Islam, being the religion of the Muslims, is a monotheistic faith known as unraveled by Muhammad, the prophet of Allah. For many centuries, Muslims believed that it was a religion of peace, but today Islam is known as more of a religion of conflict and bloodshed. However, evidence has pointed out that since Islam is a religion of justice, with power and law always been tied together with it. Therefore, the fact that Islam has always been tied with bloodshed in the birth of the religion was inevitable, from the past till the present. Just like there are two sides to a coin, the same applies towards Islamism. Religion is not actually at the heart of these disputes — irrefutably, politics is to blame. But the misuse of Islam and its history makes political conflicts cause bedlam, as parties, government officials and as such claim that they are fighting not over territory or power but on behalf of God. When enemies are seen as skeptical cynics rather than fair and just opponents, peace becomes harder to obtain.
The religion’s first conflict arises from the ancient Sunni-Shiite rivalry in the seventh century, as under the leadership of Prophet Muhammad, whom had absolute authority accepted by all believers, passed away. This led to a tension that escalated towards bloodshed, as the issue was not how to comprehend the Quran or how to understand the prophet’s lessons. It was as Mustafa Akyol from New York Times interpreted it, “Who – as the caliph, or successor to the prophet – had the right to rule?”
Under that simple political question, Islam has taken various different turns. One of them being secularism, which was a way of perceiving governance such as civil affairs and education with the input of religious considerations that was frowned upon from the global society. This was then viewed from an objective position from the Muslim community, which is now poisoned with the concept. In terms of governance, a system of principles must be objective and purely rational. However, the collective Muslim community has been using secularism to it’s advantage and abusive of that concept’s power. “We tend to phrase all our discourses in an us vs. them narrative,” Mohamed Ghlian phrased. In fact, there exists a verse from the Qu’ran stating, “The Jews and the Christians will never be pleased with you unless you follow their ways” 2:120 which in turn demonstrates the exclusion of non-Muslims was imminent. This resulted in Islam changing it’s ways in order to become a politicized reactionary religion, where the government and anything politics related soon neglected and negated the existence of other religions, further allowing consequences to the image of Islamism, though the people were not fully aligned together for the cause.
Islamism, on the other hand, is harder to define. It’s best definition would be how Adrian Helleman states, ” a movement of Muslims who draw upon the belief, symbols, and language of Islam to inspire, shape, and animate political activity. This movement may contain moderate, tolerant, peaceful activists, and/or those who preach intolerance and espouse violence.” With that being said, the very core values of Islam are political. Islam is a way of life that people use, meaning that every aspect of their life is acted out accordingly to the religion, which simplifies the impossibility of having pure rationalism in governance.
The burning problem is that every individual equally have their own different meanings of Islam, which leads to the conflict, lying in the way of how each and every Muslim person intends to spread his or her definition of Islam and attempt to enforce them on others through various means, ranging from peer pressure to intellectual bullying tactics in an effort to scare the world into walking the same line as them. In other words, not only non-Muslims are excluded, but Muslims that do not share the same belief are also considered as non believers, as the Qu’ran stated, “those who do not judge according to what God has sent down are the disbelievers” 5:44, “the unjust” 5:45 and “the lawbreakers” 5:47 Through a Muslim’s eyes, any other person that does not share the same belief as him or her is a non-believer.
The general principles and lack of specificity is what became the result of such conflicts, given that what is found is medieval scholarly works in politics is not Islamic, which makes the law null, making it open towards more interpretations, which then again, leads to arguments, and eventually, bloodshed. The presence of general principles within the religion and the void of specified government reforms or political programs in the nation make two effects. The first is the timeless nature that Islam asserts upon itself. Over time, humans evolve. Societies change, which meant that politics also, changes. Islam, however, lives in the same world that earlier generations of the world did, and the only piece of guidance from the Qu’ran is to judging justly, which opens up to many and various forms of translations for people to understand.
The second effect is the lack of specificity when it comes to politics, which is an extremely logical endeavor, especially at times of conflicts. When one’s survival is at potential threat, whether it is political or during war, one’s lower animal instinct is bound to be at play. Under the right amount of pressure, ethical principles to true devotion are distinguished from not only just through words, but also action. From here, the difference between the religion, Islam and a believer, a Muslim, differs. The Muslim will be judged accordingly given the circumstances to a level of standard. The standard will be of other religions, or the standard will be comparing to Islam. The thought of Muslims in politics will entail their behavior based on absolute Islamic principles. When Islamic politics are spoken, Islam as a religion is judged and compared towards other religions. Should this fail, the comparison will be unnecessary, as it won’t matter as the religion becomes defective, arriving on a contradiction for the claim that it is whole, and in consequence loses it’s credibility as a religion.