Fundamentalism is a term that pertains to a specific sect or movement within a religion. It emphasizes an unwavering and inflexible commitment to the fundamental doctrines of the faith, while simultaneously denouncing any divergent religious practices and interpretations that do not align with their beliefs.
In simple terms, Fundamentalism is a term that describes religious or philosophical movements that strictly adhere to the original canons and tenets of their faith. In other words, it is the desire to follow all the truths and precepts prescribed in a sacred source, such as the Holy Scriptures, the Koran, or another text, without any deviation. For example, if a certain sacred text prescribes that a woman should be stoned to death in the public square for cheating on her husband, fundamentalists will follow this instruction literally and without exception. It is worth noting that this term is not specific to any particular religion or cult. Fundamentalist sects can be found in almost every major world religion, including Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Judaism.
Fundamentalists are people who adhere to religious sects or philosophical movements that strictly follow fundamental canons. As a rule, these are ardent believers who are highly active and zealous in defending their beliefs, often using any means necessary. However, it is important to note that fundamentalism, extremism, and terrorism are not interchangeable terms. Not all fundamentalists are violent or pose a threat to others. For example, Amish Christians and Jehovah’s Witnesses are fundamentalist in their beliefs. But they are known for their peaceful nature.
There are a huge number of religions, their offshoots, and philosophical or ideological movements in the world. As the main criteria, we will cite the most general features that are almost always present in fundamentalism. So, these are:
Christian fundamentalism is a religious movement within Christianity that advocates a strict and literal interpretation of the Bible. Fundamentalist churches argue that most biblical texts are the unconditional word of God and therefore should be taken literally without question. In the context of Christian fundamentalism, there are several beliefs that are considered dogmatic. These include:
Jewish fundamentalism is a phenomenon that is particularly prominent in Israel. It involves a confrontation between Orthodox Jews and secular Jews in an effort to define the culture and way of life in the country. Within the Orthodox camp, the Haredi Judaism movement seeks to establish an exclusively Orthodox Jewish culture characterized by strict adherence to Jewish law (Halakha) in all aspects of life. This includes the wearing of certain clothing and political efforts to enforce halakhic observance among the population at large, with the main goal of making Israel a truly “Jewish” state.
However, it’s important to note that not all Orthodox Jews are fundamentalists. The so-called “modern orthodox” believe that it is possible to be both modern and righteous believers. They don’t wear special clothes and create conditions for secular life while strictly observing Jewish law at home in private, especially on the Sabbath.
Mormon fundamentalism is a movement that opposes the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, claiming to uphold original doctrines and practices that the Church has abandoned. These practices may include: polygamy, the law of sanctification, and belief in the Adam-God theory. In addition, some Mormon fundamentalists believe in blood atonement, a patriarchal priesthood, and the exclusion of black people from the priesthood. Many of these fundamentalists have formed separate sects and communities in the western United States.
Islamic fundamentalism is a term used to describe a movement within Islam that seeks to promote a return to what its adherents believe to be the original principles and values of Islam, as expressed in the Qur’an and hadith. Islamic fundamentalists often view modern society as corrupt and decadent and seek to establish an Islamic state governed by Sharia law. Some Islamic fundamentalists also advocate violent means to achieve their goals, leading to the link between Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism. However, not all Islamic fundamentalists advocate violence, and many seek to promote their views through peaceful means.
One of the most prominent modern trends in Islamic fundamentalism is the Wahhabi school, which emerged in the 18th century and is based on the teachings of Ibn Taymiyyah. Other influential writers of this movement include Sayyid Qutb of Egypt and Abu al-Maududi of Pakistan. They believed that Western-style individualism would inevitably lead to social corruption and depravity, and advocated a return to Shariah as the only way to achieve peace, justice, and prosperity. They considered divine guidance to be the only true source of governance and called on Muslims to live in accordance with Sharia law.
The terms “Islamists” and “jihadists” are often used interchangeably, but they have different meanings. Islamists are those who believe in the establishment of an Islamic state or government and seek to implement Islamic law (sharia) in all aspects of society. They may advocate for political or social change peacefully or through political action, such as running for office.
Jihadists, on the other hand, are a subset of Islamists who believe in using violence and terrorism to achieve their goals. They view violent struggle (jihad) as a legitimate means of defending Islam and fighting perceived enemies such as Western governments, secularism, or non-Muslims.
The specific goals of Islamists and jihadists differ. But in general, they seek to create societies and governments based on Islamic principles and laws. They may also seek to resist what they perceive as the influence of Western culture and ideas and to promote Islamic values and identity.
It is important to note that not all Islamists are jihadists. The vast majority of Muslims reject the use of violence in the name of Islam.
In addition, the vast majority of acts of violence and terrorism around the world are committed by non-Muslims.
Islamic political fundamentalists, also known as Islamists or jihadists, have organized active movements with the goal of achieving Islamization through violent confrontation with the West. These groups include the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, which assassinated President Anwar Sadat in 1981, and more recently, Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network, which attacked targets in the United States on September 11, 2001. These groups and their allies view the West as the enemy of Islam, and consider all Westerners, whether civilian or military, to be legitimate targets.
Islamic fundamentalism of the Shiite type arose as a result of the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979 when Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini came to power and founded the Islamic Republic of Iran. Khomeini urged the Shiite world to adopt his radical and fundamentalist ideas, presenting himself as a champion of the Islamic faith. He used anti-Americanism, hostility towards Israel, and anti-Western propaganda as a means of discrediting modernist forces in Iran.
Unlike Christian fundamentalist groups, Muslim groups do not typically use the term “fundamentalist” to describe themselves. In recent years, the term “Islamism” has been used more frequently to describe groups with similar ideological beliefs to Islamic fundamentalists.
Hindu fundamentalism, also known as Hindutva, is a political ideology that seeks to establish a Hindu state in India. It is based on the belief that India is a Hindu nation and that non-Hindus, especially Muslims, are foreigners and a threat to Hindu culture and identity. The Hindu nationalist political party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is associated with this ideology and has been in power in India since 2014.
Sikh fundamentalism, on the other hand, emerged as a response to perceived threats to Sikh identity and autonomy in India. It is rooted in the religious doctrine of Khalistan, which advocates for the creation of a separate Sikh state. Sikh fundamentalists have been involved in violent clashes with the Indian government, most notably in the 1980s and 1990s. However, the vast majority of Sikhs reject this ideology and support a peaceful coexistence with other religious groups in India.
Buddhist fundamentalism refers to the belief that Buddhism should strictly adhere to its traditional teachings and practices, without any compromise or accommodation to modernity or other religions. This view is often associated with certain sects and movements within Buddhism, such as Soka Gakkai in Japan. This sect has been criticized for its exclusivist and intolerant attitude towards other Buddhist schools and religions. It is important to note, however, that Buddhist fundamentalism is not a widespread or dominant current within Buddhism. In general, many Buddhists profess a more liberal and open approach to their faith.
Non-religious fundamentalism is any ideology or philosophy that aggressively asserts itself as the only source of objective truth. Regardless of whether it is religious or not. This can include political, economic, or social ideologies that seek to impose their beliefs on others and reject alternative points of view. Examples of non-religious fundamentalism include extreme forms of nationalism, totalitarianism, or authoritarianism. The notion of non-religious fundamentalism expands the definition of “fundamentalism” to include non-religious ideologies that exhibit similar dogmatic and intolerant behavior.