John Goddard to Canadian writers: “How to Tell Islam from Islamism”

“I belong to an 800-member Yahoo! Group called the Toronto Freelance Editors and Writers. On Friday, I posted a version of this short essay titled, “Islam vs. Islamism,” which some members said they found helpful. For general readers the takeaway is: You can hate Islamism without hating Muslims.”

— John Goddard

John Goddard How to Tell Islam from Islamism

John Goddard

I keep seeing news reports saying that Charlie Hebdo got into trouble for satirizing Islam. It didn’t. It got into trouble for satirizing the fascist political ideology of Islamism. Few Toronto editors or reporters appear to know the difference.

A good example of the confusion appears on Page 1 of today’s [Jan. 9/15] Globe and Mail.

Reporter Joanna Slater writes about a German group calling itself the “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West.” The group issued a statement saying, “The Islamists… showed in France today that they are not capable of democracy.” Throughout the story, Slater makes no distinction between Islamism, Islam, or Muslims. In her first paragraph, she says the movement is “against Muslims.” She goes on to equate anti-Islamism with “Islamophobia,” “xenophobia,” “right-wing extremism” and “anti-Muslim sentiment.”

It is worth making a distinction between “Islam” and “Islamism.”

Islam” the religion rests on five pillars. A Muslim:

  • Believes that Allah is the only god and that Muhammad is his prophet;
  • Prays five times a day;
  • Gives an annual Wealth Tax ‘Zakat’ to the poor;
  • Makes a pilgrimage to Mecca ‘Hajj’ if possible;
  • Fasts during Ramadan.

That’s it. You do that and you are a Muslim. If you practice Islam as a faith and separate mosque and state, you live in harmony with other Canadians.

“Islamism”, the political ideology is founded on two pillars. An Islamist:

  • Rejects all man-made laws and constitutional rights of liberal, democratic society in favour of a theocracy under Islamic law — shari’a — which subjugates women, gays, and members of all other religions, and;
  • Adheres to the doctrine of jihad, which puts the Muslim world at war with the rest of the world.

An Islamist, by definition, is an enemy of Canada and civilization. Certainly Islam and Islamism overlap. They overlap a lot. But being anti-Islamist does not imply being anti-Muslim.

I have seen no evidence that Charlie Hebdo is anti-Muslim. Rather, it is anti-Islamist. Its satire can be crude and tasteless. It can also be hilarious. Canadian journalism could use some of its verve, wit and courage.


There is more on Islam vs. Islamism on this site. Click here and here:

1 comment for “John Goddard to Canadian writers: “How to Tell Islam from Islamism”

  1. Avneet
    January 12, 2015 at 10:21 AM

    What of the numerous verses in the Quran that the Islamists use to radicalize people?

    For instance, verses 9:29 and 9:5 among many others.

    What about the writings of the six main Hadiths? Those are all mainstream in Islam and are problematic for all sorts of reasons.

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