03 December 2015

Opposing terror: dilemmas for the left on Islam, Islamophobia and Islamism

.... One major dilemma for leftists is how to approach Islamism. This is the term now used to describe the most conservative political strand of Sunni Islam. Like Thatcherism it is a contentious concept.

It has recently been argued that the concept itself reinforces the mindset that links Islam to terrorism. But we use the term because it is one way of understanding how different this tendency is from the many other varieties of Islam followed by the rest of the world’s one and a half billion Muslims.

The simplest way of thinking about Islamism is to see it as Islam+Politics. Historically, most Muslims have explained that Islam is a complete way of life that doesn’t require a specifically political formation. Hence its adaptability: states with Muslim majorities have been totalitarian or relatively liberal and all points between.

From the early Twentieth Century people who are now called Islamists disagreed with that political agnosticism and adopted Western political methods , from parties of the left, right and centre, to forge a specific ideology, prescribing a particular state formation.

They were responding (critically) to capitalist modernisation in their own countries and to their experiences of, and in, the West. Very soon, of course, they disagreed about the details. What they agreed on was that political action, including terror, was required to stem the Western tide of income inequality, gender freedom and sexual depravity. [openDemocracy] Read more