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Islamization (also spelled Islamisation, see spelling differences; Arabic : أسلمةaslamah), Islamicization [1] or Islamification is the process of a society's shift towards Islam, such as found in Sudan, Pakistan, Iran, Malaysia, or Algeria. [2] In contemporary usage, it may refer to the perceived imposition of an Islamist social and political system on a society with an indigenously different social and political background.

Islam in Sudan

Islam is the largest religion in Sudan, and Muslims have dominated national government institutions since independence in 1956. According to UNDP Sudan, the Muslim population is 97%, including numerous Arab and non-Arab groups. The remaining 3% ascribe to either Christianity or traditional animist religions. Muslims predominate in all but Nuba Mountains region. The vast majority of Muslims in Sudan adhere to Sunni Islam of Maliki school of jurisprudence, deeply influenced with Sufism. There are also some Shia communities in Khartoum, the capital. The most significant divisions occur along the lines of the Sufi brotherhoods. Two popular brotherhoods, the Ansar and the Khatmia, are associated with the opposition Umma and Democratic Unionist Parties respectively. Only the Darfur region is traditionally lacking the presence of Sufi brotherhoods found in the rest of the country.

Pakistan federal parliamentary constitutional republic in South Asia

Pakistan, officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a country in South Asia. It is the world’s sixth-most populous country with a population exceeding 212,742,631 people. In area, it is the 33rd-largest country, spanning 881,913 square kilometres. Pakistan has a 1,046-kilometre (650-mile) coastline along the Arabian Sea and Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by India to the east, Afghanistan to the west, Iran to the southwest, and China in the far northeast. It is separated narrowly from Tajikistan by Afghanistan's Wakhan Corridor in the northwest, and also shares a maritime border with Oman.

History of the Islamic Republic of Iran aspect of history

One of the most dramatic changes in government in Iran's history was seen with the 1979 Iranian Revolution where Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was overthrown and replaced by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The patriotic monarchy was replaced by an Islamic Republic based on the principle of rule by Islamic jurists,, where clerics serve as head of state and in many powerful governmental roles. A pro-Western, pro-American foreign policy was exchanged for one of "neither east nor west", said to rest on the three "pillars" of mandatory veil (hijab) for women, and opposition to the United States and Israel. A rapidly modernizing, capitalist economy was replaced by a populist and Islamic economy and culture.


The English synonyms, muslimization and arabization , in use since before 1940 (e.g., Waverly Illustrated Dictionary) convey a similar meaning. Muslimization has recently been used as a term coined to describe the overtly Muslim practices of new converts to the religion who wish to reinforce their newly acquired religious identity. [3]


Arabization or Arabisation is either the conquest and/or colonization of a non-Arab area and growing Arabic and Islamic culture influence on non-Arab populations, causing a language shift by their gradual adoption of the Arabic language and/or their incorporation of the culture, mainly Islamic or Arab identity. Generally, elements of Arabian origin were combined in various forms with elements from conquered regions and ultimately denominated "Arab". Arabization also continued in modern times, most prominently being enforced by the Arab nationalist regimes of Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Mauritania, Algeria and Libya and enforcement of Arab identity and culture upon non-Arab populations, in particular by means of not permitting autochthonous mother tongues other than Arabic in education.



Arabization describes a growing cultural influence on a non-Arab area that gradually changes into one that speaks Arabic and/or incorporates Arab culture. It was most prominently achieved during the 7th-century Arabian Muslim conquests which spread the Arabic language, culture, and—having been carried out by Arabian Muslims as opposed to Arab Christians or Arabic-speaking Jews—the religion of Islam to the lands they conquered. The result: some elements of Arabian origin combined in various forms and degrees with elements taken from conquered civilizations and ultimately denominated "Arab", as opposed to "Arabian".

Arab culture

Arab culture is the culture of the Arabs, from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Arabian Sea in the east, and from the Mediterranean Sea. Language, literature, gastronomy, art, architecture, music, spirituality, philosophy, mysticism (etc.) are all part of the cultural heritage of the Arabs.

Arabian Peninsula peninsula of Western Asia situated in southern Arabia

The Arabian peninsula, simplified Arabia, is a peninsula of Western Asia situated northeast of Africa on the Arabian plate. From a geographical perspective, it is considered a subcontinent of Asia.

Modern day (1970s to present)

Modern day Islamization appears to be a return of the individual to Muslim values, communities, and dress codes, and a strengthened community. [4]

Another development is that of transnational Islam, elaborated upon by the French Islam researchers Gilles Kepel and Olivier Roy. It includes a feeling of a "growing universalistic Islamic identity" as often shared by Muslim immigrants and their children who live in non-Muslim countries:

Gilles Kepel French academic

Gilles Kepel, is a French political scientist and Arabist, specialized in the contemporary Middle East and Muslims in the West. He is Professor at the Université Paris Sciences et Lettres (PSL) and director of the Middle East and Mediterranean Chair at PSL, based at Ecole Normale Supérieure. He has been described by Alain Elkann as “the best possible guide through the frightening labyrinth of militant Islam.”

Olivier Roy is a French political scientist, professor at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. He has published articles and books on secularisation and Islam including "Global Islam", and The Failure of Political Islam. He is known to have "a different view of radical Islam" than some other experts, seeing it as peripheral, Westernized and part of a radicalized and "virtual" rather than pious and "actual" Muslim community. More recently he has written on the Charlie Hebdo shooting, and the November 2015 Paris attacks.

The increased integration of world societies as a result of enhanced communications, media, travel, and migration makes meaningful the concept of a single Islam practiced everywhere in similar ways, and an Islam which transcends national and ethnic customs. [5]

This does not necessarily imply political or social organizations:

Global Muslim identity does not necessarily or even usually imply organized group action. Even though Muslims recognize a global affiliation, the real heart of Muslim religious life remains outside politics—in local associations for worship, discussion, mutual aid, education, charity, and other communal activities. [5]

A third development is the growth and elaboration of transnational military organizations. The 1980s and 90s, with several major conflicts in the Middle East, including the Arab–Israeli conflict, Afghanistan in the 1980s and 2001, and the three Gulf Wars (1980–89, 1990–91, 2003) were catalysts of a growing internationalization of local conflicts. [ citation needed ] Figures such as Osama Bin Laden and Abdallah Azzam have been crucial in these developments, as much as domestic and world politics. [5]

Zia-ul-Haq's Islamization of Pakistan

On December 2, 1978, General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq delivered a nationwide address on the occasion of the first day of the Hijra calendar. He did this in order to usher in an Islamic system to Pakistan. In the speech, he accused politicians of exploiting the name of Islam, saying that "many a ruler did what they pleased in the name of Islam."

After assuming power the task that the government set to was its public commitment to enforce Nizam-e-Mustafa (Islamic System) a 180 degree turn from Pakistan's predominantly Common Law. As a preliminary measure to establish an Islamic society in Pakistan, General Zia announced the establishment of Sharia Benches. Speaking about the jurisdiction of the Sharia Benches, he remarked, "Every citizen will have the right to present any law enforced by the government before the 'Sharia Bench' and obtain its verdict whether the law is wholly or partly Islamic or un-Islamic."

But General Zia did not mention that the Sharia Benches' jurisdiction was curtailed by the following overriding clause: "(Any) law does not include the constitution, Muslim personal law, any law relating to the procedure of any court or tribunal or, until the expiration of three years, any fiscal law, or any law relating to the collection of taxes and fees or insurance practice and procedure." It meant that all important laws which affect each and every individual directly remained outside the purview of the Sharia Benches. However, he did not have a smooth sailing even with the clipped Sharia Benches. The Federal Sharia Bench declared rajm, or stoning, to be un-Islamic; Ziaul Haq reconstituted the court, which then declared rajm as Islamic.

Islamic Revolution of Iran

Islamization of the Gaza Strip

The influence of Islamic groups in the Gaza Strip has grown since the 1980s, especially as poverty has risen and fighting with Israel began in 2000. [6] The efforts to impose Islamic law and traditions continued when Hamas forcefully seized control of the area in June 2007 and displaced security forces loyal to the secular President Mahmoud Abbas. [7] [8] [9] After the civil war ended, Hamas declared the "end of secularism and heresy in the Gaza Strip." [10] For the first time since the Sudanese coup of 1989 that brought Omar al-Bashir to power, a Muslim Brotherhood group ruled a significant geographic territory. [11] Gaza human rights groups accuse Hamas of restricting many freedoms in the course of these attempts. [8]

While Ismael Haniyeh officially denied accusations that Hamas intended to establish an Islamic emirate, [11] Jonathan Schanzer wrote that in the two years following the 2007 coup, the Gaza Strip has exhibited the characteristics of Talibanization, [11] a process whereby the Islamist organization imposes strict rules on women, discourages or punishes activities commonly associated with Western or Christian culture, oppresses non-Muslim minorities, imposes their own interpretation of sharia law, and deploys religious police to enforce these laws. [11]

According to Human Rights Watch, the Hamas-controlled government of Gaza stepped up its efforts to "Islamize" Gaza in 2010, efforts that included the "repression" of civil society and "severe violations of personal freedom." [12] Arab-Israeli journalist Khaled Abu Toameh wrote in 2009 that "Hamas is gradually turning the Gaza Strip into a Taliban-style Islamic entity." [13] According to Mkhaimar Abusada, a political science professor at Gaza's al-Azhar University, "Ruling by itself, Hamas can stamp its ideas on everyone (...) Islamizing society has always been part of Hamas strategy." [14]

See also

By area

By method

Related Research Articles

Hamas Palestinian Sunni-Islamist fundamentalist organization

Hamas is a Palestinian Sunni-Islamist fundamentalist organization. It has a social service wing, Dawah, and a military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. It has been the de facto governing authority of the Gaza Strip since its takeover of that area in 2007. During this period it fought several wars with Israel. It is regarded, either in whole or in part, as a terrorist organization by several countries and international organizations, most notably by Israel, the United States and the European Union. Russia, China, and Turkey are among countries who do not regard it so.

Islamism set of ideologies holding that Islam should guide social and political as well as personal life

Islamism is a concept whose meaning has been debated in both public and academic contexts. The term can refer to diverse forms of social and political activism advocating that public and political life should be guided by Islamic principles or more specifically to movements which call for full implementation of sharia. It is commonly used interchangeably with the terms political Islam or Islamic fundamentalism. In academic usage, the term Islamism does not specify what vision of "Islamic order" or sharia are being advocated, or how their advocates intend to bring them about. In Western mass media it tends to refer to groups whose aim is to establish a sharia-based Islamic state, often with implication of violent tactics and human rights violations, and has acquired connotations of political extremism. In the Muslim world, the term has positive connotations among its proponents.

Islamic democracy political ideology that can be secular or religious

Islamic democracy is a political ideology that seeks to apply Islamic principles to public policy within a democratic framework. Islamic political theory specifies three basic features of an Islamic democracy: leaders must be elected by the people, subject to sharia, and committed to practicing "shura", which is Arabic for "consultation". The expression of Islamic democracy is different in different Muslim majority countries, as sharia interpretations vary from country to country, and the use of sharia is more comprehensive in countries in which sharia forms the basis for state laws.

The Fatah–Hamas conflict, also referred to as the Palestinian Civil War, was a conflict between the two main Palestinian political parties, Fatah and Hamas, resulting in the split of the Palestinian Authority in 2007. The reconciliation process and unification of Hamas and Fatah administrations has not finalized as of May 2018.

Talibanization is a term coined following the rise of the Taliban movement in Afghanistan referring to the process where other religious groups or movements come to follow or imitate the strict practices of the Taliban.

Palestinian National Unity Government of March 2007 cabinet

The Palestinian National Unity Government of March 2007 was a Palestinian Authority unity government from March to June 2007, headed by Ismail Haniyeh, the Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority.

Islamic revival any of various movements in Islam

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Islam and secularism

The definition and application of secularism, especially the place of religion in society, varies among Muslim countries as it does among western countries. Secularism is often used to describe the separation of public life and civil/government matters from religious teachings and commandments, or simply the separation of religion and politics. Secularism in Muslim countries is often contrasted with Islamism, and secularists tend to seek to promote secular political and social values as opposed to Islamic ones. Among western scholars and Muslim intellectuals, there are some debates over secularism which include the understanding of political and religious authorities in the Islamic world and the means and degree of application of sharia in legal system of the state.

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The Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice is a group in the Gaza Strip responsible for enforcing traditional Muslim codes of behavior. According to journalist Khaled Abu Toameh and Middle East researcher Dr. Jonathan Spyer, the group forms part of the police forces of the Hamas de facto government.

The Union of Good (UG), also known as the Charity Coalition, is an umbrella organization consisting of over 50 Islamic charities and funds which funnel money to organizations belonging to Hamas, which currently rules the territory of the Gaza Strip. Hamas, which characterizes itself as an "Islamic resistance movement against Israeli occupation" is also on the US State Department list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations.

Islamism in the Gaza Strip Wikimedia list article

Islamism in the Gaza Strip involves efforts to promote and impose Islamic laws and traditions in the Gaza Strip. The influence of Islamic groups in the Gaza Strip has grown since the 1980s. Following Hamas' victory in the 2006 Palestinian elections and a conflict with supporters of the rival Fatah party, Hamas took complete control of the Gaza Strip, and declared the "end of secularism and heresy in the Gaza Strip". For the first time since the Sudanese coup of 1989 that brought Omar al-Bashir to power, a Muslim Brotherhood group ruled a significant geographic territory. Gaza human-rights groups accuse Hamas of restricting many freedoms in the course of these attempts.

Events in the year 2007 in the Palestinian territories.

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Ismail Haniyeh Palestinian politician

Ismail Abdel Salam Ahmed Haniyeh is a senior political leader of Hamas and formerly one of two disputed Prime Ministers of the Palestinian National Authority. Haniyeh became prime minister after Hamas won the Palestinian legislative elections of 2006. President Mahmoud Abbas dismissed Haniyeh from office on 14 June 2007 at the height of the Fatah–Hamas conflict, but Haniyeh did not acknowledge the decree and continued to exercise prime ministerial authority in the Gaza Strip. In September 2016, reports indicated Haniyeh would replace Khaled Meshaal as Chief of Hamas's Political Bureau. He was elected as Hamas political chief on 6 May 2017.

Khaled Mashal Palestinian politician

Khaled Mashal is a Palestinian political leader and the head of the Islamic Palestinian organization Hamas since the Israeli assassination of Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi in 2004. He stepped down as Hamas' politburo chief at the end of his term limit in 2017.

Fatah–Hamas reconciliation process

The Fatah–Hamas reconciliation process refers to a series of reconciliation attempts to resolve the hostility between Fatah and Hamas since the 2006–2007 Fatah–Hamas conflict and Hamas' subsequent takeover of the Gaza Strip.


  1. "Islamicization". The Free Dictionary.
  2. Kennedy, Charles (1996). "Introduction". Islamization of Laws and Economy, Case Studies on Pakistan. Anis Ahmad, Author of introduction. Institute of Policy Studies, The Islamic Foundation. p. 19.
  3. Lindley-Highfield, M. (2008) '"Muslimization", Mission and Modernity in Morelos: the problem of a combined hotel and prayer hall for the Muslims of Mexico'. Tourism Culture & Communication, vol. 8, no. 2, 85–96.
  4. Lapidus, p. 823
  5. 1 2 3 Lapidus, p. 828–30
  6. Hamas tries to detain woman walking with man, July 8, 2009, Diaa Hadid, The Guardian
  7. Militants torch Gaza water park shut down by Hamas, Haaretz 19-09-2010
  8. 1 2 Gunmen torch Gaza beach club shuttered by Hamas, AFP 19-09-2010
  9. "The Beleaguered Christians of the Palestinian-Controlled Areas, by David Raab". Retrieved 2016-10-09.
  10. Khaled Abu Toameh, “Haniyeh Calls for Palestinian Unity,” Jerusalem Post, June 15, 2007
  11. 1 2 3 4 The Talibanization of Gaza: A Liability for the Muslim Brotherhood Archived 2010-09-29 at the Wayback Machine . by Jonathan Schanzer. August 19, 2009. Current Trends in Islamist Ideology vol. 9
  12. "In Gaza, prisoners twice over; Palestinians are being squeezed by the Israeli blockade and Hamas' 'Islamizing' actions," Bill Van Esveld, Bill Van Esveld is a Middle East researcher for Human Rights Watch, June 27, 2010, Los Angeles Times.
  13. Khaled Abu Toameh, As Hamas Tightens Its Grip Archived 2009-07-16 at the Wayback Machine , 07-08-2009
  14. Hamas Bans Women Dancers, Scooter Riders in Gaza Push Archived 2015-11-18 at the Wayback Machine By Daniel Williams, Bloomberg, November 30, 2009

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