Islamic Resurgence


The revival of Islam in recent times has been construed as causing a great challenge to the status quo. Islamic resurgence is based on the premise that Muslims have to return to their basic fundamental faith. However, the resurgence of Islam has had different connotations, with some definitions claiming that it is associated with extremist, fanaticism and anti-American ideologies. In essence, Islamic resurgence has been experienced on a global level, and has not been limited to countries that esteem Islam. The resurgence of Islam dates back to the 1970s and has affected the spread of western ideologies in Islamic states.

How Islamic resurgence and its religious knowledge contradicts western norms

The re-emergence of fundamental Islamic thought has emerged as a reaction to western colonialism. Additionally, the resurgence has been precipitated by the search for the restoration of Islamic pre-eminence particularly in Islamic states. Therefore, Islamic resurgence contradicts western ideologies, specifically in regard to the hegemony of the west. Since the onset of globalisation, the west has dominated the world agenda, and the onset of Islamic resurgence in the 1970s has been viewed as a threat (Hamid 21). The countervailing impact of Islamic resurgence upon the hegemony of the west is a point in case. The new world order, as advanced by the west, desires to create a political democracy and an international law that are secular. The resurgence of Islam contravenes this establishment, by proposing Islamic states to observe the basic ideologies of Islam.

By creating a world order defined by the United Nations, Islamic states desired to counter the hegemony of the world superpowers by having their own believe systems based on the Quran. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the fall of international communism offered the west an opportunity to establish the new world order. However, the Islamic world, through Islamic resurgence has assumed the role of the bogeyman, and thus compromised the efforts of the west (Voll 43).

The ideology of the global village has been coined by the west to create hegemony. Muslims have however found a way out of this through Islamic resurgence, and formed a sense of distinctiveness from the western world (Mehden 61). From the above illustration therefore, the Muslim world has refused to identify itself with neo-imperialist policies and have rather reaffirmed its religious beliefs and practices. Consequently, the conflict between the west and the Islamic world has been quite visible.

Before 1970, Islamic resurgence was a prominent theme, although it had not been implemented. As early as 1945 when the domination of the west was at the peak, Muslims such as Abu Hurairah and Abu Dawud had predicted the success of the movement (Kramer 113). The Muslims had indicated that Allah would raise his people through reviving its religion. In response to this prediction, a number of revivalists emerged and offered the renewed interpretation of Shariah laws. The revivalists focused on interpreting the Quran and the Sunnah in relation to existing conditions.

The Islamic resurgence of the present age has been viewed as a reaction against the imperialism of the west. From the surface, the colonial legacy of the west left deep scars in the relationship between the Muslims and the west. The Islamic resurgence is therefore a product of Muslims feeling a sense of inferiority complex. Even at the end of colonialism; challenges that existed between the west and the Muslim world were never resolved. Instead, a feeling of inferiority complex persisted, because the Muslims continued to depend upon the technologically superior west (Hamid 21).

From this analysis, it seems apparent that Islamic resurgence was necessitated by the hardships that Muslims experienced due to the domination of the west in world matters. Most of the alliances that existed before the resurgence were tilted to the advantage of non-Muslims superpowers. In the economic sphere, for instance, operations of western entities such as the World Bank and the international monetary fund were tilted in favour of non-Muslims. Muslim governments that abided by the requirements of these economic entities were trapped into never ending cycles of debt payment (Hamid 21). Even then, the structural adjustment programs proclaimed by the Briton institutions were very unfriendly to a common citizen within Muslim countries.

The current Islamic resurgence has been associated with deep condemnation of the hegemony of western powers. Moreover, post-colonial Muslim states which lean towards western ideologies have received equal condemnation. These condemnations centre on aspects such as the failure of Muslim states to receive the desired economic benefits of western hegemony. Additionally, condemnations have focused on the deliberate move by the west to disfigure Muslim culture (Tamimi 47). The Islamic resurgence in this regard revolts against the persistent subordination of Muslims by the west and their proxies.

The Islamic resurgence desired to have full independence from western influence by revolting against the international order that had been created by the west. The failure of western polices to offer equal advantage to Muslims in regard to wealth signified that Muslim states would remain economically backward. Additionally, the economic hardship that was being experienced by all Muslims made them to coalesce under a common umbrella, which they believed could press for their interests. The ideology of social justice was quite appealing to Muslims, because it helped them to release their frustrations about the unfulfilled expectations of the western hegemony (Haddad and Esposito 58). This suggests that the Islamic resurgence could not have emerged had the pro-western policies been able to achieve the desired reward.

Islamic resurgence came at an appropriate time, with the emergence of the oil boom of the 1970s. Most oil fields were located in Islamic states and by monopolising oil trade; Islamic states could effectively battle western ideologies. Associated with the Islamic resurgence were the OPEC oil prices, which exhibited the ability of Muslim states to control the affairs of the world (Abu-Rabi’ 55). For instance, Islamic nations such as Libya, Iran and Saudi Arabia used their financial resources derived from oil wealth to promote the ideology of Islamic resurgence. For the first time in history, the enormous oil resources were used to promote Islamic activism, which gained the attention of the west. Islam gained new confidence, and this generated new knowledge, which was used to highlight on the plight of Islam. For example, Muslims effectively used the media in order to highlight on the suppression that the Muslim world was going through.

Modernity was viewed as a threat to Islam. The Islamic resurgence was visualised as a manifestation of Muslim reaction to modernity. In fact, modernity was envisaged by Muslims as a ‘crisis’ (Watt 18). This was based on the understanding that the onset of modernity would be accompanied by secularism and the decline of religion. Muslims, therefore, made an effort to create their own identity, which would protect their religion. Against all odds, Muslims are not opposed to western technology. Islamic resurgence has only taken advantage of these technologies to strengthen their cause. New knowledge generated by the west has therefore been used at their disadvantage. In particular, information technology has been used to spread Islamic propaganda messages.

As illustrated, Islamic resurgence has been focusing on strategies that can be used to prevent modernity from infiltrating into Islam. Modernisation has been associated with crime, immorality, divorce and sexual freedom. Values of Islam are opposed of these vices, and the advent of Islamic resurgence has been viewed as the best strategy to overcome these societal ills. Furthermore, aspects such as individualism, which are highly emphasised in the western ideologies, have been viewed as contradicting the communal livelihood of Muslims (Ball 11). The Islamic resurgence in part protects these values. In this regard, the new world order proclaimed by the west became contradicted by the Islamic social order, in which the man-to man relationship rather than individualism is highly esteemed.

Western thoughts acknowledge the separation of the state and religion. This is quite contrary to Islam, in which religion is never a separate entity from political, social, economic and cultural factors. The Islamic resurgence considers all aspects of life as being governed by Islam. The contradiction between Islamic ideologies and western thinking can also be envisaged in an attempt by the west to fight the Islamic resurgence. For example, the west published amateur works which depicted Islamic resurgence as a monolithic movement. These assertions were viewed negatively by the Muslim world, considering that Muslims expected the west to consider making the playing field to be equal to ensure that both Muslims and non-Muslims enjoy their rights (Bashier 63).

Noticeably, the intellectual paradigm that the west bases its arguments upon is faulty according to the Islamic resurgence. Muslims acknowledge that the west does not consider them as equal partners in the affairs of the world, but rather as subordinates. The emergence of Islamic resurgence has come as a necessity, in order to depart from the new world order that serves the western colonial interests. The fundamental ideologies of Islam have been focusing on revolting against the social, economic and political exploitation of the west (Tibi 31). In regard to this, a number of schools of thoughts have emerged, which are meant to protect Islamic ideologies. For instance, the Confucian Islamic world has been particular in defending the interests of Islam, thanks to the Islamic resurgence.

Defining Islamic resurgence has been a matter of great controversy, considering that some western thinkers have viewed it negatively. The limited definition of the concept to encompass aspects of terrorism has not been forthcoming, and has created animosity between Muslims and the west. Therefore, western conventional wisdom cannot define the concept. By defining the concept as strictly political also deviates from its main purpose. The west fails to capture the fact that just like the new world order, Islamic resurgence is a universal concept that defends the religious, political and cultural aspects of Muslims in the midst of western ideologies (Voll, Revivalism and Social Transformations in Islamic History 171). The western world has actually failed to recognise this concept because of the secular revolutions that are emerging in the global world. The aspect of resurgence signifies that there exists an effort to revive certain aspects of Islam which existed, but have been diluted by the onset of western domination. In essence, the current efforts are geared towards revitalizing the 20th century Islamic laws, which made the religion to be quite distinct. Consequently, Islamic resurgence has achieved greater benefits as exhibited in the number of high profile status of Islam in the global world. Additionally, the lives of common Muslims have improved immensely.


The religious knowledge associated with the Islamic resurgence contradicts western norms. The establishment of the new world order by the west created capitalistic and individualistic ideologies, which contradicted Islamic values. The social order established by the Islamic resurgence was opposed to the secular values that were esteemed by the west. Moreover; opposition to the western norms became a necessity due to the failure of globalisation to create an equal economic, social and political environment for both Muslims and non-Muslims. Furthermore, the oil boom in Islamic countries helped to increase the confidence of Muslims. This made them to use new knowledge such as information technology in order to highlight on the human right oppressions that Muslims experienced. The Islamic resurgence in this sense was a powerful force, which coalesced Muslims into a common entity to fight for recognition. An attempt by the west to fight the Islamic resurgence was an indication that its ideology was against western norms. From the illustration, however, it seems apparent that the contradiction between Islamic resurgence and the west could easily have been leveraged if the economic desires of Muslims could have been taken care of. Nevertheless, conflicts between the western ideology and Islamic resurgence was driven a notch higher when the latter used oil prices to seek attention from its adversary, the west.

Works Cited

Abu-Rabi’, Ibrahim M. Intellectual Origins of Islamic Resurgence in the Modern Arab World. New York: SUNY Press, 1996.

Anu. Islamic Resurgence: a Definition. 2011. 31 October 2014 <;.

Ball. Islamic Resurgence in the Middle East. 1994. 31 October 2014 <;.

Bashier, Zakaria. Sunshine at Madinah. The Islamic Foundation: Leicester, 1990.

Haddad, Yvonne Yazbeck and John L. Esposito. The Contemporary Islamic Revival: A Critical Survey and Bibliography. New York: Greenwood Publishing Group, 1991.

Hamid, Abdul. “Islamic Resurgence: An Overview of Causal Factors: A review of “Ummatic” Linkages.” IKIM Journal 9.1 (2001): 16-46.

Kramer, Martin Seth. Arab Awakening and Islamic Revival: The Politics of Ideas in the Middle East. New York: Transaction Publishers, 2011.

Mehden, Von der. Two Worlds of Islam: Interaction between Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1993.

Tamimi, Azam. “‘Fundamentalist Islam and the Media.” The Balance 2.1 (1996): 45-52.

Tibi. “The Iranian Revolution and the Arabs: The Quest for Islamic Identity and the Search for an Islamic System of Government.” Arab Studies Quarterly 8.1 (1986): 29-44.

Voll. “‘Renewal and Reform in Islamic History.” Voices of Resurgent Islam 3 (1983): 32-47.

—. “Revivalism and Social Transformations in Islamic History.” The Muslim World LXXVI.3 (1986): 168-180.

Watt. Islamic Fundamentalism and Modernity. London: Routledge, 1988.

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