The phrase Islamic fundamentalism refers to the belief by Muslims that the Quran was dictated by Allah (the Arabic word for God) through the Archangel Jabril to the prophet Muhammed, that the current text of the Quran is identical to what was said by Muhammed to be the Quran, and that the correct interpretation of the Quran must rely solely on the Quran and prophetic Hadith (oral accounts of Muhammad's teachings and practices), and nothing else.
As do the fundamentalist movements of other religions, Islamic fundamentalism holds that the problems of the world stem from modern influences, and that the path to salvation lies in a return to the original message of the faith, combined with a scrupulous rejection of all innovation (termed Bid'ah in Islamic terminology) and outside traditions.
In this view, while reading the Quran does not allow one to unambiguously know the will of God, reading the Quran in reference to the practices of Muhammad does allow one to unambiguously determine how Muslims should behave. This view, commonly associated with Wahhabism, rejects Shi'a Islam, and the four common schools of jurisprudence in Sunni Islam.
Islamic fundamentalism is not only a religious movement; it is also a political movement. Muslim fundamentalists often seek to change the laws of their nation to conform strictly to their interpretations of the Quran and Hadith. While there are, and have historically been, many non-violent Muslim fundamentalists, one connotation of the term fundamentalism is the assertion of views through violence or oppression, rather than persuasion.
The term is used to describe a rather wide variety of groups, both democratic Islamic parties and militant Islamic groups. The governments of some Muslim countries, such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, are said to be led by Islamic fundamentalists. Examples of other groups labelled "fundamentalist" by the media include al-Qaeda and Hamas. Perhaps the most notable example of Islamic fundamentalism was the old Taliban regime of Afghanistan, ousted in late 2001. Those who lump these groups together are accused of discrediting Islam as a political movement itself.