This article argues that political instability and conflict in the Middle East and the larger Muslim world are caused by perceived marginalization and systematic injustice suffered by Muslim societies both at the domestic and international levels. In contrast to essentialist explanations of political instability in the Muslim world, the article calls for an institutionalist explanation, highlighting destabilizing effects of political marginalization especially in an increasingly globalized world. Exclusion of Muslim societies from international authority structures is a direct result of fragmentation of political authority and lack of democracy in the Muslim world. Western theories of International Relations are ill-fitted to explain the contribution of perceptions of civilizational injustice because they emerged within a statist and materialist paradigm. Muslim critics differ fundamentally from these approaches in that they see justice rather than order as the basis of a lasting world peace.