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Fundamentalism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) Paperback – 25 Jan 2007

4.4 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (25 Jan. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199212708
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199212705
  • Product Dimensions: 17.3 x 1.3 x 10.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 37,774 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

Stimulating. (Roger Hardy, New Statesman)

Review from previous edition 'Ruthven's careful analysis of the phenomena ... provides a much-needed mental map [from] one of today's most perceptive observers and historians of religion.' (Guardian)

'...powerful stuff ... this book is perceptive and important.' (Observer)

This is a gentle, civilised book, written with some style. I enjoyed reading it. (Sasthi Brata, Spectator 10/04/2004)

The first clear definition of this indispensable yet misused term. (Anoush Ehteshami, University of Durham)

... an important contribution to the current political and cultural debates about Islam and the West, religious extremism, and the changing identity of supposedly secular societies. (R. Scott Appleby, University of Notre Dame)

About the Author

Malise Ruthven is a freelance writer and journalist, and visiting professor at the University of California, San Diego. A former scriptwriter with the BBC Arabic and World Services, he holds an MA in English Literature and a PhD in Social and Political Sciences from Cambridge University. He is renowned as a commentator on Islam and the Arabic world.


Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

A Kid's Review on 13 April 2010
Format: Paperback
Dr. Malise Ruthven has written an excellent short introduction to Fundamentalism. He discusses the ambiguities and nuances of the concept, explains how "fundamentalism " did not first appear "as a term of criticism or abuse" and appeared, not in the "Bible Belt of the Old, but in southern California". The belief in the early return of Jesus "to rule over an earthly kingdom of the righteous after the defeat of the Antichrist" is an early Christian belief which has animated US Protestants from their beginning. While fundamentalism is used in reference to Islamic groups, both Christianity and Judaism are, and have been, associated with fundamentalist movements in one form or another. Dr. Ruthven gives a good treatment of these movements. In essence, religious beliefs, warped or otherwise, provide the basis for many contemporary fundamentalist movements in Christian, Jewish, and Islamic societies.

My opinion is that it is charismatic men (not women) who interpret their sacred texts to accord with their particular values and beliefs (or fears and prejudices). These interpretations then serve as the basis for further (mis) interpretation, with promises of reward and punishments for adherents. The emergence of a fundamentalist orientation in the Islamic world seems particularly associated with political movements that seek to revive dispirited and oppressed peoples with the dream of reclaiming past glories, to ensure a fairer distribution of the state's wealth, and to counter what is seen as an economic and cultural oppression by the West. I imagine that the US policy of unstinting financial and hi-tech military support to Israel,and of regularly vetoing any UN criticism of Israel must foster intense anger among Muslims.
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Format: Paperback
This wide-ranging study brilliantly charts the spread of fundamentalist ideas within the world's various religious communities. Christian, Jewish and Muslim belief systems are shown to have been penetrated by extreme political ideas which are quite new, yet often present themselves as rooted in a mythical past.

Ruthven makes very clear that fundamentalism can have a variety of ambitions. The fundamentalism of America's Christian right aim to justify global evangelization and strengthen America's power. On the other hand, the Islamist ideas of Sayyid Qutb, which inspired al Qaida, have at their root a disgust with Western society or, as Ruthven puts it, reflect Islam's much resented loss of cultural hegemony. The Islamic fundamentalism of the Palestinian Hamas movement is essentially about territorial claims.

By going into fascinating detail about these ideas, Ruthven manages to explain their appeal to growing sections of society and their ability to justify violence on a massive scale. This makes for a terrifying scenario, but also for a fascinating read.
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By Rolf Dobelli TOP 500 REVIEWER on 26 Feb. 2008
Format: Paperback
Don't be deceived by how short this book is. It is an intellectual powerhouse that cleverly presents the major developments and nuances of fundamentalism in its varied religious, political and social forms. Author Malise Ruthven is an exceptional guide on this semantic, religious and social journey as he delves into uncharted territories that a casual reader would never even begin to think are related to this complex subject. In this provocative book, Ruthven draws amazing links among conceptual beliefs and modern issues, including globalism, feminism, nationalism, modernism and politics. Given how well this little gem sustains its high level of intelligent investigation, getAbstract recommends it to readers intrigued by the subject. Even if you know what the newspapers say about fundamentalism, you will learn something here.
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Format: Paperback
The book explores fundamentalism in the modern world, particularly its variants in the Abrahamic faiths, and also Hinduism. One thing that they all share in common is that they are, far from being throwbacks to the past, very much the products of modernity and post-modernism. That is, with the rise of modernity, multiculturalism and multi-faith movements, religions which previously took the truth of their religion for granted are now confronted by spiritual and secular competitors for the souls and passions of believers. To counter this, fundamentalism has emerged, which in all faiths is characterised by a rejection of pluralism, contempt and hostitility towards rival faith systems and an obsession with sexuality, especially female sexual behaviour.

The book is a short, but very precise introduction to fundamentalism, which is highly recommended.
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