Still getting the hand of this blog thing, but updates are coming . . . soon . . .
Anyway, as a starting point for this little project, I’ve decided a good question to begin with is: what is an Islamicist?
Based on a quick internet search, there appears to be a lot of confusion about this. An Islamicist is a scholar of Islam. In my case, I am a historian who focuses on the early history of Islam. Islamicists can also be linguists, sociologist, theologians, philosophers, political theorists, art historians, literary critics and anthropologists.
The term seems to be regularly confused with an Islamist. An Islamist is a proponent of a reactionary, politicized version of Islam, which often encourages revolution, militantism and violence. I am definitely not an Islamist, and I am not a supporter of any form of Islamism.
It’s probably also worth pointing out that ‘Islamism’ and ‘Islamist’ are the rather awkward anglicising of the Arabic terms for the movement, which is ‘islamia’, and the term for a person who supports the movement is ‘islami’i’, which sounds very awkward in English, but which sounds perfectly normal in Arabic. Islamist is a direct linguistic equivalent. Until a few years ago, this movement was more often called Islamic extremism or (more to the annoyance of people like me) Islamic fundamentalism, but these term seem to have gone out of fashion.
I am also aware that the confusion over these terms has already begun to blur the distinction between the two words. So consider this my bit to preserve ‘Islamicist’ for the Islamicists. We had it first.