What is the difference between Islam and Islamism

Frequently asked questions / FAQ

What is the difference between Islamic and Islamic?

"Islamic" means "related to Islam". One speaks, for example, of Islamic doctrine, Islamic behavior, Islamic art, of Islamic states, etc. However, people are not referred to as Islamic, but either as Muslim or as Muslim.

It is wrong, however, to describe members of Islam (i.e. Muslims) as "Islamists". Although “Islamist” has long meant “Islamic scholar” in German (Islamic studies or Islamic studies is a science taught at several German universities that deals with Islam), the term “Islamist” has had a completely different meaning for about 20 years and this is spread every day through the mass media, although this often happens in a very undifferentiated manner.

With "Islamists" one now means Muslims who represent a modernist political ideology - Islamism - according to which a perfect Islamic state can be derived from the Koran and the Sunna (the tradition traced back to Muhammad and his companions) in which everything according to the divine law, the Sharia, is regulated. Muslims who hold this political conviction refer to themselves as Islamists. However, there are very different currents in the Islamist area, with most of them advocating more peaceful methods of converting the existing (mostly undemocratic) systems in Muslim countries into an Islamic system. In fact, there are intolerant Islamists who advocate overthrow by force or even approve of terrorist methods.

Although there are practically no constitutional provisions in the Koran, the concept of the "Islamic State" has recently emerged. Muhammad's small city-state in Medina, i.e. the early community of Islam, is viewed by Islamic ideologues as a model that today's Islamic countries also have to orientate themselves on. Aside from the difficulty of getting out of the realities of a small community in the 7th century AD. to derive a state theory for today's Islamic countries or even for a world empire with a caliph as head - there are no states today that would correspond to such a model. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran, although completely different in their political structure, both claim to be Islamic states in the true sense of the word. An “Islamist” ideology is more prevalent in Iran, while Saudi Arabia is a monarchy in which power is based on membership and loyalty to the royal family. There is no doubt that both countries, like Turkey, Morocco and Indonesia, are “Islamic” countries.