Von Grunebaum: Islam As Inherently Political

Although succeeded at present by a cadre of pseudo-academic pipsqueaks, UCLA’s Near Eastern Center still bears the name of its founder, historian G.E. von Grunebaum.


Just over 50-years ago, von Grunebaum contributed an essay entitled “Problems of Muslim Nationalism,” (published in Islam and the West, Edited by Richard Frye, The Hague, 1957), which includes these timeless insights on the inherently political nature of Islam, sans any meaningless references to “Political Islam,” or “Islamism,” on p. 10:


The Muslim theologian was not weighted down by that typically Christian feeling that power is sinful in itself and that its exercise calls for an explanation, not only, but an apology. On the contrary, the community and their spokesmen realized from the very beginning that Islam could not be perfected unless within an Islamic political organization whose maintenance and advancement were, to say the least, a prerequisite to the service of God, if they did not in themselves constitute such a service…in our own time Muhammad Rashid Rida (d. 1935) has reaffirmed the inseparability of Islam as a religion and Islam as a political entity by stating that Islam is not fully in being as long as there does not exist a strong and independent Muslim state that is able to put into operation the laws of Islam.

Herein lies the consuming motivation to implement the Sharia.
Until we are honest in acknowledging this reality as a pre-requisite to making clear that such burning aspirations are entirely unacceptable in the West, and, to say the least, undesirable in Muslim countries themselves, we will make no progress in confronting this formidable challenge which threatens our most basic freedoms. 

My Passover thoughts on a holiday which celebrates freedom, including Israel’s liberation from 13 centuries of jihad-imposed dhimmitude.


Andrew G. Bostom is the author of The Legacy of Jihad (Prometheus, 2005) and The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism " (Prometheus, November, 2008) You can contact Dr. Bostom at @andrewbostom.org

3 responses to “Von Grunebaum: Islam As Inherently Political

  1. I’m not so sure use of the expression “political Islam” is meaningless, though I’d like to be persuaded one way since so many of us are groping for the best way to frame our arguments.

    “Islamism” is not only unhelpful but confusing since while to some people it means political Islam, others use it more narrowly to mean “extreme” or “radical” Islam (whatever that is), usually referring to Islam manifested through physical jihad or shariah, neglecting to notice the extremity of other nonphysical jihad tactics.

    But “political Islam” does not have such ambiguity problems. Though it’s true that political Islam is nearly all of Islam, use of the expression mitigates against perception of persecuting a religion (something Americans don’t go for and something Muslims accuse us of doing), while informing an oblivious public that there even is such a component–that Islam is a political system, too. Thus using “political Islam” both raises awareness and legitimizes criticisms of and restrictions against exercise of political Islam that is hostile, treasonous, dangerous to society. Using the term actually opens the door in conversations to get out the message of the inseparability of Islam the religion and Islam the political entity.

    I’m just thinking outloud, but this is how I’m leaning, since I want Muslims to know I’m not against non-infringing worship and I don’t want uninformed nonMuslims to tune out anti-Islam discussion because of perceptions of attacking a religion.

    Remembering, celebrating, and worshipping He who protects His people.

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  3. And Zeisen Pesach to you all….