Barry Rubin, director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs, posts a helpful piece at his blog, The Rubin Report, elucidating the differences and the affinities between Islam and political Islamism, and examining some of the ways in which they’ve been either conflated or unduly separated. Rubin begins:

The current debate over the roots of Islamist revolution, clashes in the Middle East, and conflicts between forces in that region and the West involves two critical issues of interpretation:

First, is there a threat to the West from groups whose members are Muslims or does the fault arise from Western policies and shortcomings which, if altered, would make any conflict disappear?

Second, if there is a threat does it stem from Islam as religion or Islamism as political philosophy?

It is important to understand that revolutionary Islamists do draw on mainstream, accepted, and sacred Muslim texts. Their argument has the potential to be just as “legitimate” in believers’ eyes as does the contrary view. At the same time, though, Islam as a religion is not the threat, even though it is the threat’s source and rationale.

Read the rest of the post here.