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Islam and Islamism

Reader comment on item: Distinguishing between Islam and Islamism

Submitted by Iqbal Ahmed (United Kingdom), Dec 6, 2002 at 18:49

Sir,

As a Muslim I can agree with your distinction between the religion of Islam and its politicised derivative of recent times, Islamism. Too often the two are confused, often to the advantage of the latter group, who like to gain credence by purporting to establish how close to Qur'anic teachings and Hadith they are.

Personally I believe that Islamism is merely a reaction to modern society and changing demographic, social and economic conditions, heralded by the end of the cold war. Some of its most fervent advocates can be found in the West. It is interesting that they focus on issues such as Hijab (Veil) and establishment of the Islamic Khaliphate. This is a natural consequence of the identity crisis faced by young modern Muslims. Thus issues to delineate lines between Muslims and Non-Muslims and the definition of the ephemeral 'good Muslim' gain ascendancy.

As you point out, Islamists are a minority. I firmly believe that the time has come when ordinary, responsible and moderate Muslims must take our religion back from the demagogues. For too long we Muslims have failed to seriously tackle issues beyond the personal and immediate eg. praying, fasting and doing Hajj. An example is the fact that there are no noteworthy Islamic thinktank/organisation in the UK. The vaccum has therefore been filled by Islamism.

The West must encourage Muslims not only with words but also with deeds. Western policies in the Middle East and the Indian Sub-Continent provide Islamists with much-needed ammunition with which to consolidate their domination of the agenda of Muslims. The West must cease the widespread Islamophobia with which many Muslims are faced with by the media, politicians and ordinary people who should know better. This does nothing but drive Muslims into the seemingly caring arms of the Islamists.

I find it very encouraging that Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the West. Hopefully there will be increasing good will, understanding and trust engendered by showing the West that Muslims can co-exist in peace and be productive and constructive citizens.
Submitting....

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