Some time ago, I received an email from an old student.
One of its paragraphs read:
Sir, I belong to the Marxist school of thought. Therefore,
naturally I’m in favour of a communist / socialist society. But I’m not a
dogmatist. I always try to keep myself sensitive to criticism. And I think that
this is the right approach to Marxism: to scientifically and to objectively
analyse the human society, without any personal (or at least minimum) biases.
However, I’m a Muslim as well ...
Seeing an opportunity to comment on Marxism, I replied in
the following way:
When you say that you are a Marxist as well as a Muslim,
you are making a statement which is internally contradictory. You are either one
or the other. Because Marxism, the little I understand it, has a complete
philosophy on life; likewise has Islam. Their respective philosophies do not
coincide at all; in fact, they are poles apart. However, that doesn’t mean that
a good Muslim cannot be impressed by any of the Marxist ideas at all. What
cannot however happen is that you accept both philosophies at the same time.
Either we have been created purposefully by God or we accidentally came into
being by a chance interplay of some indefinable physical forces. How can both
understandings be simultaneously correct. Either God has sent own His message to
guide us or He hasn’t. Both can’t be simultaneously correct assertions.
Therefore, I would like you to be clear about your correct position. As a
Marxist too, you might accept (or tolerate) some aspects of Islam; but what you
will accept would not be true Islam; its going to be just bits and pieces of it.
This was his reply:
Most of the time when I talk about Marxism to people, even
if they objectively agree with me, they end up saying that it is ‘un-Islamic’,
or, ‘some / all of its ideas are in contradiction with Islamic principles’, or,
‘capitalism is more in line with Islamic principles than socialism’. I have
really tried to think over this problem but have not come to a final conclusion.
So far, I have not been able to see any fundamental contradictions between
Islamic principles of societal organisation and that enshrined in a socialist
This was my response:
As I have mentioned in my previous reply, it may be
possible that you find that there are some apparent similarities in the two
approaches. That would not make you a Marxist. It would just be by default. The
fact that I find some good aspects in the personality of Abū Jahal (and there
were most certainly some in him) doesn’t mean that I should declare that my
ideals are both Muhammad (sws) and Abū Jahal. I would feel ashamed of being
bracketed with the latter because of the basic blunder he committed. Likewise,
in case of Marxism, if I find some good aspects in it, I would have no
hesitation in mentioning that they are good because they are consistent with the
spirit of Islam. However, I’ll be very careful in ensuring that my fascination
with Marxism is not influencing my understanding of Islam. That would mean that
I am distorting the message of God because I would like it to appear more
acceptable to Marxism. There is a real danger of doing just that when your mind
is unclear about its ideals.
This was his reply:
I would then like to pose a question to you: ‘How is a
socialist system in contradiction with an Islamic system?’
My answer to his query was :
Marxism, I believe, conflicts with Islamic teachings,
apart from many other areas, in the following important aspects of its
1. In its fundamental understanding of the origins of man
and the universe.
2. In its refusal to grant to the individual the right to
3. In its attitude of creating hatred in some men against
4. In its assumption that man can work effectively even
without personal incentives. (This is something that has already been proven
wrong by the unsuccessful socialist experiment of the deceased USSR)
5. In its approach of granting a status to Karl Marx that
belongs only to the prophets of Allah.