Islam is a "deen", the definition of which does not match with the word religion. How exactly is deen defined and what are the implications of that definition.
Any set of laws, the resulting social and economic setting, as well as the emergent or directed norms generate a “religion”, a system of belief, a pattern of habits in individuals - a way of life. Any set of laws, social norms, any socio-politico-economic ecosystem is connected to, influences and shapes the individual by definition. Adhering to no religion at all still implies one lives by certain rules, that one acts in certain ways, adheres to certain norms and ideals, and lives confined within a socio-politico-economic system, defined by some rules. One then, through one's experience, begins to formulate certain beliefs, certain directions, certain goals. Thus one begins to develop and maintain within oneself, a religion, a set of beliefs about a directive power. One has rituals and customs and traditions and follows them "religiously", whether one's god is one's work or the state or money, or just one's own self.
Religion, thus, refers to what I would term as a “psycho-social fact” - a structure resulting from the natural function and interaction of the mind and social systems. It appears in groups, in any social setting. Religion is then neither normative or prescriptive, it refers to an observable phenomenon - it's inescapable and exists whenever a human being resides inside a group - a setting of which it is an inherent feature.
A similar concept is that of Governance. Governance refers to a category of social facts, namely the processes of interaction and decision-making among the actors involved in a collective problem that lead to the creation, reinforcement, or reproduction of social norms and institutions. Therefore, as a social fact, governance is neither normative nor prescriptive: it refers to an observable phenomenon. Nor is it limited to any time or space, as it is observable in any human society. Decision-making processes, social norms, and institutions are inherent to social life, allowing members of any society to live together and cooperate, even without a state.