1Sahil B = ""A few words are needed about the meaning and function of fundamentalism in Islam. The term
“fundamentalism” was first coined in the early twentieth century to describe a burgeoning movement among
Protestants in the United States who were reacting to the rapid modernization and secularization of
American society by reasserting the fundamentals of Christianity. Chief among these was a belief in the
literal interpretation of the Bible—an idea that had passed out of favor with the ascendance of scientific
theories such as evolution, which tended to treat biblical claims of historicity with mocking contempt.
Considering the fact that all Muslims believe in the “literal” quality of the Quran—which is, after all, the direct
speech of God—it makes little sense to refer to Muslim extremists or militants as “fundamentalists.” Nor is
this a proper term for those Islamists like Sayyid Qutb whose goal is the establishment of an Islamic polity.
Nevertheless, because the term “Islamic fundamentalism” has become so common that it has even slipped
into Persian and Arabic (where its literal translations are, somewhat appropriately, “bigot” in Arabic and
“backward” in Persian), I will continue to use it in this book—but not to describe politicized Islam. That
movement will be called “Islamism,” its proper name. “Islamic fundamentalism,” in contrast, refers to the
radically ultraconservative and puritanical ideology most clearly represented in the Muslim world by
Wahhabism."-No god but God, Reza Aslan "