What is fundamentalism in politics ?

Fundamentalism is variously described by different scholars while emphasizing its one aspect or the other. This why fundamentalism is religious as well as non-religious. Ideological fundamentalism may also be stated as one form of fundamentalism. Haywood (Political Ideologies) defines fundamentalism as “a belief in the original or most basic principles of a creed, often associated with fierce commitment and sometimes reflected in fanatical zeal”.

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The implications of the term ‘fundamentalism’ from his definition are: (1) the belief either in the original creed or in its basic principles; (2) the belief takes the form of commitment and (3)the commitment takes the form of fanaticism. The word ‘creed’, denoting the accepting system of beliefs, becomes more or less, a religious term. If creed be taken as a religious concept, religious fundamentalism would therefore, mean, the belief in the original creed or in the basic principles of the creed together with commitment to those principles touching the boundaries of fanaticism. In this sense, any religion may take the shape of religious fundamentalism: Christian, Islamic, Hindu and the like.

To be a man of religion and to be a fundamentalist are not the same thing, for religion is not fundamentalism. Faith in religion does not amount to faith in religious fundamentalism. Religion implies a moral order, a sublime faith and a spiritual end. Fundamentalism and especially, its religious aspect is the perversion of religion; it is the exploitation of religion, sometimes open and sometimes subtle; it is a tactical means to the wicked immoral end, converting religiosity into political/fanatical bellicosity.


Fundamentalism is opposed to secularism, rationalism, humanism and tolerance. It seeks to divide the civil society into numerous parts, pitting one against the other and preaching nothing but hatred. A fundamentalism knows his own interest alone, and, therefore, to that extent, does not even respect his own religion. A true follower of religion is not necessarily fundamentalist; rather a fundamentalist is anti-religious. A religious fundamentalist is one who projects his religious community as distinct and separate from the others. He gives precedence to his interest over the common interest. He perceives and deals with citizens not individually but religion-wise. He, by looking at the citizens this way, distances himself forms others and others from himself.

Fundamentalism is a system of beliefs; so is true about any ideology. If fundamentalism is regarded as an ideology of belief; if it is a system-belief, it is also an ideology-belief. In this sense, if there is a religious fundamentalism, there is also a non- religious, say, ideological fundamentalism. Communism, fascism, liberalism and to a degree, every ideology is also a system-belief. Every ideology to that degree is fundamentalistic. In every ideology, there are beliefs, theories, set of principles, foundational elements, followers who demonstrate faith as much as in any religion and there are people who readily accept martyrdom. All these features can be seen in any religious fundamentalism as well. Fundamentalism, in the general and relatively wider sense, means an ideology or belief system, commitment to which is more or less a matter of faith, both in word and deeds.

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