Notes from BPU Sri Lanka - Third Year

Religious Fundamentalism 1 (lectured by Mr. Samantha Illaṅgakon, recorded by ven. Mon monk Nai Suriya) 1st of March, 2011

              01.03.2011   LISTEN  >>>

                 15.03.2011  LISTEN  >>>

       29.03.2011  No recorded, no listen XXX

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Religious Fundamentalism 1     (1st of March, 2011) 

-        Religious fundamentalism is a contemporary issue.

-        Fundamentalism – in any religion or institution, there are certain fundamentals, even in biology, medicine etc. there are fundamentals. Fundamentalism therefore means that we should adhere to and accept fundamentals. Therefore, can there be a problem, if we work according to the fundamentals? A professor of biology would tell his/her student to accept biologic principles and work according to them. Is there anything wrong? However, if a professor of biology asks the same thing of students of physics – to follow biological principles – there would be a problem. Hence, basically fundamentalism is good, working according to principles – but if others are required to follow those fundamentals, problems may arise.

-        For example, in religion – in Buddhism there are 5 precepts (pañca-sīla). A Buddhist should, at least, accept and follow five precepts – it is a fundamental, basis, principle. But if we ask Muslims to follow five precepts – a problem will arise. Thus religious fundamentalism means, that followers of a certain religion ask followers of other religions to follow their rules, a problem will arise. Buddhists follow the teachings of the Buddha, for Muslims, they follow Holy Qur'ān, for Hindus they follow Vedas, Christians follow Bible → all these followers believe, that their scripture is correct and the other are wrong. They try to convert followers of other religions to their religion by any means. Some people are converted by force.

-        It is important to realize, that fundamentalism is good, that it is positive, but it may be dangerous or even destructive in case if it is applied to those who are not concerned. There is a medical science – Western medicine and Āyurveda medicine. There is a competition, there is a conflict, when followers of Western medicine criticize the Āyurveda medicine and otherwise. According to Āyurveda doctors they may think that Western doctors are wrong and criticize them.

-        We, as Buddhists, should study Buddhism inside of Buddhism, follow Buddhism inside Buddhism, but we should not force followers of other religions. Though Buddhism may be considered as a science, science (not only) of mind, we should not mix it with science that is outside Buddhism. We should not mix contexts.

            The term 'fundamentalism' can be applied in different contexts to describe strict adherence to a set of principles or beliefs.

-        We can study religions of other people, we don't need to study or limit our attention only to the religion or science that we are following. We may study other religions and other ideas, but we should not mix them, because as soon as we start to mix them, it will become a problem.

-        I would say (ven. Sarana), that there is a big difference between religion and science with regard to fundamentalism. While science is based, like philosophy, on repeated disproving and proving of its fundamentals, religion is based on utterly blind belief in that, what was taught by a teacher or a religious scripture. But of course, while we study science, we must depend on certain principles – but after we learn and know enough, we may even negate/break the fundamentals themselves, disproving them and substituting them by other fundamentals or explanations.

            Religious fundamentalism describes the approach taken by religious groups, who call for the literal interpretation of basic scriptures and belief, that the doctrines, which emerge from such readings should be applied to all aspects of social, economic and political life. Religious fundamentalists believe, that only one view of the world is possible and that their view is the correct one. There is no room for multiple interpretations.

-        As people, we are limited and cannot know everything. That knowledge is written in the religious scriptures. Therefore, as some may say, we should not study beyond the religious scriptures, because the truth is exposed there. However, if the explanation of truth is different in each religious scriptures, we may doubt and question which one is true and which one not.

-        The teacher says, that other religions explain the world by one word or concept – and that is God. Then I said, that Buddhism also explains the world by one word – avijjā (ignorance). (However, it may be also explained by word Śūnyatā(emptiness) and there would be even other explanations that tally with the Buddhist teachings.) According to the teacher, beauty of the world is based on the diversity of believes, religions and ideas. We should respect other religions and especially their cultures, we may study them and learn.

            Within religious fundamentalist movements, access to the exact meanings of scriptures, is restricted/limited to a set of privileged interpreters, such as priests, clergy or other religious leaders.

-        To understand a religion, we should know it's basic teachings, it's root of knowledge, such as religious scripture. We must understand those scriptures in their original language. For example, to understand the teachings of the Buddha we must study the Tipiṭaka in Pāli language. There would be some difficulties while understanding a scriptures – such as when we try to translate the word 'dukkha'. It is hard to claim, that dukkha means 'suffering', as it may have other meanings as well. To explain/interpret the scriptures, there are certain kinds of people who dedicate most of their time for that particular interpretation and study. That kind of people may be priests, clergy, monks etc. who work as interpreters in their particular religion.

            This gives these (religious) leaders a great amount of authority, not only in religious matters, but in secular matters as well. Religious fundamentalists have become powerful, political figures and heads of state.

-        Fundamentalism is an issue not only in religion, but also in secular matters. Religious authorities can have an influence on government. Many politicians in Sri Lanka are obliged to visit the Mahā Nāyaka Thera and discuss with him their ideals and expectations. Those discussions are broadcast and published as a propaganda for the politicians. Very often, if a country is religious, president or king is subordinated to a religious leader.

-        Some people, who are rich or powerful, who have a power, participate in religious occasions as privileged persons, though their life or character is not at all praiseworthy.

            The term 'religious fundamentalism' is a relatively new one. It is only in the last three decades that the term has entered common usage. It has arisen largely in response to globalization as the forces of modernization undermined traditional elements of social world, such as the nuclear family (a sociological concept – smallest institution of society – mother, father and child) and the domination of women by men. Fundamentalism has arisen in defense of traditional beliefs.

-        The teacher actually said, that the fundamentalism itself is a new phenomenon. I (ven. Sarana) commented, that actually it is only the term that may be new, because fundamentalism itself is known to us already from the very past history. For example, the pharaoh Akhenaten (Amenhotep IV) , who ruled Egypt in 14th century BC and who, as a Sun-God (monotheistic) worship fundamentalist tried to influence people of his country to follow the same belief. The teacher accepted my comment. He also added, that it is the study of fundamentalism, that is new, likewise with the term fundamentalism.

            In a globalizing world, which demands rational reasons, fundamentalism insists on faith-based answers and references to ritual truth. Fundamentalism is tradition-defended. In a traditional way fundamentalism has more to do with how beliefs are defended and justified, than with the content or the beliefs themselves.

-        Religious fundamentalists try to answer the issues and modern questions by faith-based, traditional answers. They do not speak about the truth or content of their ideas, they just try to justify their ideas by any other means, sometimes even by destructive means. There is a great contrast between modernity and religion – modernity doesn't accept tradition, while religion does.

Homework: find a definition for religious fundamentalism. If possible, with reference to an encyclopedia.

Religious Fundamentalism 2 (lectured by Mr. Ilaṅgakon) 15th of March, 2011 

 -        While accepting their own teaching and belief, the religious teachers ask also followers of other religions fo follow those teachings and believes.

-        For example, in Buddhism there are various explanations for anattā concept. If we want to understand it well, we must refer to the scriptures, the Buddhist suttas. There may be a diversity in the society of same religions.

-        In Lybia and other countries Islam presses on the people to follow the Islam in the way they believe it ought to be followed. Unfortunately, those who have other ideas, have to face quite unpleasant fates.

            Although fundamentalism sets itself into opposition to modernity, it employs modern approaches in asserting its beliefs.

-        Religious fundamentalist movements are trying to hold the traditional belief, while the modernity is against traditional way. Thus it tries to protect the traditional way, for example to protect the domination of men over women (which modernity tries to reject). Globalization, modernity, secularization and other phenomena appear on the cost of relationship between people, family concept – emotional relationship ceases, it does not depend on virtue and abuses are indulged by people. Ethics decreases. However, when we critically analyze religious fundamentalism, it also depends on modernity – they use newspapers, bulletins, e-mail, Internet etc. to propagate their believes, which are actually new inventions of modernity. Also, some religious fundamentalists use modern weapons to protect/spread their religion.

            For instance, Christian fundamentalists in USA, were among the first to use television as a medium for spreading their doctrines. Islamic fundamentalists in Chechnya have developed websites to set forth their views. Hindutva (Hindu fundamentalists) militants have used the Internet and e-mail to promote a feeling of Hindu identity.

-        Sometimes the fundamentalists of particular religions send e-mails that have to allure the reader to see a certain website or article and attract them (him/her) to the propagated religion.

Islamic Fundamentalism -        Islamic fundamentalism, though actually started in 622 with Muhammad's hijra (leaving Mecca), in the modern time we usually speak about Islamic fundamentalism that started during the revivalism of Islam that can be seen since 1980's in Iraq, that is ca. 1300 years after the hijra.

-        Revivalism – followers of Islam, seeing 'erosion' in their religion, caused by time, they decided to revive the teaching of Muhammad. During the time of Muhammad's era, many people, who had other ideas were killed or converted to the idea of the fundamentalists. During the revivalism, the same process was followed.


            Max Weber suspected that Islam could undergo a major revival and become the basis of important political development in the late 20th century. Yet this is exactly what happened in the 1980's in Iran. In recent years Islamic revivalism has spread with a significant impact in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Nigeria. Islam is a religion that has continually stimulated activism. Qur'ān is full of instructions to believers to struggle in the way of Allāh (God). This struggle is against both unbelievers and those, who introduce corruption in the Muslim community. There have been successive generations of Muslim reformers and Islam has become internally divided

-        If a Muslim is asked why is he a fundamentalist, he may say – it is the way instructed in Qur'ān. Instruction of Allāh should be followed by all Muslims – thus the instruction is to struggle against the unbelievers. Unbelievers are asked to become believers by accepting Islam.

-        I have argued, that Islam is actually a peaceful religion. According to Qur'ān, Muhammad left Mecca because his followers and his teaching was severely punished by the leading persons in Mecca. Mohammad decided to leave the country to Medina, where he was invited to settle the disputes among the people there. Being successful, he became leader of those people. Leading persons of Mecca became afraid of him and decided to invade Medina and kill Muhammad. Muhammad, in defense, had to enter the war with the Mecca leaders. While fighting, Muhammad met the leader of Kuraish people and asked him whether he believes in the one God, in Allāh. The Kuraish leader said, that he believed in Allāh, but he didn't believe, that Muhammad would be the prophet of Allāh. Forced by threatening by death, the Kuraish leader assented to accept Muhammad as the prophet of Allāh. (This story appears in a book about Muhammad's life.) According to Qur'ān, Islam is merciful, because all people, after regretting one's mistake, one should be forgiven. Thus it may seem, that people attacked by Muslims may be forced to become Muslims, but true is that becoming Muslims is the courtesy of Qur'ān, which should be followed by all Muslims. Any person, who regrets his bad deeds and decides to become a Muslim, should be forgiven. It is also strengthened by saying, that Allāh is extremely merciful (Ar'rahmāni rahīm).

            Shi'ite Islam split from the main body of orthodox Islam early in its history and has remained influential. Shi'ism has remained as the official religion of Persia since the 16th century. Shi'ism was the source of the ideas behind the Iranian revolution. Shi'ites trace their beginning to Imam Ali – a 7th century religious and political leader, who is believed to have shown qualities of personal devotion to God and virtue, outstanding among the rulers of the time. Ali's (royal) descendants came to be seen as rightful leaders of Islam. Since they were held to belong to the prophet Muhammad's family. They believe, that the rule of Muhammad's rightful heir would eventually be instituted. Muhammad's heir would be a leader directly guided by Allāh governing in accordance with the Qur'ān.

-        By saying, that they were descendants of Muhammad, the Shī'ite attempted to capture the control over the country and Islamic society (ummah). Even in other countries, the descendants (generations) of a particular king were ruling the particular country, for example in India.

Assignment: Discuss what are contemporary issues with examples in relation to religious context.

-        Contemporary issues should be introduced in the connection with religion.

Islamic Fundamentalism (lectured by Mr. Ilaṅgakon) 29th of March, 2011  

-        These days we may see issues in Libya, Syria and Egypt. Reason for those issues is the conflict between the Sunni (Sunnis)and Shiya (Shiite) sects of Islam.

            There is a large Shiite population in other Middle East countries including Iraq, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, and in India and Pakistan. However, the Islamic leadership in these countries is in the hands of  majority (Sunni). The Sunni people follow the “Beaten Path”, a series of traditions derived from the Qur'ān, which tolerates a considerable diversity of opinion in contrast to the more rigidly defined views of the Shiites.


            During the Middle Age there was a constant struggle between Christian Europe and the Muslim states which controlled large sections of what became Spain, Greece, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Romania. Most of the lands conquered by the Muslims were reclaimed by the Europeans/Christians, and many of their possessions in North Africa were in fact colonized as Western powers grew in the 18th century. These reverses let the (way) Muslim religion and civilization in to trouble. Islamic believers held to be the highest and most advanced possible. In the 19th century the inability of the Muslims who resist the spread of Western culture led to reform-movements seeking to restore Islam to its original purity. The key idea was, that Islam should respond to the Western challenge by affirming the identity of its own beliefs and practices.

-        These events may be compared to what happened with Mahāyāna Buddhism in Sri Lanka and India. It disappeared and was destroyed because of the Muslims' invasion.

-        Similarly, Europe, after invading Sri Lanka, was a cause for a kind of change in Buddhism which had to be reversed in the similar way Islam had to be reversed/revived in the Muslim countries.

            This idea has been developed in various ways in the 20th century and formed a back-drop to the Islamic revolution. In Irān this revolution was powered by internal opposition to the Shah of Irān, who had accepted to promote modernization. For example, land reform extending the vote to women and developing secular education. The moment that overthrew the Shah brought together people of diverse interest by more means all of whom were attached to Islamic fundamentalism, but a dominant figure was Ayatollah Khomeini who provided a radical reinterpretation of Shiites' ideas. Khomeini established a government organized according to traditional Islamic law. Islam became the direct bases of all politic and economic life. Under the Shari'a law men and women are kept rigorously separately, women are obliged to cover their heads in public. Practicing homosexuals are sent to the firing squad and adulterers are stoned to death.

-        Those strict laws helped the country to have people of good discipline. The strict law helps to maintain order in the place.

-        Iran has openly condemned the invasion of America and Europe to Libya. However, Sri Lanka cannot do so, because there would be problems, because Sri Lanka is dependent on the West. Iran before 1978 was as powerful as Sri Lanka, however, since then it has developed into a powerful country.

            The purpose of the Islamic republic in Iran was to Islamicize the state to organize government and society, so that Islamic teachings become dominant in all sphere. Although Islamic fundamentalist movements have gained influence in many countries in North Africa, Middle East and South Asia, they have succeeded in coming to power in only two other states (1980 – Sūdān (for six years); Afghānistān (as Taliban, for five years)) , in many other countries Islamic fundamentalism has gained influence but has been prevented from rising to power.

Christian Fundamentalism -        While Christianity is an earlier religion than Islam, its fundamentalism may be taken as a response to the Islamic fundamentalism.

            The growth of Christian fundamentalism in Europe and USA is the most notable feature of the last 50 years. These fundamentalists believe that the Bible is a workable guidebook for politics, government, business, families and all the affairs. Fundamentalist Christians believe in the divinity of the Christ and in the possibility of the salvation of one's soul through acceptance of Christ as the personal savior. They are committed to spread their message and convert those, who have not yet adapted the same beliefs. Christian fundamentalism is a reaction against liberal theology and humanism. Christian fundamentalism sets itself against the moral crisis wrought by modernization.

BONUS: Religious Fundamentalism (from Wikipedia) Basic beliefs of religious fundamentalists

For religious fundamentalists, sacred scripture is considered the authentic and authoritative word of their religion's god or gods. This does not necessarily require that all portions of scripture be interpreted literally rather than allegorically or metaphorically - for example, see the distinction in Christian thought between Biblical infallibility, Biblical inerrancy and Biblical literalism. Fundamentalist beliefs depend on the twin doctrines that their god or gods articulated their will clearly to prophets, and that followers also have an accurate and reliable record of that revelation.

Since a religion's scripture is considered the word of its god or gods, fundamentalists believe that no person is right to change it or disagree with it. Within that though, there are many differences between different fundamentalists.



A Japanese school of Buddhism, Nichiren Buddhism, which believes that other forms of Buddhism are heretical, has also been labelled fundamentalist. There are several sects of the Nichiren School, the most widely known is the lay Buddhist organization the Soka Gakkai International (SGI). The SGI, however, demonstrates cultural exchange and interfaith initiatives. A fuller understanding of the history and contemporary impact of Nichiren Buddhism can be found in other Wikipedia pages on Nichiren Buddhism. Some Nichiren sects contain influences from Shintō and a strong nationalistic streak.

Tibetan Buddhism

The 14th Dalai Lama has agreed that there exist also extremists and fundamentalists in Buddhism, arguing that fundamentalists are not even able to pick up the idea of a possible dialogue.[14] The Dalai Lama has thus far refused to engage in dialogue with Dorje Shugden practitioners, a justification cited by the Western Shugden Society for their recent protests.[15] For example, the Dalai Lama has never responded to Geshe Kelsang Gyatso's open letter that was sent to him in 1997.[16]

In an interview in 2005 the Dalai Lama referred to radical Dorje Shugden followers who, according to him, "were strongly suspected of having killed a lama who was very dear to me, the director of the School of Tibetan Dialectics in Dharamsala, and two monks, translators who were playing an important role in interpreting with the Chinese." He states that "These same people have beaten up and threatened other Tibetans in the name of their vision, which I would define as Buddhist integralism." In 2007 Interpol issued red notices to China for extraditing Lobsang Chodak and Tenzin Chozin, who are accused of the "ritualistic killing" of those three monks.[17]

A decade ago, in 1997, at the height of the Dorje Shugden controversy, Robert Thurman claimed: "It would not be unfair to call Shugdens the Taliban of Tibetan Buddhism," referring to the Muslim extremists of Afghanistan.[18] This characterization was repeated in other newspapers in 2002 when reporting about death threats against the 14th Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, northern India.[19][20]

In September 2008, the Western Shugden Society wrote an open letter,[21] challenging Thurman to justify his 10-year-old claim: "You should show your evidence publicly through the internet before 25 October 2008. If your evidence does not appear by this date then we will conclude that you have lied publicly and are misleading people." As of November 2009, there has been no response by Thurman on his website.[22]

New Kadampa Tradition

The alleged connection between the New Kadampa Tradition (aka NKT) and radical Indian and Nepali Shugden groups was strongly rejected by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, founder of the NKT, arguing: "The NKT is completely independent from Shugden groups in India..." and "This really is a false accusation against innocent people. We have never done anything wrong. We simply practise our own religion, as passed down through many generations."[23] In an open letter to the Washington Times ,[24] he stated "In October 1998 we decided to completely stop being involved in this Shugden issue ... everyone knows the NKT and myself completely stopped being involved in this Shugden issue at all levels. I can guarantee that the NKT and myself have never performed inappropriate actions and will never do so in the future, this is our determination. We simply concentrate on the flourishing of holy Buddhadharma throughout the world - we have no other aim. I hope people gradually understand our true nature and function."[24] The editor of the Washington Times article retracted the claim about the relationship between Shugden groups from India and Nepal and the British-based New Kadampa Tradition.[25]

David Kay argued in his doctoral research that the New Kadampa Tradition fit into the criteria of Robert Lifton ’s definition of the fundamentalist self .[26] However, most scholars do not agree with this characterization. Inken Prohl expresses hesitation over Kay's use of the word fundamentalist in regards to the NKT because of "the vague and, at the same time, extremely political implications of this term."[27] Likewise, Paul Williams prefers the word traditionalist over fundamentalist in describing the NKT and other Dorje Shugden followers. Reacting to the charge that the NKT is a 'fundamentalist movement,' Robert Bluck said, "Again a balanced approach is needed here: the practitioner’s confident belief may appear as dogmatism to an unsympathetic observer."[28]

Protestant Christian views

Main article: Fundamentalist Christianity

Christian fundamentalists see the Bible (both the Old Testament and the New Testament) as infallible and historically accurate.

It is important to distinguish between the "literalist" and "Fundamentalist" groups within the Christian community. Literalists, as the name indicates, hold that the Bible should be taken literally in every part. It would appear that there is no significant Christian denomination which is "literalist" in the sense that they believe that the Bible contains no figurative or poetic language. As the term is commonly used, "literalists" are those Christians who are more inclined to believe that portions of scripture (most particularly parts of the Book of Revelation) which most Christians read in a figurative way are in fact intended to be read in a literal way.

Many Christian Fundamentalists, on the other hand, are for the most part content to hold that the Bible should be taken literally only where there is no indication to the contrary. As William Jennings Bryan put it, in response to Clarence Darrow's questioning during the Scopes Trial (1925):

    "I believe that everything in the Bible should be accepted as it is given there; some of the Bible is given illustratively. For instance: 'Ye are the salt of the earth.' I would not insist that man was actually salt, or that he had flesh of salt, but it is used in the sense of salt as saving Ebba's people."

Still, the tendency toward a literal reading of the Bible is criticized by mainline Protestant scholars and others.[29][30][31]

According to anthropologist Lionel Caplan,

    "In the Protestant milieu of the USA, fundamentalism crystallized in response to liberals' eagerness to bring Christianity into the post-Darwinian world by questioning the scientific and historical accuracy of the scripture. Subsequently, the scourge of evolution was linked with socialism, and during the Cold War period, with communism. This unholy trinity came to be regarded as a sinister, atheistic threat to Christian America ... Bruce [Chpt. 9 of Caplan 1987] suggests that to understand the success of the Moral Majority, an alliance between the conservative forces of the New Right and the fundamentalist wings on the mainly Southern Baptist Churches, we have to appreciate these fears, as well as the impact of a host of unwelcome changes — in attitudes to 'morality', family, civil and women's rights, and so on — which have, in the wake of economic transformations since the Second World War, penetrated especially the previously insular social and cultural world of the American South." (Caplan 1987: 6)

The term fundamentalist has historically referred specifically to members of the various Protestant denominations who subscribed to the five "fundamentals", rather than fundamentalists forming an independent denomination. This wider movement of Fundamentalist Christianity has since broken up into various movements which are better described in other terms. Early "fundamentalists" included J. Gresham Machen and B.B. Warfield , men who would not be considered "Fundamentalists" today.

Over time the term came to be associated with a particular segment of Evangelical Protestantism, who distinguished themselves by their separatist approach toward modernity, toward aspects of the culture which they feel typify the modern world, and toward other Christians who did not similarly separate themselves.

The term fundamentalist is difficult to apply unambiguously, especially when applied to groups outside the USA, which are typically far less dogmatic. Many self-described Fundamentalists would include Jerry Falwell in their company, but would not embrace Pat Robertson as a fundamentalist because of his espousal of charismatic teachings. Fundamentalist institutions include Pensacola Christian College, and Bob Jones University, but classically Fundamentalist schools such as Fuller Theological Seminary and Biola University no longer describe themselves as Fundamentalist, although in the broad sense described by this article they are fundamentalist (better, Evangelical) in their perspective. (The forerunner to Biola U. — the Bible Institute of Los Angeles — was founded under the financial patronage of Lyman Stewart, who, with his brother Milton, underwrote the publication of a series of 12 books jointly entitled The Fundamentals between 1909 and 1920.)

See also: Independent Fundamental Baptist.


Main articles: Hindutva and Hindu nationalism

Hinduism, being a conglomerate of religious traditions, contains a very diverse range of philosophical viewpoints and is generally considered as being doctrinally tolerant of varieties of both Hindu and non-Hindu beliefs.[32]

Although related, Hinduism and Hindutva are different. Hinduism is a religion while Hindutva is a political ideology. . Some sections of the leftists and opponents of Hindutva, use the term "Hindu Taliban" to describe the supporters of the Hindutva movement.[33] Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize-winning Indian sociologist and cultural and political critic Ashis Nandy argued "Hindutva will be the end of Hinduism."[34]

Islamic views

Main articles: Islamic fundamentalism and Islamism

Muslims believe that their religion was revealed by God (Allah in Arabic) to Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, the final Prophet delivered by God. However, the Muslims brand of extremism which is generally termed Islamic fundamentalism encompasses all the following:

    * It describes the belief Muslims should restrict themselves to literal interpretations of their sacred texts, the Qur'an and Hadith. This may describe the private religious attitudes of individuals and have no relationship with larger social groups.

    * It describes a variety of religious movements and political parties in Muslim communities.

    * As opposed to the above two usages, in the West "Islamic fundamentalism" is most often used to describe Muslim individuals and groups which advocate Islamism, a political ideology calling for the replacement of state secular laws with Islamic law.

In all the above cases, Islamic fundamentalism is associated with Salafism and Wahhabism , as opposed to liberal movements within Islam.

Jewish views

Main article: Jewish fundamentalism

Most Jewish denominations believe that the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible or Old Testament) cannot be understood literally or alone, but rather needs to be read in conjunction with additional material known as the Oral Torah; this material is contained in the Mishnah, Talmud, Gemara and Midrash. While the Tanakh is not read in a literal fashion, Orthodox Judaism does view the text itself as divine, infallible, and transmitted essentially without change, and places great import in the specific words and letters of the Torah. As well, adherents of Orthodox Judaism, especially Haredi Judaism, see the Mishnah, Talmud and Midrash as divine and infallible in content, if not in specific wording. Hasidic Jews frequently ascribe infallibility to their Rebbe's interpretation of the traditional sources of truth.

Mormon views

Main article: Mormon fundamentalism

Mormon fundamentalism is a conservative movement of Mormonism that believes or practices what its adherents consider to be the fundamental aspects of Mormonism. It should be noted, however, that mainstream Mormon adherents also believe and practice what they consider to be the fundamental aspects of Mormonism. Most often, Mormon fundamentalism represents a break from the form of Mormonism practiced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), and a return to Mormon doctrines and practices which adherents believe the LDS Church has wrongly abandoned, such as plural marriage , the Law of Consecration , the Adam-God theory , blood atonement, the Patriarchal Priesthood , elements of the Mormon Endowment ritual, and often the exclusion of black people from the priesthood .

Common aspects

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Fundamentalists believe their cause to have grave and even cosmic importance. They see themselves as protecting not only a distinctive doctrine, but also a vital principle, and a way of life and of salvation. Community, comprehensively centered upon a clearly defined religious way of life in all of its aspects, is the promise of fundamentalist movements, and it therefore appeals to those adherents of religion who find little that is distinctive, or authentically vital in their previous religious identity.

The fundamentalist "wall of virtue", which protects their identity, is erected against not only other religions, but also against the modernized, nominal version of their own religion. In Christianity, fundamentalists can be known as "born again" and "Bible-believing" Protestants, as opposed to "mainline", "liberal", "modernist" Protestants. In Islam there are jama'at ((religious) enclaves with connotations of close fellowship) fundamentalists self-consciously engaged in jihad (struggle) against the Western culture that suppresses authentic Islam (submission) and the God-given (Shari'ah) way of life. In Judaism fundamentalists are Haredi "Torah-true" Jews. There are fundamentalist equivalents in Hinduism and other world religions. These groups insist on a sharp boundary between themselves and the faithful adherents of other religions, and finally between a "sacred" view of life and the "secular" world and "nominal religion". Fundamentalists direct their critiques toward and draw most of their converts from the larger community of their religion, by attempting to convince them that they are not experiencing the authentic version of their professed religion.

Many scholars see most forms of fundamentalism as having similar traits. This is especially obvious if modernity, secularism or an atheistic perspective is adopted as the norm, against which these varieties of traditionalism or supernaturalism are compared. From such a perspective, Peter Huff wrote in the International Journal on World Peace :

    "According to Antoun , fundamentalists in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, despite their doctrinal and practical differences, are united by a common worldview which anchors all of life in the authority of the sacred and a shared ethos that expresses itself through outrage at the pace and extent of modern secularization."[35]


14# ^ Interview with HH the Dalai Lama by Raimondo Bultrini, Engl. Trans. by Alison Duguid, Merigar, Dzogchen Community Italy, 2005

15# ^ Tibetan sects protest in US against Dalai Lama NewsX, 2008-07-12, retrieved 2008-12-01

16# ^ Open Letter to H.H. the Dalai Lama by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso

17# ^ The Times, June 22, 2007, Interpol on trail of Buddhist killers, Jane Macartney in Beijing,

18# ^ Newsweek, April 28, 1997,

19# ^ "Death threats to Dalai Lama blamed on rival Bhuddist sect", The Sidney Morning Herald, November 16, 2002

20# ^ Washington Times, "Dalai Lama faced with death threats", 23 November 2002,

21# ^ Official Website Western Shugden Society, Open Letter to Robert Thurman, 10 September 2008,

22# ^

23# ^ Reply to Newsweek, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, 1997, CESNUR

24# ^ a b Open letter from Geshe Kelsang Gyatso to Wesley Pruden, editor in chief,

25# ^ The Washington Times, "Dalai Lama faced with death threats" , November 23, 2002

26# ^ Kay, D. N. (2004). Tibetan and Zen Buddhism in Britain: Transplantation, development and adaptation. RoutledgeCurzon critical studies in Buddhism. London: RoutledgeCurzon. ISBN 0-415-29765-6 . p. 110.

27# ^ Book Review: Tibetan and Zen Buddhism in Britain . Inken Prohl, Free University of Berlin. retrieved 2008-12-09.

28# ^ Bluck, R. (2006). British Buddhism: Teachings, practice and development. Routledge critical studies in Buddhism. London: Routledge. p. 129.

29# ^

30# ^ Fundamentalism

31# ^ The World of Fundamentalism

32# ^ India and Hinduism "In principle, Hinduism incorporates all forms of belief and worship without necessitating the selection or elimination of any. The Hindu is inclined to revere the divine in every manifestation, whatever it may be, and is doctrinally tolerant, leaving others - including both Hindus and non-Hindus - whatever creed and worship practices suit them best. "

33# ^ Fritz Blackwell (2004). India: A Global Studies Handbook. ABC-CLIO. p. 126. ISBN  9781576073483 .

34# ^ Ashis Nandy (1991-02-18). "Hinduism Versus Hindutva: The Inevitability Of A Confrontation" . The Times of India. . Retrieved 2008-11-10.

35# ^ Parallels in Muslim, Christian, and Jewish Fundamentalism

BONUS: "fundamentalism." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite.  Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2010. Introduction

type of militantly conservative religious movement characterized by the advocacy of strict conformity to sacred texts. Once used exclusively to refer to American Protestants who insisted on the inerrancy of the Bible, the term fundamentalism was applied more broadly beginning in the late 20th century to a wide variety of religious movements. Indeed, in the broad sense of the term, many of the major religions of the world may be said to have fundamentalist movements. For a discussion of fundamentalism in American Protestantism, see fundamentalism, Christian.

The study of fundamentalism

In the late 20th century the most influential—and the most controversial—study of fundamentalism was The Fundamentalism Project (1991–95), a series of five volumes edited by the American scholars Martin E. Marty and R. Scott Appleby. Marty and Appleby viewed fundamentalism primarily as the militant rejection of secular modernity. They argued that fundamentalism is not just traditional religiosity but an inherently political phenomenon, though this dimension may sometimes be dormant. Marty and Appleby also contended that fundamentalism is inherently totalitarian, insofar as it seeks to remake all aspects of society and government on religious principles.

Despite its unprecedented breadth, The Fundamentalism Project has been criticized on a number of grounds. One objection is that many of the movements that Marty and Appleby categorize as fundamentalist seem to be motivated less by the rejection of modernity than by social, ethnic, and nationalistic grievances. Indeed, in many cases the people who join such movements have not suffered more than others from the stress and dislocation typically associated with modernization, nor are such stresses and dislocations prominently reflected in the rhetoric or the actions of these movements. The term modernity itself, moreover, is inherently vague; Marty and Appleby, like many other scholars, use it freely but do little to explain what it means.

Another criticism of Marty and Appleby's approach is that it is inappropriate to use the term fundamentalism, which originally referred to a movement in American Protestantism, to describe movements in other religions, particularly non-Western ones. This practice has been denounced as a kind of Eurocentric “conceptual imperialism”—an especially sensitive charge in the Islamic world, where those designated fundamentalists are outraged by Western political, economic, and cultural domination.

A third objection is that the significant negative connotations of the term fundamentalism—usually including bigotry, zealotry, militancy, extremism, and fanaticism—make it unsuitable as a category of scholarly analysis. On the other hand, some scholars have argued that the negative connotations of the term aptly characterize the nature of fundamentalist movements, many of which seek the violent overthrow of national governments and the imposition of particular forms of worship and religious codes of conduct in violation of widely recognized human rights to political self-determination and freedom of worship.

Christian fundamentalism in the United States

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Christian fundamentalists vigorously opposed theological modernism, which, as the “higher criticism” of the Bible, involved the attempt to reconcile traditional Christian beliefs with modern science and historiography. (For a discussion of modernism in the history of the Roman Catholic Church, see Modernism.) The term fundamentalist was coined in 1920 to describe conservative Evangelical Protestants who supported the principles expounded in The Fundamentals: A Testimony to the Truth (1910–15), a series of 12 pamphlets that attacked modernist theories of biblical criticism and reasserted the authority of the Bible. The central theme of The Fundamentals was that the Bible is the inerrant word of God. Associated with this idea was the view that the Bible should be read literally whenever possible and that believers should lead their lives according to the moral precepts it contains, especially the Ten Commandments.

Fundamentalists opposed the teaching of the theory of biological evolution in the public schools and supported the temperance movement against the sale and consumption of intoxicating liquor. Nevertheless, for much of the 20th century, Christian fundamentalism in the United States was not primarily a political movement. Indeed, from the late 1920s until the late 1970s, most Christian fundamentalists avoided the political arena, which they viewed as a sinful domain controlled by non-Christians. (Christian fundamentalists, like Evangelicals in general, reserve the term Christian for those who have been “born again” by accepting Jesus Christ as their Saviour.) A basic theme of Christian fundamentalism, especially in its early years, was the doctrine of separation: real Christians must remain separate from the impure and corrupt world of those who have not been born again.

The apolitical attitude of many Christian fundamentalists was linked to their premillennial eschatology, including the belief that Jesus Christ will return to initiate the millennium, a thousand-year period of perfect peace (see millennialism). There is no point in trying to reform the world, according to the premillennialists, because it is doomed until Jesus returns and defeats the Antichrist. This attitude is reflected in the fundamentalist expression “Why polish the brass on a sinking ship?” In contrast, postmillennialists believed that spiritual and moral reform would lead to the millennium, after which Christ would return. Thus, whereas premillennialism implied political passivity, postmillennialism implied political activism.

Belief and practice, however, do not always coincide. Starting in the late 1970s, many premillennialist fundamentalists embraced the political activism traditionally associated with postmillennialism, which resulted in a distinct tension between their political acts and their eschatological beliefs. This tension was often pointed out by more-traditional fundamentalists, who continued to shun political activism.

Despite the prominence of the Christian Right in American politics in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, millions of Christian fundamentalists continued to focus their attention on the religious and personal domains. They were not overtly political, and they certainly did not attempt to remake state and society according to biblical precepts. Even those who were politically active tended to be concerned with moral issues—such as abortion, school prayer, and homosexuality—rather than with the goal of transforming the United States into a Christian theocracy. Thus, they were not fundamentalists in the sense in which Marty and Appleby and most scholars of fundamentalism used that term. (Some Christian fundamentalists in the United States, the Christian Reconstructionists, advocated the creation of a state and society based on strict conformity to biblical law. But they constituted only a small minority of the activists in the Christian Right.)

The negative connotations of the term fundamentalism led some politically active Christian fundamentalists to search for other names for their movement. Thus, some preferred to call themselves “Christian conservatives.” Many members of the Christian Coalition, the most influential organization of the Christian Right in the 1990s—including its one-time president Pat Robertson—identified themselves as “charismatic Evangelicals” (see Evangelical church). Although charismatics also believed in the inerrancy of the Bible, they stressed the ecstatic experience of the Holy Spirit as manifested by speaking in tongues and faith healing. The charismatics were opposed by more-traditional fundamentalists, such as the televangelist Jerry Falwell, who proudly retained the older designation and condemned the charismatics' ecstatic practices. Traditional fundamentalists viewed the charismatic emphasis on speaking in tongues and healing as “unscriptural.” The tension between these two distinct trends in American Christian fundamentalism is one reason relatively few fundamentalists supported Robertson's presidential candidacy in 1988.

The Christian Right that emerged with the formation of Falwell's Moral Majority in 1979 was a response to transformations in American society and culture that took place in the 1960s and '70s. Fundamentalists were alarmed by a number of developments that, in their view, threatened to undermine the country's traditional moral values. These included the civil rights movement, the women's movement (see also feminism), and the gay rights movement; the relatively permissive sexual morality prevalent among young people; the teaching of evolution; and rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court that banned institutionally initiated group prayer and reading of the Bible in public schools and that affirmed the legal right to abortion (see also Roe v. Wade). The federal government's attempts to revoke the tax-exempt status of many Christian schools founded to circumvent the federally mandated racial integration of public schools further galvanized many Christian fundamentalists in the South.

The fundamentalists were subsequently joined in their political activism by conservative Roman Catholics and Mormons as well as a small number of Orthodox Jews. The term Catholic fundamentalism is sometimes used to describe conservative Catholicism, but most scholars would reject this term because Christian fundamentalism traditionally involved strict conformity to the “inerrant text” of the Bible. This is not a distinctive feature of Catholic conservatism. Catholic conservatives have, for example, put much less emphasis on the issue of evolution than have Protestant fundamentalists. Moreover, Christian fundamentalists have generally viewed both Roman Catholicism and Mormonism as non-Christian “cults.” Conservative Catholics, Mormons, and Orthodox Jews, however, tend to agree with Protestant fundamentalists on issues like abortion, gay rights, and traditional moral values in general.

Christian Evangelicals, who represented roughly 25 percent of the U.S. population at the start of the 21st century, do not uniformly share all the views of fundamentalists or the Christian Right. (Although all Christian fundamentalists are Evangelicals, many Evangelicals are not fundamentalists.) All Evangelicals believe that the Bible is in some sense the inerrant word of God and that one has to accept Jesus Christ as one's Lord and Saviour in order to be “saved.” But many Evangelicals, like former president Jimmy Carter, are religious liberals who take relatively less-traditional positions on some of the issues that have enraged fundamentalists. Unlike fundamentalists, for example, many Evangelicals accept the idea of women ministers.

Christian fundamentalism has not been as politically significant elsewhere in the world as it has been in the United States. Although it has been associated with Protestant loyalism in Northern Ireland, the fundamentalist impulse in that conflict is clearly subordinate to its ethnic and nationalist dimensions, with Protestantism and Roman Catholicism serving primarily as badges of group identity.

Jewish fundamentalism in Israel

Three main trends in Israeli Judaism have been characterized as fundamentalist: militant religious Zionism, the ultra-Orthodoxy of the Ashkenazim (Jews of eastern European origin), and the ultra-Orthodoxy of the Sephardim (Jews of Middle Eastern origin) as represented by the Shas party. All three groups stress the need for strict conformity to the religious laws and moral precepts contained in the sacred Jewish texts, the Torah and the Talmud.

The fundamentalist impulse in Israel is rooted in events that took place well before the country's founding in 1948. Since the destruction of Jerusalem's Second Temple by the Romans in 70 CE (see Jerusalem, Temple of), most Jews had lived in the Diaspora—that is, dispersed far from the land of Israel promised by God to the Jewish people according to the Hebrew Bible. During their prolonged “exile” (Hebrew: galut), Jews all over the world prayed daily for the coming of the messiah, who would lead them back to Israel and deliver them from their Gentile oppressors. In the late 19th century, some Jews, primarily secular intellectuals such as Theodor Herzl (1860–1904), a Viennese journalist and playwright, concluded that the ancient problem of anti-Semitism could be solved only by the creation of a Jewish state. Zionism, the movement to establish a Jewish state in Palestine, thus represented a secularization of the traditional messianic theme. Instead of waiting for God and the messiah to lead the Jews back to the land of Israel, Zionists argued, Jews should take it upon themselves to return there. For Herzl and his closest associates, the messianic aspect of this “ingathering of the exiles” was irrelevant: the crucial point was to create a state where Jews would no longer be at the mercy of non-Jews.

Most Orthodox Jews—and Orthodox rabbis in particular—were opposed to Zionism, primarily because, in their view, it called upon humans to do what only God and the messiah could do. In traditional Judaism, the return to the land of Israel was inseparable from the messianic redemption of the people of Israel. Thus, returning to the land and creating a state would amount to defying God's will and would only postpone the real redemption and the real ingathering of exiles. Orthodox Jews also objected to the fact that Herzl and most other early Zionist leaders did not advocate a state based on strict conformity to Jewish religious law. Hostility toward Zionism prevailed among Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox rabbis through the early 20th century. However, it virtually disappeared among the former with the coming of the Holocaust, which appeared to confirm the Zionist argument that Jews could be safe only in their own state.

Modern Orthodox Jews strictly observe Jewish religious law but have nevertheless devised ways to participate in modern society, both in the Diaspora and in Israel. The ultra-Orthodox, in contrast, insist on separating themselves from Gentile society, as well as from Jews who do not follow the religious law as strictly as they do.

Religious Zionism

Despite the hostility of most Orthodox rabbis, Zionism aroused considerable enthusiasm among many Orthodox Jews who saw in it the promise of the long-awaited messianic redemption. Some Orthodox rabbis, therefore, sought to legitimate Orthodox participation in the Zionist movement. Rabbi Yitzḥaq Yaʿaqov Reines (1839–1915), founder of the Mizraḥi religious Zionist movement in 1902, argued that the Zionist settlement of the land of Israel had nothing to do with the future messianic redemption of the Jews and thus did not constitute a heretical defiance of God's will. Zionism's manifestly messianic implications, however, limited the appeal of this idea, which was soon displaced by a radically different view: that Zionism itself was part of the gradual messianic redemption of the Jewish people. The secular Zionists, though they did not know it, were doing the work of God and the messiah. This argument was made by Rabbi Abraham Kook (1865–1935), and it has remained a basic theme of religious Zionism.

Religious Zionists are usually referred to as the datim leʿumim (Hebrew: “national religious”). This term captures the fusion of Orthodoxy and nationalism that has always characterized the movement. Unlike the ultra-Orthodox, the religious Zionists have always been willing to cooperate with the far more numerous secular Zionists who were primarily responsible for creating the State of Israel in 1948. Indeed, from 1948 to 1992, religious-Zionist parties participated in every Israeli government. Until 1977 there was a close relationship between these parties and the Israel Labour Party, which dominated Israeli politics during this period. In 1956 Mizraḥi and ha-Poʿel ha-Mizraḥi (the Mizraḥi Worker Party) joined to form the National Religious Party (NRP), or Mafdal. Traditionally, the NRP and its predecessors concerned themselves with domestic religious issues, such as observance of Shabbat (the Sabbath) and the question of who is a Jew, and left foreign affairs to the Labour Party.

The Six-Day War of 1967 (see Arab-Israeli wars) awakened the dormant messianic dimension of religious Zionism. East Jerusalem, the Temple Mount, and Judaea—the very heart of ancient Israel—were once again in Jewish hands. To return any of this land to the Arabs would be to defy God's plan for the redemption of the Jewish people. The religious Zionists who felt this way (not all did) began to settle in the territories occupied—or, as they saw it, liberated—in the Six-Day War.

The militant religious Zionists in the vanguard of the settlement effort formed a movement called Gush Emunim (Hebrew: “Bloc of the Faithful”), which clashed with the more traditional religious Zionists who still led the NRP in the 1960s and '70s. The latter continued to believe that God had given the land of Israel to the Jews, but they felt that making peace—and thus saving Jewish lives—was more important than retaining territory. For the militants, settling the land and preventing the government from withdrawing from it took precedence over anything else. In 2005 settlers staged widespread protests in a vain attempt to halt Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. Their prediction that such a withdrawal would provoke civil war was wrong. Some Israelis hope that the experience in Gaza will facilitate future Israeli withdrawals from the West Bank (Judaea and Samaria).

Militant religious Zionism thus illustrates the diverse character of fundamentalism. Its practitioners conform strictly in their daily lives to what they believe are the laws of God, and they advocate the creation of a society based on those laws, but their political activities have been directed toward settling and retaining the land won in 1967. Militant religious Zionists share with other religious and secular Zionists a nationalist sentiment and the conviction that anti-Semitism can be effectively opposed only with force. Indeed, religious Zionism draws upon some basic themes of mainstream Zionism, notably the idea that the goal of Zionism is to create a “new Jew” who will never submit to oppression.

The Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox

The ultra-Orthodox are often referred to in Hebrew as Haredim, or “those who tremble” in the presence of God (because they are God-fearing). Unlike the Orthodox, the ultra-Orthodox continue to reject Zionism—at least in principle—as blasphemous. In practice, the rejection of Zionism has led to the emergence of a wide variety of groups, ranging from the Neturei Karta (Aramaic: “Guardians of the City”), which does not recognize the legitimacy of the State of Israel, to the political parties of the Haredim, which occasionally determine which of Israel's major parties is able to form a government. It is important to distinguish between the Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox and the Sephardi ultra-Orthodox. The term Ashkenazi (plural Ashkenazim) originally referred to Jews from Germany, and Sephardi (plural Sephardim) originally referred to Jews from Spain and Portugal. But in Israel the terms are often used to designate Jews of northern European origin on the one hand and Jews of Middle Eastern origin on the other.

The Ashkenazi Haredi political parties have concentrated primarily on obtaining funding for their communities and on enforcing strict conformity to their interpretation of Jewish religious law concerning issues such as observance of Shabbat, conversion, kosher dietary laws, and, in their view, the desecration of the dead by archaeologists. Since the Six-Day War, however, most Ashkenazi Haredim have tended to support the position of the militant religious Zionists against “land for peace,” despite their continued theoretical opposition to Zionism and the state it produced.

Shas and the Sephardi underclass

The third major form of Jewish fundamentalism in Israel is represented by the Sephardi ultra-Orthodox and their political party, Shas—Shas being a Hebrew acronym for Sephardi Torah Guardians. The Sephardim, in the broad sense of Jews of Middle Eastern origin, are, by and large, less well educated and less prosperous than the Ashkenazim, and many of them feel that they are discriminated against. Indeed, the Sephardim who vote for Shas tend to be motivated less by belief in the party's program of strict conformity to Jewish religious law than by frustration and resentment caused by their perceived second-class status in Israeli society. Shas is thus an excellent illustration of the fact that fundamentalist movements often owe their success to political and social grievances rather than to strictly religious ones. In addition to its religious and cultural platform, Shas provides schools and other social services for poor Sephardim; in this respect it is similar to some fundamentalist Islamic movements.

Islamic fundamentalism

Because the term fundamentalism is Christian in origin, because it carries negative connotations, and because its use in an Islamic context emphasizes the religious roots of the phenomenon while neglecting the nationalistic and social grievances that underlie it, many scholars prefer to call Islamic fundamentalists “Islamists” and to speak of “Islamist movements” instead of Islamic fundamentalism. (The members of these movements refer to themselves simply as Muslims.) Nevertheless, the term Islamic fundamentalism has been current in both popular and scholarly literature since the late 20th century. This article, therefore, will occasionally follow this common usage.

The subject of Islamic fundamentalism attracted a great deal of attention in the West after the Iranian Revolution of 1978–79—which deposed Iran's ruler, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi (1919–80), and established an Islamic republic—and especially after the September 11 attacks on the United States in 2001 by al-Qaeda, an international Islamist terrorist network. The spectacular nature of these events may have lent plausibility to the common but mistaken belief in the West that Islam and Islamic fundamentalism are closely connected, if not identical. In fact, however, not all Muslims believe that the Qurʾān is the literal and inerrant word of God, nor do all of them believe that Islam requires strict conformity to all the religious and moral precepts in the Qurʾān. More important, unlike genuine Islamic fundamentalists, most Muslims are not ideologically committed to the idea of a state and society based on Islamic religious law.

The character of Islamist movements varies greatly throughout the world. Some Islamists resort to terrorism, and some do not. Some espouse leftist political and economic programs, borrowing ideas from Marxism and other varieties of socialism, while others are more conservative. Most Islamists, however, insist on conformity to a code of conduct based on a literal interpretation of sacred scripture. They also insist that religion encompasses all aspects of life and hence that religion and politics cannot be separated. Like most fundamentalists, they generally have a Manichaean (dualistic) worldview: they believe that they are engaged in a holy war, or jihad, against their evil enemies, whom they often portray as pawns of Jewish and Masonic conspiracies in terms taken directly from the anti-Semitic literature of 20th-century Europe. Messianism, which plays an important role in Christian, Jewish, and Shīʿite Islamic fundamentalism, is less important in the fundamentalism of the Sunni branch of Islam.

Islamist movements have been politically significant in most Muslim countries primarily because they articulate political and social grievances better than do the established secular parties, some of which (the leftist parties) were discredited following the collapse of communism in eastern Europe and the Soviet Union in 1990–91. Although the governments of Saudi Arabia and other oil-producing countries of the Persian Gulf region have represented themselves as conforming strictly to Islamic law, they continue to face internal opposition from Islamist movements for their pro-Western political and economic policies, the extreme concentration of their countries' wealth in the hands of the ruling families, and, in the Islamists' view, the rulers' immoral lifestyles.

To some extent, the Islamists' hostility toward the West is symptomatic of the rejection of modernity attributed to all fundamentalist movements, since much of what is modern is derived from the West. (It should be noted, however, that Islamists do not reject modern technology.) But it would be a mistake to reduce all such hostility to a reactionary rejection of all that is new; it would also be a mistake to attribute it entirely to xenophobia, though this is certainly an influence. Another important factor is the Islamists' resentment of Western political and economic domination of the Middle East. This is well illustrated by the writings of Osama bin Laden, the founder and leader of al-Qaeda, which repeatedly condemn the United States for enabling the dispossession of the Palestinians, for orchestrating international sanctions on Iraq that contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens in the 1990s, and for maintaining a military “occupation” of Saudi Arabia during the Persian Gulf War (1990–91). Bin Laden has also condemned the Saudi regime and most other governments of the Middle East for serving the interests of the United States rather than those of the Islamic world. Thus, the fundamentalist dimension of bin Laden's worldview is interwoven with resentment of Western domination.

Puritanical revivalist movements calling for a return to the pristine Islam of the Prophet Muhammad have occurred periodically throughout Islamic history. During the period of European colonial rule in the 19th and 20th centuries, however, these movements began to take on a polemical, apologetic character. Muslim reformists such as Muḥammad ʿAbduh (1849–1905) and Jamāl al-Dīn al-Afghānī (1838–97) stressed that a return to the “rationalist” Islam of Muhammad—which was not incompatible, in their view, with science and democracy—was essential if Muslims were to free themselves from European domination. This argument was subsequently adopted by some Islamic fundamentalists, though many others condemned democracy on the grounds that only God's laws are legitimate. Some Jewish and Christian fundamentalists have rejected democracy for the same reason.

Among the Islamist movements that have attracted the most attention in the West is the Palestinian movement Ḥamās, which was founded in 1987. Its name, which means “zeal” in Arabic, is an acronym of the name Ḥarakat al-Muqāwamah al-Islāmiyyah (“Islamic Resistance Movement”). Ḥamās was created primarily to resist what most Palestinians viewed as the occupation of their land by Israel. There is thus a clearly nationalist dimension to this movement, though it is also committed to the creation of a strictly Islamic state. Ḥamās opposed the idea of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza and insisted on fighting a jihad to expel the Israelis from all of Palestine—from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean and from Lebanon to Egypt. It justified its terrorist attacks on Israelis as legitimate acts of war against an occupying power. Like some other Islamist movements in the Middle East, Ḥamās provides basic social services—including schools, clinics, and food for the unemployed—that are not provided, or are inadequately provided, by local authorities. These charitable activities are an important source of its appeal among the Palestinian population.

In January 2006 Ḥamās was the victor by a wide margin in elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council, and it was asked to form a government. This development led to much speculation among political observers about whether Ḥamās could evolve into a moderate nonviolent political party, as many other terrorist groups have done (e.g., Irgun Zvai Leumi and the Stern Gang in Israel and the Irish Republican Army in Ireland).

Sikh fundamentalism

Sikh fundamentalism first attracted attention in the West in 1978, when the fiery preacher Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale reportedly led a march to break up a gathering of the Sikh Nirankari movement (from Punjabi nirankar, “formless,” reflecting the movement's belief in the nature of God), which orthodox Sikhs considered heretical. Bhindranwale, like other fundamentalists, stressed the need for conformity to a sacred text (the Adi Granth) and for the creation of a Sikh state governed according to sacred law. But, as in the case of the Protestants of Northern Ireland, such fundamentalist concerns were subordinated to nationalistic ones. Sikh fundamentalists of the late 20th and early 21st centuries sought to create an independent Sikh state in the Indian province of Punjab. Although images of holy war pervaded their rhetoric, their primary enemy was the Hindu state of India rather than secularism per se. Sikh fundamentalism was thus primarily a nationalistic separatist movement.

In June 1984, Indian troops stormed the Golden Temple in Amritsar and killed Bhindranwale and hundreds of his armed supporters. The assassination, as well as what Sikhs considered the desecration of their holiest shrine, infuriated the Sikh community and led to the assassination of Indira Gandhi, India's prime minister, by two of her Sikh bodyguards in October 1984. This in turn sparked riots in which Hindu mobs killed more than 2,000 Sikhs. By the early 1990s, the central government had succeeded in crushing Sikh militancy in India.

Hindu fundamentalism

What is usually called “Hindu fundamentalism” in India has been influenced more by nationalism than by religion, in part because Hinduism does not have a specific sacred text to which conformity can be demanded. Moreover, conformity to a religious code has never been of particular importance to Hindu groups such as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). For the members of such groups, Hinduism is above all a symbol of national identity rather than a set of rules to be obeyed.

The nationalistic orientation of the BJP is reflected in its name, which means “the Party of the Indian People.” Similarly, the name of the Rashtriya Swayamesevak Sangh (RSS), a “self-defense” force associated with the BJP, means “National Volunteers Corps.” Neither the BJP nor the RSS advocates the creation of a Hindu state. The principal concern of both groups is the danger posed to “the Hindu nation” by Islamic proselytization among untouchables and lower-caste Hindus; both groups have also vehemently opposed Christian proselytization in India for the same reason. In RSS tracts, there is little reference to specific Hindu beliefs, and its members acknowledge that they are not themselves religious.

The nationalism of the BJP and the RSS is also reflected in their religious and moral demands; in this respect they differ significantly from Christian fundamentalist groups in the United States. In a notorious incident in 1992, the Babri Mosjid (“Mosque of Bābur”) at Ayodhya was demolished by a mob of militant Hindus; the subsequent rioting led to the deaths of more than 1,000 people. Although there was real religious fervour associated with the belief that the site of the mosque was the birthplace of the Hindu god Rama and the location of an ancient Hindu temple, the attack was above all a reflection of the Hindu nationalists' belief in the essentially Hindu character of India and their perception of Muslims as inherently alien. The fact that Hindu nationalism is sometimes called “Hindu fundamentalism” illustrates how indiscriminately the term fundamentalism has been used outside its original American Protestant context.


Although the terms fundamentalism and fundamentalist have entered common parlance and are now broadly applied, it should not be forgotten that the myriad movements so designated vary greatly in their origins, character, and outlook. Thus, Islamic fundamentalist movements differ from their Christian and Jewish counterparts in having begun as essentially defensive responses to European colonial domination. Early Islamic fundamentalists were reformers who wished to affirm the value of their religion by returning to what they sought to portray as its pristine original form; their movements only gradually acquired the militancy characteristic of much religious fundamentalism today. On the other hand, these movements share with Christian and Jewish fundamentalism an antipathy to secularism, an emphasis on the importance of traditional religiosity as their members understand it, and a strict adherence to sacred texts and the moral codes built upon them. Although these and other common features are important as sources of insight, each fundamentalist movement is in fact unique and is best understood when viewed in its own historical and cultural context.

Henry Munson

Additional Reading

General works

The most important comparative study of fundamentalism is Martin E. Marty and R. Scott Appleby (eds.), The Fundamentalism Project, 5 vol. (1991–95): Fundamentalisms Observed (1991), Fundamentalisms and Society (1993), Fundamentalisms and the State (1993), Accounting for Fundamentalisms (1994), and Fundamentalisms Comprehended (1995). A summary of their perspective is presented in Martin E. Marty and R. Scott Appleby, The Glory and the Power: The Fundamentalist Challenge to the Modern World (1992); and Gabriel A. Almond, R. Scott Appleby, and Emmanuel Sivan, Strong Religion: The Rise of Fundamentalisms Around the World (2003). Other well-known overviews are Bruce B. Lawrence, Defenders of God: The Fundamentalist Revolt Against the Modern Age (1989, reissued 1995); S.N. Eisenstadt, Fundamentalism, Sectarianism, and Revolution: The Jacobin Dimension of Modernity (1999); and Karen Armstrong, The Battle for God (2000).

Christian fundamentalism

Noteworthy studies are George M. Marsden, Fundamentalism and American Culture: The Shaping of Twentieth-Century Evangelicalism, 1870–1925 (1980, reissued 1982); William Martin, With God on Our Side: The Rise of the Religious Right in America (1996); and Clyde Wilcox, Onward Christian Soldiers?: The Religious Right in American Politics, 2nd ed. (2000). Bruce Barron, Heaven on Earth?: The Social and Political Agendas of Dominion Theology (1992), is a useful study of Christian Reconstructionism. Catholic conservatism, sometimes called fundamentalist, is discussed in Mary Jo Weaver and R. Scott Appleby (eds.), Being Right: Conservative Catholics in America (1995). Christian fundamentalism in Northern Ireland is the subject of Steve Bruce, God Save Ulster!: The Religion and Politics of Paisleyism (1986, reissued 1989).

Jewish fundamentalism

Ian S. Lustick, For the Land and the Lord: Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel (1988); and Ehud Sprinzak, Brother Against Brother: Violence and Extremism from Altalena to the Rabin Assassination (1999), provide valuable discussions of Jewish fundamentalism. The Shas party is best treated in Peter Hirschberg, The World of Shas (1999); and David Lehmann and Batia Siebzehner, Remaking Israeli Judaism: The Shas Movement (2006).

Islamic fundamentalism

Political and religious movements in modern Islam are examined in Gilles Kepel, The War for Muslim Minds: Islam and the West (2004; originally published in French, 2004). Useful studies of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda include Anonymous [Michael Scheuer], Through Our Enemies' Eyes: Osama bin Laden, Radical Islam, and the Future of America (2002); Peter L. Bergen, The Osama bin Laden I Know: An Oral History of al Qaeda's Leader (2006); and Bruce B. Lawrence (ed.), Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama bin Laden (2005).

Fundamentalism in Asian religions

Sikh fundamentalism is covered in Cynthia Keppley Mahmood, Fighting for Faith and Nation: Dialogues with Sikh Militants (1997). Hindu nationalism is discussed in Christophe Jaffrelot, The Hindu Nationalist Movement in India (1996; originally published in French, 1993).

BONUS: Fundamentalism – Rationale of Religious Fundamentalism ( )                 Most forms of religious fundamentalism have similar traits. Religious fundamentalists typically see sacred scripture as the authentic and literal word of God. Since scripture is considered to be inerrant, fundamentalists believe that no person has the right to change it or disagree with it. They believe that God articulated His will precisely to His followers, and that they have a reliable and perfect record of that revelation. As a result, people are "obliged" to obey the word of God.

Thus, the appeal of fundamentalism is its affirmation of absolutes in a world that seems to have lost any sense of right and wrong. God has provided through his scriptures the proper values for the good life. Fundamentalists have God's favor because they alone are true to his word, while everyone else is bound for ruin. The evident decay of Western civilization, which is becoming increasingly decadent and tolerant of all manner of deviance, validates this point of view. Further justification is adduced from the state of mainstream religion: static or falling attendance of many liberal or reformed congregations, from the scandals that have struck, and from the increasing difficulty of distinguishing between religiously liberal and avowedly secularist views on such matters as homosexuality, abortion and women's rights.

Fundamentalists also commonly believe that their way of life and treasured truths are under attack by the forces of secularism and liberalism. They think that they are rescuing religious identity from absorption into post-modernism and secularism. According to Peter Huff, "…fundamentalists in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, despite their doctrinal and practical differences, are united by a common worldview which anchors all of life in the authority of the sacred and a shared ethos that expresses itself through outrage at the pace and extent of modern secularization." [1]

Fundamentalists believe their cause to have grave and even cosmic importance. They see themselves as protecting not only a distinctive doctrine, but also a vital principle, and a way of life and salvation. Community, comprehensively centered upon a clearly defined religious way of life in all of its aspects, is the promise of fundamentalist movements; it therefore appeals to those adherents of religion who find little that is distinctive, or authentically vital in their previous religious identity.

The fundamentalist "wall of virtue," which protects their identity, is erected against not only alien religions, but also against the modernized, compromised, nominal version of their own religion. Examples of things that modern fundamentalists often avoid are modern translations of the Bible, alcoholic drinks or recreational drugs, tobacco, modern popular music, dancing, "mixed bathing" (men and women swimming together), and gender-neutral or trans-gender clothing and hair-styles. Such things might seem innocuous to the outsider, but to some fundamentalists they represent the leading edge of a threat to the virtuous way of life and the purer form of belief that they seek to protect. Many fundamentalists accept only the King James Version translation of the Bible and study tools based on it, such as the Scofield Reference Bible.

Varieties of Fundamentalism around the World

Most religions contain fundamentalist elements that often have more in common with each other than with liberal followers of their own religion. In Christianity, fundamentalists are "Born again" and "Bible-believing" Protestants, as opposed to "Mainline," “modernist" Protestants, who, from a fundamentalist perspective, represent "Churchianity"; in Islam they are jama'at (Arabic: “religious enclaves” with connotations of close fellowship) self-consciously engaged in jihad (struggle) against Western culture that suppresses authentic Islam (submission) and the “God-given” (Shari'ah) way of life; in Judaism they are Haredi "Torah-true" Jews; and they have their equivalents in Hinduism, Sikhism and other world religions. These groups insist on a sharp boundary between themselves and others, and finally between a "sacred" view of life and the "secular" world. Fundamentalists direct their critiques toward (and draw most of their converts from) the larger community of their religion, by attempting to convince them that they are not experiencing the authentic version of their professed religion. Despite their similarities, fundamentalists from specific religions also have their own unique characteristics and views, as seen below:

Christian Fundamentalism

The term fundamentalist is difficult to apply unambiguously in Christianity. Many self-described fundamentalists would include Jerry Falwell in their company, but would not embrace Pat Robertson as a fundamentalist because of his espousal of charismatic teachings. Fundamentalist institutions include Pensacola Christian College and Bob Jones University, but classically fundamentalist schools such as Fuller Theological Seminary and Biola University no longer describe themselves as fundamentalist.

Self-described Christian fundamentalists see the Holy Bible as both infallible and historically accurate. However, it is important to distinguish between the "literalist" and fundamentalist groups within the Christian community. Literalists, as the name indicates, hold that the Bible should be taken literally in every part (though English language Bibles are themselves translations and therefore not a literal, word-for-word rending of the original texts). Many Christian fundamentalists, on the other hand, are for the most part content to hold that the Bible should be taken literally only where there is no indication to the contrary. As William Jennings Bryan put it, in response to Clarence Darrow's questioning during the Scopes Trial (1925):

I believe that everything in the Bible should be accepted as it is given there; some of the Bible is given illustratively. For instance: 'Ye are the salt of the earth.' I would not insist that man was actually salt, or that he had flesh of salt, but it is used in the sense of salt as saving God's people.

Nevertheless, the tendency of modern Christian fundamentalism is toward a literal reading of the Bible.

Because of the prevalence of dispensational eschatology, some fundamentalists vehemently support the modern nation of Israel, believing the Jews to have significance in God's purposes parallel to the Christian churches, and a special role to play at the end of the world.

Jewish Fundamentalism

Jewish fundamentalism is a phenomenon particularly in Israel, where orthodox Jews find themselves in a struggle with secular Jews to define the culture. Haredi Judaism is a movement within the orthodox camp to establish an exclusively orthodox Jewish culture characterized by strict adherence to the Jewish law (halacha)in every aspect of life, the wearing of distinctive dress, and political efforts to enforce halachic ordinances on the general population—to make Israel a truly "Jewish" state. Some Jewish fundamentalists support the movement to establish Jewish settlements throughout the West Bank, which they call "Judea and Samaria," with the goal of absorbing it into Israel because of its Jewish occupation in biblical times.

Many orthodox Jews are not fundamentalists. The so-called "modern orthodox" believe it is possible to be both modern and observant at the same time. They do not as a rule wear distinctive dress. They make some accommodation with secular life, while strictly observing the Jewish law in the home and private settings, and in particular on the Sabbath.

Mormon Fundamentalism

Within the cluster of groups who esteem the Book of Mormon as scripture, some conservative movements of Mormonism could be labeled as fundamentalist. Mormon fundamentalism represents a break from the brand of Mormonism practiced by "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" (LDS Church), and claims to be a return to the Mormon doctrines and practices which the LDS Church has allegedly wrongly abandoned, such as plural marriage, the Law of Consecration, the Adam-God theory, blood atonement, the Patriarchal Priesthood, elements of the Mormon Endowment ritual, and often exclusion of Blacks from the priesthood. Mormon fundamentalists have formed numerous sects, many of which have established small, cohesive, isolated communities in many areas of the Western United States.

Islamic Fundamentalism

Like other religions, Islam promotes a vision of society and provides guidelines for social life. The Holy Qur'an and the Hadith provide guidelines for Islamic government, including criminal law, family law, the prohibition of usury, and other economic regulations. During the expansion of Islam in its first centuries, the knowledge and culture of conquered territories was absorbed leading to what many consider a golden age of Islam, in which there was a flowering of arts and sciences and which carried Ancient Greek knowledge to the West in the High Middle Ages.

In the thirteenth century Ibn Taymiyyah, a theologian and professor of Hanbali jurisprudence, initiated a reform movement that argued Islamic scholarship had veered from the proper understanding of the Qur'an. He taught an extremely literal interpretation of the Qur'an and advocated the Sharia. He engaged in criticism of the Kasrawn Shi'a in Lebanon, the Rifa'i Sufi order, and others. Some of his critics accused him of anthropomorphism. He also advocated waging a jihad of the sword against the Mongols. Sunni thinkers have held Ibn Taymiyyah in relatively high esteem. Many historians feel his fundamentalism led to the ossification and decline of Islamic civilization.

One important modern strand of fundamentalist Islam is the Wahhabi school, which emerged in the eighteenth century and claims roots in Ibn Taymiyyah's teaching. Seminal influences came from writers like the Egyptian Sayyid Qutb and the Pakistani Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi, who saw western style individualism as counter to centuries of tradition, and also as inevitably leading to a debauched and licentious society. Qutb advocated a return to Shariabecause of what he perceived as the inability of Western values to secure harmony and prosperity for Muslims. He believed that only divine guidance could lead humans to peace, justice, and prosperity, and it followed that Muslims should eschew man-made systems of governance and live according to divinely-inspired Shariah ("The Qur'an is our constitution").

Islamists and Jihadists

Most Qur'anic usages of the term jihad do not refer to war but to spiritual struggle or to the struggle to establish social justice, such as 22:77–78, "believers, bow down and prostrate yourselves in worship of your Lord, and work righteousness, that you may succeed and strive (jihad) in the cause of God.” Yet other verses are interpreted to refer to armed struggle to establish or extend Islamic rule, such as "Go ye forth, (whether equipped) lightly or heavily, and strive and struggle, with your goods and your persons, in the cause of Allah." (9:41). Thus the translation of jihad as “holy war” renders only one of the several meanings of the Arabic word, and there are many Muslims who believe that the Qur'an only permits defense (see 22:39–40; 2:190).

However, the loss of Muslim power due to the historical developments of World War I, the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, and the end of the caliphate, caused some Muslims to perceive that Islam was in retreat, and led them to actively oppose Western ideas and power. Islamic fundamentalism therefore is partly a reaction to colonialism, and sees the solution as a return to classical Islam, where religion played a dominant role in civil society and state affairs. Such groups tend to cite periods of history where Islam was the established social system, and they oppose local elites who supported adopting western liberal ideals.

Islamic political fundamentalists, also called Islamists or Jihadists, have organized active movements to pursue the goal Islamization through violent confrontation with the West, beginning with Westernized elements within their own countries. Such groups include the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, which assassinated President Anwar Sadat in 1981 (condemned for signing a peace treaty with the State of Israel in 1979). More recently, Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network carried out the attacks against targets in the United States September 11, 2001. These and allied groups regard the West as slam's enemy; thus, all Westerners are legitimate targets whether civilian or military. They rely on such Qur'anic verses as Qur’an 9:5 and 2:216 (referred to as the “sword verses”), and justify aggression (taking the initiative), not merely defense. Some jihadists claim to be the successors of the early Kharijites who assassinated Ali ibn Abi Talib as well as of the medieval Assassins.

A Shi’a type of Islamic fundamentalism arose with the Islamic revolution of Iran in 1979 with the rise of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (c. 1900-1989) who founded the Islamic Republic of Iran. Ayatollah Khomeini galvanized the Shi’a world to embrace his radicalized fundamentalism since he was seen as a great defender of the Islamic faith. His promotion anti-Americanism, hatred against Israel, and anti-Western rhetoric, was in large part aimed at discrediting modernist forces in Iran.

The term “fundamentalist” in relation to the Islamist groups is problematic however, partly because of the term's origin in Christian discourse (where in modern times it has a purely theological significance; Islamism is political), but also because traditional Muslims, the overwhelming majority of whom are not Islamists, actually hold theological beliefs that are remarkably similar to those of conservative Christians in terms of the infallibility of scripture, Jesus' Virgin Birth (in which, based on Qur’an 3:47 and 3:59, most Muslims believe), as well as strong moral values and a strict lifestyle.

Unlike Christian fundamentalist groups, Muslim groups do not use the term "fundamentalist" to refer to themselves, and in recent years the term "Islamism" has largely displaced the term “Islamic fundamentalism.” The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines Islamism as, "An Islamic revivalist movement, often characterized by moral conservatism, literalism, and the attempt to implement Islamic values in all spheres of life." Dictionary: Islamism Retrieved September 7, 2008.

Hindu and Sikh fundamentalism

Some argue that the religious idea of fundamentalism is limited to the "Abrahamic religions,” and have connected the phenomenon specifically to the notion of revealed religion. However, in the landmark series on fundamentalism, Martin Marty (and others) have identified fundamentalism also in non-Abrahamic religions, including Hinduism.

Followers of Hinduism generally adhere to the Vedic statement, "Truth is One, though the sages know it variously," which would seem to make relativism practically a fundamental tenet. However, a few sects within Hinduism, such as the Arya Samaj for example, do have a tendency to dogmatically view the Vedas as divinely inspired, superior or even flawless. Regardless, some claim that no Hindu can be found who considers his/her name of God to be that of the "only true God" or their scriptures to be the "only scriptures truly inspired by God" or their prophet to be the "final one." In fact it is normal that Hinduism is itself divided into many different sects and groups with new philosophies continuously being added; consequently, the fundamentalist enclaves identified by The Fundamentalism Project, who claim to be purer than others, are regarded as aberrant within Hinduism.

The Khalistan movement of Sikhism, which flourished in the 1980s, has also been labeled as a type of religious fundamentalism. This movement expressed Sikh aspirations to establish an independent Sikh state in the Punjab, India (the traditional Holy Land of the Sikhs). It was also implicated in the assassination of India's Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi (1917-1984).

Buddhist fundamentalism

The Soka Gakkai sect of Nichiren Buddhism, which believes that other forms of Buddhism are heretical, is sometimes labeled fundamentalist.

Non-religious fundamentalism

Some refer to any literal-minded or intolerant philosophy with pretense of being the sole source of objective truth, as fundamentalist, regardless of whether it is called a religion. For example, when the communist state of Albania (under the leadership of Enver Hoxha) declared itself an "atheist state," it was deemed by some to be a form of "fundametalist atheism" or more accurately "Stalinist fundamentalism." There are people who in their attempt to live according to the writings of Ayn Rand seem to transgress respect for other perspectives in propagating their views, so that they are deemed to be a kind of "objectivist fundamentalist." In France, the imposition of restrictions on public display of religion has been labeled by some as "secular fundamentalism." The idea of non-religious fundamentalism almost always expands the definition of "fundamentalism" along the lines of criticisms. It represents an idea of purity, and is self-applied as a rather counter-cultural fidelity to a simple principle, as in economic fundamentalism.

Criticism of Fundamentalism

Many criticisms of the fundamentalism have been leveled by its opponents.

A general criticism is that fundamentalists are selective in what they believe and practice. For instance, the Book of Exodus dictates that when a man's brother dies, he must marry his widowed sister-in-law. Yet fundamentalist Christians do not adhere to this doctrine, despite the fact that it is not contradicted in the New Testament. However, defenders of fundamentalism argue that according to New Testament theology, large parts, if not all of the Mosaic Law, are not normative for modern Christians. They may cite passages such Colossians 2:14 which describes Jesus Christ as "having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us.” Other fundamentalists argue that only certain parts of the Mosaic Law—parts that rely on universal moral principles—are normative for today. Therefore, in their view, there is no contradiction between such passages in the Old Testament and their belief in Biblical infallibility.

Another common criticism of fundamentalism is that in order for modern people to perfectly understand the original scriptures, they need to comprehend the ancient language of the original text (if indeed the true text can be discerned from among variants). Critics charge that fundamentalists fail to recognize that fallible human beings are the ones who transmit a religious tradition. Elliot N. Dorff writes, "Even if one wanted to follow the literal word of God, the need for people first to understand that word necessitates human interpretation. Through that process human fallibility is inextricably mixed into the very meaning of the divine word. As a result, it is impossible to follow the indisputable word of God; one can only achieve a human understanding of God's will." (Dorff 1988). Most fundamentalists do not deal with this argument. Those that do reply to this critique hold their own religious leaders are guided by God, and thus partake of divine infallibility.

Thirdly, Christian fundamentalists are often criticized for accepting religious texts as infallible when they often contain contradictions. Christian fundamentalists, for example, seem to ignore the discrepancies and contradictions in the Bible, as well as prophesies that did not seem to have not been fulfilled in exactly the way that scripture predicted.

Finally, the fundamentalists' insistence on strict interpretation of religious scripture has often been criticized as the fallacy of "legalism." H. Richard Niebuhr described this as a form of henotheism where the believer claims to have ultimate faith in a living and transcendent God, but in practice limits God to a lesser object of worship—in this case scripture.

BONUS: Fundamentalism - Ecyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World - Volume 1 A-L ; Editor in Chief Richard C. Martin ; Macmillan Reference USA TM, Thomson, Gale             The  term  fundamentalism  generally  describes  a  religious attitude or organized movement that adheres to most or all of the following characteristics: a holistic approach to religion, one  that  sees  religion  as  a  complete  moral  or  legal  code, providing answers for all life’s questions; a tendency toward literal understanding of scriptures; a belief in a foundational golden age, when the principles of the faith were perfectly applied, and a desire to recreate such a period today; suspicion and  sometimes  renunciation  of  not  only  people  of  other faiths, but also supposedly hypocritical adherents of the same faith;  and  discomfort  with  or  rejection  of  many  aspects  of modern, secular societies. The term was coined in the early twentieth century to refer to a Protestant movement in the United States that reasserted a literal reading of the Bible in opposition to the new biblical criticism and to such scientific theories as evolution, which had gained currency at the time. Because of its Christian origins, many scholars and religious activists reject its use in other religious contexts. The term is particularly controversial in the Islamic context, where, it is argued, “Islamic fundamentalism” is used indiscriminately to describe  all  Islamic  activists,  whether  they  are  radicals  or moderates, and because it is generally laden with pejorative meanings,  such  as  obscurantism,  dogmatism,  sexism,  and violence. Many alternatives have been suggested, including “Islamic revivalism,” “political Islam,” or simply “Islamism.” These  terms,  however,  have  the  drawback  of  not  allowing comparative treatment of a phenomenon common to many religious traditions. Namely, from the 1970s to the present there has been an increased social mobilization and political activism  on  the  basis  of  religion.  Moreover,  by  equating fundamentalism  with  political  Islam,  the  alternatives  dis- count another ideological strand that has played an important role in Islamic revivalism, namely, Islamic modernism. So, for the lack of a satisfactory alternative, “Islamic fundamentalism” has been widely adopted in both scholarly and general parlance. Islamic fundamentalism is found today, in varying degrees of strength and popular support, in every Muslim-majority country and in many countries with large Muslim minorities. Although they do not form a monolithic movement, fundamentalists do share certain common features in both their ideology and their organization. The similarities derive from the fact that most contemporary Islamic fundamentalist groups trace their origins to two organizations, the Muslim Brother- hood in the Arab countries and the Jama'at-e Islami in the Indian  subcontinent.  Both  emerged  during  the  1930s  and 1940s  as  responses  to  the  problems  confronting  Muslims under British imperialism and to the perceived conformism of secular or modernist Muslim elites to European ideas and institutions.  Thus,  twentieth-century  Islamic  fundamental- ism is in many ways a modern phenomenon, a product of both foreign  and  indigenous  influences.  Yet,  it  is  also  the  latest manifestation of a long tradition of reform and revival movements  within  Islamic  culture.  Fundamentalist  ideologues often  quote  the  Hanbali  jurist  Ibn  Taymiyya  (d.  1328)  to provide a classical sanction for their ideas. Similarly, Hanbali influences are evident in the Wahhabi fundamentalist movement  of  the  late  eighteenth  and  early  nineteenth  century, which had a profound, conservative impact, not only in the Middle  East  but  also  in  India  and  Africa.  A  more  direct forerunner of contemporary fundamentalism was the Salafiyya movement led by Jamal al-Din Afghani, Muhammad 'Abduh, and Rashid Rida in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.  The  more  liberal  spirit  of  Afghani  and 'Abduh animated  Islamic  modernism,  while  the  more  conservative approach of Rida hints at the conservative backlash against modernism that moved Hasan al-Banna' to found the Muslim Brotherhood and Abu l-A'la' Maududi to create the Jama'at- e Islami. Both the Brotherhood and the Jama#at were organized by local chapters, into which members were initiated only after they had been tested for their conviction, piety, and obedience.  The  local  cells  answered  to  a  central  coordinating committee.  The  head  of  the  organization  was  the  murshid (guide)  or  emir  (leader),  who  was  assisted  by  the  majlis  al- shura,  an  advisory  council  of  senior  members.  Thus,  the organization  putatively  mirrored  the  structure  of  the  early Prophetic community in Medina, but it also resembled the Sufi orders whose quietism the fundamentalists rejected. The  ideology  of  the  Jama'at  was  elaborated  primarily through the prolific writings of Maududi. Al-Banna’s writings are more limited because of his early death. Sayyid Qutb would become the chief ideologue of the Brotherhood and because of Maududi’s influence upon him, the main conduit for propagating Maududi’s ideas in the Arab world. The  fundamentalist  worldview  is  premised  on  the  idea that most societies, including nominally Muslim societies, are in a state of jahiliyya, or “ignorance,” akin to the jahiliyya that prevailed in Arabia before the advent of the prophet Muhammad’s  mission.  Only  a  small,  committed  vanguard  of  true Muslims discern the corrupted state of Muslim affairs and the proper means to remedy it. Their initial mission is to with- draw  mentally  and  even  physically,  if  need  be,  from  the jahiliyya  in  order  to  inculcate  truly  Islamic  values  within themselves and their organization. This hijra, or “flight,” is the first type of jihad that they must wage. On the instructions of  the  leader,  the  Muslim  vanguard  must  transform  their inner jihad into an outer jihad aimed at overthrowing the unIslamic order and correcting societal ills. The details of an authentic Islamic political system are left vaguely defined in most fundamentalist writings. The basic principle of such an order,  however,  is  declared  to  be  hakimiyyat  Allah,  or  the “sovereignty of God.” This requires the application of divine law,  or  shari'a,  in  all  its  dimensions.  The  fundamentalists generally do not feel bound to any one school or to the entire corpus of classical jurisprudence that defined shari'a. They feel  empowered  to  perform  ijtihad,  that  is,  to  derive  law themselves  through  their  own  reading  of  the  Qur'an  and sunna. Compared to the modernists, who also claim the right to ijtihad, the fundamentalist reading of scriptural sources is far more literal and conservative. Both Qutb and Maududi castigated those Muslims who renounced forceful means in the jihad to establish an Islamic order.  Qutb  was  executed  for  his  views  and  the  Muslim Brotherhood after his death officially renounced revolution- ary violence against the Egyptian state. The Jama'at under Maududi was always a loyal opposition party within Pakistani politics. During the late 1970s, inspired in part by the Islamic revolution in Iran, splinter groups consisting of a younger generation of activists broke off from the two older parties to form new, much more violent groups. One of these groups, Islamic  Jihad,  assassinated  Anwar  Sadat  in  October  1981. Other  spin-offs  are  at  the  forefront  of  violent  struggles  in such diverse parts of the Muslim world as Algeria, Palestine, Afghanistan,  Kashmir,  and  Indonesia.  It  should  be  noted, though,  that  one  of  the  most  widespread  and  important fundamentalist  organizations,  the  Tablighi  Jama'at,  is  not only  nonviolent  in  its  tactics,  it  generally  eschews  politics altogether.  Shi'ite fundamentalism differs from Sunni fundamental- ism  in  a  few  particulars,  mainly  in  the  greater  millenarian emphasis that results from Shi'ite expectations of the return of the Hidden Imam, the greater emphasis upon shahada, or “martyrdom” in jihad, and the theory of the direct rule of the Shi'ite religious scholars as enunciated by Ruhollah Khomeini in the doctrine of velayat-e faqih. Yet, in most other ideological aspects and in organization, Shi'ite fundamentalist groups can  hardly  be  distinguished  from  Sunni  groups.  Greater interaction and mutual influences are evident, for example, in the  upsurge  in  suicide  attacks  by  Sunni  groups,  a  tactic pioneered by the Shi'ite Hizb Allah in Lebanon. 


Choueiri,   Youssef   M.   Islamic   Fundamentalism.   Boston: Twayne, 1990. Euben, Roxanne L. Enemy in the Mirror: Islamic Fundamental- ism and the Limits of Modern Rationalism. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1999. Marty, Martin E., and Appleby, R. Scott, eds. Fundamentalism Project. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991. Roy,  Olivier.  The  Failure  of  Political  Islam.  Translated  by Carol   Volk.   Cambridge,   Mass.:   Harvard   University Press, 1994. Sivan,  Emmanuel.  Radical  Islam.  New  Haven,  Conn.:  Yale University Press, 1985. Sohail H. Hashmi

Christian Fundamentalism 2 (Lectured by Mr. Samantha Illaṅgakon, recorded by ven. Mon monk Nai Suriya) 26th of April, 2011    

         In the US Jerry Falwell, the founder of the fundamentalist movement 'Moral Majority' and others set up agendas for their followers who pursue campaigns against abortion and in favor of prayer in school and family values gradually became main stays of the movement known as 'The New Christian Right'. In 1980's they began to engage with politics. They claim a rechristened American society. They want to protect individuals from the threat of secularism.

            The Christian fundamentalist movement in the US draws support from across the country. But there is a strong regional element. The American South has become known as 'The Bible Belt'. Many of America's best known and most influential evangelists are based in the Southern and Mid-Western states  of Virginia, Oklahoma and North Carolina. The most influential fundamentalist-grown states are 'The Southern Baptist Convention', 'The Assemblies of God' and 'The Seventh Day Adventists'.

            According to Gills Kepel, American fundamentalists are notable for their extraordinary skill in using the most updated language and technology to disseminate their message. The electronic media had been centrally involved in changes affecting religion in the United States. The electronic church, religious organizations that operate primarily through the media, rather than local meetings has come into being.

            Fundamentalist and other groups seeking to convert non-believers have been the main  pioneers of the electronic church. Some religious broadcasters were caught up in sexual or financial scandals, that seriously damaged their reputation. The electronic preaching of religion has become prevalent in Latin America as a result protestant movements, most of them of Pentacostal kind, have made a dramatic impact on such countries.