The End of Islamism (2013)

Whereas the West is entering post-democratic society –a terrifying police state of total surveillance and control; we are already in the post-Islamist era.

The real failure is not being out of government, but when a social movement loses its soul and its historical purpose. All losses and failures are reversible except the loss of meaning. The real crisis of the Islamist movement is not therefore a question of organizational strength or weakness. Sometimes alienation is creative; and political weakness cultivates inner strength. The Islamist crisis is not of a quantifiable order; it touches the essence of the movement. The hyper-politicization of the latter has been accompanied by loss of historical meaning, ethical corrosion, creative impotence, and intellectual dead-end… the death has been total. Despite its permanent presence in the media, Islamism has become historically irrelevant and socially impotent.

The Islamist movement was a cycle, and the cycle reached its end in the 1990s –although the downfall had started well before. It will continue making noise; it might even become part of the political establishment in some Muslim countries; it will not, however, be the driving force of civilizational change. Islamism would continue making events but it will not produce history.

This book provides an under-surface view, which is more crucial for understanding Islamism than the political bubbling above the surface. It examines its major mental and cultural components, and its social evolution. In other words, this is a post-mortem examination of the Islamist movement that focuses on the roots of the malaise, rather than the ‘malaise in action’. The purpose of the book is neither guiding nor attacking; it is about gaining an overall and complete understanding of what was, by far, the biggest social movement of the 20th century.

The book is divided into five chapters. The three middle chapters constitute the core of the post-mortem. They show, among other things, that Islamism was not a truly religious phenomenon but a by-product of the western culture. “Islamic state” might be its motto, but modernity has been its main quest. It was also the by-product of the west by being a nationalist reaction. More generally, Islamism would not have emerged had the West (as we know it) not existed. This means that Islamism doesn’t represent a cultural continuity in Muslim societies; it is rather a historical rupture. In this respect, there is no fundamental difference between Islamists and secularists (in the Muslim world) despite their continuing political and ideological confrontations. Both are cultural ruptures; both are by-products of the West -in different ways though.

This book is a cliché-free, ideology-free and unbiased attempt to understand Islamism. It provides new ways of looking at it. The other originality of the book is that, unlike other studies on the subject, it is not placed in a western or secular framework of analysis. Unattached reason and religion, supported by the author’s direct observations in different countries, are the bases of the book.