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Islamic socialism is a term coined by various Muslim leaders to describe a more spiritual form of socialism. Muslim socialists believe that the teachings of the Qur'an and Muhammad — especially zakāt — are compatible with principles of economic and social equality. They draw inspiration from the early Medinan welfare state established by Muhammad. Muslim socialists are generally not as socially liberal as their western counterparts. Like Christian democrats, Muslim socialists found their roots in anti-imperialism. Muslim socialist leaders believe in democracy and the derivation of legitimacy from the public, as opposed to Islamic religious texts or claims to be Muhammad's successors.


Islamic socialism is a term coined by various Muslim leaders to meet the demand for a more spiritual form of socialism. Muslim socialists believe that the teachings of the Qur'an and Muhammad are compatible with principles of equality and the redistribution of wealth. Some orthodox Islamic scholars declare various socialist practices, such as the confiscation of private property, to be oppressive and against Islamic teachings.


Abū Dharr al-Ghifārī, a Companion of Prophet Muḥammad, is credited by many as the founder of Islamic socialism.[1][2][3][4][5] He protested against the accumulation of wealth by the ruling class during ‘Uthmān's caliphate and urged the equitable redistribution of wealth. There exist a number of parallels between Islamic economics and communism, including the Islamic ideas of zakat and riba.[6]

Islamic welfare stateEdit

Main article: Bayt al-mal

The concepts of welfare and pension were introduced in early Islamic law as forms of Zakat (charity), one of the Five Pillars of Islam, under the Rashidun Caliphate in the 7th century. This practiced continued well into the Abbasid era of the Caliphate. The taxes (including Zakat and Jizya) collected in the treasury of an Islamic government were used to provide income for the needy, including the poor, elderly, orphans, widows, and the disabled. According to the Islamic jurist Al-Ghazali (Algazel, 1058–1111), the government was also expected to stockpile food supplies in every region in case a disaster or famine occurred. The Caliphate can thus be considered the world's first major welfare state.[7][8]

Among the many welfare programs established by Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab, these included government welfare grants distributed to the needy without any services in return. For example, he established a special grant for the nursing of babies, providing 100 dirhams (silver coins) per child per year. [1]

Modern Islamic socialismEdit

The first experimental Islamic commune was established during the Russian Revolution of 1917 as part of the Wäisi movement, an early supporter of the Soviet government. The Muslim Socialist Committee of Kazan was also active at this time.

Gaddafi's versionEdit

In the early 1970s, Muammar Gaddafi, published his 'Islamic Socialism,' his version, fusing Islam, Arabism and Socialism, in the 'Green Book.'[9][10]

Heavily influenced by pan-Arab Egyptian leader, G. Abdul Nasser, the Green Book, was published in three parts (1975, 1977, 1978).[11] It served as the basis for the Islamic Legion.[12] Gaddafi's former mercenaries backed Uganda's Islamic dictator Idi Amin, and later on pushed a racist Arabist ideology in Sudan.[13] It has been alleged that Charles Taylor received military training in Libya,[14] under Ibrahim Bah, a Senegalese national, ex-Hezbollah, and Sierra Leone's RUF's General.[15] The RUF was influenced by Libyan leader Colonel Mu'ammar al-Qadhaff's amalgam of socialist-Islamic philosophies.</i>[16]

List of notable Muslim socialists Edit

Other notable Muslim socialists include:

Islamic MarxismEdit

Islamic Marxism is a term that has been used to describe Ali Shariati (in Shariati and Marx: A Critique of an "Islamic" Critique of Marxism by Assef Bayat). It is also sometimes used in discussions of the 1979 Iranian revolution, including parties such as the Mojahedin-e-Khalq Organization.[17]

See alsoEdit

Footnotes Edit

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  1. (1995) Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World. New York: Oxford University Press, 19. ISBN 0195066138. OCLC 94030758. 
  2. "Abu Dharr al-Ghifari". Oxford Islamic Studies Online. Retrieved on 23 January 2010.
  3. And Once Again Abu Dharr. Retrieved on 23 January 2010. 
  4. Hanna, Sami A.; George H. Gardner (1969). Arab Socialism: A Documentary Survey. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 273. Retrieved on 23 January 2010. 
  5. "al-Takaful al-Ijtimai and Islamic Socialism" (1969). The Muslim World 59 (3-4): 275–286. 
  6. Bernard Lewis (1954), "Communism and Islam", International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs 1944-) 30 (1), p. 1-12.
  7. Crone, Patricia (2005), Medieval Islamic Political Thought, Edinburgh University Press, pp. 308–9, ISBN 0748621946
  8. Shadi Hamid (August 2003), "An Islamic Alternative? Equality, Redistributive Justice, and the Welfare State in the Caliphate of Umar", Renaissance: Monthly Islamic Journal 13 (8) (see online)
  9. John L. Esposito, "The Islamic Threat: Myth Or Reality?" Oxford University Press, Oct 7, 1999, Political Science, 352 pp., pp. 77-78.
  10. John L. Espósito, "The Islamic threat: myth or reality?," Oxford University Press, Sep 9, 1993, 247 pp., pp. 80-82
  11. "Socialism Islamic, WWH
  12. "US Officials Regard Chad Conflict As Big Test Of Wills With Khadafy." Gainesville Sun, August 19, 1983. New York Times News Service
  13. The Islamic Legion. Gaddafi's former Mercenaries.
  14. BBC News - "Charles Taylor: Godfather or peacemaker?," BBC, Mar 11, 2011
  15. Douglas Farah, Stephen Braun, "Merchant of Death: Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible," John Wiley & Sons, Apr 14, 2008, 320 pp.
  16. Raymond D. Gastil, "Freedom in the World: The Annual Survey of Political Rights & Civil Liberties 1997-1998," Transaction Publishers, Jan 1, 1997, 610 pp., p. 453
  17. About So-Called Islamic Marxism

References Edit

  • "Socialism and Islam". Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World vol. 4. (1995). Ed. John Esposito. Oxford University Press. 81–86. ISBN 0195066138. OCLC 94030758. 

External linksEdit

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