[is-luh-mahyz, iz-, is-lah-mahyz, iz-]
Islamization (also spelt Islamisation, see spelling differences) or Islamification means the process of a society's conversion to the religion of Islam, or a neologism meaning an increase in observance by an already Muslim society. The English synonyms, mohammedanisation, muslimization and arabization, in use since before 1940 (e.g., Waverly Illustrated Dictionary) convey a similar meaning.

Controversy of the Term

In the light of the historically dominant Christian attitudes; both popular and scholarly that colored the views towards Islam; of fear and hostility and regarded it as a rival it may be considered derogatory by Muslims in what was seen as a Muslim-Christian conflict. Medieval Europe was building a concept of a "great enemy" in the wake of the quick fire success by the Muslims, through a series of conquests, as well as the lack of real information in the West on a mysterious East.

Modern day

Historians such as Ira Lapidus have concluded that since the 1970s, the Islamic world has witnessed a phenomenon called "Islamic revival" similar to a Christian revival - often associated with Islamic Fundamentalism, Islamism and other forms of re-Islamization. Although one can never speak for an entire community or people, a reorientation towards Islamic values, in contrast to the Westernization moves by various Arab and Asian governments in the 1950s and 60s, appears to be taking place. The main effect appears to be a return of the individual to Muslim values, communities, and dress codes, and a strengthened community.

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:

"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."

This doesn't 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."

However, some commentators have shown concern at the rapidly growing Western European Islamic population, the lack of assimilation of said migrants, and that these groups are potential breeding grounds for terrorists.

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. Figures such as Osama Bin Laden and Abdallah Azzam have been crucial in these developments, as much as domestic and world politics.



  • Devin De Weese, Devin A, "Islamization and Native Religion in the Golden Horde", Penn State Press, Sep 1, 1994, ISBN 0-271-01073-8
  • Lapidus, Ira M. 2002, A History of Islamic Societies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


See also

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