But suppose this is a distinction without a difference. After all, the Islamist is willing to die in order to spread the faith, his death a testament of his religious devotion. Most people would say this is fanatical, but from the Islamists' perspective this is a tactic that intimidates religious rivals driving them to appease or convert. Without having to utter a threat, Jews and Christians know that any criticism of Islam, even mild criticism, could lead to retributive violence. This is what gives Islamism its advantage.
Islam, by contrast, is regarded as benign, a pathway to Allah like any other religion. But is this true? Admittedly most Muslims are not violent, yet it is also the case that violence perpetrated against infidels is clearly suggested in the Koran. Koranic dogma indicates there is only one true religion and its adherents have an obligation to spread the faith.
The democratic belief in self-expression is suppressed by the religion and the ideology. In fact, the ideology springs from the religion. The Medina period in the Koran is fraught with violence embodied in the Verses of The Sword and the good Muslim is one who gives himself to the collective, the umma. Although the Koran is not written chronologically, some assume the Mecca period or peaceful interlude in Islamic history is what should be emphasized. Yet Muslim scholars accept the principle of abrogation, i.e. that which comes later is more holy than what came before. Hence, Medina trumps Mecca.