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Understanding Egypt: Islamic socialism and the left


Editor’s note: The Blaze is featuring some guest posts to help our readers gain a deeper understanding of the situation in Egypt. In this post, M. Zuhdi Jasser, looks at the potentially rocky alliance between Islamic socialism and global progressives -- an alliance Jasser believes is "a marriage of convenience fated for divorce."

The crisis in Egypt and concern over who could replace the despot Hosni Mubarak has at long last awoken Americans to the global project of the Muslim Brotherhood. Founded in 1928, the Brotherhood is an Islamic political party whose mission is and has always been to put into place Islamic theocratic governments (the Islamic state) with legal systems based in Islamic law (shariah). The Brotherhood is the most prominent face of the global ideology of political Islam. A major part of their project includes the ideology of Islamic socialism.

Many have a hard time understanding where the political left in Europe and the United States have common ground with this theo-political Islamist movement. Socialist ideology promotes an oppression of the individual for the collective needs of society and government. Islamist ideology similarly promotes the oppression of the individual for the ‘common good’ of the Islamic state. Both snuff out individual responsibility for tribal collective control.

Islamists will work with whomever necessary to achieve their political ends of shariah  sometimes violently as with Al Qaeda or HAMAS (Brotherhood offshoots) and other times non-violently as we see with recent Brotherhood verbiage in Egypt. American Islamist groups like CAIR and ISNA thought to be MB front groups have never foresworn the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood or the platform of political Islam. They have instead formed alliances of convenience with the left despite some deep ideological differences finding common cause against the same adversaries. The American left unfortunately ignores the type of society Islamists believe should rule where they are a majority.

Islamic socialism hijacks the Islamic theological concept of charity (zakat) and places that function and act of worship in the hands of government. Islamic socialism replaces individual ‘Islamic’ charity with governmental taxation. The wealth of citizens in the Islamic state are seized and redistributed through socialist taxation under the guise of Islamic charity. They achieve a “halo effect” by being perceived as the dispenser of vitally needed goods and services buying themselves legitimacy. The far left will naturally perceive them to be ideological brothers.

Another relevant force within Islamism is so-called ‘free market’ Islamists who yet paradoxically believe in ‘shariah compliant finance’ (SCF) another global Islamist threat of a different flavor. The SCF theocrats simply trade the oppressive forces of a socialist government for the oppressive forces of a non-governmental cabal of clerics who control the monies, rules, and entities of shariah compliant financing.

Much like socialists, Islamists see an all encompassing role for government to deliver a vast array of services and sustenance including health care, education, general welfare, and more. Examples of the left-Islamist marriage are aplenty. Far-left groups like ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) Coalition or the ACLU have openly cooperated with Islamist groups. American Islamist groups used their platform within mosques and Islamist advocacy groups to advocate for Obamacare. There was no clearer manifestation of their Islamic socialism and its inherent mixture between mosque and state. Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN) brought, leading Muslim Brotherhood front groups like the Muslim American Society (MAS), the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) to the Hill to lobby for Obamacare.

Tariq Ramadan, the grandson of Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna, is a leading Islamist intellectual in Europe who has also navigated common cause with many in the European left and socialist movements. The lifting of his travel ban to the United States was done with the support of the ACLU, The PEN American Center and the American Association of University Professors. They must have missed the memo from the European Workers’ Liberty Party as to “40 reasons why Tariq Ramadan is a Reactionary”.

To portray themselves as the sole defenders of minority rights, the left uses our Muslim faith communities to portray the right as anti-Muslim and anti-Islam. The theo-political truth behind Islamic socialism does not matter. It will only be a matter of time until the left realizes that the agenda of Islamists is not only socialism but more broadly Islamism.

Whether socialists, fascists, or theocrats, the move towards an all-intrusive government is the same. They become two sides of the same coin. Islamists use a supremacist interpretation of Islam to exert a collectivism upon the nation-state. This is manifested economically as Islamic socialism and socially through the oppression of women, homosexuals, non-Muslims, and moderate Muslims to name a few.

The transformation we are witnessing in Egypt may get us to finally develop a long enough attention span to develop a long term strategy on the ground to counter the ideologies of Islamism and its Islamic socialism. Read about political Islam, shariah and the goals of Islamist groups. Engage Muslims on Islamism. If the United States is truly dedicated to the Freedom Agenda our soldiers are risking their lives for in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is time to begin to vigorously promote genuine free markets, property rights, and the universal inalienable rights of individuals endowed by their Creator as the only antidote to Islamic socialism domestically and abroad.

If we continue to stay out of the debate raging within the House of Islam, Islamism and its inherent Islamic socialism will march across Muslim majority countries starting now with Egypt. It is time for America and all liberty-loving people to clearly take sides in this civil war of ideas within the Muslim consciousness. It is time for us to lift up reformist Muslims who separate mosque and state and believe in western democracy over the illusion of the Islamic state and its inherent Islamic socialism.

M. Zuhdi Jasser MD is the founder and President of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy based in Phoenix, Arizona. Dr. Jasser is a former U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander.

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