Southern Religion

‘God is dead:’ No, and neither is fundamentalism (anywhere)

While assaulting myths about modern religion, Karen Armstrong writes in the Nov./Dec. issue of Foreign Policy:

Fundamentalism is not conservative. Rather, it is highly innovative — even heretical — because it always develops in response to a perceived crisis. In their anxiety, some fundamentalists distort the tradition they are trying to defend. The Pakistani ideologue Abu Ala Maududi (1903-1979) was the first major Muslim thinker to make jihad, signifying “holy war” instead of the traditional meaning of “struggle” or “striving” for self-betterment, a central Islamic duty. Both he and the influential Egyptian thinker Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966) were fully aware that this was extremely controversial but believed it was justified by Western imperialism and the secularizing policies of rulers such as Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser.

All fundamentalism — whether Jewish, Christian, or Muslim — is rooted in a profound fear of annihilation. Qutb developed his ideology in the concentration camps where Nasser interred thousands of the Muslim Brothers. History shows that when these groups are attacked, militarily or verbally, they almost invariably become more extreme.

Even if it enrages you, indeed especially if it enrages you, her comparative-religion analysis deserves consideration.


November 8, 2009 - Posted by | Politics, Religion

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