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Is Islam more of a political ideology than a religion?

States and politicians who enact harsh policies in the name of Islam are popular features in the news, but it is important to separate Islam as it is used for political gains from Islam as it is practiced by the over 1.7 billion Muslims around the globe. Governments and politicians have always appealed to all religions, not just Islam, to pass policies and gain popularity. In actuality, the policies they promote may not align with the tenets of the religion they espouse. Unfortunately, sometimes those who most loudly profess religion in government live irreligious personal lives, using religious rhetoric only for selfish or ideological gains. In the past, Muslim scholars have been coerced into signing off on controversial policy decisions and legislation to give an Islamic “seal of approval.” At the same time, however, when a government acts in the name of Islam, there are almost always a number of scholars who oppose those actions on the religious grounds as well. Today, because of the decentralized nature of Islam, no one state or politician speaks for all Muslims so we must differentiate between the Islam of the politicians and the Islam of the practitioners.

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