Abstract

Scholars, and in general writers, who critically study the politicization of religion characteristic of Islamism, are often accused of essentializing Islam. This is so, even though they are describing a process of change. Yet essentialism “precludes an investigation of change … in the name of natural and fixed characteristics” (Howarth 2010, 457). The present article argues that both Islam and Islamism are open to change. I begin with a description of the method by which such change may be identified. I then explain the way in which the argument fits with two articles previously published in Soundings, before proceeding to outline the kind of change Islamism represents and the meaning of recent changes in the program of some Islamist groups.

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