What the hell is an Islamist anyway?

I don’t like the term Islamist. I don’t use it. Never have. And I’m not about to start now. Why? Well I’ve never been sure of the origin of the word and always thought it was sort of made up. Instead, I’ve tended to prefer fundamentalist. Anyway, I never got round to actually reading up a definition of the word until today. For those of you not in the know, Islamist is a term (used ubiquitously now it seems) for Muslims who believe Islam to be a political ideology and who are actively involved in that ideology.

Why all this talk about a simple word? Because Rush Limbaugh got so upset yesterday that he wrote an article called “AP Stylebook Eliminates the Term “Islamist” (it doesn’t really.) What Associated Press actually decided to do was to revise their use of the word:

Islamist An advocate or supporter of a political movement that favors reordering government and society in accordance with laws prescribed by Islam. Do not use as a synonym for Islamic fighters, militants, extremists or radicals, who may or may not be Islamists. ”

This is of course to differentiate between activists in a political Islam that is violent and one that is not. Which all sounds very reasonable. In fact, they used the term today to do just that. Though in this case, violent with rocks seems to be a little different for the AP than say, violent with grenades which we can only hope is also different from violent with miswak or violent with scarf. AP used the term in the linked article for “ultraconservative Salafis” who pelted the Iranian diplomat’s residence with rocks which apparently does not encompass “extremists or radicals”. Odd that. Which is funny because the Salafis I’ve met did not like the label Salafi.


“You can’t call us that!”

“Why not?”

“Because we’re Muslims! Just Muslims”.

But then neither did they like the label Wahabbi. I’m not the only one who has noticed this:

In fact, one would be hard pressed to find individuals who refer to themselves as Wahhabis or organizations that use “Wahhabi” in their title or refer to their ideology in this manner

Oh, and even Islamists don’t like the term Islamist. And thus we’ve come full circle: what the hell is an Islamist/Salafi/Wahhabi anyway?

Ayatollah Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, the spiritual mentor of Hizbullah…found Islamist unacceptable.

Oh, I’ll just keep using the term fundamentalist like I always have.

Fadlallah later revised his position…”I object to the word fundamentalism,'” he told the same English-language periodical six months later,””

Oh drat…

What can we learn from all of this? Well, nobody really likes to be called anything. Least of all the Islamists the Salafis the Wahhabis or the fundamentalists.

Goodbye for now from The Wayward Soldier.

Oh and apologies for the last post. The “statement” from Stop the War Coalition is almost certainly a fake as it appears nowhere on their goddarn website. Always lovely to have you first post the subject of a fake as you just wanted to get out a response early even after doubting the veracity of the document. I will promise to send StWC a basket of muffins and some puppies.

Not really. I wouldn’t even do the same for myself.


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