The review |
Muhammad Shiddiq Al Jawi
The concept of civil society in Islamic perspective
Konsep Civil Society dalam perspektif islam
In this article Indonesian representative of the party Hizb ut Tahrir Muhammad Shiddiq Al Jawi criticizes the reactionary Nurcholis Madjid for his lumping “Islamic” society of Medina, which was established by the revolution led by the prophet Mohammed, together with civil society, which was established by French revolution of late 18th century. In spite of its religious color and the snort at socialism, this criticism is socialist in fact, because Al Jawi contrasts “Islamic” society, which is free of contradictions (i.e., in actual fact, socialist one), with “civil”, i.e. bourgeois, society, which got bogged down in contradictions.
However, it is clear that Al Jawi makes inaccuracy, saying nothing about the contradiction between Hegel and Marx, attributing Marxist views to Hegel, when he (Al Jawi) states briefly all existing concepts of civil society. Al Jawi rejects all these European “Kafir” concepts – unfortunately, including Marxism (however, by “Marxism” he means the “state” capitalism of eastern imperialist bloc, but we shall say about it below).
The criticism of democracy. In fact Al Jawi’s assertion that “the power must emanate not from people, but from Allah”, i.e. must be based on Shariah, on Quran, not on majority rule, if one looks not at religious form of this assertion, but at its content, agrees with Marxist-Leninist teaching about proletarian dictatorship. Indeed, Marx wrote that proletariat may be not aware of its class interests at first. Lenin in his work “Constituent assembly elections and proletarian dictatorship” criticized sharply Kautskyists and Mensheviks who asserted that the majority’s support is needed for proletarian dictatorship. I.e. in fact Leninist formula “proletarian power must be based not on the will of majority, but on proletarian ideology elaborated by Marx” (if to say summarily) agrees with Islamist formula “Islamic power must be based not on the will of majority, but on Islamic ideology elaborated by the prophet Mohammed”. The weak aspect of Islamist formula is the assertion that revolutionary ideology was put into Mohammed’s mind allegedly by Allah, while Marxists think that Marx’ views and Marxism in general were ultimately caused by the development of productive forces. But opportunistic “Marxists”, who transformed Marxism to neo-religion, reduced productive forces to the meaning “god”, attributing their (i.e. opportunists’) labor-aristocratic consciousness to them (striking example of it is USSR where the ruling elite alleged that Soviet society would come to communism through smooth, evolutional development, without revolutions; another example is the fact that rich nations, including Russia-USSR, are declared by “Marxists” to be “the select” (“Peculiar People”) for “civilizing” poor nations). Thus, when we criticize Islamists for their allegation that Allah put into Mohammed’s mind his (Mohammed’s) views, we must not forget that “Marxists” in this respect are no better than Islamists, only religiousness of “Marxists” is veiled.
Of course, our attitude both towards Quran and towards writings of Marx, Engels and Lenin must be critical (and Islamists have in part this critical attitude, contrary to cries of our Islamophobs and pseudo-Islamists like Heydar Gemal that “the disclaimer of Allah’s existence is punished with death penalty in Islam”; for example, the site “Indian Muslims”, where M. N. Roy’s work “Historical role of Islam”, where Roy asserts that Mohammed’s “talks” with Allah are hallucinations, is placed). On the other hand, liberal “freedom of criticism”, which is in fact the rejection of revolutionary ideology, is inadmissible. In this point Al Jawi’s views agree with Lenin’s position, which was stated in his work “What is to be done?”
The question of democracy is topical in Russia today in connection with the parliament election of December 2011 and protest actions following them. Let’s examine “The resolution of December Plenum of Central Committee of RCP-CPSU (Russian Communist Party-Communist Party of Soviet Union)” of the 24th of December 2011. It is said there:
“We support the common struggle of all branches of opposition for the fair (honest) election, for democratic reforms of political system, for the removal of tandem [i.e. Putin and Medvedev – A. G.]. However, it is necessary not to forget that in bourgeois country the fairest election will always give false results, because the decisive word will belong to those who have money, real power and mass media”.
We see that the wording is ambiguous throughout. Indeed, what does it mean - “the fairest election will always give false results”? Let’s assume that the election will reflect public opinion objectively. Would they really “give false results” in that case too, as according to RCP-CPSS? It is nonsense. “Communists” conceal the fact that in addition to oligarchic elite in Russia there are also vast masses of labor aristocracy which get a share of super-profits gained from colonial plunder, and, owing to this share, they are carriers of bourgeois and petty-bourgeois consciousness, and they poison proletariat with this consciousness.
We see that “communists” move away not far from liberals: while the peak of liberals’ desires is the “fair election”, the peak of “communists”’ desires is “the election which will give faire results”.
Let’s turn to Al Jawi.
We see that Islamist criticism of democracy is the criticism not of abstract democracy, but just of bourgeois democracy. On the other hand, early Islam which is taken as an example by Islamists was just proletarian democracy, even if at primitive level. The presence of the practice of collective discussions, mutual consultations of Caliph with Muslims, which is mentioned both by Al Jawi in this article, by Tan Malaka (see my article “On proletarian dictatorship and Islamism”), by Mawdudi in the article “Political Thought in Early Islam” (http://www.muslimphilosophy.com/hmp/, Chapter 33) point to this fact. The main principles of early Islam, mentioned by Mawdudi, also point to this fact - one of them was: “The least fitted for responsible positions in general and for the Caliph’s position in particular are those that covet and seek them” (ibid.). In the same place Mawdudi wrote:
“Although the Prophet had bequeathed no decision regarding the question of his successor, the members of the community were in no doubt that Islam demanded a democratic [emphasized by me – A. G.] solution of the issue”
Mawdudi also wrote in that work that inhabitants of Madinah represented the country “for all practical purposes”. Take into account that Madinah was economical, trade and cultural center of Arabian Peninsula. This also corresponds to what Lenin wrote in his work “Constituent assembly elections and proletarian dictatorship”: although the majority of population of Russia didn’t support Bolsheviks, they were supported by population of metropolises, i.e. of Moscow and Petersburg which were the centers of concentration of proletariat.
Analyzing Al Jawi’s criticism of secularism we must take into consideration that in oriental languages the words “religion”, “faith” and the like make the sense which corresponds to our sense not quite. For example, the term “aqida” in the dictionary is translated as “faith”, while it rather means “doctrine”, “ideology”, as we see in the context of Islamists’ works: for example, “aqida of capitalism” “aqida of communism”. There is also another example: the founder of the ideology of Pan-Islamism Jamal-Ed-Din Al-Afghani, about which in Big Soviet Encyclopedia (“Bolshaya Sovetskaya Entsiklopediya”), 3rd edition, is noted that the title of his work “The refutation of materialism” is translated literally as “The response to naturalists”.
I think, here it would be appropriate to cite Tan Malaka, the place from his work “Madilog”:
“The enemies of proletariat usually translate and distort the meaning of the word “materialism”, representing it as the science which based on the endeavor of finding of unlimited pleasures, on the desire for eating until vomiting, for drinking until getting drunk, for marrying and divorcing frivolously; while idealism is translated and respected highly as science which based on the highest spiritual purity, which devote more attention to thoughts than to eating, and the culture which stands aloof from women, like recluses, pilgrims. But in reality, in life we often see the followers of idealist ideas who act contrary to this assumption, while in many materialist circles we see the people who live really in modest manner, as faithful husbands and fathers”.
“When labor movement is very influential as in Germany before World War I (1914-1918), in proletarian circles themselves idealism don’t dare act openly. Many different “isms” which have the shape of materialism, however manifesting themselves as idealists in their essence enter into proletarian circles themselves” (http://www.marxists.org/indonesia/archive/malaka/Madilog/index.htm)
In fact, it is our “communists” who distort the sense of the word “materialism”, substituting economism, i.e. the struggle for “unlimited pleasures”, for the struggle for communism. The criticism of secularism as separation of religion from the state and from social life by Islamists is in fact the criticism of idealism of capitalists who in word devote more attention to thoughts than to eating, but in deed “eat until vomiting, drink until getting drunk, marry and divorce frivolously”; this criticism is in fact the criticism of inactive moral, of separation between theory and practice, between word and deed; this criticism is the criticism of European (meaning both American, Russian too, and today also Chinese and Indian) bourgeois and “socialist” (opportunist) theories for their “assumptivity” (speculativeness), for the fact that they based on speculative hypotheses which aren’t confirmed by experience, in the manner of Greek philosophy and logic which proved that the runner will never overtake the tortoise. In general, the early Islamic thought was dialectical negation of Greek philosophy which was the philosophy of nobles, who despise the experience and were estranged from the masses (of course, in Greek philosophy there was materialist current too, but it was probably weaker than idealist one). But that’s just the point that modern “European” (in abovementioned sense) social science, philosophical thought has inherited that Greek speculative approach in many respects, moreover, it has inherited Greek idealism much more than Greek materialism. Hence, modern radical Islam is dialectical negation of European social science and philosophical thought which has played out its progressive role from 18th to early 20th century, but in last decades has transformed into pseudo-science, into the servant of bourgeoisie.
Incidentally, early Islamic thought was also dialectical negation of Christianity. One Indonesian Internet-user said about it quite good in one Internet mail-list, when analyzing Tan Malaka’s work “Madilog”:
“Islam itself is the part of dialectical historical materialism. It is clear that historically Islam is dialectical negation of Christianity. Jesus considered himself to be god’s child. Mohammed objected openly that god can’t give birth to anybody nor can be born… This is the proof of the fact that Mohammed struggled ideologically, in fact carrying out dialectical negation, looking at Christians historically”
So, Islam was dialectical negation of Christian Trinity, i.e. of non-rigorous monotheism, which was mentioned by Tan Malaka in his work “The Philosophy of Life”. M. N. Roy in his work “Historical role of Islam” noticed rightly that Mohammed’s strict monotheism which has “thrown” god far into the sky, was the step towards materialism; actually early Islam was primitive materialism.
In the same work Roy wrote that Islam have the vast potential for development. And French Islamic publicist Youssef Girard in his article “Muslim community in France and the problem of its ‘historical consciousness’” cites Islamic philosopher of early XX century Mohammed Iqbal (who, by the way, welcomed October revolution in Russia in 1917):
“In Islam the prophecy has achieved its perfection, revealing the necessity of its own abolition. This supposes subtle understanding of the fact that one must not hold the life at the margin; that in order to achieve the entire self-consciousness one must ultimately resort to his own means” (La communauté musulmane en France et le problème de sa « conscience historique » (1/2))
Girard comments these Iqbal’s words:
“In this perspective Quran calls the people to use their own mind and to resort to empirical data, which are obtained from concrete experience as a basis of human consciousness” (ibid)
What does it mean? It means that Islam which “calls the people to use their own mind and to resort to empirical data”, unlike Christianity which based on blind faith, clears the way for the negation of god. Indeed, the prophet Mohammed, according to Islam, is “a mere mortal”, not “the son of god” as Jesus in Christianity; but “it is inherent in human to make mistakes”. Thus, M. N. Roy’s words that Mohammed’s “talks” with Allah are hallucinations don’t conflict with Islam at all.
Let’s return to Jawi’s work.
The criticism of Marxism and communist ideology by Jawi is in fact the criticism of the “state” capitalism of eastern imperialist bloc (i.e. former USSR and China) as opposed to western, “free” capitalism (although it is not so very free). Therefore it is undoubtedly incorrect to place the criticism of Marxism and communism by Jawi in one rank with the criticism of Marxism and communism by liberals, because Al Jawi disagrees with “free” capitalism too (however he stumbles sometimes, deviating towards liberalism: his phrase that communists consider people as “teeth of the gear” is used widely in the arsenal of liberal criticism of communism).
It is reported about Nurcholis Madjid, whom Al Jawi criticizes, that he based himself upon Indonesian middle classes (upon students etc.) which coming into being lately – not upon lower classes. Left Muslims criticized him for this fact. He supported the regime of “New Order” which was a puppet of American imperialism, and Al Jawi rightly criticizes him for this fact. In respect of Marxism Nurcholis Madjid held Bakunin’s view that “proletarian dictatorship is the dictatorship of party leaders” – unfortunately, Al Jawi doesn’t criticize him for that. Generally, the level of Al Jawi’s views in certain respects is lower than that of Nabhani who distinguished between early communism (in the sense “movement”) and late communism (which was in fact the same capitalism) nevertheless and sympathized with early communism. The level of Al Jawi’s view on secularism is also lower than that of Nabhani. In this question there is some confusion in Al Jawi’s words from which one can conclude the apology of feudalism: Al Jawi writes that to the question “does god exist?” feudalism answers “Yes”, but capitalism doesn’t even bring up such question. From this one can conclude that Al Jawi who answers “Yes” to this question holds with feudal lords (although in fact he certainly disagrees with feudal lords too). Apparently, he feels that, therefore he avoids an answer this question: “Even if it is so, the discussion concerning the existence of the Creator is irrelevant here”. I remind the reader that Nabhani in this question stressed that the religion was a tool in the hands of European kings and clergy which helped to “suck the blood from the people”; Nabhani also sympathized with early Soviet power because its attitude towards religion was fixed; but Al Jawi overlooks these points.
So, to the question “does god exist?” feudalism answers “Yes”, capitalism (as well as late communism, in contrast to early communism) doesn’t even bring up such question; from this it follows that future society which will be free of contradictions (i.e. socialist or, in other words, “Islamic” society) should answer “No”. Of course, the level of atheism of this society must be higher than that of primitive, natural-science, “mechanical” atheism of “philosophers and scientists” (i.e. of atheism which was generated by Enlightenment and French revolution), an Islamists’ disagreement with such atheism is correct in many respects.
As regards the difference between early Islam and feudalism in terms ideology and religion, despite the fact that the answer to the question “does god exist?” was the same for both of them of the face of it, the former was the strict monotheism, while the latter was the power of kings, the clergy, Pope and the like, which were equated with god, i.e. in fact the latter was idolatry. The difference between Islam and theocracy was also noted by Sayyid Qutb. Nigerian Islamist Danladi Adamu Mohammed disagrees with the theocracy of modern Iran, he argues that it has nothing in common with Islam, it is the successor of Greek philosophy which in fact is exploiter one (Danladi Adamu Mohammed. Muslim Intellectuals and the Sharia Debate in Nigeria. Centre for Journalism Studies Wales. March 2002).
Of course, Islamists (not all and not always) quite often condemn communism, Marxism indiscriminately, lumping together early, revolutionary, Marxism and late, opportunistic, “Marxism”, i.e. European and Soviet social-imperialism. Of course, we must criticize them for that. But it is also necessary not to forget that our “Marxists” which lump together early, revolutionary, Islam and late, feudal-theocratic, Islam, are none the better in this respect.
Here I also shall touch on the question “What is proletariat?”. I already wrote a lot that the view “Proletariat is industrial workers” is out-of-date today, it became opportunistic throughout, and today the correct view is “Proletariat is the poor”, if to say summarily: even if the sets of proletarians and of the poor don’t coincide with each other (because there are also poor peasants), they intersect strongly. It is also necessary to note here that the sets of proletarians and Muslims also intersect strongly (although they don’t coincide with each other too), and the appealing of Islamists to Muslims is in fact Marxist one in many respects. Accordingly, as well as Marxism divides ideological currents into proletarian and bourgeois ones, into materialism and idealism respectively, Islamism divides them into Islamic and non-Islamic. Today, at the stage of neocolonialism, when the splitting of the world into oppressor nations and oppressed ones became so enormous, this division corresponds with Marxist division in many respects, but not at all respects, because there is class division within rich (non-Islamic) nations, and the ideology of proletariat of rich nations, that is revolutionary, non-opportunistic Marxism-Leninism, even if it is non-Islamic nominally, in deed corresponds with the spirit of early Islam.
Incidentally, the positive point in Al Jawi’s article is the sympathy with the poor, Blacks, Reds (American Indians) and immigrants (even non-Muslims) in USA and other super-powers. Here we see proletarian internationalism.
“The answer which Islam proposes” which Al Jawi gives at the end of the article, i.e. non-contradictory Islamic society (i.e. in fact the society which is free from class contradictions), in contrast to contradictory capitalist and “communist” (i.e. in fact state-capitalist society – the same capitalist one in essence) societies, is in fact Islamized socialism, socialism in Islamic form, even if it is somewhat naïve, semi-peasant, not rigorous scientific. Al Jawi’s words about restrictions which Shariah imposes on the freedom of ownership (the prohibition of usury etc.) point to socialism too. On the other hand, Mawdudi (as well as Nabhani) wrote that Islam doesn’t oppose private ownership. In other words, Islam opposes usurious, parasitic, financial capital, but doesn’t oppose petty, “labor”, entrepreneurial (enterprising) bourgeoisie, peasantry etc. This corresponds with Lenin’s position that “There are the bourgeoisie and the bourgeoisie”; on the other hand, this is markedly different from Stalin’s policy of devastation (dispossession) of petty bourgeoisie (“the offensive on kulak”, i.e. on rich peasants, which was in fact the offensive on middle-class, not rich, peasants, which was carried out by new Soviet bourgeoisie in the alliance with the labor aristocracy, including “kulaks”, who have coalesced (grown together) with the state power through the corruption). As Engels wrote in his work “Peasant question in France and Germany” (1894), dispossession of peasantry is progressive process, but proletariat must not to promote it, must not to form the alliance with large bourgeoisie against petty bourgeoisie, quite the contrary, proletariat must to form the alliance with petty bourgeoisie against large bourgeoisie.
And one more point. Al Jawi wrote about Islamic prohibition of drunkenness and sexual debauchery and prohibition for women from going out of doors “naked” (that is without kerchief (hijab)). As regards the first point (the prohibition of drunkenness and sexual debauchery), this corresponds with Lenin’s words that “conscious proletarian doesn’t need to intoxicate (make dizzy) himself with alcohol and sexual incontinence”. On the other hand, according to Engels, drunkenness for proletarians is “the thing for the sake of which it is worth to live” (Here Engels said about proletarian masses, not about conscious proletarians): i.e., it is incorrect to “demand the high morality from the wretched”. Al Jawi doesn’t take this aspect into account. However, this question must be considered in connection with concrete-historical conditions: as we know, the drunkenness was introduced in Muslim countries by colonizers.
As regards the second point (the prohibition for women from going out of doors “naked”), I want to mention that the representative of Revolutionary Line who writes under a pen-name NKVD, distorts my position, which was expressed in my work “Marxism and morality”. He wrote:
“Gachikus plays with facts in original manner, he represents Chaplin [very conservative representative of Orthodox Church – A. G.] as reactionary for the fact that he proposes to introduce dress-code, but at the same time he doesn’t criticize Islamists for the fact that they impose wearing burka (veil, paranja) on women and other protection of morality”
As a matter of fact, in that work I quote Nabhani who criticized early, peasant Islamism of early XX century for infringement of women’s rights and who asserted that the freedom of participating in social life, in wage labor is necessary for women, but, on the other hand, the morality must be protected (if NKVD hasn’t understand, I shall say more concretely: Nabhani opposed burka, but advocated kerchief (hijab)). From the context it is clear that I hold not with early, peasant Islamism, but just with Nabhani and talibs. My position in these debates is similar to the position of representatives of French Left Muslim site “Oumma.com”: “We are against burka, but the renunciation of it must be free (voluntary)”. As Lenin said, “It is impossible to drive somebody into paradise by the bludgeon”.
In general, imperialists and their lackeys in communist movement like to cry about the right of women not to wear paranja, but say nothing about the right of women to wear paranja. Such is the face of bourgeois democracy!
And the last point. Al Jawi’s words that “The [Islamic] state fulfils the obligation of carrying the message to the whole world” correspond with Marxist-Leninist doctrine about communism as worldwide phenomenon, about the necessity of promoting world revolution by the country where proletariat has won.
March 17, 2012
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