RECOMMENDED READING:: “What Ted Cruz Gets Right About Islamism”


An article unfortunately titled “What Ted Cruz Gets Right About Islamism: written by scholar Hassan Mneimneh provides a highly useful explication of four terms: Islam, Islamism, radicalism, and jihadism. The article begins:

April 12 2016 Ted Cruz, when asked at last month’s CNN town hall meeting to defend his controversial proposal to target Muslim neighborhoods in the United States, made a valuable distinction between Islam and Islamism.

Islam, the White House hopeful noted, is a religion, while Islamism is a political ideology. Cruz’s elaboration, beyond this initial distinction, may garner less support from researchers examining Islamism in its multiple expressions, but the Texas senator can indeed be excused: These experts themselves are rarely in agreement about how to label and categorize their subject matter. When compared to the ‘Islam hates us’ aside of another presidential contender, Cruz’s remarks reflect an apparent attempt to understand a complex situation, rather than an effort to appeal to the primal fears of the electorate.

When it comes to Islam and Islamism, a multitude of terms and categorization schemes are in competition. Some are built upon known words and expressions, and may thus be easier to conceive — such as Islamo-fascism and Islamic supremacism — but they carry with them the effect of eliminating nuances by assuming undue similarities. Others, while hopefully more accurate, are too arcane for the non-specialists; often, even to the specialists, they may be too opaque without the assistance of copious footnotes.

Yet, for the sake of an informed political conversation, we may need to agree on the broader definition and usage of four terms: Islam, Islamism, radicalism, and jihadism. Used separately or in combination, these terms provide a sound definition of virtually all the expressions of the subject matter.

Islam is the religious tradition that shapes the faith and, to different degrees, the culture of its Muslim followers. Most Muslims believe in the unity of the Islamic truth, the message that Islam has delivered through the Prophet Muhammad. They do, however, disagree on the substance of this truth.

Read the rest here.

Although the GMBDW finds much merit in the above article, it fails to elaborate on Senator’s Cruz’s woefully inadequate definition of Islamism as found in the CNN transcript linked to in the article:

Now, there is a difference between Islam and Islamism. Islamism is a political and theocratic philosophy that commands its adherents to wage violent jihad, to murder or to forcibly convert all infidels.

And by infidels, they mean every one of the rest of us. Islamism is our enemy.

Instead of revisiting this subject here, we refer readers to the many scholarly articles on the subject we have recommended in the past such as here, here, and here.

For our recent post on the Islamophobic rhetoric of the front-running Republican candidates, go here.

Discussion1 Comment

  1. The GMBDW notes that we do not fully agree with the following paragraph from the article above:

    “Islamism is a wide range of political ideologies that asserts that Islam, as a faith, ought to inform or shape the political order. In its softer forms, Islamism would seek to frame the political process with Islamic values such as piety, modesty, and social solidarity. At its most extreme, it may negate any institution or idea not rooted in Islamic dogma. OfThe conciliatory practice of Tunisia’s Islamist party, Ennahda, after it won elections in 2011 is at one end of the Islamism spectrum. At the other end lies the Islamic State group, or ISIS, which engages in the material obliteration and physical elimination of anyone or anything not in compliance with its own understanding of the religious order.”

    We take issue with what we consider to be the oversimplified notion of “softer” versus harder forms of Islamism as well as the characterization of Ennahda as an exemplar of the softest form.