In a futile effort to make headway in the cultural war against the evil known as Islam, some conservatives claim that Islam is not a religion.* This claim is dangerously false.
Of course, Islam is not a “religion of peace,” and everyone knows this, including those who claim otherwise. But the idea that Islam is not a religion at all is absurd.
Islam has all of the essential characteristics of a religion. It has a metaphysics of “God”: the idea that there is an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good being who is the creator of the universe, the source of all truth, and the maker of moral law. It has an epistemology of faith: the idea that knowledge can be acquired by accepting ideas as true when there is no evidence in support of them. It has a moral code that follows from those basic characteristics: the idea that being moral consists in having faith in God’s existence and obeying his will. And it has a politics that follows from all of that: the idea that the only legitimate laws are those set forth or sanctioned by God.
If Westerners want to win the cultural war against Islam, we must accurately identify Islam for what it is. It’s a religion.
Why does it matter whether we call this religion a religion? It matters (among other reasons) because recognizing Islam as a religion is the first step in dealing with the problem of jihad—a problem that is much broader than the tenets of Islam calling for the submission or murder of infidels. . . .