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That Islam is not a religion is exactly the problem

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in response to reader comment: Islam is not a religion

Submitted by Prashant (United States), Apr 30, 2013 at 03:10

Dear Dr Pipes,

The reader Riaz proudly said that Islam was not a religion and, instead, was a way of life. I need to mention to Riaz that that is exactly what the problem is. Islam is a social, political, military, legal, and economic system. If there is any spirituality in it it is very badly intertwined with the these other systems. This mixture of all these systems creates a plethora of problems for both muslims and everyone else.

I will cite a few: 1) While most religions can be practiced inside a home, Islam must be followed on the street. When you practice your belief on the street, you invite others' attention and encroach on other people's rights. 2) While I can very easily criticize political philosophies like capitalism or socialism, I do not have the freedom to criticize the Islamism because they are deeply entangled with the religion. 3) For most of us defending tiny little spiritual details of our religions is a difficult enough task, for Muslims it gets many times more difficult -- they have to defend the entire body of thought from spiritual to legal to economic to political.

I have said this before and I will repeat it again that muslims should focus on the five fundamental principles of their religion and let the rest go through organic changes. Sharia should be subject to change. Islamic legal and political ideas should be subject to challenge. And Islamic social ideas should be open to criticism. As a thumb rule, if it applies to yourself, it is good. If it applies to someone else, it should be none of your business. I hope Riaz reads this message till the end.

Submitting....

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