The contemporary phenomenon of fundamentalism goes back to the same historical root in both Shiite and Sunni Islam. The magnitude and spread of religious violence in the Middle East has prevented a meticulous and scholarly study of fundamentalism in these two branches of Islam and its common roots.
“Political Islam” is the umbrella term for fundamentalism in both of these branches. Looking deeper and more carefully at regional affairs, we can see that conflicts among the different versions of “political Islam” are being presented as religious conflicts. While a large number of Sunni and Shiite Muslims in the Middle East do not think of themselves as participants in the current religious conflicts, various political interpretations of Islam have turned the region into a scene of war. The point worth noting is that these different approaches have very similar ideological structures as well as joint historical roots. Understanding this fact can change one’s outlook toward conflicts in the Middle East.