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Islam, Social Justice, and Democracy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 February 2019

Sabri Ciftci*
Kansas State University
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Sabri Ciftci, Department of Political Science, Kansas State University, 802 Mid-Campus Dr.-S, 216 Calvin Hall, Manhattan, KS 66506. E-mail:


Egalitarian preferences and benevolence are significant elements of Islamic social justice, which is one of the main pillars of Islam's ethico-political system. Surprisingly, empirical investigations about attitudinal implications of Islamic social justice values are rare. This is one of the first studies examining the correlations between Islam, social justice values, and regime preferences. It proposes that benevolence and egalitarian distributive preferences will induce democratic support and mediate the effect of religiosity on democratic orientations. Seemingly unrelated regression estimations using a Muslim-only sample from the sixth wave of the World Values Surveys support these hypotheses. The effects of social justice values are exclusive to support for democracy and not to support for authoritarian systems. Furthermore, religiosity increases support for democracy through intermediate mechanism of social justice values. These results imply that, next to principles of ijtihad, ijma, and shura, Islamic social justice values can induce pluralistic ideas in Muslim majority societies.

Copyright © Religion and Politics Section of the American Political Science Association 2019 

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This project is supported by Global Religion Research Initiative at Notre Dame University (Award #BG5225; IRB approval #8776). An earlier version of this paper was presented at the American Political Science Association Meeting (APSA), Washington DC, August 28–August 31, 2014.



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