The Arab Spring and Its Effects on the Islamic Religion and Islamism

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Islam is a monotheistic religion and shares many of the same core beliefs as other popular religions such as Christianity. Islam believes that there is only one true God, Allah, and Muhammad is Allah’s messenger. Islam is reportedly the world’ second largest religion with a number of believers ranging into the billions. Islam is based around its beliefs in the Six Articles of Faith; there is only one God, Angels are unseen beings that work tirelessly to administer God’s kingdom into full obedience, prophets of God have been sent to every nation, God revealed his wisdom and instruction through books to some of the prophets and that the Quran is God’s final revelation, the life of the world will come to an end through an appointed day of judgment, and everyone has free will, but everything that happens is because God wills it to be and is fully knowledgable of what will happen. Along with the Six Articles of Faith, Muslim’s believe in the Five Pillars of Islam which are the declaration of faith, prayer, fasting, charity, and pilgrimage.

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Though Islam, according to traditional Muslim scholars, do not agree with the term Islamism. While traditional Muslim believe that, like every religion, there are controversial literalists outlines and spiritual aspects within a religion that when individuals believe and act on these it takes a turn towards Islamism. Islamism, a highly debated term within the Islamic community, mainly refers to the diverse forms of social and political activism, calling for activism to be guided by the Islamic principles, more specifically the implementation of sharia, a strict path meaning the law of God for Muslims sometimes with retributive punishments for breaking. Islamic followers typically favor a gradualist style of reform while emerging activists and likely younger members of the Islamist community favor a quicker change in a more revolutionary style of change within governments. This division between a younger and older generation of beliefs slowly gained traction as more and more Muslims continued to be frustrated with the oppression they were receiving from their political leaders leading to the Arab Spring.

The Arab Spring was a large movement and series of anti-government protests, uprisings, and armed rebellions that took place in countries in the Middle East and Northern Africa. The Arab Spring reportedly started on December 17, 2010, when a Tunisian man lit himself on fire to protest the seizing of his livelihood, a vegetable stand, by police over a failure to obtain a permit. This action sparked a series of protests and rebellions over a year, claiming their governments were oppressive using authoritarianism, dictatorship, and political corruption coupled with a low standard of living within the countries highlighted in the image above. Some of these countries were successful in their rebellions while others not as much, regardless of the end result of these rebellions the effects it had on the world and Islam will likely last forever.

The Arab Spring showed Islamic and Islamist believers they were not alone in a common mindset of feeling oppressed, created a post Arab Spring power vacuum for the countries that were involved to include the violent extremist organizations, VEOs, within them, and called for a worldwide re-evaluation of Islamic methods on how to apply their agenda in a political nature. The Arab Spring’s resounding notoriety was accredited to its popularity through social media and the demonstrator's use of the internet as a whole. Through social media, protesters were able to organize demonstrations, increase the range of information dissemination, raise awareness of activities and protests taking place, hold the governments accountable for any reaction that would take place, essentially allowing for protestors to shape their message as needed. This allowed for the influence of other like-minded individuals, who were fed up and wanted change to meet up and conduct protests in a focused area. As mentioned before this was not typical of traditional Islamic people, who believed in gradual changes which shifted the mindset more towards the Islamist mindset of revolutionary style thinking. The emergence of Islamist-associated groups and individuals exercised revolutionary action and the coined term of “defensive violence” in order to illustrate this fading gradualistic mindset of challenging existing regimes.

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