The Left and Islam:
Tweedledee and Tweedle dum
On the surface, the Left
and Islam have nothing in common. Islam is a religion and the Leftists are
usually secular people. But three years after the war against Islamism (aka
the war on terrorism) began, it is now clear to me that the two groups
have many similarities.
It is true that Communists,
unlike Muslims, do not believe in God. But this difference is misleading.
Both ideologies require from their followers a high degree of faith. A
Leftist has a deep faith that it is possible to change human nature so
that one day a perfect, just and equal society will emerge.
This is the Communist
Utopia. Their dictum, "From each according to his ability. To each
according to his needs", reflect their idea of an ideal world. To
them, the evils of the world have its source in Capitalism, whose champion
. Capitalism is based on individual self-interest in which only the
fittest survive and the devil takes the hind-most.
Capitalist economies have
succeeded in creating wealth and economic growth.
But the price of Capitalism is that inequalities will develop as
those with more energy and abilities will outstrip the weaker individuals.
The Leftists see inequality in wealth as an injustice. In their ideal
world, everybody happily works for the common good and all share any
wealth created equally. To the Leftists, the big corporations are seen as
agents of greed and exploitation who exploit labor so as to enrich the
idle capitalist class.
They also believe that the
poverty in the third world is caused by exploitative capitalist economies
and their multi-national companies. This view is soothing for the
Islamists who can then blame the poverty and backwardness of the Muslim
world on an external entity instead of looking inwards for a probable
cause. I have always argued that Islam plays a central role in the
backwardness of the Muslim world. See my article, "The
Problem with Islam".
, which the Left sees as the closest mankind has gotten towards their
Socialist Utopia has collapsed and has moved towards the Capitalist model.
The world is heading towards freer trade and jobs are being re-located to
places with lower wages. The left is infuriated with these trends.
They are also blind or make
excuses about the abuses and human rights violations in the Soviet Union
and Cambodia, where millions were murdered or died in the Gulags and
killing fields. Prominent Leftist Naom Chomsky at one stage even claimed
that the tales of Communist atrocities in
were invented or at most localized.
Meanwhile, the Muslim world
is equally beset with frustrations. Most Muslims are living in poor
countries ruled by corrupt, incompetent dictators. This is especially true
. For them, Islam is the Final Revelation and hence Muslims are supposed
to be the Best of Mankind. Yet, they have fallen behind. Defeat and
western colonization during the past two centuries brought this home to
them. In more recent times, the success of the East Asian countries
brought fresh humiliations.
This lament for their low estate can be
seen in a poem, called Shikwa, written by Iqbal, an ideologue of the
movement. The poem asks why Allah is unfaithful to Muslims when Muslims
remain faithful to Him. A part of the poem says:
“Your blessings are showered on homes of unbelievers, strangers all.
Only on the poor Muslim, Your wrath like lightning falls.”
Over the past two
centuries, reformers like Al-Wahhab, Sayyd Qutub and al-Afghani diagnosed
the malaise and concluded that Muslims have strayed from the original
teachings of their Prophet. All preached violent jihad.
Like Luther, Calvin and Zwingli, these men
wanted to strip away all the accretions that accumulated in the practice
of their religion. Today, the Islamists seek to unite Muslim countries to
restore the Caliphate. It seeks first to overthrow secular Muslim
countries so that they can be replaced with Islamic states united under
one Caliph as in the days of old. Their ultimate aim is to dominate the
world so that Allah’s laws is supreme. Islamists see the Islamic state
much the same way as Communists see the Communist Utopia - a Shangri-la
world where their idea of justice prevail.
That neither has attained their respective
goals does not deter them. For both, it is a matter of faith. Faith is
belief in something that is not proven. In fact, the available evidence is
that both Communist and Islamic Utopias do not work. All attempts in
establishing them failed. The Soviet experiment failed. Instead of
providing justice and prosperity, it created a sick economy, which
required cruelty and oppression to sustain. For the Islamists,
under the Taliban is as close as one can get to the Islamists' ideal
state. The result is hell on earth, not heaven.
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