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Raymond goes on:
Islamism is a distinct phenomenon and, to an extent, different from historic Islam. The staunch literalness of today’s Islamists is so artificial and anachronistic that, if only in this way, it contradicts the practices of medieval Muslims, which often came natural and better fit their historical context.
There is some truth to this, but here again, one would be in dangerous waters if one takes Raymond’s statement that “Islamism is a distinct phenomenon and, to an extent, different from historic Islam” as meaning that Islam in its various mainstream forms has not always been political and supremacist. Take, for instance, the medieval Muslim Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406), a pioneering historian and philosopher, who was also a Maliki legal theorist. In his renowned Muqaddimah, the first work of historical theory, he notes that “in the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the Muslim mission and (the obligation to) convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force.” In Islam, the person in charge of religious affairs is concerned with “power politics,” because Islam is “under obligation to gain power over other nations.”
Another medieval Muslim, Ibn Taymiyya (Taqi al-Din Ahmad Ibn Taymiyya, 1263-1328), was a Hanbali jurist. He directed that “since lawful warfare is essentially jihad and since its aim is that the religion is God’s entirely and God’s word is uppermost, therefore according to all Muslims, those who stand in the way of this aim must be fought.”
In light of that, whether or not they are, as Raymond goes on to argue, “influenced by Westernization,” even before these Westernizing influences entered in, they were energized by an imperative to make war against and subjugate unbelievers.
Raymond thus quite rightly goes on to point out that “Islam proper” is not “trouble-free.” I agree with those whose views he characterizes this way: “one might argue that use of words like ‘Islamist,’ while valid, are ultimately academic and have the potential further to confuse the layman.” He then goes on to argue for the need for a term for the adherents of political Islam — and there again, I propose the term “Islamic supremacist,” which does not have the baggage of “Islamist,” and leads no one to believe that Islam itself is “trouble-free.”
Raymond concludes: “why insist on a language that is easily misunderstood and even has the potential to backfire?”
Indeed. And that’s why I reject the term “Islamist.”
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