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IslamQA: The difference between religion and ideology

As Salaam Alaikum. Brother, I have a question for you. What is religion and what is ideology? Are they the same? I am a former Hizb ut Tahrir recruit and they used to teach us recruit that Islam is an ideology. I was buying to what they said that time, but later on when I came across one of your Q&A here and read your answer to the question that if Islam is an ideology, I think what you're saying makes total sense. Islam is far more superior to ideology, which is man-made. What I want to find out is, what is the fundamental difference of both of them? By the way, thank you for running this blog, brother. It really enlightens my mind about Islam. Thank you very much, may Allah Bless you.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

An ideology offers explanations and solutions for certain problems. A religion can contain many different ideologies. So technically any explanation and solution that religion offers can be considered an ideology.

The fundamental difference is just that in common usage, ideologies are man-made, recent, and small. They focus only on a small subset of the world’s problems. Religions like Islam are divinely inspired, ancient, and large.

Another difference is that ideologies are focused on the short-term; many of them rely on the belief that if they gain power they can immediately make the world a better place. But religions are focused on the long-term (generations and centuries).

Islamist ideologies like that of Hizb ut Tahrir are inspired by Western ideologies and suffer from the same problems. They think that by seeking power and focusing on the short term they can make the world a better place. The reality is that seeking power is like seeking wealth. It corrupts and it attracts corruptible people.

And God knows best.
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