summary: Islam has a complete social doctrine which opposes the exploitation of man by man and lending at interest. For this reason, Islam is, in the contemporary world after the end of communism, the great alternative to capitalism. Massimo Campanini, one of the leading Italian scholars of the field, in his History of the Middle East, confirms that Islam stands as challenge to the idea of "end of history". But this challenge is not extremist Islam and terrorism, which in his opinion is already defeated, but two other "Islamists".

The first is the Islamic theology of liberation, that of Hassan Hanafi and the "Islamic Left", that sees Islam as an instrument of the liberation of the masses. In the Shia sphere, its equivalent is the "red Shiism " of Ali Shariati, one of the theorist-activists who inspired the Iranian Revolution of 1979.The second Islamism able to challenge the pensée unique in the post- Cold War period, is the one that deals with the modernization from an Islamic point of view. It is Salafism, which is the attempt to recreate that spirit of the first Muslims, but which does not reject the fruits of modernity, but rather uses them to make Islam stronger with respect to the challenges and attacks from outside.

Walberg does not fail to tackle the problem. His book is a detailed examination of the various theories and currents of the Muslim world, and points to the Muslim Brotherhood and the Iranian Revolution as the most hopeful strains in contemporary Islamic practice.
Do not forget that the Islamic Awakening is a recent phenomenon of the 1970s, just as are the recent innovations in Islamic finance, to exclude riba (usury) from the economic system. The question is therefore not whether Islam is compatible with or an alternative to capitalism, but how to discern the various currents within Islam political and philosophical.

my reply: Good analysis, Daniele. but Campanini equates Salafi/ Wahhabi/ Saudi = Brotherhood. They are very different. The Saudis have had 100 yrs to show the failure of the Salafi political Islam. But the Brotherhood (wrongly in my view) rejected alliance with the left. I hope this will change.

Also, usury has always been outlawed (at least in theory). This contrasts with Christianity/ Judaism, where it became acceptable and quickly developed into our modern capitalism/ imperialism.

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Canadian Eric Walberg is known worldwide as a journalist specializing in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia. A graduate of University of Toronto and Cambridge in economics, he has been writing on East-West relations since the 1980s.

He has lived in both the Soviet Union and Russia, and then Uzbekistan, as a UN adviser, writer, translator and lecturer. Presently a writer for the foremost Cairo newspaper, Al Ahram, he is also a regular contributor to Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Global Research, Al-Jazeerah and Turkish Weekly, and is a commentator on Voice of the Cape radio.

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Eric's latest book The Canada Israel Nexus is available here