A Religion, or a Government?
To rightly divide the Islamic faith and its ideologies, one must understand the formation of Islam, its leader, and its community (Umma). How did Islam come to be? How was it formed as a religion and as a political entity?
Islam is a fusion of religious beliefs and politics. One cannot be separated from the other, and one cannot survive without the other!
Islam as a religion or a set of pious rules and regulations is uninteresting and uninviting! And Islam exclusively, as a political system, is feeble and nonthreatening.
But a true Islam, a synthesis of religion and politics, is a force that needs to be reckoned with.
We see examples of this fact in three different Islamic countries – Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia.
The Islamic Revolution of the Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979 in Iran is an example of a 7th century Islam, a true Islam, where religion and Politics are merged into one indivisible belief system. Khomeini in his book, Velayat-e Fagih, traces his leadership role as the supreme leader (Valiy-e Fagih) back to Mohammad, as a political, economical, and religious leader of the Muslim community (Umma)!
In Iraq, Saddam Hossein, contemporary to Khomeini, was a political leader. He was a Muslim, but he did not mix religion with politics. His governing of the Iraqi people was based more on a secular dictatorship than an Islamic rule dictated by Sharia law!
In Saudi Arabia, the center of the Islamic faith, Islam is practiced and enforced by its strict rules – the Islamic Sharia law. But the ruling royal family of Saudi Arabia, the House of Saud, have partially distanced themselves from a political Islam – an Islam that is to rule the earth!
And yet in which of these three countries do we see an Islam that is closest to the Islam of Mohammad? – An Islam which within one hundred years after Muhammad’s death became an empire in which Allah and the laws of Islam ruled from Punjab to the Pyrenees, and from Samarkand to the Sahara.
We could divide Islam into two eras:
- The Islam of Mecca
- The Islam of Medina
In Mecca, for a period of 12 years, Mohammad received mostly peaceful messages from Allah after his call to prophethood. The opposition, however, from Mohammad’s own tribe, the Quraysh, grew more and more fierce to the point where the existence of the small Islamic group of 300 converts was at stake. This is when Allah commanded Mohammad to move to Medina. The move, known as Hijra, took place in June of 622 AD.
In Medina, things started to change for the small struggling Muslim group. Arab tribes in Medina (the Ansar) pledged their support to Mohammad and to fight against Quraysh. Once their pledge was secure, the revelation came to Mohammad to fight the pagan Quraysh: From a peaceful revelation in Mecca, “let there be no compulsion in religion” (Sura 2:256) to a violent and forceful revelation in Medina, “And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush.” (Sura 9:5)
Bloodshed, war, and raiding caravans became a norm for Mohammad and the Muslim community of Medina.
The renowned Muslim scholar, Ibn Ishaq reports:
“But God turned this against them, not for them, and when there was much talk about it, God sent down to his apostle: ‘They will ask you about the sacred month, and war in it. Say, war therein is a serious matter, but keeping people from the way of God and disbelieving in Him and in the sacred mosque and driving out His people there from is more serious with God.’ i.e. If you have killed in the sacred month, they have kept you back from the way of God with their unbelief in Him, and from the sacred mosque, and have driven you from it when you were its people. This is a more serious matter with God than the killing of them whom you have slain. ‘And seduction is worse than killing.’ i.e. They used to seduce the Muslim in his religion until they made him return to unbelief after believing, and that is worse with God than killing. ‘And if they will not cease to fight you until they turn you back from your religion if they can.’ I.e., They are doing more heinous acts than that contumaciously. (Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah – The Life of Muhammad Translated by A. Guillaume, pp. 287-288)
There were 28 wars that Mohammad ordered and fought himself. Some of these known wars are: Battle of Badr; Battle of Uhud; Battle of the Trench; Battle of Khaybar….
With all these wars, booties, division of booties, military operations, internal divisions and warfare, Mohammad became a religious and a political leader of the Islamic communities of Muslims (Umma) throughout the entire Arabian Peninsula.
Thus, Islam developed from a religious entity to a political entity! It is this form of Islam that is a threat to democracy, Christianity, Judaism and the freedom of mankind!