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(en) alas barricadas: Anarcho-communism and Islam: Sufis and Carmats through the thought of Haydar Amoli (ca) [machine translation]

Date Sun, 24 May 2020 12:21:19 +0300

1) Anarchists in the Arab and Islamic world ---- The "Libertarian Alternative" (Al-Badil Al-Taharrouri) or the "Libertarian Communist Alternative" (Al-Badil Al-Chouyouii Al-Taharrouri) in Lebanon is one of the few anarcho-communist groups of which there is (or was) evidence of its existence in the Arab world. They maintained relations with the French "Alternative Libertaire" who in June 2019 merged with the "Coordination des Groupes Anarchistes" to found the current platform-oriented "Union Communiste Libertaire". Another Arab libertarian group would be the Movement of the Libertarian Socialists of Egypt; who opts, or opted, for the term "libertarian socialism" instead of "libertarian communism", like the Uruguayan Anarchist Federation: a nuance that attracts attention and which, in my opinion,
When we expanded our view to the entire Islamic world (or Islamized since not all the population is Muslim) we have had evidence of other organizations: a union of anarchists from Iran and Afghanistan, the Revolutionary Anarchist Action (DAF) of Turkey, libertarian guerrilla groups operating in Syrian Kurdistan, in collaboration with the local branch of the PKK (not without some tension), Indonesian anarchist and anarcho-syndicalist groups, the Bangladesh Anarcho-Syndicalist Federation(BASF) etc. But in this constellation there are also synthetic initiatives of which, surely, not all its members are located within libertarian communism. So let us return to the Lebanese of Al-Badil Al-Taharrouri: in their analysis of the situation in the Arab world they point out as one of their main problems the resistance of Islamic fundamentalist organizations to the process of secularization of the region.

2) The apparent contradiction of a religious justification for secularism

Regarding this there are two positions. One that affirms a fundamental difference between Islamic and Western civilization that would impede, or make it very difficult, this process: when Islam appeared, in 7th century Arabia, in a certain context of "institutional vacuum" and dispersion of human groups , is forced to become a political-religious movement (a process that is accelerated with the flight of Muhammad to Mecca and crystallized with the so-called "Medina Constitution", which is not strictly speaking, but which Islamism usually claims as an antecedent ) which contrasts with a Christianity that appears in a context of pre-existence of Roman political institutions, which will make it easier to conceive the separation of the two spheres ("To God what is of God and to Caesar what is of Caesar").

The other position defends just the opposite: it considers that the differences between the West and Islam would not be so great since one could not speak of an Islamic political system as such until the election of Abu Bakr as successor to Muhammad and first of the four Rashidun caliphs("Well guided"). The society established in Medina by Muhammad and his followers would not be properly political (in the state sense), which would conclude the possibility of having it as a simply religious reference and discarding the caliphal political system, being able to replace it with a secular state (being, of anyway, after the death of the Prophet). This position would be an Islamic argument to justify secularism: it is worth reflecting on this because it is something that would attack the ideological waterline of the Islamists, by dismantling the argument that secularism starts from the western categories imposed by European colonialism.

But the groups of the Arab secular left (neither the moderates nor the radicals like Al-Badil Al-Taharrouri) are not used to using this type of argument too much. Should they? Perhaps not by system, since it is not in its idiosyncrasy, but it would not be wrong to establish certain synergies with those who do it from a revolutionary perspective (minority but active groups of the Islamic left as "anti-capitalist Muslims" of Turkey or "civilizational alliance" from Morocco). This should not sound so strange to us, after all, in late Francoism the anarcho-syndicalists of the CNT collaborated with the Brotherhood of Catholic Action Workers (HOAC) or the Chilean anarchists with the Christian revolutionary left of the lautaristas (youth split from another leftist split from the Christian Democracy).

3) Historical bases for an "Islamic anarcho-communism"

On a personal level I consider myself an atheist and a materialist, but if I imagine the fellow Lebanese libertarians enduring the invectives of the Islamic fundamentalists accusing them of professing a doctrine imported by the perfidious Western crusaders, what could I answer? In other words, can anarcho-communism be justified by appealing to the Islamic tradition? Is it possible to justify in a Islamic way a doctrine that is not that it defends a secular State, but that seeks the abolition of any form that it adopts based on a society without state coercion or private property? It is an exercise in political imagination, I am not aware of the specific debates that are taking place, or have been taking place, in this Arab country specifically, and even less between these two contenders.

Abdennur Prado, speaking of Islamic mysticism, reminds us that Sufism has two opposed historical dimensions: on the one hand, the reaction to the objectification of Islam carried out by theologians and jurisconsults, as a desire to return to the spiritual and initiatory bases, but, on the other, that Sufi brotherhoods have come to have immense economic and political power, to establish dynasties that have governed large territories, and even to be large owners. In fact, there is a great difference between the first Sufi mystics like the poet Rabi'a al-Adawiya (717-801 CE) who is credited with the expression that he carried a bucket of water in one hand to "put out hell" and in another a torch to "light paradise": thus wanting to express that "love for God" had to be done by itself, not as a consequence of the threat of condemnation or the hope of eternal salvation. Or Al-Hallay (857-922 CE), who even declared that the mystical assumption was not only for the chosen ones but for all men, for which he was accused by theologians of pantheism and finally crucified.

These beginnings contrast with the institutionalization of the Sufi Muslim brotherhoods ( tariqa) which, since the end of the 19th century, became the main intermediaries between the Black African Muslim populations and the sub-Saharan state. A clear example is the murides (followers of the historical sheikSenegalese Ahmadou Bamba) whose activities branch out to various countries, recipients of emigration, through the initiates who are part of the communities of residents in these. In this context, the original Sufi mysticism can hide a religious legitimation of capitalist exploitation practices: a kind of hybridization between the values of a traditional-popular Islam and the corporate culture (organizational form "of transition" between a kind of feudalism and the free market economy typical of hybrid structures present in "developing" countries). These types of organizations are constantly questioned by the Islamic reform movements ( da'wa) that, on some occasions, are linked to Islamist groups such as the "Muslim Brotherhood" (Al-Ijwan Al-Muslimun).

Apart from the fact that this last assertion would lead us to question the stereotypical vision of Islamism as simply reactionary (seeing how, on occasions, it can play a "modernizing" role against the more traditionalist Islam) we should reflect on what connection there may be between the original conceptions of Sufism. and anarcho-communism: from what we have seen, this spirituality had a rather individualistic character although Al-Hallay extended it to the entire population. Even so, the thought of the "agitator of hearts" was introduced in Al-Andalus by the Masarrí school in which it exerted great influence. Who were these? The followers of the Cordovan Muhammad Ibn Masarra (883-931 CE),

Still, for more than a century there were followers of his teachings located, above all, in Córdoba and Pechina (Almería). One of his disciples, Isma'il al Ru'ayni scandalized the Cordovan masarríes when affirming that God did not know in any way what is going to happen, that the initiated ascetic did not have to submit to any law, that free love was lawful and that goods had to be expropriated and even those who did not think in this way had to be killed[1]. Still, al-Ru'ayni's "Masarri communism", as an extreme version of the original Masarrism, could not be put into practice, not for lack of will but for means. But, then, we would find ourselves with a kind of Islamic communism (or anarcho-communism) of Sufi influence that did not become established: Isma'il al Ru'ayni would not cease to be a sort of "medieval Kropotkin" (note the quotation marks) that did not he saw the practical realization of his doctrines.

To find it, we must go back to the year 899 CE where an extreme Shi'ite branch of Ismaili (who do not recognize more than the first seven imams followers of Ali, son-in-law of Muhammad, unlike the majority Shiites who recognize twelve) known as Carmata established a utopian republic settled in Eastern Arabia (present Bahrain). Slavoj Zizek, a Slovenian philosopher, tells us how The aim of the Carmata was to build a society based on reason and equality. The state was governed by a six-member council with a chief who was first among equals. All property within the community was evenly distributed among all initiates. His rise was instigated by the "Zanj Rebellion" (869-883 CE) starring more than 500,000 slaves against the caliphal power of Baghdad. Unfortunately, not much is known about them, but their political and military power began to decline from 939 CE.

4) Concluding ...

Perhaps we want to identify more, as Islamic medieval antecedents of anarcho-communism, the unrealized communal ideals of Isma'il al Ru'ayni than the "communist state" of the Carmata, but it must be remembered that the first experience of proletarian power in history, the " Paris Commune "of 1871, is equally claimed by anarchists and Marxists as confirmation of their doctrines. All the more reason to do it equally with respect to previous communist (or proto-communist) experiences. Still, one drawback, from the point of view of Islamic tradition, is that one experience comes from Sunni Sufism and the other from Shiism. In this sense,

Thus, Haydar Amoli, the Sufis affirm, are those to whom the name of true Si'a and faithful with a proven heart ( si'at al haqiqiya wa-l-mu'min mumtahan ) can return . We would already have a mystical referent, then, that would seem to allow the fusion of Isma'il al Ru'ayni thought and the political praxis of the Carmata. The quotation of the ideas of this mystic, then, must be understood as a way of theoretically merging both experiences in the search for a legitimation of communism (or anarcho-communism) from the Islamic tradition: something different from the forceful expression that the disappearance of philosophy and faith for the benefit of the science appearing in the article The road to the Revolutionfrom the Spanish Bakuninist workers' newspaper "La Federación", dated June 21, 1873, where an anarcho-insurrectionary position against anarcho-syndicalism was defended. And we have already explained why this historical difference between Islam and the West is due.

This does not mean, however, that they cannot be convergent and reference may be made, by way of end, to Abdelmumin Aya's Islam without God work aimed at Muslims who live daily with atheists. In this he affirms that one of the frequent problems in this regard is that categories from another religion such as Christianity are used to interpret Islam. I understand that the author refers to the fact that Islam is a religion, but it is not a religion in the sense that Westerners are used to understanding what a religion is, because this sense is conditioned by our own historical experience of what a religion is. , which is not the same experience of the Islamic world. This is how the Arabic word din definesas "set of values" (which would include multiple social aspects) and not strictly "religion" as well as the word Allah as "Reality" rather than as "God".

They are, of course, debatable ideas but, even so, they open new perspectives not only to the justification of anarcho-communism from an Islamic point of view but to intercultural dialogue. On the other hand, it must be remembered that appealing to tradition may be unnecessary in highly secularized societies of developed capitalism, but it is not the same in social and cultural models that have been, and are, victims of colonialism and for which they revalue their cultural heritage. It can be, not only therapeutic, but also constitute its own path to modernity and revolution.

Stateless soul


PRADO, ABDENNUR Islam as mystical anarchism Virus Editorial, November 2010. Page 19.

CRUZ HERNÁNDEZ, MIGUEL History of thought in the Islamic world I. From the origins to the twelfth century in Oriente Editorial Alliance, 2017 . Pages 137 and 139-140.

INIESTA, FERRAN (ed.) The Islam of Black Africa Edicions Bellaterra - Library of African Studies, 2009. Pages 45-46 and 94.

CRUZ HERNÁNDEZ, MIGUEL History of thought in the Islamic world II. The thought of al-Andalus (IX-XIV centuries) Editorial Alliance, 2017. Pages 25, 30 and 32.

ZIZEK, SLAVOK First as a tragedy, then as a farce Akal-Critical Thought, 2011. Page (?).

CRUZ HERNÁNDEZ, MIGUEL History of thought in the Islamic world III. Islamic thought from Ibn Jaldun to the present day Editorial Alliance, 2017. Page 67.

TERMES, JOSEP Anarchism and unionism in Spain (1864-1881) Criticism - Pocket Library, April 2000. Page 205.

MARTÍNEZ DE LA FE, JUAN ANTONIO Islam without God: Review of Abdelmumin Aya's last book http://webislam.com.

[1]These doctrines were collected by the Spanish Arabist Miguel Cruz Hernández in his History of Thought in the Islamic World who, politically speaking, even though he had militated in the communist "Unified Socialist Youths" during the Second Spanish Republic, held various positions during the Franco dictatorship, becoming known as the red mayor of Franco . I do not know if his description, in some respects, of Isma'il al Ru'ayni's thought is conditioned by his ideological turn. Perhaps it is too much to suppose.

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