A Marxist Exposition of Islam
ASGHARALI ENGINEER, ISLAM—MUSLIMS—INDIA, Lok Vangmaya Griha (Pvt.) Ltd., 190-B Kherwadi Main Road, Bombay 400004, pp 153. Rs 20.
THIS BOOK by Asgharali Engineer who takes care to call himself ^an unorthodox Marxist9, though sketchy and brief, is the most consistent exposition of Islam available so far. The late professor Mohammad Habib, one of the greatest historians of India, who was proud to call himself a Marxist without any cautious qualification, was the first, and up to now the only, Muslim scholar to analyze Islam through the Marxist viewpoint.1 But being a devout Muslim, his brilliant insight was circumscribed by his religious outlook. The task left unfinished by him is being fulfilled by Engineer.
It is a stock-in-trade argument of the Muslim orthodox that communism is but a corrupted version of Islam. Philosopher poets like Iqbal formulated the dichotomy of material liberation through socialism and spiritual liberation through Islam. He viewed the Russian revolution in the same manner.
Russian revolution is the negation of the present abominable society which has been rightly destroyed. But, this is the stage of negation only, i. e. Ilia. The next affirmative stage must follow, otherwise^ Russian socialism would be nothing more than the equality of the stomach. In other words it must be subjected to the transcendental principle. He fervently believed that the Russian people would, one day, take such a step.2
For him the problem of building socialism and the new man who will fashion communism is essentially the problem of building a truly religious man and a society. ^For Iqbal, this could happen only when communists renounce their profound atheism, and submit to the authority of God. Communism plus quintessential religion would generate a