Islamic Groups: Militants and Moderates

The ‘war on terrorism’ has produced a scramble to identify Islamist groups that might be associated with Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda, or have similarly destructive aims.

The World Today Published 1 January 2002 Updated 23 October 2020 6 minute READ

Dr Kirsten E. Schulze

Senior Lecturer, International History, London School of Economics

Most groups don’t have such international agendas. Dealing with them intellectually is the task for moderate Muslims.

This must be accompanied by Muslim governments tackling issues of internal reform. To the west falls the task of convincing Muslim men and women in the street that they are not victims of its policies.

Islam is not and never has been a monolithic religion. the numerous Islamist groups, which proliferated within it, particularly in the latter part of the twentieth century, are equally diverse. Unlike the Al Qaeda network, the majority are not transnational, despite links with similar movements in neighbouring countries. Virtually all are the product of particular states or internal or regional conflicts. What they share are similar goals such as Islamising their state and society by advocating Shari’ah law as the partial or sole basis of the legal system. However, the means used vary greatly and are context specific.

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