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What Is Islam, Religion or Ideology?

What Is Islam, Religion or Ideology?

Author(s):

Date Published: 
Wednesday, 20 September, 2017
Summary: 

Most people living in Belgium assume that Islam is a religion like any other, that brings a mostly spiritual message to which each adherent tries to live up as well as possible. They are mistaken. Islam deeply permeates the daily life and social interactions of a Muslim. It is true, as Muslims tend to say, that Islam is an all-encompassing system, that at least includes the following human activities:

 

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CULTURE: the way in which people perform daily routines: e.g. how one should greet the other, who should greet first, personal hygiene (showering, toilet, …), how to eat and drink, how to treat guests, …

 

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SOCIAL SYSTEM: Islam determines the relationship of the Muslim with other Muslims and Muslimas, with those of different religions, with slaves (Islam did not abolish slavery), …  

 

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LEGAL SYSTEM: a good part of what a society needs in legislation, such as family law, inheritance law, property law, transactions, contracts, legislation regarding slaves, … is provided for by the Qur’an and the traditions/Hadith of Muhammad. Believers can only make new laws for matters that are not provided for in the Qur’an and the Hadith.

 

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RELIGION: rules for prayer, fasting, making the pilgrimage to Mecca, almsgiving to the poor, being good to your parents and fellow Muslims, …

 

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MILITARY: The last 10 years of his life, Muhammad was constantly at war. His successors have continued this permanent state of war. So, the Qur’an contains quite a lot of rules pertaining to war, and these are an integral part of Islamic law. The ideology of Jihad, waging war to protect Islam and to spread it, sometimes called “holy war”, is very well-developed and is a part of Islamic law. No other religion has such an elaborate war doctrine as Islam has.

 

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JUDICIAL PROCEDURES: islamic scholars have compiled law books based on the Quran and the traditions of Muhammad. Quite a bit of attention is given to procedures of witnesses. Islam did not bring an organized judicial apparatus with procedures of defence, appeals, ... Muhammad himself was the judge and what he decided was executed. He even had people executed without putting them on trial. His successors have simply continued in the role of being a judge as well. Saudi Arabia tries to copy the situation that Muhammad instituted (or didn’t institute) as much as possible, resulting in a condition where in the 21st century they still don’t have a judiciary where the rights of citizens are protected. And they still carry out punishments that were common in the 7th century, but that are now regarded as abhorrent.

 

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POLITICAL SYSTEM: in an Islamic system there is no separation of powers, all power (political, judicial, military, …) is in the hands of the Caliph or his representative. Citizens in this Islamic system must be unconditionally obedient to the Caliph, unless he deviates from Islamic law. The system of a Caliphate is a continuation of the principle that Muhammad held all power. One of the shortcomings of Muhammad is that he didn’t institute a system with elections or democratic representation, resulting in a lot of problems with his succession, especially the fourth Caliph, Ali. These problems caused the split between the Shiites and Sunnites.