Islam is not just a religion. Islamic law has been established and legal rulings issued for some 1400 years. Islamic legal scholars have issued binding legal rules based upon the Koran in a way that is similar to our legal system ruling upon the Constitution. The present day president of Iran is internationally considered an authority on the Koran and Islamic law. As within our legal system, disagreements exist. However, because Islam has no national entity, many differences are unresolved.
The Koran and Islam were started long before the concept of the nation-state. Islam was built as a religion with the power and functions of a nation-state. Islam has an entire legal system. It has a foreign policy. For example, the rules for declaring and ending wars. Islamic law has many of the rules for entering and honoring treaties with other states. Islamic law has rules for commerce, including a prohibition on earning interest. It contains rules for divorce and inheritance. These are some of the reasons why the Islamic world has such difficulty with the idea of nationalism. The very culture is more loyal to Islam and the clan than any concept of an independent nation-state. The idea of separating the ‘religion’ from the state is an anti-Islamic concept. You would have had to have left Islam to even consider this concept. 1400 years of legal rulings have made it VERY clear that the penalty for leaving Islam is death.
Just last year in Afghanistan, a man was sentenced to death for converting to Christianity. I do not know if that sentence was enforced or not, but if it was NOT then the entire government of Afghanistan must be considered apostate by Islam. This is similar to the issue that triggered the riots that broke out in Nigeria in 2006 when the court refused to have a convicted adulteress stoned to death.
The overall point is that Islam is much, much more than just a religion. It is not only a way of life, but also a governmental system complete with enforcement mechanisms. Islam can field an army, and has done so countless times throughout its history. It is doing so now. The concept of Islam as a nation-state is still common throughout the Islamic world.
At the end of March, a group of Muslim leaders met and issued a declaration: "The obligation of the Islamic Nation [is] to regard the sending of foreign warships into Muslim waters, claiming to control the borders and prevent the smuggling of arms to Gaza, as a declaration of war, a new occupation, sinful aggression, and a clear violation of the sovereignty of the Nation. This must be rejected and fought by all means and ways."
Islam is NOT a nation-state. This is a declaration of war, but without a nation-state to hold accountable? This type of issue is of the type that wars are fought over. Such as the state of Virginia leaving the Union in 1861. An additional problem is that Islam has been built to expand at non-Muslim expense.
"The presumption is that the obligation of Jihad will continue (Interrupted only by truces) until the entire world converts to Islam or is subjected to Muslim rule." "Traditional Islam views the world as belonging to one of two houses, the house of Islam and the house of war". (Bernard Lewis 2003)
No wonder the culture is so easily insulted. Any claim that in any way contests Islamic law or rule is cause for open warfare. This is an additional reason why separation of the "church" of Islam from any government will be fought with violence. Yet in order for the Muslim world to enter the modern world, this MUST occur. Or else we can all become Muslims.
This can be seen as a major contributing cause of the Arab-Israeli wars. Seen in this way, it is no wonder that no peace has been obtained. The best hope for true peace is change within Islam. This is what the wars in the Middle East are really all about. In a way that is similar to the issue of slavery in the U.S., the war is well worth fighting. As with fighting slavery, this will be resisted violently and for a long time. The real trick will be to see if we can accomplish this without a terrorist organization obtaining and deploying any weapons of mass destruction.