Analyzing Political Islam: A Critique of Traditional Historical Materialist Analytic

Political,1 more so, militant Islam has become an influential religious and social force in many post-colonial states.2 The militants face very little by way of real political opposition within Muslim-majority societies, but they are now targeted and attacked militarily by the United States, other Western imperial interests, and client post-colonial states. In the context of the war in Iraq, the occupation of Afghanistan, and the “war on terror,” much has been written by people on the left. But, there is little by way of understanding political Islam from a historical materialist perspective. Some months back, however, Samir Amin offered his traditional historical materialist analysis of political Islam (Monthly Review, December 2007) and very briefly touched on a range of issues, such as modernity, secularism and imperialism. Amin has been generally dismissive of political Islam and unambiguous in saying that Islamists have been in the “service of imperialism.”

The concern with such a dismissal is its inability to provide a critical grasp of political Islam as an ideological phenomenon, and the current role of U.S. imperialism in targeting militant Islam and in controlling political outcomes in Muslim-majority states.3 Such a view is also unhelpful for small left-wing and secular forces in these states to develop even a modest strategic initiative to contest political and militant Islam’s claims—an initiative that moves away from Western and Orientalist characterization of political and militant Islam, and begins to challenge the latter’s social base of support in Muslim-majority states. This social base, it must be clarified, underscores popular anger against U.S. military occupations of Muslim lands and the perception that the imperial onslaught as such is against Muslims. The popular anger against the United States can be gleaned from the expression of unfavorable sentiment by 78 percent of the population in Egypt, Jordan, and Pakistan which, paradoxically, are all U.S. client states.4 However, there is also easy slippage in interpreting this anger against the United States as an endorsement for militant Islam’s obscurantist vision of society, on which more is said below.

Amin’s piece does not deal with the role of larger social and economic issues (including the impact of capitalist globalism) in Muslim-majority states—issues that may partly explain why the abysmally poor join the ranks of militant Islam. More significant, Amin suggests that political Islam is “lined up behind the dominant powers on the world scale” (p. 3), but does little to explain how this has come about given that militant Islam is now also confronting the United States and its imperialist occupation of and forays into Muslim-majority states. This new reality of military confrontation between former collaborators is not to suggest that political Islam’s actions are anti-imperialist.  Rather, my concern here is to advance a critical historical materialist understanding of political Islam that is partly in agreement but also in collegial disagreement with some of Amin’s analysis. An understanding that problematizes Eurocentrism embedded in the treatment of militant Islam and the notion of modernity, while distinguishing my work from an orthodox materialist outlook. The critical materialist analysis employed here is also mindful of the oppressive practices of political Islam’s followers, especially concerning the treatment of women. The obscurantist mullahs have denied even the simplest pleasures of song and celebration, while the self-righteous patriarchal stranglehold of this tendency within Islam has been extremely debilitating for women and for much of society. However, militant Islam today is also a powerful social reality that is influencing and altering culture, language, and social and political policy in Muslim-majority states and in the Muslim diaspora of Europe and North America. Regretfully, this reality is not given much attention by many on the left in Western and even some in Muslim-majority states.

A related tendency on the left is to dismiss political Islam as reactionary. This tendency undergirds an uncritical embrace of Enlightenment modernity, and appears to conflate political Islamists with the followers of Islam (Muslims in general)—a conflation that is indeed integral to the dominant narrative in Western societies of “the Muslim” as violent, as oppressor of women, and as a medieval aberration against modernity. I will address below this issue of modernity and the characterization of Muslims in general. However, I will begin by touching on areas where there is agreement with Amin’s analysis.  

As a starting point, there cannot be any quarrel with the view that political Islam has historically collaborated with U.S. imperialism throughout the period of the Cold War. This began very early in the 1950s with support for Ikhwanul-Muslimeen (Muslim Brotherhood) and ended when the Afghan mujahideen felt they were left in the lurch with the closing of the tap of U.S. arms flow, Saudi financial support, and Pakistan’s military training and assistance following the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan. However, just as this collaboration ended, around the early 1990s, the demonization of Islam and the civilizational clash thesis was quickly developed by the likes of Bernard Lewis (later picked up by Samuel Huntington in his infamous The Clash of Civilizations), which reflected the post-Cold War shift of U.S. foreign policy, whose framework no longer needed political Islam’s support.

The one significant continuity between the Cold War era’s targeting of Marxist and leftists and the current attacks on political/militant Islam is United States’ continued reliance on culturalism to promote its imperial dominance. Western political leaders and the media, and liberal capitalist state’s organic intellectuals have been steeped in culturalism since the heydays of post-1945 era and the launching of Modernization theory—creating binaries between “traditional” and “modern” cultures, and “freedom” and “totalitarianism” to contrast the “free enterprise” Western capitalist culture broadly as a superior culturalist paradigm than other preceding or prevailing non-Euro/American cultures. However, this imperial strategy, more recently, has run into bad weather because the Islamists have been even more effective in using the culturalist terrain to mobilize their base of support against what they claim is U.S. “evil design” on Muslims and “Muslim values.” This culturalism of political Islam conceals the social and economic disfigurement caused by capitalist globalism and redirects political questions on to the terrain of culture. Thus, I am in agreement with Amin that culturalism has to be opposed, but the bigger question is: Who will mobilize people against culturalism of militant Islam in Muslim-majority states?

Also, I am in agreement with Amin that if the left is to be viable again in post-colonial societies, it just cannot gain credibility by making alliances with political or militant Islam. Such alliances are counterproductive and will hurt progressive forces in the long run. In this context, Amin claims that political Islam defends property relations and “aligns itself with the camp of dependent capitalism and dominant imperialism” (p. 1). However, I disagree with the sweep of his claim. Undoubtedly, political Islam is neither anticapitalist nor against property relations, but in the current conjuncture it is also not “an invaluable ally” of imperialism—although the two feed off each other. In other words, imperialist occupation is the oxygen for militant Islam’s survival, and more coherence is needed to understand how U.S. imperialism and client Muslim-majority states perpetuate the rise of political/militant Islam. Given that I am getting into my disagreements with Amin, I will expound on areas of concern in Amin’s historical materialist analysis.

I will first deal with Amin’s interpretation of modernity and secularism, and his claim that “perhaps even democracy” may need to “adapt to the strong presence of Islam” (p. 4). Such a view is fairly prevalent in Western mainstream thought and even in many left circles. This view belies that political Islam is a modern manifestation, albeit as modernity not grounded on the Enlightenment principles. As a corollary, such a perspective also then slips into an Orientalist understanding of political and militant Islam, viewing these phenomena as medieval aberrations—as appears to be the tendency of Western mainstream media, politicians, and others.

Now there is no denying, as Amin rightly points out, that modernity represents “a rupture in world history” following two significant developments—the emergence of the Enlightenment ideas and the rise of industrial capitalism—whose unfolding in close proximity of each other shaped the course of Western economic and societal transformation. But even within this understanding, there were two parallel trajectories: one based on the notion of progress as the progress of technology and economic development, and the other, based on the French Revolution slogan of liberté, egalité, fraternité. However, given the domination of capitalism, “development” as progress has become the dominant motif of modernity, while the latter ideas have taken a backseat to the drift of “instrumental reason” and a formal notion of democracy. Even the “rupture” that Amin speaks of was violent and effacing of preceding social traditions and outlook. In this sense, the notion of modernity has become closely associated with the ideas of Euro/American liberalism and congealed as a “mode of consciousness,” whereby modernity’s historical significance, as Philip Lawrence argues, lies in the manner in which “it self-consciously cut its links with all that had gone before.”5 As a result, rationalism and modernity “unleashed forces which were able to vanquish the past and… [the] less technologically powerful cultures”—which meant that the Enlightenment project cut its links with its own historical past and with the “non-European world,” and this was done with “extreme violence.”6 This violence of modernity and the erasure of the high points of other cultures, which European colonial powers were able to dominate and treat as “backward” or “barbaric,” also meant that the Eurocentric worldview would be privileged and universalized over the supposedly historyless and cultureless non-European world. It is this erasure of the non-European that gives the project of Enlightenment modernity its strong Eurocentric impulse: shaping empire-building projects on the one hand, while on the other, inferiorizing the colonized elite to a point wherein they have internalized the ideas of modernity, especially the notion of the “normal” nation-state7—the edifice that enabled colonial empires and current dominant Western states to tame colonial and post-colonial societies. This imperialist thrust of the past and the present has severely undermined and restructured the economic and political dimension, compartmentalizing thought and action, and displacing social upliftment ideas of Third Worldism and autarky with neoliberal restructuring and the re-imposition of the social and cultural legacies of the colonial state.

In being inattentive to this analytical complexity, and not recognizing the double-edged blade of modernity—issues not unknown to Amin—the irony is that he takes a similarly narrow view in discussing secularism. He dismisses as reactionary the claim of political Islamists that there is no separation between politics and religion—assuming that all forms of separation or the privileging of science is ipso facto progressive. How is this view in Islam any more reactionary from the contrived separation of religion in the secular fundamentalist thought of Dawkins and Hitchens? It would be more helpful to discuss how harm may result if the two remain unseparated, and whether not separating politics and religion in Islam is more harmful in comparison to other non-Muslim religions that also advocate for their unity? In tackling this question, it can be said that Islamic religious parties and political Islam generally have historically used the notion of Islamic revivalism to return the era of the caliphate, when the political and the scared were first merged. Islamic revivalism attempts to reclaim the medieval era’s “golden period” of Islam’s formation, and political Islamists harken back to the period of the caliphate in order to reintroduce sharia in the contemporary period.  However, this harkening back is a political tool of mobilization—albeit along very narrow patriarchal and conservative lines—and also a way to posit a distinct identity for political Islam, one that is separate from the project of Western secular separation between church and state. In this context, Islamic revivalism is at best a late nineteenth century development, and the actions of political Islamists have formed in the period when Western modernity had its greatest influence in the colonies—that is, both are articulated in the spread of Western education, the propagation of the ideology of nationalism, and the emergence of anticolonial movements. As such, political Islam and its militant tendency should be seen as a contemporary political response to a “moral decline” that is perceived to have accompanied Western modernity. This is a powerful argument for the recruitment of potential foot soldiers of militant Islam. This argument is also a challenge to the European paradigm of modernity and cannot be dismissed as just a medieval aberration. The political Islamist position is as much a “modern” manifestation—albeit not within a Eurocentric notion of capitalist modernity.

On this issue of “moral decline,” there is no question that militant Islam’s position is deeply troubling, effacing and violent. This response is historically part of just one among a range of manifestations—reactionary at one end and mildly progressive at the other—which has unfolded since the late colonial era of the 1920s as Muslim religious groups and parties began to insert themselves in the more powerful secular-oriented anticolonial movements, such as in colonial Algeria, Indonesia, India and other states. By examining this history, one becomes aware that the larger aim of such Islamist anti-colonial movements historically had little to do with the right to self-determination of nations and more with enlarging an impositional pan-Muslim nationalism for which the separation of politics and religion made little sense. But this pan-Islamist drift continues to have a strong potential to harm weaker and smaller subnational groups by denying them the right of self-determination, examples of which abound in multiethnic/multinational Muslim-majority states. However, the harmful effects of pan-Islamic nationalism have been rarely taken up by the Western left or even by secular and national or subnational groups in Muslim-majority states.

On this issue of harm, it needs to be said that one often overlooks how the Enlightenment notion of modernity has also had debilitating and harmful consequences for the former colonized. Social and economic harm was done in universalizing the narrow conception of Western capitalist modernity as a ‘superior’ culturalist paradigm in relation to traditional societies, which have been treated as ‘backward’ and needed to be ‘civilized’. This rationale was implemented in the colonies once the charter companies (the British and Dutch East India companies) were dissolved and the colonial state was formally established—for instance, in parts of Asia since the mid 1800s. This issue of modernity’s universalization also concerned Fanon, and he was keenly aware of the impact of this cultural imposition on the former colonized and now the imperialized. He recognized much earlier  from a more materialist understanding (than the current postcolonial theorists) that the colonized began to internalize the colonizer’s culture and the racism embedded in it as power and colonial domination was asserted to take hold of the cultural terrain in the colony. In speaking about the adoption-abandonment binary—the adoption of the colonizer’s culture and the abandonment of the culture of the colonized8—Fanon is also conscious, unlike the current postcolonial theorists, that the lost culture cannot be retrieved and that culturalism can also be a trap. However, the psycho-social and economic harm to the colonized is something that has endured well into the post-colonial era.

Moving from issues of modernity and secularism, a critical historical materialist understanding also needs to assess the nature of political Islam’s social base of support in Muslim-majority societies. On this issue, Amin claims that in countries like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, the upper classes are the main supporters of political Islam. Now, this assumption may be valid for Saudi Arabia,9 but it is definitely not true for Pakistan. There are other inaccuracies about Pakistan in Amin’s piece, but I will not get into them here. The support for political and militant Islam in Pakistan comes from the middle class and religious political parties, with the upper classes taking strategic decisions in defense of or opposition to political Islam depending on policy or ideological shifts within the post-colonial state. However, the foot soldiers of militant Islam are the dreadfully poor  who have relied on the madrassahs for their very survival, and have been politicized and radicalized to pick up the gun in defense of what their indoctrination tells them: Islam is under threat from a non-Muslim, Judeo-Christian axis. Before this, it was “godless” Communism that was painted as a threat to these true believers, and as is now the case, eager recruits who have nothing save the shirts on their backs been willing to wage jihad in order to “save Islam.” The purveyors of this logic are not confined to Afghanistan or Pakistan, but are busy in the poor forgotten settlements and the terrible squalor that is the reality of urban and rural life of most Muslim-majority states, as also of largely the Third World. So the Islamist sales pitch provides a very small dose of material and a large vial of moral support that rekindles hope in these new recruits. However, the power brokers of client post-colonial states—in furthering their feudal and capitalist class interests as well as the civilian and military bureaucratic elite’s auxiliary class interests—have never given a damn about the poor despite the populist parties’ promises of roti, kapra aur makan (food, clothing and shelter). As a result, these classes remain callous and inept to match the zeal and commitment or the organizational abilities of militant Islam’s recruiters. Consequently, the chasm between the middle class (the rich become a whole other comparator) and the desperately poor continues to widen, and more people have fallen through this gap and into the madrassahs of militant Islam. In this context, political/militant Islam is also a big beneficiary of neoliberal capitalist globalism. Alongside, the United States uses the social and economic dislocations caused by neoliberalism to supplant its imperial militarist moves in Muslim-majority countries by enlisting the support of its client governments in these states. Such a deliberate move to enlist support  further fan the flames of hatred against the United States and these client governments, and strengthens the social base of militant Islam’s support. I say deliberate because as many informed writers have pointed out, the “war on terror” is really the “Long War” for access to Central Asian and Middle Eastern energy resources and the consolidation of the military-industrial complex, and now the security-industrial complex10—and political and militant Islam have become the perfect foil for the maintenance of this heightened state of U.S. militarism and the national security state to safeguard its long term objective.

This larger objective is driving U.S. military planners to maintain a long term military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan—although it is becoming abundantly clear that militant Islam cannot be defeated militarily. Thus, the burden shifts on the people in client Muslim-majority states to force their governments to change course so that the twin scourge of U.S. imperialism and militant Islam can be removed.

For a country like Pakistan where there is a phenomenal disconnect between the aspirations of its people and the clientalism of the ruling classes, a lazy reading of the country’s social and political dynamics can lead to very misleading results. This, given that the downtrodden people in Pakistan have struggled hard for the maintenance of national sovereignty, almost never giving the religious parties more than 8 percent of the popular vote,11 while also fighting to introduce the rule of law, and trying to keep Islam within the private and personal realm. But all this effort goes unacknowledged if the analysis is mainly focused on the upper classes, which then makes it convenient to lump Pakistan with Saudi Arabia. Pakistan is now fast becoming central to a revised U.S. strategy for the “defeat” of the Taliban and generally militant Islam. The current civilian government is not very different from the previous military dictators in prostrating before the United States and its demands. This, in the face of imperial arrogance that involves almost daily violations of Pakistan’s territorial sovereignty by U.S. drones that rain Hellfire missiles on largely women and children.

Therefore, in summarily dismissing political Islam, its larger project is obscured. This project has been spelled out very clearly by both political and militant Islamists, which is to capture state power. As a way to advance this objective, the mullahs and the Amirs lull their followers into believing that once state power is captured, the enforcement of shariawill end exploitation and bring a “just Islamic welfare society” in operation. Such fairy tales can be effectively countered if there is an organized left in Muslim-majority states. But the left in these states has been so hounded and beaten in the past 50 years of repression that reorganizing and regrouping them from the ground up seems to be a Herculean task. More important, if the Western left’s dismissive attitude toward political and militant Islam is also adopted by secular and miniscule left-wing forces, such as in Pakistan, they will not have even an outside possibility of organizing an alternative to these regressive religious forces. Militant Islam’s violent and often brutal actions are the material reality of existence in Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen. So, if the progressive and secular groups are to have even an outside chance of confronting political Islam, there will be no substitute for a critical understanding of this social phenomenon.

On Islamophobia, Amin says that it needs to be opposed, but then also blames the followers of political Islam for their “reactionary anti-Western discourse” which, in his view, gives rise to Islamophobic racism in the first place. In effect, he sees Islamophobia and anti-Western “discourse” as two reactionary campaigns that feed off each other.

Islamophobia is a critical issue on which Amin seems to have missed the boat. He appears to be blaming the victim, which is unfortunate given how events have unfolded in the United States and Europe as well as in Canada, where virulent racist attacks (verbal, physical, and in print) against Muslims have become a common occurrence. The moves at the level of the European states toward an underlying racist assimilation—for instance, in the development of the concepts of “community cohesion” and “civic integration” in Britain and the Netherlands, respectively—have meant the specific targeting of Muslim communities. At the institution in Toronto where I teach, which has probably one of the most diverse student body in the world, white supremacist groups have emerged, calling themselves a “white minority.” This and other groups are not just targeting Muslims, but also Black and Indigenous people. As Indigenous people have started to assert their treaty rights to land, a torrent of racist attacks have been unleashed on them. What this means is that Muslim-bashing may have been the trigger for the assertion of white supremacy, but it is now on the rise and affecting other communities. Therefore, one needs to be extremely careful in dismissing Islamophobia in a cavalier manner.

Finally, an important aspect of historical materialism is a keen attentiveness to history, a characteristic that has eluded Amin’s gaze. As an example, Amin has viewed political Islam mainly as a post-colonial development. Such a view disregards the colonial era origins of political Islam, an era that was very different from the current dominant tendency of Wahabi/Salafi/Deobandi political Islam. For instance, there has been an anticolonial component of political Islam reflected in the movements in colonial India and colonial Algeria. Also, while there is much that is obscurantist, antiwomen, and demeaning in the current tendencies of political/militant Islam, there have been and continue to be more “modernist” impulses among upper-class Muslims in Egypt, India, Indonesia, Lebanon, Pakistan, and other states with a significant Muslim population. Alongside, there have been other Muslim political thinkers and philosophers who have not accepted the Enlightenment notions of modernity, and have engaged with modernism (Mohammed Iqbal),12 while Islamic currents and inclusivist tendencies, such as syncretism among South Asian Muslims and Hindus for instance have been prevalent since the precolonial period of Mughal rule in India. This has extended in the colonial era, and towards a Muslim orientation of anticolonial movements (Abul Kalam Azad). Mentioning these tendencies of political Islam is not to disregard the large body of literature from Iranian Muslim philosophers, such as Ali Shariati and others, and their engagement (problematic as it may be) with Marxism and modernism.

However, if this history informs a critical historical materialist analytic, then the Saudi Wahabi-imperialist nexus of the current project of political Islam can be clearly separated from other currents of political Islam. These other currents have weakened in the face of the enormous imperialist and client Muslim-majority states’ earlier support—enabling the rise of the dominant Wahabi political/militant Islam and the spread of jihad and the proliferation of the madrassahs.


The point is that if the left is ever to become serious in challenging militant/political Islam, it has to move past and dump its heavy baggage of Eurocentrism and the careless analysis of political Islam. The current wave of militant Islam is a force to reckon with, and dismissing it as reactionary—true as it may be—is unhelpful. Yes, militant Islam has an extremely narrow ideological view of Islam, and an exceedingly oppressive vision of societal change, especially concerning the treatment of women. This vision is not shared by the vast majority of Muslims in Afghanistan, Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan, and even India. That being said, this dominant obscurantist current of political Islam in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan is also locked in military/guerilla combat with U.S. imperial power and client states in the region. But here’s the rub, militant Islam is also supported by people in these respective regions not, as mentioned earlier, because they support its vision of a Muslim “welfare state” rather, the support is because the United States is seen as ruthless, anti-Islam imperial occupier. Alongside, people in these states are also very tired of the tactics of Islamists, especially as they terrorize and target unarmed and uninvolved people. Overwhelming numbers in Muslim-majority states would like the Islamists to disappear, just as they would also wish the same for U.S. imperial presence and the client regimes that rule over them. If this complexity could be grasped, it may enable people on the left as well Western political leaders and the media to desist from homogenizing the makeup of entire Muslim-majority societies as reactionary or obscurantist. Similarly, the popular anti-imperialist sentiment in Muslim majority states should not be confused with the actions of militant Islamists, which are not anti-imperialist. Militant Islam is conceived and imagined in the present, current context. It is, therefore, a “modern” manifestation that posits its own version of the Islamic “welfare state” for the current conjuncture to rival the Western capitalist state and Enlightenment notions of modernity. Understanding militant Islam in its current context will only enable the development of a coherent strategy of opposition and an alternative non-Eurocentric vision of society.


  1. In distinguishing between political and militant Islam, the former can be seen as having a doctrinaire understanding of Muslim religious texts interpreted largely by an educated urban middle class group of ideologues whose ideological project is to capture state power and impose a narrow version of sharia.Political Islam’s rank and file is made up of students, and some members of the urban working class, rural workers and the peasantry. Political Islamists, ever since decolonization, have relied on the patronage of authoritarian rulers and petty bourgeois merchants, and on the limited use of violence for political mobilization and to influence state policy in Muslim-majority states. Militant Islamists, in contrast, recruit their foot soldiers from the urban and rural poor and its ideological diehards from the petty-bourgeoisie, working class and students. In some cases, rural/tribal heads may also lead a militant group. Militant Islamists are armed as trained guerilla units capable of doing battle with the state and even imperialist powers, while also willing to use terror tactics in order to attain their ideological and political ends. The objective of political Islam are the same as militant Islam, but the means of achieving state power differ between them: the former largely tread the constitutional/legal terrain, while the latter relies on the extra-constitutional path to achieve its ends.
  2. The term “post-colonial” state is used here to periodize from the colonial era the decolonization and formation of states in Africa and Asia. Also, since these African and Asian states were decolonized after World War II, they are distinguished from Latin American states that were decolonized 60 to more than 100 years prior to that war. The hyphenated form of the term is meant to highlight this periodization and to also suggest that the post-colonial state remains the key instrument of the South’s subordination—both internally, in undermining civil society, and as the facilitator of external domination.
  3. I have argued elsewhere that the Pentagon has claimed the “war on terror” is the “Long War” and the United States is in this for the long haul because of various reasons: access to energy resources of the Middle East and Central Asia, the unprecedented expansion of the military-industrial complex, and to intensify the synergy between Big Oil, military, and the corporate establishment. See Tariq Amin-Khan, “The Rise of Militant Islam and the Security State in the Era of the ‘Long War,’” Third World Quarterly (forthcoming).
  4. The figure was mentioned on CNN’s program, The Next President: A World of Challenges, September 20, 2008.
  5. Philip K. Lawrence, “Enlightenment, Modernity and War,” History of the Human Sciences vol. 12, no. 1 (1999): 3–4.
  6. Lawrence, “Enlightenment,” 4.
  7. The internalization of the “normal” nation-state by the former colonized elite in post-colonial societies tries to mimic state formation on the model of European nation-states without much concern for state-building and nation-building by way of respectively removing the legacies of the colonial state and resolving ethnic and national questions. This internalization issue is discussed in Thomas Blom Hansen and Finn Stepputat, eds., States of Imagination: Ethnographical Exploration of the Postcolonial State (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2001), 8–27.
  8. Frantz Fanon, “Racism as Culture,” in Toward the African Revolution (Political Essays) (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1967), 29–44.
  9. In the context of the claim of support for political Islam from upper classes in countries like Saudi Arabia, it is the upper class and the Saudi state that have together actively promoted—initially with the tacit support and now a grudging acceptance of the United States—the promotion of the Wahabi version of Islam within its society and in many Muslim-majority states.
  10. Jim Holt, “It’s the Oil,” London Review of Books, October 18, 2007,
  11. The one exception was when General Musharraf decided to support Bush’s “war on terror” and put the country and military at the United States’ disposal. As a result, in the ensuing 2002 elections, a coalition of religious parties was able form a majority government in the North-West Frontier Province, which also became the main opposition at the federal level. However, in the ensuing February 2008 election, the religious parties were routed and received much less than the “normal” 8 percent level of votes that they have been receiving historically.
  12. Mohammed Iqbal, The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam (Islamabad: Alhamra, 2002).

Samir Amin’s Response