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Islam and Politics ( 31 Oct 2013, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Don't Confuse Islam with Islamism



By Tahir Gora

May 26, 2013

It's hard for many to understand the difference between Islam and Islamism. Traditional Muslim scholars don't agree with the term Islamism. They argue that Islam should be the only version of Muslims. The critics of Islam, however, consider the whole body of Islam as Islamism and Muslims as Islamists.

Dr. Daniel Pipes, a renowned scholar on matters of extremist Islam and the founder of Middle East Forum, doesn't agree with either of above two types, traditional Islamic scholars and harsh critics of Islam. He clearly distinguishes Islamism from Islam. He did so recently in Mississauga while addressing a group of people in a Muslim Committee against Antisemitism through the Canadian Thinkers' Forum, a think tank founded by progressive Muslims.

Pipes repeated the notion that Islam is a religion like any religion that may have controversial literalist outlines as well as spiritual aspects. But, unfortunately, when groups of Muslims want to follow and impose those controversial literalist outlines over the spiritual aspects, the religion of Islam takes a turn toward Islamism and the adherents of that ideology become Islamists.

He is right.

For instance, Abul A'la Maududi, the founder of Jamaat-i-Islami in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and South East Asia (a home to over 700 million Muslims), is the classic example of an Islamist. He exhibits his Islamism in such words: "Islam wishes to destroy all states and governments anywhere on the face of the Earth which are opposed to the ideology and program of Islam.... Islam requires the Earth -- not just a portion, but the whole planet .... the objective of the Islamic ' jihad' is to eliminate the rule of an un-Islamic system".

The legacy of Maududi's extremist ideas is not confined to Jamaat-i-Islami only. One can witness thousands and thousands of internet sites and social media websites that exhibit Islamism in our modern times day and night. There's even a Facebook site called "Convert Facebook into Islamic Book." This may sound funny, but for Islamists, who are followers of Islamism, it is a serious wish.

A further example: Another so-called modern Islamic Imam from Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Assim Al-Hakeem, answers questions on his website. One of the questions he received was about how Muslims should treat non-Muslims maids.

The question was: "I have a Christian Filipino maid in my house..wanted to ask two questions...firstly, are we allowed to keep a non-Muslim maid in the house and secondly, should i make her cover her head in front of my husband since she is a Christian??"

The Sheikh answered: "1- It is permissible to have a non-Muslim in the house though it is not recommended. 2- Yes, she must cover."

Such examples clearly reveal how much Islamism has penetrated the Muslim Diaspora around the globe.

A question arises in the given scenario: Are there enough moderate Muslims on the other side in order to counter Islamism and Islamists?

The answer is: Not yet.

"But this is the only solution to [the] political movement of Islamism," Dr. Pipes said. "As the members of Muslim community have stood up by themselves in order to combat Anti-Semitism, this is how Islamism could be defeated."

He is right again.

More and more progressive moderate Muslims need to come to the fore in order to defeat Islamism and make Islam separate from the politics.