Saturday, August 28, 2010

Islamism Is Not Islam

by Maajid Nawaz

Wall Street Journal
August 28, 2010

If Islamism came to conquer New York and built an emperor's palace at Ground Zero, I would be worried. But Islamism is not Islam.

Islam is a faith. Like all other faiths it has a vibrant array of progressives, conservatives and everything in between fighting over which interpretation suits current times. In this regard, Islam is nothing exceptional.

Islamism, on the other hand, is the desire to impose any one of these interpretations over everyone else through state law.

Many commentators confuse traditionalist Muslims with Islamists. Like the Amish, Muslim traditionalists usually have few political ambitions. Their real cause is debating theology with their adversary, the Muslim modernist. Islamists, however, are not interested in the raging feud between traditionalists and modernists.

Hence, Islam is the religion and Islamism the ideological project using this religion to justify total state power. It was only after losing the fight for total state power against democracies and dictatorships alike in the Middle East that Islamists launched their war against the West. And it is Islamism, not the pluralistic faith of Islam, that struck at the twin towers.