Making definitional sense of Islamism

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This article is featured in the ORIENT IV 2020 Issue. Click here to purchase the full issue.

Studying political Islam means encountering a number of terms (fundamentalism, Islamism, Salafism, jihadism) that are often unclear to non-experts and sometimes even ill-defined by scholars in the field. What is more, the way they relate to, differ from and cohere with each other is frequently left unexplained. This article focuses on all of these terms to show the relationship between them in order to make definitional sense of it all.

Joas Wagemakers is Associate Professor of Islamic and Arabic Studies in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Utrecht University, the Netherlands. His work focuses on modern Islam, particularly on Salafism and Islamism in the Middle East. He has published widely on these issues, including The Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan (Cambridge University Press, 2020), Salafism in Jordan: Political Islam in a Quietist Community (Cambridge University Press, 2016) and A Quietist Jihadi: The Ideology and Influence of Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi (Cambridge University Press, 2012).

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