Islam and the Communist World

22 ISLAM AND THE COMMUNIST WORLD (Muhammad Khali! Sheikh) This is a controversial topic which- can only be fully grasped if one can perceive it in its fullest sense projected by the fundamentals of Communism and compare it rationally with the philosophy of the teachings of Islam. Why I emphasise on Islam rather than isolating Ahmadiyyat as an entity is simply because one has to understand all about Islam before embracing Ahmadiyyat. I am not going to write about the beauty of Ahmadiyyat and focus your attention on what the Holy Founder of the Movement has brought to this earth to revive Islam but on the contrary I shall enlighten you on certain aspects of the teachings which would be used as materialistic proof invariably documented and preserved in our religious books and doctrines. Communism is not a religion whereas Islam is a universal religion practised all over the world and is the fastest growing religion in the world. Islam has no parallel and it is held in high esteem. Islam is the only religion which presents its scripture, the Holy Quran, in its original form without any additions or alterations. Let me throw some light on Communism. Communism is a social system and a modern political movement and ideology. A communist or communal social system is based on the ownership of property by the community and not by individuals, with the benefits of the system distributed in accordance with the common good. Communism as a political movement which received its impetus during World War I, when followers of modern Communist ideology seized power in Russia and attempted-to build-a World Communist Society. Some of the Communist Countries areU.S.S.R., Mongolia, China, Vietnam, Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Czechoslavakia and East Germany. There are small pockets of Communist parties spread all over the world but do not have the political control of the country other than having their presence felt. The Communist society is totalitarian, all spheres of life being under the jurisdiction of the Party and the State. As a result, what may be called the associational life of the Communist differ markedly from that found in countries where the jurisdiction of the State is limited by law and tradition. The long range Communist policy on religion is based on Marxist REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 2.3 contention that, because religion is illusory, it must be eliminated from the beliefs of man. But, since most Russians were believers at the time of the Revolution, it was agreed that, although organized religion should be deprived of its power, those who wished to worship would be permitted to do so, but the younger generation would ‘be educated in the spirit of atheism. The Bolsheviks had no experience of any pure rational religions. They identified all religions with the most corrupt version of Christianity. When Karl Marx wrote the words Religion is the Opium of the People he was referring to the Christian religion. Christianity was further exposed by Lubwig Feurbach in his book Essence of Christianity. [1841] When the Russians were fed up with the ways of Christianity then the Bolsheviks adopted the principle that religion is a matter for the free choice of adults. It insisted that parents have no right to, instil the principles of any religion into the heads of their children. Under this principle children are separated from their parents at an early age. They are brought up and educated under the supervision and control of the State. All reference to religion and religious doctrine is excluded from the prescribed curricul- um. The result is that a child grows up completely in an environment indifferent to religion. By the time an individual becomes an adult and is ready to make personal decisions, he is almost hostile even to the idea of religion. This attitude reflects in a system which ensures that coming generations will be confirmed atheists. The Holy Quran has alluded to this Communist point of view as follows: Among men there are some who dispute about Allah, without knowledge and follow every rebellious satan. Among men is he who disputes concerning Allah without knowledge and without guidance and without an illuninating Book. Turning his side disdainfully that he may lead men astray from the way of Allah. For him is disgrace in this world; and on the Day of Resurrection We shall make him taste the punishment of burning. (22:9, 10) The Promised Messiah, on this subject said at a gathering on May, 1 5th 1908: There is a Hadecs which says that the acquisition of knowledge is a must for every male and female Muslim. Let me first talk of the male members; it is very dangerous that one should begin to acquire worldly knowledge before having acquainted himself with religious knowledge. If the small children start with the worldly education without first knowing anything about religion, they will be totally inclined towards the worldly affairs and it is quite possible that they 24 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS may turn away from religion altogether. They may not become Christians because Trinity, Atonement and the Divinity of a human being are not acceptable to any intelligent person; but, of course, they will become atheists. How dangerous it is. It is very essential that along with the current branches of knowledge, children must be taught religion as well and the philosophy of spiritual affairs should also be made part of their studies. The current system of education has not benefited the male members, how can it be of any good to the female section. I have-my self established a school for girls, but what I feel in this respect is that it is of utmost importance that first the castle of religion must be fortified so that other (evil) influences may not disrupt life. I pray to God that He may guide everybody to the right path, taqwa and purity of the heart. (Badr, May 24, 1908) The basic lines of Soviet policy toward religion since 1917 have been consistent although the intensity of the phases through which it was to proceed has varied. Those phases, as planned, are four in number:- 1. The disestablishment of the Russian Orthodox Church, into which three fourths of the subjects of the Russian Empire had been born and in which they had been compelled by law to remain. 2. The nationalization of the property of all religious bodies, with the provision that, with governmental permission, local associations might be formed to operate churches, synagogues, or mosques (these continuing to be state property while operated by contributions of the parishioners). 3. The prohibition of organized religious instruction of the young. 4. The monopolization of the various means of education and indoctrination by the government and party, and their systematic use for the dissemination of atheism. The spirit in which these policies have been executed has changed some what from time to time. From 1917 to about 1935 religion was barely tolerated. Most religious buildings were closed or put to whatever use the authorities might designate – anti-religious museums, granaries, or clubs. Priests and rabbis were arrested by the hundreds. Only a few religious edifices remained open, serving parishioners who were mostly middle aged or elderly women, while members of the clergy were dying and not being replaced. At the same time, a new generation was being educated in a non-religious or anti-religious atmosphere. The concept of REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 25 Sunday as a day of rest was abolished. Communists being short-sighted and lacking high resolve, appoint different purposes for their lives and limit themselves to worldly goals and ambitions. But the purpose that God Almighty has appointed for man in the Holy Word is as follows: I have create/linen and jinn so that they may know Me and worship Me. (51:57) Thus the purpose of man’s life is worship of God. His understanding and complete devotion to Him. It is obvious that man is not in a position to appoint the purpose of his own life, for he does not come into the world of his own accord, nor will he depart therefrom of his own will. He is a creature and the One Who created him and invested him with better and higher faculties than those of all other animals,.has also appointed a purpose of his life. Whether anyone comprehends it or not, the purpose of man’s creation without a doubt is the worship and the understanding of God and complete devotion to Him. At another place God Almighty has said in the Holy Quran:, The religion which provides true understanding of God and prescribes His true worship is Islam. (3:20) Islam is inherent in man’s nature and man has been created in accord with Islam. That is the everlasting faith. (30:30-31) This means that God has desired that man should devote himself to His worship and obedience and love with all his faculties. Ahmadiyyat teaches that one must learn to find God, whereas Communism teaches you to denounce God, the Creator: Unto Him alone is the true prayer, as He has the power to do all things. Those on whom they call beside Him, do not respond to them at all. Their case is like that of one who stretches forth his hand towards water that it may reach his mouth but reaches it not. The prayers of those who are unaware of the True God are but a delusion. (13:15) Turning back to the life of early Muslims in the Communist world, I must say that the Muslim countries were brought under the control of the Communist government. In- order to destroy that national entity of the 26 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS people the Communists divided each Muslim country into small frag- ments. Thus the Muslim nation composed of people tied together with common language, race, religion, culture etc. were divided into smaller units and each unit was made a separate nation. There is a large population of Muslims under Russian religious oppression. This mass consists of Muslims in Western Turkistan, Idil-Ural, Trans-Caucasia, Azerbaijan and Crimea. These countries adjoin one another. Besides, there are multitudes of Muslims in Siberia which was annexed to Russian Empire early in 18 50..Some of the smaller countries had to suffer a lot under the Communist Regime. Some Muslims were given upto 24 hours only to pack up and leave for Siberia under armed supervision. The Communist Regime, thus put an axe on the solidarity of .Russian Muslim Nations. The Russian Muslims were divided and annihilated completely. The bold Muslims who resisted the Communist tactics were labelled as traitors and punished with execution or exile. Some devout Muslims, Muslim army officers, Muslim intelligentsia, who did not accept the Communist Regime wholeheartedly were killed. Their families were deported to Siberia. Some Muslims were deported from their homeland to Tundra regions under the control of the army. They were asked to work in mines. They died due to extreme cold weather and starvation. The Communist Regime thus disintegrated and annihilated the Muslim population in Russia. This was one successful Communist move to break the unity of Muslims. Who has broken whose unity is something time has told. Nothing can work against the religion of Allah. In the new generation Ahmadiyyat has sprung up to revive Islam. Look at the prophecy of the Promised Messiah: I shall ’cause thy message to reach the corners of the Earth. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Holy Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam pronounced: Hear ye people and bear witness to it that God Almighty, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, has foretold me that He shall spread His own Ahmadiyya Movement in all parts of the world and make it triumphant over all religions by dint of reason and arguments. The days are approaching, rather they are at hand when Islam will be the only religion held in esteem by all. God shall bless this religion (Islam) and this Movement (Ahmadiyya) in an extraordinary manner. There shall be only one religion, Islam and one guide, the REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 27 Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him). I was raised only to sow the seed for the revival of Islam and I have done it, Islam shall grow now and flourish and no one can check its growth. (Tazkiratul Shahadatin, English p.65) Regardless of what the political situation in Communist countries is today, Allah has chosen Islam for mankind: Surely the true religion with Allah is Islam. (3:20) And whosoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it shall not be accepted from Him. (3:86) Mankind being one; all people are born inclined in nature (Fitrat) towards Islam, irrespective of country, race or creed: God is One and humanity is one. This is Fitrat Allah or Dinul Fitrah – the religion which is rooted in the nature of man and to which he conforms and instinctively reacts. It is in this religion that a child is born with, but his environment, the ideas and beliefs of his parents and the training he receives from them subsequently make him a Jew, a Magian or a Christian. (Bukhari) Whereas a Communist looks at this world as the only world, being material and an end in itself, a Muslim fervently prays: And of them there are some who say Our Lord, grant us good in this world as well ns good in the world to come, and save us from the torment of fire. (Quran 2:202) Muslims in the Communist world have always been under discontent. During the Tsarist Regime they were subjected to brutality under the Cross Now during the Communist era the Muslim are continuously suffering under the Hammer and Sickle. The Muslims are now becoming a growing concern for the Soviet Union because the Soviet Muslims are concentrated in the USSR’s strategic Southern border regions and are maintaining ties with Muslim people in the neighbouring countries. Mr Gorbachev, the present Communist leader, gave a speech at Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. He called for a firm and uncompromis- ing, struggle against religious phenomena. Then he said, We must be strict above all with Communists and senior officials, particularly those who say they defend out of morality and ideals but in fact help promote backward views and themselves take part in religious ceremonies. This was Mr Gorbachev’s first- pronouncement on Islam since he took office in 1 985. Indeed, according 28 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS to Kremlin watchers, it is rare for a Soviet General Secretary to attack religion so directly. It has been noticed that Russia’s struggle against religion has not been going well. Moreover, the fact that Mr Gorbachev chose Tashkent as the place to attack religion indicated that the Soviet leadership is specifically fearful about the currents of fundamentalist zealotry sweeping the Muslim world which might eventually infect the fast-growing nationalities of Soviet Central Asia. (Time Magazine, 12th January, 1987) Islam is strong and growing in the Soviet Union. More and more Muslims are taking Friday off to go to mosques. They are taking the Holy month of Ramazan more seriously. However, those who are still followers of old reactionary rituals now try to make the practices more acceptable to the Soviets by dieting and five daily ritual prayers of prostration are termed calisthenics. Ahmadiyyat teaches preaching. You ought to impart the teachings of your religion to others – Communism suppresses this right and you cannot communicate your beliefs openly to others. Anti-religious and Atheistic propaganda is encouraged and made lawful in the Soviet Union constitution. Religious propagational activity is hampered, hindered and made unlawful. Clause 6 of the Soviet Constitution states against all democratic rights of people. Islam is still very much alive in the Communist world by the will of Almighty Allah. The older Muslim generation is shouldering the responsi- bility to bring up the oncoming generation. But the old generation of devout muslims is continuing to dwindle and the upcoming generation needs to strive hard to hold fast to the kindled torch of Islam. Today Ahmadiyyat has re-kindled that torch of Islam and the light will shine in every corners of the Communist world. In his Friday sermon on 21 st November 1986, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IV devoted a portion of his address explaining that the followers of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) are endowed with three distinctive features which make them better than other people. He eleborated on the first characteristic which makes Muslims better than others because they do not ask others to serve them but rather feel obliged to serve mankind at large irrespective of race, colour or creed. The second distinctive feature is that Muslims always persuade others to do good and abstain from evil. By good and evil here simply .mean the universally regarded good and evil characteristics of any nation, religion, REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 29 anywhere and in any part of the world. The third feature which makes Muslims better than others is their firm belief that Allah is One, Omnipotent, Omnipresent and Omniscient. The third feature distinguishes them from people living in Russia where the concept of no God is in vogue these days. Thus Hazrat Khalifatul Massih IV pronounced that according to the Holy Quran the followers of Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) are certainly the best people for they are raised for the good of mankind in as much as they seek pleasure in serving mankind, they ask others to do good and stay away from evil. Also, they believe in God. Ahmadees, being the true followers of the Holy Prophet of Islam,’have a challenge to meet in the criteria of being the best people raised for the good of mankind. They should be at the service of mankind, ask others to do good and abstain from evil, and also proclaim the Oneness of Allah throughout the world. It is, therefore, the genuine interest and concern of the’Ahmadiyya Movement that people living in Russia should also come into the fold of one God. The Ahmadiyya Movement is the torch bearer of Islam. It is a matter of time, God willing, the people of Soviet Union will accept Islam through the preaching activities of Ahmadiyya Movement. Long ago an Ahmadiyya missionary was sent to Russia but he was put in prison and ill-treated for a long time. He was kept in captivity for two years and two months then pushed across the border out of Russia. There has been secrecy surrounding the Russian Society, but recently Mr. Gorbachev has openly condemed the party mistakes of the past. It appears that he is determined to introduce key changes in the Soviet system. This is a very healthy sign. There are certain prophecies that the people of the Soviet Union will be blessed with belief in One God through the missionary activities of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam. The Promised Messiah prophesied that a day will come when the Czar of Russia would meet a tragic -end. Subsequently he was overthrown by the Bolsheviks. Today the Communist world has seen dramatic changes. In the political scene every newspaper or television report cover the happenings in at least one Communist country. People power is crushing Commu- nism. Democracy is what people are after and not to be ruled under the Communist Regime. Look at East Germany today. After forty years of Communist rule the country is in turmoil and the Berlin wall has come down. Another barrier for Ahmadiyyat has been crushed. Countries like Poland have seen a swing towards democracy. The political climate in (continued on page 32)

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