French philosopher Pascal Bruckner understands Islamo-Leftism as "the fusion between the atheist Far Left and religious radicalism." According to Bruckner, Islamo-Leftism was "chiefly" conceived by British Trotskyites of the Socialist Workers Party. Because these dedicated Leftists perceive Islam's potential for fomenting societal unrest, they promote tactical, temporary alliances with reactionary Muslim parties. According to Bruckner, Leftist adherents of Third-Worldism hope to use Islamism as a "battering-ram" to bring about the downfall of free-market capitalism, and they see the sacrifice of individual rights - in particular, of women's rights - as an acceptable trade-off in service of the greater goal of destroying capitalism. Bruckner contends that Islamists, for their part, pretend to join the left in its opposition to racism, neocolonialism, and globalization as a tactical and temporary means to achieve their true goal of imposing the "totalitarian theocracy" of Islamist government.
Political scientist Maurice Fraser regards Islamo-Leftism as part of a, "striking and recent abdication of the Enlightenment project of human rights, freedom, secularism, science and progress," on the part of the political left, particularly among the anti-globalization activists of the New Left.
Bernard-Henri Lévy has described "Islamo-leftism" as, "this grand new alliance between the reds and the new browns, of the axis which runs from Le Monde diplomatique to the death squads," and as a sort of "anti-American religion."
According to Mark Silinsky of the United States Army War College, Islamo-Leftism is alliance of Islamists and leftists in opposition to Western values that can also be also referred to as the "red-green axis." Silinsky characterizes the black-green alliance between Black Lives Matter and the Council on American–Islamic Relations as an example of Islamo-Leftism.
According to Robert S. Wistrich, "A poisonous anti-Jewish legacy can be found in Marx, Fourier, and Proudhon, extending through the orthodox Communists and “non-conformist” Trotskyists to the Islamo-Leftist hybrids of today who... (are allied with) the Islamist anti-Semites of Hamas.
Alvin Hirsch Rosenfeld describes Islamo Leftism as, "the hope, entertained by a revolutionary fringe, of seeing Islam become the spearhead of a new insurrection, engaged in a 'Holy War against global capitalism."
Abū Dharr al-Ghifārī, a companion of Muhammad, is credited by some scholars, like Muhammad Sharqawi and Sami Ayad Hanna, as a principal antecedent of Islamic socialism. He protested against the accumulation of wealth by the ruling class during Uthman's caliphate and urged the equitable redistribution of wealth. The first Muslim Caliph Abu Bakr introduced a guaranteed minimum standard of income, granting each man, woman and child ten dirhams annually—this was later increased to twenty dirhams.
The first experimental Islamic commune was established during the Russian Revolution of 1917 as part of the Wäisi movement, an early supporter of the Soviet government. The Muslim Socialist Committee of Kazan was also active at this time.
In the modern era, Islamic socialism can be divided into two: a leftist and a rightist form. The leftist (Siad Barre, Haji Misbach, Ali Shariati, Yasser Arafat and Jalal Al-e Ahmad) advocated secular proletarian internationalism and encouraged Muslims to join or collaborate with international socialist or Marxist movements. Right-wing socialists (Mohammed Iqbal, Agus Salim, Jamal ad-Din Asad-Abadi, Musa al-Sadr and Mahmud Shaltut) are ideologically closer to third positionism, supporting not just social justice, egalitarian society and universal equality, but also Islamic revivalism and implementation of Sharia. They also reject a full adoption of a class struggle and keep a distance from other socialist movements.
Revolutionary activity along the Soviet Union's southern border and Soviet decision makers recognized would draw the attention of capitalist powers and invite them to intervene. It was this understanding which prompted the Russian representation at the Baku Congress in September 1920 to reject the arguments of the national communists as impractical and counterproductive to the revolution in general, without elaborating their fear that the safety of Russia lay in the balance. It was this understanding, coupled with the Russian Bolsheviks' displeasure at seeing another revolutionary center proposed in their own domain revolutionary, that galvanized them into action against the national communists.
Muhammed Nakhshab is credited with the first synthesis between Shi'ism and European socialism. Nakhshab's movement was based on the tenet that Islam and socialism were not incompatible since both sought to accomplish social equality and justice. His theories had been expressed in his B.A. thesis on the laws of ethics. In 1943, Nakhshab founded the Movement of God-Worshipping Socialists, one of six original member organizations of the National Front. The organization was founded through the merger of two groupings, Nakhshab's circle of high school students at Dar al-Fanoun and Jalaleddin Ashtiyani's circle of about 25 students at the Faculty of Engineering at Tehran University. The organization was initially known as League of Patriotic Muslims. It combined religious sentiments, nationalism and socialist thoughts.