islam and communism

Topics: Vladimir Lenin, Serbia, Soviet Union Pages: 76 (15843 words) Published: February 20, 2014
by Stephen Suleyman Schwartz

Muhammad Ibn 'Abd El-Krim El-Khattabi, leader of the Rif Berbers



Centre for Islamic Pluralism

An Historical Survey
by Stephen Suleyman Schwartz

Center for Islamic Pluralism
Washington * London * Köln * Sarajevo
1718 M Street NW #260
Washington, DC 20036 USA
BM 2394, London, WC1N 3XX, UK

Islam and Communism in the 20th Century
An Historical Survey
by Stephen Suleyman Schwartz

Published in the USA in 2009
by the Center for Islamic Pluralism
1718 M Street NW #260
Washington, DC 20036 USA
BM 2394, London, WC1N 3XX
First English edition June 2009
An abbreviated version of this paper was originally published in German as “Kommunismus und Islam im 20. Jahrhundert:
Ein Historischer Überblick,”
in Jahrbuch für Historische Kommunismus-Forschung 2009, Aufbau, Berlin Design: Asim Mesihi

ISBN 978-0-9558779-3-3
Library of Congress Cataloguing in Publication Data.
A catalogue record for this book is pending with the Library of Congress British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data.
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

Copyright © Center for Islamic Pluralism
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Cover photograph:
Muhammad Ibn 'Abd El-Krim El-Khattabi, leader of the Rif Berbers


Islam and Communism in the 20th Century

The present study is mainly concerned with
relations between international Communism
and the Islamic umma, or global community,
rather than Moscow’s policies toward Soviet
Muslims. The former topic has been neglected
by historians and experts, while the latter has
been treated in considerable detail.
As in Christianity and Judaism, communistic,
millenarian, radical-political, and revolutionary
socialist movements have a notable presence in the
history of Islam. Typical examples of each
phenomenon may be cited. The legacy of preIslamic Iranian religious communism – the movement known as Mazdakism, a variant of
Manichæism which briefly flourished in the 6th
century C.E. – is reflected in aspects of Iranian
Shi’ism. Mazdakism adopted social collectivism
and principles of public welfare.
Radical Sufi or Islamic spiritual movements
with tendencies toward millennialist, utopian,
antinomian, and other forms of anti-authoritarian
dissidence included Turkish Alevism, the Kizilbash
variant of Shi’ism, and Hamzeviyya in the Balkans.
Their doctrines stirred peasants, and occasionally,
city dwellers, to rebellion against the Muslim
authorities, and memory of their traditions of
protest is often easily found in the Islamic world.1
In addition, a body of scholarship on Sufism in
general, produced by Christian, Jewish, and
Muslim scholars, has perceived in it a social protest
movement, from its beginnings in Islam.
For example, the outstanding Sufi Husayn
bin Mansur Hallaj (858-922 was executed in
Baghdad allegedly for heresy; he has traditionally
been portrayed as having faced persecution for
declaring, “Ana ul-haqq”, or, “I am truth as a
manifestation of God.” But the definitive Western


scholarly examination of Hallaj, by the French
scholar Louis Massignon,2 identifies the Sufi with
the threat of an Islamic social revolution. In
Massignon’s account, which may be skewed by the
French scholar’s own anti-Jewish prejudice, the
intoxicated metaphysics involved in Hallaj’s
purported heresy fades into the background in a
Muslim Baghdad in which public corruption was

Cited: in Schwartz, Stephen, Kosova:
Background to a War, London, Anthem Press, 2000, p.
movement, and the KPJ, Banac, Ivo, The National
Question in Yugoslavia, Ithaca, Cornell U.P., 1988, the
from the Russian Archives), Tirana, Botimet Toena,
Communism and Islam in Albania and Kosova, 19411999: From the Partisan Movement of the Second
World War to the Kosova Liberation War,” in The
26 Banac, Ivo, With Stalin Against Tito, Ithaca, Cornell
University Press, 1988, p
Islam and Communism in the 20th Century —An Historical Summary
Journal of Croatian Studies (New York), 1992; published
in Croatian as “Ante Ciliga (1898-1992): Život no
povijesnim raskrižjima,” in Društvena Istraživanja
(Zagreb), number 2-3, 1995. The English version is
accessible at[reviewed
28 Borkenau, Franz, The Communist International,
London, Faber & Faber, 1938, pp
Ian Birchall, London, Redwords, 2000. p. 34.
34 Porter, Cathy, Larissa Reisner, London, Virago,
1988, p
Joseph Barnes, New York, Dutton, 1970.
39 Kolarz, Walter, Russia and Her Colonies, New York,
Praeger, 1952, p
of Antizionism in the German Communist Party (KPD)
in the Weimar Republic, 1925-1933,” published by the
42 Messali Hadj, “Response to M. Deloche of
l’Humanité” (1937), in Messali Hadj par les textes, ed.
Jacques Simon. Algiers-Paris, Editions Bouchéne, 2000,
43 See Sánchez Ruano, Francisco, Islam y Guerra Civil
Española, Madrid, La Esfera de los Libros, 2004
Brigadas Internacionales (España, 1936-39),” Revista
internacional de sociología [Madrid], OctoberDecember 1988.
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