Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163 | Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
In recent decades, Islamist movements have become an important social and (sometimes) political force in many Arab countries. They share three major characteristics: 1. Islamists are critical of prevailing societal conditions in Arab countries, which they describe interchangeably as decadent, underdeveloped, or unjust. 2. They blame authoritarian ruling establishments for these societal conditions and therefore consider political change as the first crucial step toward altering Arab reality. Islamist movements operating in the Arab world differ from missionary groups and Islamic charitable organizations, which see change as a long-term process of Islamizing societies that takes place outside of the realm of politics. 3. They legitimize their practices and create popular appeal for their movements by basing them on religious norms and values, which serve as the ultimate ideological frame of reference for society and politics. Within the broad category of Islamist movements, groups can be differentiated by their attitudes toward violence ...