Islam is the doctrine brought by prophet Muhammad and contained in its source texts: the Koran (revelation ascribed to Allah), Hadith (thousands of short stories about what Muhammad said and/or did) and Sira (Muhammad’s biography).
For someone who believes that Muhammad was Allah’s prophet who preached and implemented Allah’s message, those source texts indicate what a Muslim should or shouldn’t do to hope for Allah’s Paradise. And the right to hold such beliefs is protected by law in any secular country.
For someone not believing that Muhammad was Allah’s prophet, religion of Islam is of little interest. I don’t care if Muslims face east or west when they pray, if they hope to get 72 virgins or one 72-year-old virgin, what food they choose to eat and what clothes they choose to wear. And if Allah tells Muslims they should get washed before prayer, I can only greet this: hygiene is always good.
However, 2/3 of the Koran is devoted not to being a good Muslim, but to treating Kafirs (non-Muslims). This part is not religious, it is political. And as a Kafir, this is the only aspect of Islam that I am interested in: how Political Islam affects individual Kafirs and Kafir society as a whole.
Both religious Islam and political Islam come from the same source: the Koran and Muhammad. Sometimes they overlap: for example, Islamic prayer seems to be a purely religious matter, yet every Islamic prayer contains a verse condemning Jews and Christians (those who angered Allah and went astray). So it’s not two separate parts of the doctrine, but rather two aspects of the same phenomenon.
So, what do you think of the concept of Political Islam? Do you find it useful for understanding Islam from a non-Muslim’s point of view?