Islam, Islamism and the Struggle for Revolution

Resolution issued by the ISL (Section of the RCIT in Occupied Palestine) and adopted by the International Secretariat of the RCIT, November 2016, and




1.             The relationship of communists to religion and religious workers is different from that of the secular social-chauvinists, nationalists, populists and pro-imperialists. Every worker who agrees to act together according to our program belongs in our movement. We see religion (in today's world) as a double edged sword. It can be used to pacify the masses and block their revolutionary advancement, but can also serve as a pretext to objectively rally and unite them in revolt against imperialism, oppression, injustice, etc. In many cases religious leaderships take both roles at the same time, depending on the class character of the leadership as a whole and how much their rank and file pushes them to struggle. Therefore, unlike other organizations on the left, RCIT members are united around its action program and theoretical analysis, which have their roots in the philosophy of Dialectical Materialism - regardless of their private religious thoughts, views and beliefs. In other words, the RCIT welcomes to its ranks atheists, agnostics as well as religious members. This is especially true for religious minorities and those who suffer religious discrimination like Muslims and those of Muslim background in the global north.


2.             The decisive aspect in the class struggle is the political opinion and the deeds of activists and oppressed people, not their philosophical believes (if they believe in god, or what they think will happen to them after they die). For us it is important to change the world we live in today and to not to direct our hopes to heaven, paradise, Nirvana or justice by god. We also want to stress the fact that not believing in god in no way guarantees a progressive position in the class struggle: many revolutionary fighters were religious and some of the most reactionary enemies of the working class were and are atheists. Secular regimes can be much more undemocratic and brutal than those with a religious gloss. The central aspects are the political circumstances, the class struggle and not the ideological justification of a dictatorship. For example, even if the political ideology of Laïcité has its origin in the great French Revolution and is preaching the separation of religion and state , today it is mostly used to harass, murder and oppress Arabs, Muslims and other people of color – as it is the “honorable” legacy of French secular imperialism.


3.             We consistently fight against every form of hatred against a religion or people. We also staunchly reject the spreading of reactionary Anti-Semitism in both theory and practice. Today, we see Zionism as the leading cause of the spread of such ideas. Let’s remember some of the quotes of the founding fathers of Zionism towards Judaism, quotes that are not particularly well known nowadays.


“Zionism and Judaism are not the same, but two very different things. Of course they are opposed to each other. He who cannot be Jewish becomes Zionist. Zionism starts from the destruction of Judaism, from a place where people become thing is clear, Zionism is not a continuation, not a healing but destruction and uprooting. Even more, it incites its opinion between the people, opposes them, goes against their will and spirit, undermines it and uproots it, and breaks into a different road, for a far and specific purpose. Zionism and the few people in her vanguard are the nucleus of a different people. Please be aware, not new and not renewed, but a different. He who doesn’t think so either is wrong or is deceiving himself.” (Haim Hazaz, Zionist Novelist)


“In our national homeland we will declare those Jews who refuse to remove from them the stains of the diaspora and refuse to cut their beards as second class citizens. We would not allow them to vote.” (Jabotinsky, father of right wing revisionist Zionism). And if this is their view of Judaism, the view of Islam is much worse.


4.             Muslim workers face sharp oppression in the West - at times, more than any other minority. In their homelands, they are being massacred by, mostly western but also eastern, imperialist forces. In the past, revolutionary communist movements managed to form splits within political Islam. Thus, forming united fronts for joint practical struggle with those who struggle against imperialism and reactionary regimes is critical – regardless of political and religious differences. It is also noteworthy the fact that in the Soviet Union under Lenin - the transitional society between capitalism and socialism - saw no problem in having a choice between both state-funded secular courts and community-funded religious courts. Under Lenin’s leadership this was the case in many Muslim-dominated areas.


5.             Islamic resistance to imperialism and Zionist colonization has an impressive record of heroism. Dating back to the 1880s the Mahdi was able to defeat Britain in Sudan and win over a couple more years of peace for his people. In Morocco, Abed Al Karim fought fiercely against the Spanish and the French in 1921-26 and paid a heavy price for doing so. In Iran, the Islamists helped topple the pro-western regime of the Shah. In Afghanistan, they have been waging guerilla warfare against the imperialist occupation, turning an easy invasion into a muddy adventure. The same we could see in Chechnya were popular resistance was able to defeat Russia in Grozny. In Palestine, Hamas is the prominent force retaining a certain degree of fighting spirit against Israel. In many countries such movements were repressed. Nasser cracked down upon them with an iron fist, executing and jailing many, including their spiritual guide Sayyid Qutb. In Egypt today general Sisi is trying to eliminate the Muslim Brotherhood altogether. Thus, many Islamist forces have gathered a lot of valuable experience confronting oppression and occupation.


6.             Despite all of this, we offer no political support to such religious forces. Once victorious, their true class-character reveals itself through the constant willingness to kiss the feet of capitalism and to compromise with one or other great power. In places where the Islamists have come to power, they have used the same mechanisms of oppression against left wing and secular organizations and sometimes have even joined the imperialists – like in Bangladesh, Indonesia and after 1979 in Afghanistan. Their frequent clashes with imperialism show only that they have a base in the working class, peasants and urban poor, which many secular movements don’t have. The reason for this is its seemingly uncompromising appeal to anti-imperialist sentiment, the capitulation of the left in most Muslim countries towards the elitist secular bourgeois-nationalism, and the aura that the Islamists would serve the poor. Revolutionary communists who wish to win over Muslim workers to the proletarian revolution must also consistently fight within the anti-imperialist movement against those forces willing to stop short of the complete and utter defeat of imperialism, while exposing any other elements, Islamic or secular.


7.             Today under the banner of the war on terror, more and more Muslim organizations within civil society are subject to surveillance and police harassment. The mainstream western media have been leading defamation and smear campaigns against Islam and Muslims in order to gather public support for imperialist wars of aggression (this is true for EU, US, Russian and Chinese imperialism). As we have seen in the election of Trump, the rise of Le Pen, Farrage and Van Wilders, more and more politicians are building their careers upon this hatred and fear, calling for laws which limit the freedom of religious expression – like the ban on the hijab or the full-body-covering swimsuit in France.


8.             The attempt to create truly multicultural societies in the West has largely failed. Some Muslims have illusions that in joining imperialist armies, conducting joint prayers in the White House, etc., they may be able improve their position. Such status, however, is only open to a very small minority. Furthermore, such opportunism hurts poor Muslims in other countries by helping the imperialist super-powers to continue to terrorize Muslim countries and communities – all under slogans of democracy, while denying the racist character of their actions.


9.             We as revolutionaries fight for a state in which power is in the hands of the workers and the poor. This can only be achieved by a socialist revolution – which needs to include workers from all religions, struggling together, hand in hand. The people who are most oppressed under capitalism will have a disproportionally higher representation and more rights. In contrast to the imperialist Europe, the US, China and Russia, all of which discriminate against the religion of Muslims, the workers’ revolution will grant them full religious rights. It is the duty of all revolutionaries to enthuse religious workers and oppressed with the spirit of revolution. We cannot possibly win if we cast them aside – as so many so called “leftists” arrogantly do under the pretext that the consciousness of our religious brothers and sisters is “not sufficiently developed.