Home How the Left Went Wrong on Islam
Home How the Left Went Wrong on Islam

How the Left Went Wrong on Islam

What makes the creeping political correctness on Islam so startling is its very newness. It wasn't so long ago that the right and the left both agreed that as a religion and a political movement, it was dangerously backward and violent.

From Winston Churchill, "Mahommedan religion increases, instead of lessening, the fury of intolerance" to Karl Marx, "Islamism proscribes the nation of the Infidels, constituting a state of permanent hostility between the Mussulman and the unbeliever", leading figures on the right and the left held a realistic understanding of Islam. They dismissed it as violent, barbaric, ignorant and dangerous. The right saw Islam as a threat to the Western Christian hegemony. The left viewed it as a reactionary movement of superstitious fanatics. They might praise Arab generals or scientists, but not the creed itself.

Where then did that lost consensus on Islam go? One answer can be found in the Soviet Union.

Unlike Western Europe, the Russian Empire had a large Muslim population. While Western socialists focused on a mostly Christian population, taking over the Russian Empire was nearly impossible without winning the allegiance of its Eastern Muslims. That difference would shape the socialist approach to Islam.

While the Communists disdained Christianity and Judaism as backward superstitions, they took a different approach to Islam. Lenin promised Muslims that their mosques would be protected under the revolution and emphasized an approach of cultural sensitivity that respected Muslim traditions. Female Communist activists donned veils or covered their hair to work with the locals. Most shockingly, while the Communists were dismantling the Orthodox Church and Jewish synagogues-- Sharia courts of Islamic law were being administered under a Soviet Commissariat of Justice.

One of the more notable effects of the alliance was the Communist attempt to find common ground by phrasing their doctrine in Islamic terms. The Communists campaigned against religion as superstition, but this was translated as Khurafat, a campaign to cleanse heretical forms of magic. The difference was substantial and fundamental. While Communists in the rest of the Soviet Union were outlawing religion, Muslim Communists were rooting out heresies under the authority of the revolution. The USSR had become the enforcer of Islam.

The translation of socialist ideas into the Islamic, created the illusion of common ground. Both sides heard what they want to hear. But the Communist and Muslim ideas of revolution were dramatically different. While Moscow was talking about women's equality, the Muslim Communists were filling their unwashed yurts with child wives. By the time Soviet leaders in Moscow realized what was going on, they had a civil war on their hands. The Communists won in the short term, but only at the cost of accepting Muslim practices such as polygamy. And the Muslims may have won the long war.

The awkward fusion of Islam and Communism did not last long, but it had an enduring impact on the left's view of Islam. It transformed Islam in the eyes of many Western socialists into a progressive movement. The temporary legitimacy granted to the Pan-Islamic Jadids and the bulletins trumpeting the progressive nature of the Koran and the brilliance of Mohammed coming out of the motherland of socialism, altered the view of many socialists and taught them to view Muslims as allies. It may have even given some of them the idea that introducing large Muslim populations into Europe would be the key to a successful revolution.

Slogans like, "Long live Soviet power, long live the sharia" echo today among the left. The Soviet approach of viewing Islam as an immature form of socialism colors most reporting on the Muslim Brotherhood. As it did on the Ayatollah Khomeini during the Iranian revolution.

The Fourth Congress of the Communist International's Theses on the Eastern Question treated Islam as part of the "great diversity of national revolutionary movements against imperialism". But diversity didn't mean equality. Diversity in the theses meant backwardness. Islam was Communism for savages. The Koran was Das Kapital for primitive people. "As the national liberation movements grow and mature", the theses said, "the religious-political slogans of pan-Islamism will be replaced by political demands."

Islam was an intermediate stage on the road to Communism. Eventually its religious baggage will fall away and it will become a fully political anti-imperialist movement. These same ideas are widely held on the left today. It is how they can justify allying with the Muslim Brotherhood. Like the Jadids, the Brotherhood is on the left, but doesn't know it yet. Muslims think that Moses and Jesus were Muslims but didn't know it. The left believes that Mohammed was a progressive, but didn't know it.

The Theses distinguished between Muslim ruling classes and all others. "Only among peoples like the nomads and semi-nomads, where the feudal-patriarchal system has not yet disintegrated to the point where the native aristocracy is completely split off from the masses, can representatives of the elite come forward as active leaders in the struggle against imperialist oppression (Mesopotamia, Morocco, Mongolia)". Two of the three listed examples were Muslim. This convoluted justification allowed them to include Muslim leaders and maintain tribal and Islamic rule as integrated with the masses. An unalloyed justification for maintaining the mini-caliphates that the Pan-Islamists wanted.

While the Communists of the twenties still distinguished between their creed as the higher and Islam as the lower, these distinctions have been eroded among the postmodern left to the point of non-existence. All revolutionary movements are treated as equal so long as they are aimed at Western imperialism. The Islamists are just part of that "great diversity". Their approach to social justice is an aspect of their culture. This perversity underpins the red-green alliance.

In 1920, the People's Congress of the Baku called for a "holy war", a "ghazavat" against Britain. "The Peoples of the East, united with the revolutionary proletariat of the West under the banner of the Communist International... summon our peoples to a holy war."

Invoking both "the green banner of the Prophet" and "the red banner of the Communist International", this "first real holy war" with the sanction of the Ulemas, Islamic clerics, the red-green alliance was built on a fault line. It was a fault line that Marx could have told them about, had they been willing to listen.

Karl Marx had observed that, "The Koran and the Mussulman (Muslim) legislation emanating from it reduce the geography and ethnography of the various peoples to the simple and convenient distinction of two nations and of two countries; those of the Faithful and of the Infidels" And added, "The Infidel is  the enemy."

The Communists, like their modern counterparts, had not understood this simple and convenient distinction. They thought that they could blend the red and green banners together. That Muslim armies would fight holy wars for them and that Soviet secularism would eventually replace Islamism. Their failure to understand what Islam is, to think that they could ally and stand on the same side as the armies of the Faithful, that they could call for a Holy War against "against imperialist Britain" and have it "burn with unquenchable fire" and yet not get burned themselves, has been repeated not only by the left, but by America and Europe.

The Soviet Union had tried to turn Muslim identity into a Communist identity. And that effort failed badly. The Communists remained infidels. Now we are trying to turn Muslim identity into a Democratic identity, and failing just as miserably. Muslim identity will not broaden to include us. Just as it did not broaden to include the Communists. Our efforts to secularize Muslim identity into anything broader will never reach beyond a small number of people who agree with us.

Islam is not a developing identity, but a divisive identity. An identity that defines itself in its contrast with the infidel. And it needs the infidel to provide that contrast.  "The corsair ships of the Berber States", Marx wrote, "were the holy fleet of Islam". Not because of any specific religious function the corsairs were performing, but through the mere fact that they were fighting infidels alone. That contrast is the essence of Islam. Only by maintaining distinctions between himself and the infidel-- can the Muslim know who he is.

Bertrand Russell identified political fanaticism as the common identity of both Muslims and Communists, writing that, "Mohammedanism and Bolshevism are practical, social, unspiritual, concerned to win the empire of this world." The obsession with winning "the empire of the world" has led the left into an alliance with the Islamists. The mutual irrationality of both sides, movements both marked by the inability to take stock of their own failures, has pushed them forward with brazen dreams of empire. The only thing they agree on is their opposition to the current system. But their new Ghazadat will not end in a better world, but in misery and failure for all.


  1. "Islam is not a developing identity, but a divisive identity. An identity that defines itself in its contrast with the infidel. And it needs the infidel to provide that contrast."

    Without the "infidel" Islam would suffer an identity crisis, become lost, and eventually destroy itself. It's much needed contrast would be found by pitting the "perfect Muslim" against the "imperfect Muslim". Turning on each other would be the only way left for Muslims to idetify themselves.

  2. Anonymous24/5/11

    Edward Cline: This is one of Daniel’s best essays. It sheds so much light on the ostensive contradiction of leftists allying with or tolerating or excusing the depredations of Islam. It helps to explain the rhetoric of the Chomskys and Obamas and others of the collectivist/relativist stripe. This is a fine piece of intellectual detective work. The Soviet Union and its empire may be gone, but they’ve left several tumors of ideological pathogens behind to find a new host: Islam. That phenomenon trickles down from the White House to the New York Times to Code Pink. Who knew that Karl Marx had a position on Islam?

  3. Only by maintaining distinctions between himself and the infidel-- can the Muslim know who he is.
    I'm not sure this is true. I recently read a book that opened my eyes to what Islam really is and it's not just "maintaining distinctions." Islam is a fully developed belief and theological system. And it is utterly alien to Western modes of belief and theology. For those interested here is the title: The Closing of the Muslim Mind: How Intellectual Suicide Created the Modern Islamist Crisis by Robert R. Reilly.

    Note that I have no interest in this book other than as a fascinated and interested reader.

  4. Anonymous24/5/11

    Edward Cline: I neglected to mention that the Left/Islam "cancer" also has infected Academia and most college and university administrations. How else to explain the Borg-brainwashing of students from Grade 1 up to post-graduate studies in the education establishment?

  5. It's important to remember that this was the default position. Islam was widely recognized for what it was until fairly recently.

  6. I have scratched and scratched the scales before my eyes that prevented me from seeing why the left fostered the murderous islamisation of the West soooooo much. With this brilliant piece you have lifted them.

  7. Political movements will use whatever is expedient for them at the moment whether it be religions or philosophies that they feel will move them along.
    Their convictions only go as deep as the money they can make off things.

  8. Anonymous25/5/11

    The greatest mistake the West has made is allowing Muslims to settle in the West. This has allowed Muslims self-identify as the "true believers" against us Infidels.

    If we had not allowed Muslims into the West, then for Muslims to identify themselves as "true" believers, they would have been fighting and killing each other. This was actually happening quite nicely, until we allowed Muslims to refocus on us, by allowing them into the West.

    Now we are heading to a world war while being led by adolescent incompetents.

  9. DP111:
    Well said.
    In earlier centuries, the muslims still targeted 'infidels' wherever they could, but their reach was considerably more limited.
    Now they're right in the midst of major population center, with access to all the technological capabilities of a society too advanced for them to comprehend.

  10. Anonymous25/5/11

    "Muslims may have won the long war."

    Similarly in the US we praise Reagan for defeating Communism, but today's social ills reveal that the USSR was successful in many of their long war programs against us such as drugs, promiscuity, and socialism.

  11. Daniel,
    This is not to disagree with you, but to just get a better understanding of your point.
    When I was in 5th grade in a Soviet school in 1970s, I was taught about the rise of Islam as a part of a History class. And we were told that Islam was a violent and bigoted invention of Muhammad used to justify the conquest and pillaging, quite opposite of what the authorities claimed Communism to be. In addition to that, there was a number of very popular movies, in which the "good guys" - those on the Soviet side - fought against "basmachi" - the fanatics motivated by the backward religion of Islam who subjugate women and resist the Soviet regime. One of the best movies on this subject was "White Sun of the Desert", produced in the late 1960s.
    The Soviets seemed to support national-socialist Arab regimes of Nasser, Syria, Iraq etc., rather than Islamic regime of Saudi Arabia. This history seems to agree with your statement at the beginning of your article, that the Left knew what Islam was, but it contradicts your assertion later in the article that the Communists supported Islam early on. How do you reconcile this?

  12. This attempt at reconciling Communism and Islam was a phase. The Muslim uprisings brought that to an end. Officially anyway.

    The period I'm writing about was under Lenin. By 1970, much of that was a dead book.

    Unofficially, Muslim Communists remained polygamous and remained more loyal to Islam. When the Soviet Union began to collapse, some ended up fighting on the Muslim side.

    However I assume your class was in Russia proper, not one of the Muslim republics. I'm not sure what they would have been taught there.

  13. Eric Oddesit

    The thing is in Russia communism died out, became unpopular but Islam rose, Orthodox and atheist becamse Moslem, spiritually it's strong, perhaps stronger than communism, christianty and the other faiths there.

    In West Europe too, Islam was propogated as teh religion of bigotry and backwardness, yet Europe is becoming Islamic. The problem is the Islamic hordes use the freedom to con people into thinking it's a religon of peace and they think they're embracing something cool. By the time eyes are opened it's too late, and they're stuck in the mire of islam. This is what's happening in Europe where it's cool to pander to Islam from the "cultured" class.

  14. Daniel,
    I am from Odessa, which is Ukraine. The curriculum was the same throughout the Soviet Union, approved by the Ministry of Education of the USSR. It is possible that the negative portrayal of Islam was softened by the teachers in the rural areas of the republics with Muslim populations, but it certainly was not the official line. For example, I remember one movie made by Uzbekfilm, a movie studio out of Tashkent, Uzbekistan. It was made for kids thriller/adventure miniseries that had a young boy born before the Communist Revolution grow up to be a young Red Army officer in the 1920s fighting the anti-Soviet Islamic fanatics. I realize that it was propaganda made in 1970s. But the historical fact that the Central Asian Islamic fighters became quite a menace for the Soviet regime in the area probably cannot be disputed.
    As for loyalty of the Communist officials to Islam, rather than Communism, take a look at Kazakhstan's Nazarbaev, Azerbaijan's Aliev and Uzbekistan's Karimov. They are all former Soviet Communist Party apparatchiks. Their relationship to Islam seems to be closer to Egypt's Mubarak. They are all dictators, but not particularly Islamic. And they all fight Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist organizations.
    Now, about Lenin ever praising Islam. I am not aware of it. But then, I always avoided reading his crap, even if I had to do it for school.

  15. Daniel,
    I think I agree with you about the Communist attempting co-opt Islamism early on. But this phase probably was very short. It probably has ended by mid-1920s. From then on the Soviets attempted to insert secular ideology into all the unrest in the Islamic area (PLO, for example). The Islamic fighters were portrayed as a force supported by British Imperialism.

  16. Mohammed26/5/11


    "It is possible that the negative portrayal of Islam was softened by the teachers in the rural areas of the republics with Muslim populations, but it certainly was not the official line."

    The spread of Islam has nothing to do with negative or positive propoganda. It has to do with the faith itself.

    That is why despite the best efforts of Islamophboes, Islam goes from strength to strength.

    in 30 Years time the USA will be Muslim. Inshallah.

  17. It has nothing to do with the 'faith' but with the murders and conquests that spread it.

  18. Mohammed26/5/11


    That isn't true, a cursory check on google will prove you wrong. It was foretold by God in Al Quran. You obviously did not study history at university, or you'd know how Islam spread and why Muslims never leave the faith.

    Being a Muslim is making love with God. We have a unique spirit, that merges with God. That is the secret of Islam's enduring power.

    You Jews too when you feared God had the same power. 10% of Roman empire converted to Judaism.

    Islam and Judaism is the same religon, when God gave alQuran to us, he said i'm giving you the REMINDER. It was revealed. Not new. Prophet Moses is mentioned more times in al Quran than God.

    You are fighting God when you fight Islam. Remember Khaybar.

    Historian De Lacy O’Leary in the book “Islam at the crossroad”:
    “History makes it clear however, that the legend of fanatical Muslims sweeping through the world and forcing Islam at the point of the sword upon conquered races is one of the most fantastically absurd myth that historians have ever repeated.”

    Jostaf Lopond, in his book, The Arabs Civilization, states,
    “' Force was never a factor in the spread of the Glorious Quran. In fact, Arabs left the freedom of choice to the people they overcome and conquered. Some of the Christians, who converted to Islam and took the Arabic language as a medium of communication, were merely impressed with
    the Arabs conquerors' justice.
    (Ibid, page 314).


    A. J. Arberry
    (Aspects of Islamic Civilization, p.12):
    The rapidity of the spread of Islam, noticeably through extensive
    provinces which had been long Christian, is a crucial fact of history..

    The sublime rhetoric of the Quran, that inimitable symphony, the very
    sounds of which move men to tears and ecstasy". (M. Pickhtal, The Meaningof the Glorious Quran, p.vii)

    Arberry continues:

    This, and the urgency of the simple message carried, holds the key to the mystery of one of the greatest catalysms in the history of religion. When all military, political and economic factors have been exhausted, the
    religious impulse must still be recognized as the most vital and enduring.

    Rosenthal (Political Thought in Medieval Islam, p.21):
    "The more important factor for the spread of Islam is religious law of
    Islam (Sharia which is an inclusive, all-embracing, all-comprehensive way of thinking and living) which was designed to cover all manifestations of

  19. Islam spread by the sword. Muslims do leave the faith. Why else would there be a death penalty for leaving.

    Both of those practices still exist today. Islamic terror and violence against Muslims who leave Islam.

    Islam and Judaism are not the same religion. You took pieces of Judaism and Christianity, combined them with existing pagan religions and tribal customs, and used them to hammer together a clumsy imitation. And clumsy is the word.

    We remember Khaybar. But we're not terribly impressed by massacres. Or by pagan lunatics who think that massacring us makes them right.

    We predate you and we'll postdate you. And we'll be worshiping G-d long after Islam and your mullahs and imams are gone. So it has been. So it will be.

  20. A great reply Daniel, you put the Muslo-nazi in his place!

    Here's a kind of joke:

    A Muslim Imam came up to Gene Roddenberry and complimented him on his great new space saga: Star Trek.
    He said how he admired the characters and plots but was disappointed there were no Muslims in the cast and asked why.

    Gene Roddenberry looked at him and said: "Because Star Trek takes place in the future" and walked away.

  21. Daniel27/5/11


    "We predate you and we'll postdate you. And we'll be worshiping G-d long after Islam and your mullahs"

    I could go through all your prophecies which your people cannot read or propheciese simply because of your lack of spirituality.

    Islam and we will exist when every enemy of God is gone. Thus it was as foretold, thus it shall be.

    The difference between us, you have false prophecies, where we do not. Islam's prophecies do not fail. Every one comes to pass as foretold.

    We know what the outcome of this time shall be. You do not, that is why you have make allieances with pagans and idolators who eventually will let you down.

    Your problem is your lack of connection with God.

    We have that.

  22. Dude, you have no prophets

    Your prophets are our prophets. You can't even read what they wrote in the original.

    Lack of spirituality? Sure say the people who worship death.

    Pagans and idolators? You mean the rock you worship and the other rocks you stone. Newsflash. You're still pagans. You just dress it up in talk of a God that you borrowed from us.

    If you had a connection to G-d, you wouldn't live or act the way you do. Anyone only need look at the Muslim world to see a godless hellhole.

    But by all means keep trying to slaughter your way to heaven. It's worked so well for you over the years.

    And in no possible way can trying to massacre the people of G-d backfire on you. Just like it didn't on the pharaohs, the roman empire or the third reich.

  23. Daniel, these Muslims speak of god
    but he isn't the G-d of Israel their god is the "Great Deceiver":


  24. Mohammed27/5/11


    Sorry I used the Daniel instead of Mohammed.

    It's true your Prophets are ours, we love them all, but Mohammed was the only one sent to Ibrahim's other son, Ishmael, for the whole of humanity. God wanted us to work together to spread his light, not for us to try to kill the light of one. Whomever atempts that, fails.

    The Quran warns us that most Book people are in the wrong, that is why i'm saying this. Those who follow Prophet Musa are few. Don't be amongst the losers.

    Your Rabbis count Muslims as Bnei Noach, so you know we are not idolators. We do not worship the Kaaaba any more than you worship the Kotel. We use them to pray to God.

    Do you dendy that most Jews have abandonded their faith? You lost Israel because you could't keep the law. Now you want us to dump the law. We will not.

    Instead of fighing God, seek God, and you sell see Islam is not your enemy. God is in Torah too. But you don't follow it. You seek allies amongst pagans like the Khaybar traitors did, and try to fight Islam. YOu will fail.

    Seek God before it is too late.

  25. You might want to do the math on that.

    When all your prophets but one were sent to Isaac's son, you're probably stealing someone else's religion. Which is tacky. But then persecuting and killing the people whose religion you stole. Not nice at all.

    Bnai Noach? Really.

    You guys missed out on the ban on murder.

    The Kotel is the remains of a house of worship. It's not a magical rock worshiped by pagans and incorporated by Muslims into their religion.

    Nor do we offer up our children's blood to Astarte/Ashura. Or stone each other to death as a sacrifice to the devil.

    Dump the law? The only law you have is a botched version. And you don't follow it either. Your leaders just use it as justification for power and greed.

    Seek God? We already know Him. We knew him thousands of years ago when you were slitting each other's throats over a few coins. We know Him today when you haven't changed one bit, even though you call yourselves Muslims.

    You want to show us that Islam is not the enemy. Stop making war on us.

    But you can't stop the violence. It's the only religion you have. All you can do is chant Khaybar, Khaybar Ya Yahood. Remembering your crimes. Glorying in your atrocities.

    Enjoy it while it lasts. In the end all evil will fall. And the day will come when Mecca will lie beneath the sands. While G-d will claim his own.

  26. Mohammed27/5/11


    "When all your prophets but one were sent to Isaac's son, you're probably stealing someone else's religion. Which is tacky. But then persecuting and killing the people whose religion you stole. Not nice at all."

    Islam began with Adam. You are arrogant in assuming nobody had God guiding them before Eshaq or before the revelation at Sinai.

    Are you Jewish? Are you saying your Rabbi's are wrong then? just curious, to learn your point of view.

    Mecca under the sands is nowhere mentioned to you. Yet another fake prophecy, like I said stop believing in idolatry and fairy stories.

    You are telling me, God will claim YOU as his own? Now you claim to know God's judgement too. Sheer arrogance.

  27. Islam began with Mohammed. Trying to claim an origin with Adam won't hide that.

    Your scholars should have removed all the Jewish prophets and invented new ones, if you were going to claim any origin before Mohammed. As it is you're still stuck with a long list of Jewish prophets.

    Stop believing in idolatry and fairy stories? Good advice. And stop worshiping a black rock from pagan times and offering up your children's blood to an ancient idolatrous festival.

    Sheer arrogance. You mean like your claims above. Or like stealing another people's religion and then trying to kill them too.

  28. Mohammed29/5/11

    Why do you keep accusing me of wanting to kill you. I don't want to kill you. Do you see me accusing you of wanting to kill me just because Baruch Goldstein, Dov Lior, and Kahane say we should be killed?

    does the Torah approve of collective punishment are you saying? So I can blame all Jews for your sins then?

  29. Right. How many times did you mention "Remember Khaybar"

    But I'm not talking about you, but your fun wacky religion which is enthusiastic about killing people.

    And I don't just mean in the end of days "Oh Abdullah, there is a Jew hiding behind me come and kill him" way...

    but in the present tense way.

  30. Does a muslim who fails in taqiyya gets his head chopped off, or an underage wife to slap around?
    I always mix this part up :)

  31. Daniel, to be fair the genocidal antisemitic verses in Islam are, I believe, only found in the hadiths.
    Unfortunately, these verses have been deemed "authoritative". I have heard one Iranian Muslim state that the hadiths are "bullshit". However even if he was telling the truth and not merely lying for his infidel/kuffar audience, the fact is the genocidally antisemitic verses in the hadiths are "authoritative" and quoted as such.

  32. Fascinating article, this is the one thing that has always eluded me, when ever I read comments by progressives fanatically supporting Muslims, is how the Left could ally with a force so completely and entirely antithetical to its own beliefs and ideas. Let alone presume that they'd win out after it came down to just them and Islam.


Post a Comment

You May Also Like