Someone dear once told me “the people in the government of Iran are Islamic (eslaami) while I am a Muslim (mosalmaan)”. I recently saw a 2002 article by Ladan and Roya Boroumand* (TERROR, ISLAM, AND DEMOCRACY) where the history of militant Islam was examined, and Ladan and Roya Boroumand coined this military faction: “Islamism**”. The militarization towards Islamism is initiated by conceding political power to Muslim groups. So, according to this classification, while Muslims in the US can be characterized as “Muslim/mosalmaan”, the governments of Iran / Saudi Arabia and Al Qaeda / Muslim Brotherhood organizations are “Islamists”. Needless to say, Islamism is incompatible with democracy.
All together, there were 3 take-home messages for me:
1. Granting political power to Islamic factions enables militarization via fanatic elements within the Muslim community.
2. Islamism is achieved via incorporation of Islamic Shari’a into civic laws.
3. Islamism is incompatible with democracy, therefore keep shari'a out of civic laws.
Of course, history has shown that granting political power to any religious organization resulted disastrously. The founding fathers of the USA realized this dichotomy via "separation of church and state" while respecting all religions. Let's remember these lessons when some folks scream that Islam is part of Iran's history and the civic laws have to reflect it. Complete separation of Religion and State will send a strong message to any would-be Rabhar to stay in Qum.
* Three Iranian women Ladan Boroumand, Roya Boroumand and Shadi Sadr, received the 2009 Lech Walesa Prize for their promotion of “human rights, freedom of expression and democracy in Iran”.
** I have adapted Islamist/Islamism (versus Islamic) to be consistent with the Boroumand sisters. While there are other movements like Salafi and Wahabism, the term Islamism / Islamist seems to encompass all of these fanatic groups.
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