Who to Blame: Islam or Islamism

Turkey protests

Turkey protests

Much of the debate on Sharia law and its misogyny against women, the brutal murder in Woolwich, terrorism and more comes back to the question of Islam.

Islam we are told is to blame for it all.

After all Sharia law, jihad, misogyny are rooted in the Koran and Hadith (the sayings and action of Islam’s prophet Mohammad) – which is all true.

The link is undeniable (unless you are a cowardly politician). Islam is the banner of Islamism or political Islam.

But Islamism – not Islam – is to blame. Let me explain.

Christianity is the basis of the Christian-Right but fighting the Christian Right in the US is primarily a political fight against a far-Right movement not a fight against the fundamentals of Christianity.

I have said this many times before: if you look at Christianity in Europe today it is different from the days of the inquisition not because its fundamentals have changed but because its political and social status and power have changed. It’s been reined in and pushed back.

It’s the same with Islamism. I am told Sam Harris says “the problem with Islamic fundamentalism is the fundamentals of Islam” but this is about politics not religion. The fundamentals of Christianity remain the same but we are no longer living under the Spanish inquisition…

Of course, in general, we must always fight regressive and inhuman beliefs, including religious ones. Whilst people have a right to their beliefs as private matters, challenging regressive beliefs is an ongoing task. But to challenge and push back Islamism, sharia law, or terrorism, you have to fight it politically.

If you can’t see where the problem lies, you can’t begin to confront it.

A friend writes: “If Islam were sunshine and lollipops, then the political implementation of Islam wouldn’t be a problem. Is it because Islam is what it is that the politicisation of it is a problem?”

Well no. Nationalism is the basis of fascism but every act of flag waving at a football match does not fascism make.

There is of course much more to say on this and I will try to do so soon. However, while we’re on this topic I have to end with another issue that also often comes up in this debate. Not long passes before someone wants to know “where all the Muslims are”? The fact that we are never asked “where all the Christians are” in the fight against the Christian-Right is a good indicator that there is something very wrong with this question.

Most importantly, it’s the religious-Right that organises along the lines of religion. Others organise on the basis of social, political and class politics.Can you really not see the anti-Islamist uprisings in Turkey, Iran, Egypt, Tunisia… Can you not see so many fighting and dying (and long before September 11)? Or do you just not want to?