This book examines the specific circumstances that nurture fundamentalist beliefs and practices. It studies contemporary fundamentalist developments in several continents, involving groups associated with five major religions. The authors answer important questions regarding the 'rationality' of fundamentalism, its complex link with modernism, the nature of its relationship to a sacred text, and its perspectives on history and knowledge.
No fixed set of qualities defines fundamentalism. Since it implies a view of the universe and a discourse about the nature of truth, it encompasses and transcends the religious domain. For that reason, every movement or cause is potentially fundamentalist.
Lionel Caplan is a reader in the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.