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“Taking the Excess Wealth from the Hands of Rich Capitalism" as a Religious Duty. Anti-Capitalism in the Visions of Revolutionary Islamist Movements

Conference - The Global South on the Move



Conference Panel 7: Anti-Capitalist Movements in the Global South



Between the 1940s and 1960s, Islamist thinkers in different countries of the Middle East as well as in Pakistan and India developed the concept of Islam as a “system” and an autochthonous “third way” beside Western capitalism and Soviet communism.  Their visions of Islam as an alternative “way of life”, superior to the great powers of their time, varied and sometimes competed with each other, but share ideas of anti-colonialism, a critique of Western hegemony and the rejection of a perceived materialism in both communism and capitalism. Based on religious arguments they developed different theories of justice in Islam and advocated an Islamic system as liberation of mankind. “The leadership of mankind by the West is now on decline” stated for example the Egyptian Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966) whose writings are until now a standard reference for various jihadist groups worldwide. Based on examples in the writings of Sayyid Qutb, the British Indian (later Pakistani) Abu Ala al-Mawdudi (1903-1979), the Iranian Ali Shariati (1933-1977), the Syrian Mustafa al-Siba’i (1915-1964) and current Jihadist actors, the paper explores the development, dynamics and varieties of anti-capitalist ideas in Islamist writings. It shows how critique of capitalism is intertwined with religious sources and ideas of other ideologies to mobilize for revolutionary Islamic vanguard movements.