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Islamism (Islam+-ism; Arabic: الاسلاميةal-'islāmiyya) also Arabic: إسلام سياسيal-Islām al-Siyāsiyy, lit., "Political Islam") is a set of ideologies holding that Islam is not only a religion but also a political system; that modern Muslims must return to the roots of their religion, and unite politically.

Islamism is a controversial term and definitions of it sometimes vary. Leading Islamist thinkers emphasized the enforcement of sharia (Islamic law); of pan-Islamic political unity; and of the elimination of non-Muslim, particularly western, military, economic, political, social, or cultural influences in the Muslim world, which they believe to be incompatible with Islam.[1]

Some observers suggest Islamism's tenets are less strict and can be defined as a form of identity politics or "support for [Muslim] identity, authenticity, broader regionalism, revivalism, [and] revitalization of the community".[2] Still others define it as "an Islamic militant, anti-democratic movement, bearing a holistic vision of Islam whose final aim is the restoration of the caliphate".[3]

Many of those described as "Islamists" oppose the use of the term, and claim that their political beliefs and goals are simply an expression of Islamic religious belief. Similarly, some scholars favour the term "activist Islam" [4][5] or "political Islam" instead.[6]

Central figures of modern Islamism include Taqiuddin al-Nabhani, Abul Ala Maududi,[7] Sayyid Qutb, Hasan al-Banna, and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.[8]


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