The Middle East in Transition: Studies in Contemporary History

By Walter Z. Laqueur | Go to book overview

THE ISLAMIC COMMUNITY AND COMMUNISM

by DR. NABIH AMIN FARIS

IS ISLAM, because of its hostility to materialist atheistic beliefs, a guarantee against the spread of Communism among Muslims? The question has recently acquired more than academic interest and urgency. The world has been divided into two conflicting ideologies, each trying with all the means available to it to gain control over the minds of men everywhere. A large number of spokesmen, however, both in the West and among Muslims, have been reiterating that in this struggle Islam stands as a barrier against the onslaught of Communism. On the surface, this position seems assuring, but on closer investigation it loses all the talismanic charms with which its advocates endue it. In this study, the entire problem is examined in the light of traditional Muslim orthodoxy and current Islamic practice. Needless to say, the writer has no desire whatsoever to criticize either Islam or Communism. As a matter of fact, this article would never have been written had it not been specifically requested.

In reviewing a recently published book on the history of the Arabs,1 I concluded the review with the following observation:

'Another myth which seems to be as ubiquitous as flying saucers, and as unreal, is the claim that among the factors which stand a barrier against the spread of Communism in the Arab world is Islam's "hostility to a materialist, atheitsic creed and way of life". The reviewer is inclined to believe that Islam, in spite of its hostility to materialist atheistic creeds, is no guarantee against the spread of Communism at all, but perhaps a preparation for it. The final answer

____________________
1
Edward Atiyah, The Arabs ( London, Penguin Books Ltd., 1955). The review appeared in the Middle East Forum, Beirut, December, 1955, pp. 30-32.

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