Is Islam by Nature Political?

From Ahram Online, an op-ed arguing on behalf of Islamists, that Islam is essentially political:

A final point. Some of the opposition figures keep invoking the term “political Islam,” as if the term were a source of shame to Islamists.

Well, political Islam is not the invention of the Muslim Brotherhood or other Islamists. It is rather solidly rooted in Islam and its holy scripture, the Quran.

I am not going to discuss certain arguments made by anti-Islam secularists who claim that the rule of Sharia is not a must upon Muslims and that Muslims might opt for modern Western-style democracy without violating the tenets of their faith. These arguments are quite nonsense, even for first grade Muslim children.

But I do want to point out that one cannot reject political Islam as a matter of principle, without rejecting Islam itself.

Yes, one might disagree with certain Islamist modalities, behaviours and interpretations. We all reject violence and terror committed in the name of religion. And we all would like to see a kinder and gentler practice of Islam everywhere.

But we must never allow ourselves as Muslims to compromise the main principles of our faith in order to appear more in tune with the age, and more acceptable to the West.

As a non-Muslim, it is never wise to argue what Islam is or is not. This, ultimately, is for Muslims to decide. But just as many demonize Islam saying it is a terrorist and illiberal religion, others assert the opposite, making it a personal faith akin to the Christianity of the West.

Religion and culture easily bleed together; certainly many Western Muslims do practice a personal faith. This voice, however, asserts that Islam is inherently political. It may be (and is) able to live peacefully as a minority faith, but it is not content here.

Consider a similar example: Does the word ‘Jew’ represent a faith or an ethnicity? Many Jews are agnostic or atheist; some convert to Christianity yet still consider themselves Jews. Perhaps there are few converts to Judaism outside of the ethnicity, but the line is sufficiently blurred to be confusing. Are you an anti-Semite if you deny the historicity of Moses?

Along the same lines, is Islam a faith or an ideology? Many Muslims are non-political, but does the faith demand more? Those who have claimed the mantle of leadership in the Arab Spring overwhelmingly say yes. Do they distort their religion? Or, do they compromise the many western Muslims who are forced to defend themselves from polemicists suspicious of them as a fifth column?

Judaism was birthed as the religion of a chosen family, marked by circumcision, wary of outsiders. Islam was birthed as the religion of a state, marked by confessions of loyalty, enveloping the outsider. Each one today houses the paradoxes of its emergence.

Can anyone attempt a similar consideration of Christianity?

Related Posts: