This article examines the trajectory of Islamism as a modern phenomenon. It demonstrates that, having evolved under the influence of myriad political, intellectual and historical developments of the past two hundred years, the concept is still surrounded by various debates, movements, acts of violence, ideologies, policies and positions. Islamism also continues to be a significant element in Turkey’s political and intellectual life as well. The article then engages several critical questions. Has Islamism reached its end? Is a new type of Islamism emerging? Is post-Islamism on the horizon. In response, the article argues that Islamism’s diversification –as opposed to its end– leads the movement to survive as pluralities that result from structural changes stemming from global and plural modernities’ interaction with societies. In line with social and political organizations’ pursuit of violence, poverty, challenge, reconciliation and alliance, Islamism too is being plurally reconstructed.
As the AK Party government struggles to keep the ‘EU dream’ alive, and as Kemalist ideocrats work to keep back the AKP’s dominion, lingering Turkish disputes about Islam and democracy resolve into new forms and disputing parties change their positions. More and more, the conservative Islamists of the past have taken on liberal, democratic, or pan-European stances, while some liberal democrats of the past have taken on a conservative, even reactionary discourse. Thanks again to the EU membership prospect, the relation between Islam and democracy is being transformed to the extent that the debate now focuses on the question of whether Islam and its societal dynamics are hindering or facilitating the formation of a democratic structure in accordance with EU standards. Nevertheless, the Islam “vs.” democracy debate has not yet been superseded, and the dispute seems far from being resolved. We suggest that there are now three intellectual groups with a stake in the discussion.