Essentially, what does it mean to say that someone or something is "Islamist" as opposed to "Islamic"? Nothing, really, except that the person speaking doesn't want to offend Islam by speaking unwelcome truths about the political nature of the religion. Robert has this:
Islam and Islamists Jihad Watch
The term "Islamist" is in common use to refer to Muslim individuals and organizations that adhere to Islamic law's political aspects (most notably its denial of any legitimacy of a separation between religion and the state) and consequently most fiercely oppose America, Israel and the West in general. The implication is that Islam itself, in its authentic form, has no requisite political aspect, and no incompatibility with Western values or democratic government.
The problem with this is that it is a Western, artificial distinction, imposed by non-Muslims upon the Islamic world and lacking any real substance with reference to Islamic law as it has always been formulated by the Sunni and Shi'ite madhahib (schools of jurisprudence). Islam has always been political, and the union of religion and the state has always been essential to its political program; the idea that all this can and should be separated from Islam proper is the wishful thinking of Western analysts who do not wish to face the implications of the fact that these ideas represent mainstream Islamic thinking.
In line with this, I recently received this email from a Jihad Watch reader in Canada:
A conversation with several friends on Facebook erupted into something quite extraordinary. An 18 year old Muslim student, from Western University and born in Mississauga had this to say about the distinction between Islam and Islamism:
"case and point on why you dont understand Islam. No one makes this distinction [between Islam and Islamism] other then the Western world, for the sake of having a tidy little system to classify everything. Our religion and political ideology are one. Furthermore, I really wouldnt use the term islamist or Islamism. Many muslims, including myself, find the term deeply offensive."
In other words, IN CANADA, there is an entire generation of Muslims who openly subscribe to 'Islamism' as indistinguishable from Islam.
And that should come as no surprise. Except to willfully blind non-Muslim analysts in the West.