The Two Streams of Islamism

Points made by Algerian novelist Boualem Sansal in an interview with the German paper T.A.Z., January 24

Radical Islamism is international. Radial Islamists communicate with each other through the internet.

Imperfect integration by Muslims in Europe and America is a secondary factor.

The Arabic name for their international political movement is Enabada – Re-Awakening. After sleeping for several centuries Muslims are waking up. There are two streams. The objective of one stream is a modern open Islamism. The adherers want to break out of traditional Islamism and modernize. The other stream is traditional and wishes to renew the conquest of the world, a project begun by the Prophet who conquered new countries and new souls. Its objective is the renewal of a great religion and a great civilization. Their adherents are mostly Salafist fundamentalists. They believe in using the sword, not propaganda.

In the long run the modernizers will prevail. They think in terms of many generations, of one or more centuries. In the meantime the Salafist fundamentalists are in the forefront and are constantly gaining influence.

It is a mistake to think of them as mostly poor and uneducated. Many of them are academics. They are true believers. They live in their own world and have their own literature. Their religion gives their lives meaning.

Radical Islamism is the result of a moral, not a social crisis.

We cannot “fight” the fundamentalists because we cannot “fight” ideas. But we can outmanoeuvre them by defending our humanistic values.


2 responses to “The Two Streams of Islamism

  1. Offering an alternative framing of ‘Islamism’, Russian theoretician Alexander Dugin sees the ‘Islamic civilization’ as another ‘pole of multi-plurality’.
    ‘Islamic world could be another pole. And I predict that there will be two poles at least, maybe even three in the Islamic civilization. Because Shia civilization is now confronting very harshly in Syria for example (and also in Lebanon) with Sunni civilization. There are two kinds of transnational societies, There are no unique civilizations. We have Shia civilization and Sunni civilization. At least two civilizations. But also Pakistan, Afghanistan and maybe Central Asian Muslims constitute a third kind of Islamic civilization and maybe Indonesian and Pacific Islam a fourth. But it is for the Muslims to decide how many civilizations they would prefer.’

    • Is this not amazing, Jan? Surely, in our (no doubt naive) perspective there is no substantial difference between the various forms of Islam. But the idea of a quatro-polar world — Islam — The West (including Russia?) — The Far East — and others — may make sense.