What constitutes a religion? What are the requirements? Is it reference to a higher power? Is it spirituality? Is it in the necessity of faith? Just what makes us refer to any belief system as a “religion?”
There are multitudes today that consider themselves spiritual yet would object to being labeled as part of religion. They believe in a higher power identified by a seemingly inexhaustible number of terms but emphasize an individual relationship with that power...not one dependent on organization. So, apparently, in addition to the belief in a higher power there is a requirement of organization.
But it appears that there is more. Arguably there must be a “faith” quotient. Belief systems based on proofs and demonstrable facts may be organized and numerous, but they universally refer to their organizations as “scientifically” based or “logic” based “societies,” not religions. There is, in all religions, a inherent need for “faith,” a total belief in something not proven and not provable.
So...how are we doing so far. We need a belief in a “higher power”(by any definition), an organization, and “faith.” Are there any other factors?
I suggest there is one more...a governing code that separates religious excellence or success from secular or human-based measurements of success. There is a disconnect between the two even as each can co-exist. For example, someone who's religion judges him to be a successful believer, may be successful in business and in life, but while that is considered part of his religious standing, should it be absent...if he is poor and unsuccessful in business...he would still be held in high esteem within his religion. In other words, the two existences (religious and secular) are not causal.
So now we need independence from secular success indicators, a higher power, an organization and faith. How about power, as part of a group, and organization or in governance of a political entity? Certainly that has been present over the ages. The Crusades were a prime example of power being used to further a religious belief and try to minimize a competing religious belief.
Curiously, while every religion that has ever found itself in power has never failed to use that power to further its own vision of “truth,” it has never been a requirement for the religious existence...never...save for one: Islam.
While all religions revel in the ownership, no matter how brief, of power the absence of that power does not cause the religion to shrivel up and disappear. It may go underground, as happened in the USSR for decades. Governmental persecution of Christians and Jews over the ages failed to wipe these belief systems from the planet.
So...what are we to make of Islam. Interestingly, the Koran begins, not with Mohammed's birth or "conversion", but with his rise to power...political power, military power, power to rule over others, not by faith, but by force. There is no separation of “church” and “state” in Islam...they are one. There is Sharia law which is to govern the people, there are codes of conduct to control people...even people who are non-believers...all people.
Upon reflection, it is difficult not to come to the conclusion that Islam is a political system of governance, a political ideology that boosts its right to power by the declared support of a higher power. And such a declaration tends to put its implied “rightness” at a higher level than those solely secular-based...People-based, if you will. Once you call God by any name into the equation you are declaring a superiority of standing. And that is what Islam does. Think of it as a representational dictatorship where the dictator class rules as the self-declared spokesmen for a higher, infallible entity that may never be challenged. Pretty neat, huh? Wish I had thought of that (but I digress).
But, once political power is removed, it cannot function and achieve its stated purposes and goals, which is to rule all, not just believers. That is the difference. Judaism has many rules for living and conduct...but these are not imposed on others, only on the members of their faith. Certainly they may look down on unbelievers, but the instances are rare indeed of their killing non-believers because of their non-belief.
Yes, I know that the forces of the Crusades certainly did kill un- or non-believers. But that was at least as motivated by desire of conquest and to put down armed resistance as it was to decrease the number of or punish the beliefs of non-believers...and it has never been a constant or even a declared intention of that or other true religions over the centuries.
My conclusion is that Islam is more appropriately defined as a political ideology than as a religion. While there faith based tenets, an organization and a higher power, there is also an inseparable political power element that does not appear in religions generally. It is akin to the Monarchy based governments of old with the Monarch claiming power derived from God in some form or other.
And, in light of its declared intention of eliminating all other forms of worship and governance from the planet, it would seem to be likely to look upon it as a threat to any democratic-based governance...including, most specifically, the United States.
In light of this, it seems most logical to track its existence in the United States as we did the Communist party and any other organization dedicated to the overthrow of our form of government...and the Koran specifically calls for such overthrow in any non-Islamic-ruled country.
Perhaps our “leaders” might “get a clue”, “take a hint”, “get on the ball”, or maybe just do their damn jobs and start protecting our way of life, our borders and our system of government.