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Islam and Islamism NOT Fundamentally Different?

Reader comment on item: Preface

Submitted by Ron Thompson (United States), Nov 25, 2007 at 14:03

I must say that I agree with Ms Ann-Marie Delcambre that there is no fundamental difference between Islam and Islamism (perhaps the use of the adjective 'fundamental' constitutes an element of difference if not disagreement).

Here's a potential bridging thought that Daniel Pipes may not have considered. For I would suggest this paradoxical thought - that ordinary, decent people who are Muslim and think of themselves as fully embedded in Islam are ..... not good Muslims (even though they are good people). Whereas, conversely, bad or violent people who act out the many commands to violence and intolerance in the Koran are ... good Muslims.

There's a way to explain this. Both Christianity (in the Old and New Testaments) and Islam are composed of a great many radically contradictory thoughts. This results in people, more or less unconsciously, picking and choosing among those thoughts and concepts which are most congenial to their personalities, and then assuming what they choose to believe is the entirety of their religion. (Reinhold Niebuhr said somewhere that religion is good for good people and bad for bad people)

This seems to explain all those socially conscious and altruistic individuals whose religious sentiments and behavior are governed mostly by maxims of Jesus in the New Testament about service to the poor (and also thoughts from the social justice passages of the prophets in the Old Testament). Whereas the many people who, for one reason or another, seem to live resentment-based lives, enthusiastically champion the punitive and judgmental God of numerous Old Testament passages.

I don't really understand how many non-violent or peaceable Muslims find comparable passages in the Koran to those of the New Testament, but I concede that they do. As far as I can tell, non-violent and non-intolerant passages in the Koran are far fewer, far less developed, and confined to earlier phases of Mohammed's career. But I don't doubt that many Muslims give them a great weight in their own lives.

Still, it seems that extreme harshness in Islam has historically and repeatedly won out over its supposed peacefulness. Is this not true today of the Islam mandated by law in the heartland of the religion, and of the Islam exported by Saudi Arabia at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars all over the world?

And so, to repeat, I think the hyperviolent minority of Muslims who are dead serious about believing that they must fight for a world-embracing Caliphate are far stronger than all those peaceable Muslims who think that Islam is a "moderate" and peaceful religion because they themselves are moderate and peaceful, while they evade dealing with their violent co-religionists by simply saying, "that's not Islam".

Therefore as I strongly agree that understanding Islam is a "priority for anyone concerned with security, politics, and culture, or most basically, with the future of Western civilization", I equally feel that such concern must consider it's a dangerous mirage to put one's hope in a vague, shapeless something called "moderate" Islam.

Ron Thompson

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