politics, Third World

The British Academy Lecture, read 26 February 2013 (video recording)

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