Skip to content
Guest Thinkers

Etymology of ‘Islamism’

“The real utility of the term ‘Islamism’ is that it can be applied to any person, position, value, or policy that one wishes to smear as vaguely fascist or fundamentalist.”

Professor of Media, Culture and Communication at New York University, Arjun Appadurai questions the emerging use of the term ‘Islamism’ and ‘Islamist’: “The suffix ‘ism’ in this case is clearly not intended as a compliment. If you consult any word list on Google, it becomes clear that Islamism is a label for any variety of Islamic thought or action that can be judged to be inappropriately politicized, with the exemplary case being political violence. So I began to think about the suffix ‘ism’ more generally. On the one hand, it is clear that what those who deploy the word Islamist in their polemics intend to convey is a link to the dark twentieth-century ‘isms,’ namely, fascism and communism. In fact, the more rabid voices in these debates have helpfully spelled out this sub-text in the rancid term ‘Islamo-fascism.'”


Up Next