Posted by: Christian | May 12, 2008

The Appeal of Political Islam

In my never-ending quest to ensure that I never get granted any sort of government clearance I occasionally hang out with political Islamists. I was talking with one of my bearded friends lately and he said this:

“You know, capitalism and socialism both have good things, but also very bad things. Islam takes only the good things from both capitalism and socialism, and takes none of the bad things. That is why it is the best system for government.”

Before you jump to any conclusions, I’ll just say that this guy hates the Taliban and the old Jihadi lslamist parties more than you could possibly imagine. And you might have heard this type of thing before. It’s hardly an original thought as it has been previously articulated by other proponents of political Islam, and of Islam in general.

This exchange is an example of how the idea of political Islam can endure. The old Jihadi parties in Afghanistan, and more recently the Taliban, have dragged the idea of Islam as a political system through the mud. But still the idea endures. Why? Because for an educated Islamist, the example of some backwards barely-educated refugee camp kids failing at building effective governance does not disprove the feasibility of political Islam. Nor does the example of some self-serving early 1990s Mujahideen. Nor does the example of those Shia next door. Nor does the example of some hypocritical ruling family speaking in the language of political Islam disprove anything about political Islam.

Imagine telling a communist that North Korea is proof that Communism doesn’t work. Tell a conservative that the Bush administration is proof that conservative government doesn’t work. Tell a socialist that 1970s Britain is proof that socialism is a joke. Tell an Oglala Sioux that the 1970s tribal government of Dick Wilson shows that Native Americans are incapable of self-governance. The answer to all these would be to say that these prove nothing about an entire system of governance. The Communist will say that true Communism has never been implemented. The socialist will say that there are plenty of better examples. The conservative will say that Bush has never implemented the true policies of conservative government. And the Sioux will say that you are racist and that they now have much more effective and accountable government structures in place.

Similarly, the political Islamist will not be deterred by a few examples that they do not consider to be true political Islam. And he will still see the realistic possibility of an honest, incorruptible government that unifies Muslims in peace and cooperation. And many of them do not see the need to implement the system through violent means.


  1. And many of them do not see the need to implement the system through violent means.

    Kind of like Hizb-ut Tahrir?

  2. Very well put. I had the pleasure of serving two months in jail with several intelligent muslims who had just rediscovered the faith. Their point was that the west never declared existensialist war on communism, but that the muslims were falling prey to the same propaganda tactics as the jews in 35. And they have a point.

  3. First…just a comment on Communism. I am not a Communist but I know its history. The general idea is not a bad one: the problem that trumps governments every-single-time…is the part where you have a “temporary” leader/dictator before you have equal order. But who, once power has been obtained, wants to give up that power?? No one. AND Human Nature dicatates that it will not ever be successful…b/c people, no matter how much good they initially have, are selfish.

    I think this SAME idea applies to each governement system. While someone might claim to take stock in the good of the political system, they are going to face the same temptations and raw challenges that system faces….

    It always, in my belief, boils down to the core of the human condition, not the political policy itself.

  4. Please take a few minutes and review this very important video………..

  5. “The Communist will say that true Communism has never been implemented…”

    Idealism at its peak. Every now and then I meet Afghans who share similar ideals in that the Mujahideen and the Taliban never implemented ‘true’ Islam, had they done so things would have been so much better, so close to perfection.
    The appeal of Political Islam is more arrogance and ‘no can do’ narcissism than a result of social or political thought process.
    An ideology than can not accept constructive criticism and evolve is bound to remain an idealistic myth, for example; political Islam.

  6. Islam has no anything bad in it’s self,
    All bad things are in our Islamic obeying ways.


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