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British Academy Lectures 2013-14$
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Janet Carsten and Simon Frith

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780197265864

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197265864.001.0001

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The appeal of Islamic fundamentalism

The appeal of Islamic fundamentalism

(p.27) The appeal of Islamic fundamentalism
British Academy Lectures 2013-14

Michael Cook

British Academy

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

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