Some time ago, I received an email from an old student. One of its paragraphs read:
Sir, I belong to the Marxist school of thought. Therefore, naturally I'm in favour of a communist / socialist society. But I'm not a dogmatist. I always try to keep myself sensitive to criticism. And I think that this is the right approach to Marxism: to scientifically and to objectively analyse the human society, without any personal (or at least minimum) biases. However, I'm a Muslim as well ...
Seeing an opportunity to comment on Marxism, I replied in the following way:
When you say that you are a Marxist as well as a Muslim, you are making a statement which is internally contradictory. You are either one or the other. Because Marxism, the little I understand it, has a complete philosophy on life; likewise has Islam. Their respective philosophies do not coincide at all; in fact, they are poles apart. However, that doesn't mean that a good Muslim cannot be impressed by any of the Marxist ideas at all. What cannot however happen is that you accept both philosophies at the same time. Either we have been created purposefully by God or we accidentally came into being by a chance interplay of some indefinable physical forces. How can both understandings be simultaneously correct. Either God has sent own His message to guide us or He hasn't. Both can't be simultaneously correct assertions. Therefore, I would like you to be clear about your correct position. As a Marxist too, you might accept (or tolerate) some aspects of Islam; but what you will accept would not be true Islam; its going to be just bits and pieces of it.
This was his reply:
Most of the time when I talk about Marxism to people, even if they objectively agree with me, they end up saying that it is 'un-Islamic', or, 'some / all of its ideas are in contradiction with Islamic principles', or, 'capitalism is more in line with Islamic principles than socialism'. I have really tried to think over this problem but have not come to a final conclusion. So far, I have not been able to see any fundamental contradictions between Islamic principles of societal organisation and that enshrined in a socialist system.
This was my response:
As I have mentioned in my previous reply, it may be possible that you find that there are some apparent similarities in the two approaches. That would not make you a Marxist. It would just be by default. The fact that I find some good aspects in the personality of Abu Jahal (and there were most certainly some in him) doesn't mean that I should declare that my ideals are both Muhammad (sws) and Abu Jahal. I would feel ashamed of being bracketed with the latter because of the basic blunder he committed. Likewise, in case of Marxism, if I find some good aspects in it, I would have no hesitation in mentioning that they are good because they are consistent with the spirit of Islam. However, I'll be very careful in ensuring that my fascination with Marxism is not influencing my understanding of Islam. That would mean that I am distorting the message of God because I would like it to appear more acceptable to Marxism. There is a real danger of doing just that when your mind is unclear about its ideals.
This was his reply:
I would then like to pose a question to you: 'How is a socialist system in contradiction with an Islamic system?'
My answer to his query was :
Marxism, I believe, conflicts with Islamic teachings, apart from many other areas, in the following important aspects of its understanding:
1. In its fundamental understanding of the origins of man and the universe.
2. In its refusal to grant to the individual the right to own property.
3. In its attitude of creating hatred in some men against some others.
4. In its assumption that man can work effectively even without personal incentives. (This is something that has already been proven wrong by the unsuccessful socialist experiment of the deceased USSR)
5. In its approach of granting a status to Karl Marx that belongs only to the prophets of Allah.