Fundamentalism, by definition, is a movement generally connoted to a strict and conservative interpretation of and loyalty to sacred texts. It is a dogmatic thought which aims to go back to the previous ‘ideal’ life while rejecting the diversity of opinions. While this idea has been applied to a wide variety of religions such as evangelicalism, dispensationalism (Christianity), Zionism and Ashkenazim (Judaism), and it can be regarded as a narrow-minded doctrine, fundamentalism has become a pejorative label for some ethnicities which have been made regarded as ‘different’ like Islam.
We all have seen the representations of the Muslim world as violent, barbaric, dogmatic, bigoted; men with their beard and women with their hijab. However, we have never realized the areas that include these representations: Western society. It is the society that has taken the easy way out and simplified the political, social and religious struggles into simple stories of the battle between good and evil. Because there should be either Snow White who is completely beautiful, innocent and good or Evil Queen who causes all the malignancy. And in this scenario nobody attempts to see the goodness inside Evil Queen, nobody understands people are combinations of these two virtues. It was an imaginary world created by someone and remains as a representative reality of the world.
Humanity hasn’t been able to overcome the attempt of making meaningless oppositions when it disagrees with a concept or when it can’t accept diversity. It has always regarded one side superior, powerful and rational while the marginalized ‘other’ is inferior, weak and irrational. While history (a fateful meeting between President Roosevelt and King Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia to buy oil) caused the birth of Islamic fundamentalism, the movement has been applied to all Muslim populations as if they are born with guns in their hands. Islam was different, Islam was unknown, Islam was exotic but it was never violent. It is the same belief Christians share but just in another way. It is the religion of mutual compassion, respect and tolerance. So the question comes to the minds: when does it become a vicious religion?
Islamic fundamentalism was originated in Wahhabism supporting that they should have gone back to the previous and ideal state based on the original teachings of Islamic texts against the corrupting imperial West. However, this ‘ideal’ state was imaginary. It was not ‘pure Islam’, but a conservative movement restricting Islam’s capacity for compassion and adaption to diverse. So they misinterpreted the Quran according to their own political, social, economic and personal profits even though Islam was brought for mankind to make their own personal interpretations. It has never been a religion dictating general doctrines, but a divine guide for humanity to read, understand and believe. So it has made everything easier for the Christian West that was trying to isolate and marginalize the different group and the world was divided into two parts. A terror attack happened by a minority in one part and the victims of this attack were represented as victimizers in the other part. A man came and told to exclude women in politics and all Muslim women were portrayed by their hijabs sitting at home. Magazines forgot how strict, misogynous and hypocritical the Victorian society was and published the Islam culture as such.
In a nutshell, while fundamentalism remained as a minor part in other religions and societies, it became dominant in Islam. It caused everyone from every age to suffer. The Muslim young people struggled twice than the Christians to overcome social prejudices. They faced with exclusion, they were talked behind, they were asked weird questions. They tried to explain how beautiful, kind and warm aspects their cultures have but was there really a need to explain? Unconsciously, I’ve been using the past tense to express the difficulties they’ve encountered but I really can’t say it was all past. So I’m asking again, when has fundamentalism become a religion? More importantly maybe, why? Even though there are lots of history, explanations, documentaries, articles about this question; is someone really able to answer why?