Islamic modernism is a movement that seeks to integrate Islamic faith with popular modern concepts like rights, equality, democracy, science and progress (Alam, 23). Islamic modernism differs with secularism because it maintains that faith life in public is still relevant. On the other hand, Islamic fundamentalism advocates for Muslims to go back to the foundation of Islam, which is the Quran and Sunnah. Modernism and fundamentalism maybe different in definition but they have a lot in common. This article seeks to explain these similarities and differences between these two movements. In addition, it seeks to emphasize the validity of the statement that Islamic fundamentalism and Islamic modernism are two sides of the same coin.
The main drive in Islamic fundamentalism is that all Muslims should return to the Quran and Sunnah (Choueiri, 120). It is essential to note that Islamic fundamentalism was started with a political agenda. The movement emphasizes that all Muslims should be guided by the Islamic law, which is the best way for any Muslim. Some of the groups that belong to the movement are the Wahhabi, Al Shabaab and Ansar Dine. All these groups have political agendas and believe that the West is corrupting the Islamic faith. Some groups like Al Shabaab are extremists and advocate for strict adherence to the Islamic sharia law. In the same way. Islamic modernists insist that Muslims should keep their public faith. They embrace science, nationalism, rationality and democracy to help in advancing the Islamic faith.
Islamic modernists believe that Muslims can embrace some of the western values and still keep their Islamic faith. The importance of public faith life is emphasized in Islamic modernism. For example, the Aligarh movement was started to advance the Muslims of India. This movement embraced science and education to uplift the Muslims who lived in India. This movement was started with the sole purpose of letting the voice of Muslim be heard. Aligarh believed that Muslims had to embrace education and science to help them gain a bargaining front with the westerners. Muslims could not be left behind when the human race was ushering in a new era. Islamic modernists argue that the Quran contains knowledge that inspired that the growth of technology in Europe. Islamic modernists differ insist that the Quran should be read individual and not mediated by teachers as was done in traditional Islam.
Islamic modernism and Islamic fundamentalism are different with traditional Islam in many aspects. Both of these movements advocate for education and science to advance the Islamic faith. Traditional Islam was founded on one faith and advocated for unity among all Muslims. Furthermore, these two movements have underlain political agendas. They were all started with political objectives in mind. This is not the case in traditional Islam, which stood solely for the purpose of faith. It had no hidden political agendas. These two movements might differ in methods that they use but they have similar objectives. They wage war on different fronts with the same objective in mind.
In conclusion, it can be argued that Islamic fundamentalism and Islamic modernism are two sides of the same coin. In this case. The coin is the advancement of Islamic faith with political agendas in mind. They are against traditional because they do not seek to unify all Muslims. Instead, they are convinced that they must match the Western powers in all fronts.
Alam, Javeed. India: Living with Modernity. Delhi [u.a.: Oxford University Press, 1999. Print.
Choueiri, Youssef M. Islamic Fundamentalism: The Story of Islamic Movements. London: Continuum, 2008. Print.
Safi, Omid. Memories of Muhammad: Why the Prophet Matters. New York, NY: HarperOne, 2010. Print.