The “inseparability of religion and politics” in Islam

Here is the description of Islam at the Guardian’s online religion section:

The sources of Islam are the Koran, believed by Muslims to be the exact word of God, and the Hadith – the report of the sayings, deeds and approvals of the Prophet Muhammad [upon whom be peace]. Tenets include the oneness of God, the equality of mankind, the innocence of man at birth, and the inseparability of religion and politics. Has two principal branches: Sunni and Shia. [emphasis my own]

I find it odd that the relationship between ‘religion’ and ‘politics’ can be characterised as ‘inseparable’ (consider what this word means) in 1400 years of Islamic history. Further, can this relationship be reduced to a ‘tenet’ (a dogma, expression of faith, etc.)? I also find it odd that important tenets like salat, or the finality of prophethood, or the existence of an afterlife are not mentioned.

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3 Responses to “The “inseparability of religion and politics” in Islam”


  1. 1 dawood January 7, 2008 at 8:11 pm

    It seems to me that it makes a good sound-byte and is easier for people to write than mention the fact that religion and state have essentially been separate since the Umayyad period, with various incursions along the way to make the religion subservient to political ends etc.

    That just makes Muslims appear like everyone else, and we can’t have that eh bro?

  2. 2 thabet January 7, 2008 at 8:14 pm

    I suspect (this being the Graun) that the ‘inseparability’ description is a view bring pushed by certain Muslims who are close to the editorial team. I don’t have proof, but this is how I feel.

  3. 3 dawood January 7, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    Yeah, sounds like it… you would have thought even a cursory reading about the mihna and so on would show at least one major power-play instigated by a caliph to usurp religious power, which ultimately backfired. The lack of nuance and sound-byte based approach to these types of issues is something that really frustrates me though. It is like two sides of the same coin. Meh…


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