Muslims possess two main visions in the contemporary world: Official Islam and Civilian Islam. These two visions, which are understandably quite different from one another, can lead to unique political and social projects.
People who have adequate knowledge on religion and Islam know that Islam, in terms of the essence of its message, cannot be defined as being purely “official” or “civilian,” and that Islam in its essence is a revelation from God delivered by a protected (infallible) prophet and one who addresses mankind as one whole. The truth is that throughout history, while trying to compile a map of meaning from this religion in the modern world of objects, mankind places one aspect before others. Then all forms of conceptualization can be discussed; a human reading of religion is but an interpretation and deduction.
When we look at the different tendencies and methods of different Islamic movements, we are faced with three basic but different perspectives, namely “cultural Islam,” “social Islam” and “political Islam.” This is the case because Muslims are striving to exist in all three realms. It is necessary to underscore that as a religion, Islam’s affiliation to culture, the social realm or politics is merely a matter of expressive (rhetorical) definition. Just as it is not possible to define Islam as nothing but a pure ideology due to its protection by God and its delivery by a prophet, and calling it “Islamic ideology” is in fact incorrect when the correct expression should be “Muslim ideology”; similarly, not every type of and formation of pure human activity can be tied to the truth of Islam because Islam is a consistent whole with its own set of references, tendencies and goals.
Surely this religion has suggestions for every human activity in question (cultural, social and political). When a person who feels him or herself loyal to Islam views a certain human activity as being important and concentrates on it, they may become associated with it. When the opposite is imagined, we may relegate religion to a single stratum despite all of its multifaceted qualities. Because certain religions’ pure spiritual and theological/metaphysical qualities have come to be their fundamental and defining characteristics, it would be befitting to limit these religions to a single stratum or, more accurately, a distinctive characteristic.
However, if a religion, such as Islam, stresses the significance of the worldly, the afterlife, individual and social levels, then we cannot keep that religion restricted to a single level. If Islam was a pure ideology and spirituality and it was, in the Western sense, only a religion concerned with what is in this world, then it would have been purely a worldly ideology. However, this world and the afterlife; matter and meaning; spirit and body; mind and faith all have a place and significance in the general perspective of this religion. Belief, worship, manners, procedures and the Islamic penal code are all the main and consecutive categories in the jurisprudential literature of Islam. We can add to this the fact that tasawwuf, which oversees the reality of our spiritual and subjective relations, and fiqh (jurisprudence), which oversees normative relations between individuals and within society, are among the most notable Islamic sciences. These sciences show us that the three basic realities (mental, spiritual and physical/social) have a level of truth and Muslims have always been preoccupied with the meaning, manifestation and problems involving the three levels throughout history.
Western media and forces which are trying to marginalize Islam on a global level have relegated “political Islam,” which they themselves created, to the whole and spirit of Islam itself. They furthermore worked to create images of terror, fanaticism, fundamentalism and anachronism. But what is pleasing is that these conceptualizations and these recreated images were not adopted by an overwhelming majority of Muslims. They were content with defining themselves simply as Muslims. And this is how it should be