Radical Islamist organizations like al-Qaeda and the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, and groups such as the Taliban, entirely reject democracy, often declaring as kuffar those Muslims who support it (see takfirism), as well as calling for violent/offensive jihad or urging and conducting attacks on a religious basis.

Another major division within Islamism is between what Graham E.

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Islamists have, at least at times, defined themselves as "Islamiyyoun/Islamists" to differentiate themselves from "Muslimun/Muslims".

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, political movements based on the liberal ideology of free expression and democratic rule have led the opposition in other parts of the world such as Latin America, Eastern Europe and many parts of Asia; however "the simple fact is that political Islam currently reigns as the most powerful ideological force across the Muslim world today".

Opinion polls in a variety of Islamic countries show that significant majorities want religion to play a greater role in public life, but also oppose groups like Islamic State. Amongst the various reasons for the global strength of Islamism are: For almost a thousand years, from the first Moorish landing in Spain to the second Turkish siege of Vienna, Europe was under constant threat from Islam.

In Morocco, the Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) supported King Muhammad VI's "Mudawana", a "startlingly progressive family law" which grants women the right to a divorce, raises the minimum age for marriage to 18, and, in the event of separation, stipulates equal distribution of property. In the early centuries it was a double threat — not only of invasion and conquest, but also of conversion and assimilation.

Fuller has described as the fundamentalist "guardians of the tradition" (Salafis, such as those in the Wahhabi movement) and the "vanguard of change and Islamic reform" centered around the Muslim Brotherhood.

Olivier Roy argues that "Sunni pan-Islamism underwent a remarkable shift in the second half of the 20th century" when the Muslim Brotherhood movement and its focus on Islamisation of pan-Arabism was eclipsed by the Salafi movement with its emphasis on "sharia rather than the building of Islamic institutions," and rejection of Shia Islam. By the turn of the twentieth century it had begun to be displaced by the shorter and purely Arabic term "Islam" and by 1938, when Orientalist scholars completed The Encyclopaedia of Islam, seems to have virtually disappeared from English usage.Those who view the Quran as a political model encompass a wide range of Muslims, from mainstream politicians to militants known as jihadi." The relationship between the notions of Islam and Islamism has been subject to disagreement.Hayri Abaza argues that the failure to distinguish between Islam and Islamism leads many in the West to support illiberal Islamic regimes, to the detriment of progressive moderates who seek to separate religion from politics.In summation, the term Islamism enjoyed its first run, lasting from Voltaire to the First World War, as a synonym for Islam.Enlightened scholars and writers generally preferred it to Mohammedanism.Jamaat-e-Islami of Pakistan is basically a socio-political and democratic Vanguard party but has also gained political influence through military coup d'états in the past.