Islamism

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The term Islamism is commonly applied to the category of political movements whose tenets include the embodiment of Islamic law (Sharia) in national constitutions. It is often used in contradistinction to political movements categorised as Secularism whose tenets include the exclusion of religious considerations from the conduct of government. The distinction may not be clear-cut, however. A constitutional affirmation of adherence to Islamic principles may be broadly consistent with the practice of secularism unless it is supported by strictly-enforced sharia-based legislation. The term "liberal" is commonly applied to categories of Islamism that adopt the decision-making principles of representative government and are tolerant of non-Islamic beliefs. (An example is the influential Al-Azhar Document[1] that proposes to "let people manage their societies and choose their ways and techniques to achieve their interests provided that the Islamic jurisprudence is the main source for the legislation".) Islamism may be interpreted to allow acceptance of a range of legislative regimes depending, for example, upon the choice made among the widely-varying versions of Sharia law. Whereas liberal Islamism involves the interpretation of the Qur'an in light of changes in circumstances since its inception, Salafism, at the opposite extreme, requires the strict acceptance of the interpretations developed by the early Muslim scholars. (Some categories of Salafism include a commitment (termed Jihad) to armed struggle against those deemed to be the enemies of Islam, but they are not normally considered to fall within the Islamist category.)