Latest newsletter #161 Click to read online

Where is the border between Islam and Islamism?

The media says that the two are different as night and day: Islam is a religion of peace and the Islamists have stolen the name. Others believe that Islamism represents the traditional, pure Islam, true to the Koran.

This latter view is advanced, remarkably enough, by a theologian, Prof. Fr. Martin Rhonheimer, from a university endorsed by Pope Benedict XVI. He is a professor at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome and wrote an essay in October 2014 on this particular distinction in the Neue Zurcher Zeitung, a Swiss German language daily.

"You do not hear many official Muslim voices condemning Islamic State", says Rhonheimer. "And when it finally happens, it is usually only to condemn the
brutality because it harms Islam's reputation. The Islamic state is no heresy
but a recurring pattern in the history of violent expansion. The model is
Mohammad himself. Islamic State's legitimization finds its basis in the Koran and Islamic law, the Sharia. You will find no arguments within Muslim theology that can be used to condemn Islamic State's behaviour as un-Islamic."

Father Rhonheimer then goes through the suras in the Koran that prescribe what should happen to the conquered Christians and Jews, and points out that the Islamic State strictly adheres to these regulations. Islam would like to influence the state and society in all kinds of details, he emphasises.

"Islam is more than a religion. It is a cult with political and social rules and unites religion and political and social order in one. And it has always been violent. Moderate Islam has its advocates, they are often professors at Western universities. But they are confronted with Islam's central problem when they return to Islam's origin, they come across the warlike, expansionist Islam from Medina, the legitimacy of killing for Allah's honour and a violent Mohammad".

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