The Rise Of Islamic Fundamentalism Politics Essay

The emergence of radical and extremist Islamist movements has proved to be the principal source of instability in the world. From the 19th century the world has witness to a reawakening of the Muslim world in various places as a result of the encounter with Western culture [1] . The rise of radical Islamist groups has been influenced by the leading ideologues of Islamic fundamentalist thought, Jamal Al Din Al Afghani (1839-1897), Maulana Abul Ali Mawdudi (1903-79) the first Amir of the Jamaate-Islami, Ayatollah Khomeini (1909-89) leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Party of Iran, Hassan-al-Banna and Syed Qutb (1906-66) of the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt [2] . These ideologues advocated jihad against non-Islamic societies and states and emphasised that political power is indispensable to the establishment of an Islamic state. The concepts of Dar-el-Islam and Dar-el-Harb and jihad as advocated by the Islamists envisage a perpetual state of confrontation between Islamic and non-Islamic states. [3] Though Muslims, like any other non-Muslim, have multiple identities – religious, ethnic, tribal, linguistic or territorial, the emphasis by the Islamists on the Islamic identity puts them in collision course with the state and other groups. Islamist intellectuals, ulema and activists have been seeking to blur the distinction between Islam as a religion and nationalism. They prop up the Islamic political consciousness by politicising already existing religious traditions and practices and by resisting change and modernisation. The concept of Ummah or Millat is being invoked to abet, support and legitimise the secessionist movements of Muslims living in non-Muslim states.

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If one goes by the strict definition of the term ‘Islamic fundamentalism’, it stands for a return to the doctrines of Islam in their original form as were practised in the medieval times. It could also mean idealising the historical past of Islam and calling for a return to ‘pure and original Islam’, which can be achieved through peaceful, lawful, cultural and spiritual means. But in practice, the focus of Islamists has been Islamisation of the state rather than reform of the individuals. It has generated conflict as the Islamic fundamentalists seek to impose their will through coercion, violence and terror. Islamist extremists pose a challenge to the secular and democratic polity, pluristic social order and inter-religious harmony.

With the rise of Taliban to power, Afghanistan became the breeding ground of Islamist terrorism. The Taliban enforced their extremist religious and socio-political agenda and turned Afghanistan into the hub of arms, drugs trafficking and international terrorism with Osama bin Laden using it as a base of Al Qaida and other Islamist terrorist outfits. The threat posed by Laden and the Taliban to world peace and security was universally recognised and UN sanctions were imposed against the Taliban. Undaunted by international criticism, the Taliban unleashed atrocities against women, children, ethnic-religious minorities and political opponents, thereby deepening the internal divide in Afghanistan, besides violating the basic human rights of Afghans. The UN and other international peace initiatives made no headway in the face of determined Taliban opposition to share power with rival Afghan groups. Afghanistan remained fractured and turbulent posing great challenge to peace and security in the region. The Taliban rebuffing all international appeals and ignoring widespread international condemnation, not only went ahead with the destruction of the colossal Buddha’s of Bamiyan, but even made a public demonstration of their savage acts [4] . By destroying the rich and composite historical cultural heritage of Afghanistan, the Taliban sought to reaffirm Afghanistan’s lead role as a puritan Islamist state in South and Central Asia and also to set an agenda for radical Islamist forces.

Osama bin Laden and his network played a key role in the terrorist attacks in South Asia, Central Asia, Southeast Asia and also in the West. However, it was only after the 9/11 terrorist strikes on World Trade Centre and Pentagon that the United States and its Western allies recognised the severity of the challenge posed by Al Qaida and the Taliban. The US garnered sufficient political will to lead the global war against terrorism. The US-led forces have severely mauled the Taliban and the Al Qaida, destroyed much of their military machine and bases. However, both the Taliban and elements of the Al Qaida network still exist and are again growing within Afghanistan and neighbouring Pakistan. Leaders and thousands of supporters of Al Qaida and the Taliban militia have shifted to Pakistan. So ensuring sustainable security and stability in Afghanistan is a great challenge facing the international community. This can be achieved only by total elimination of the Al Qaida network, their supporters, financiers, safe havens and training camps in various parts of the world.


To analyse the reasons of rise of Islamic Fundamentalism in Afghanistan and its threat to the world.


Islamic Fundamentalism is a global phenomenon and its affects can be felt across frontiers. Afghanistan has become fountain head of Islamic fundamentalism. Afghanistan lies in the middle of a region fermenting Islamic fundamentalist terrorism. This is one single-largest source of terrorism on the planet earth, with scope for expansion into Central Asian Region, China, Eastern Europe, South and South East Asia.

With the development of modern communications and various connections between the terrorist groups on the increase, the trend of global terrorism is on the increase. Islamic fundamentalism which has been raising its head to support terrorism as a weapon for its war against the non believers. While all religions have their chauvinists, it is resurgent Islam which somehow appears to be at the forefront of terrorism. Of course there is a secular version of Islam but the vast majority of the Muslims believe that they can be true Muslims only if they live in an Islamic state. It is the self perception that true believers have a God given right to promote the historical relevance of a religion that is behind much of today’s global terrorism. In fact Islamic fundamentalists are hypothesising that with the end of the cold war, secularism in their countries is giving way to their brand of Islam and are presenting themselves as an alternative to westernised rulers. [5]
Afghanistan, which has had a long turbulent past including a period of erstwhile Soviet occupation, has been taken over by Islamic fundamentalism after a long and bitter conflict between various groups out of which as of late the Taliban has been the most successful. The Taliban have been trained in various Deeni Madrasas [6] and have been indoctrinated to enforce a very strict kind of Islamic rule on Afghanistan which is unlike any traditions in that countries’ much volatile past. Moreover with weapons and infrastructure supplied by the US to fight the Soviet occupation and those left behind by the Soviets gives a chance to the restless youth of Afghanistan to export terrorism with a religious face throughout the world. In view of this, it is quite possible that Afghanistan will become a major focal point for Islamic terrorists to train and act on the existing non Islamic states with the overt/ covert support of Islamic states.

7. The study would concentrate on the rise of Islamic Fundamentalism in Afghanistan with special reference to Taliban and its effect on the world.


8. The study is primarily based on information gathered from books written by prominent Indian, foreign authors as well as information available on the internet. The books and periodicals used for the purpose of research have been drawn from the Library of Defence Services Staff College (DSSC), Wellington. Other sources of information are articles written in Indian, Pakistani, Western newspapers and news services such as the CNN and BBC as well as some defence journals. A bibliography of the sources is appended at the end of the text. The guidance given by Colonel SK Karwal, the Directing Staff has been of immense value in preparation of this paper. Afghanistan being a very current topic has undergone a series of ups and downs during the course of my preparation of the dissertation.


9. It is proposed to study the subject under the following heads:-

(a) Chapter I. Introduction & Methodology.

(b) Chapter II. The Growth of Islamic Fundamentalism in Afghanistan.

(c) Chapter III. Afghanistan as Source of Terrorism in the Region.

(d) Chapter IV. Religious Intolerance.

(e) Chapter V. The Nexus between Drug Trafficking and Terrorism.

(e) Chapter VI. The Afghanistan Conflict and Energy Security.

(f) Chapter VII. Conclusion.