“As a consequence, we build institutions on quicksand. We persuade ourselves that there is a way to fix the problem by defining it in a manner that satisfies our basic instincts. It is hard to imagine a religion that values death over life. There is an unwillingness to concede the underlying imperial desire in Islam is to spread caliphates across the globe using any means necessary. The definitions speak to us as tranquilizers. It simply feels better to deny the truth. Unfortunately the truth does not disappear like soap bubbles. Its ugly face appears and reappears.”
It has become fashionable among the cognoscenti to distinguish between Islam and Islamism. In fact, the Quilliam Foundation, focused on religious freedom, has promoted the distinction along with many quite reputable analysts of Islamic behavior. Presumably the latter believes in the imposition of faith over society by violence or law; while the former rejects violence conducting itself as any other religion might. This distinction has a hopeful ring to it since one may embrace the faith and abandon the ideology, thereby stabilizing presently unstable societies.
But suppose this is a distinction without a difference. After all, the Islamist is willing to die in order to spread the faith, his death a testament of his religious devotion. Most people would say this is fanatical, but from the Islamists’ perspective this is a tactic that intimidates religious rivals driving them to appease or convert. Without having to utter a threat, Jews and Christians know that any criticism of Islam, even mild criticism, could lead to retributive violence. This is what gives Islamism its advantage.
Islam, by contrast, is regarded as benign, a pathway to Allah like any other religion. But is this true? Admittedly most Muslims are not violent, yet it is also the case that violence perpetrated against infidels is clearly suggested in the Koran. Koranic dogma indicates there is only one true religion and its adherents have an obligation to spread the faith.