Can One Be A Muslim & A Communist?

25 May, 2017
Q Salam aleykum, What is the view of Communism according to Islam? Can one be a Muslim and a communist at the same time?


Salam Brother,

Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.

Communism is a political ideology based on Karl Marx’s materialistic view of history. According to Marx, historical events are the product of the conflict between differing classes existing in society.

Marx and his collaborator Engels in their “Communist Manifesto” wrote, “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles” – i.e the struggles between those who have property and those who don’t have – “the haves and the have nots” – or between the capitalists and the workers.

Marx believed that the tension between the ruling class and the working class would eventually reach a boiling point, leading to a socialist revolution.

This, in turn, would cause the rise of a system of government in which the majority of the people, consisting of the workers, would dominate. Marx termed this the “dictatorship of the proletariat”.

From this situation, a classless utopia would emerge, causing the withering away of the state or government.

The first problem we as Muslims come across in communism is the crass materialism on which it is founded. The communists reject God, the human soul, and the life hereafter.  They ridicule the human need for Divine guidance and consider religion “the opium of the people”.

One may ask: If we adopt just the economic program of communism, rejecting their foundational philosophy, how can it affect our religious beliefs and practices?

The answer is that their economic system cannot be separated from their world view or their outlook upon the life of a people. Their economics is a kind of militant atheism; and the Marxian ideology of dialectical materialism is presented as the only driving force behind all human progress that humankind has achieved so far, or humans can achieve in future.

Rejecting all concepts of God, His apostles, and their messages; communists assert communism to be the winner of the ongoing ideological battle. They assert that by changing the economic circumstances, we can create a good social system.  

When, in fact, their materialistic analysis of history utterly fails to prove communistic ideals. For instance, to explain the rise of Islam in Arabia; because the socio-political revolution ushered in by the Prophet was completely outside the scope of the Communist theory of economical relationships.

How could religion, which Marx dismissed as ‘the opium of the people’, set in motion an overwhelmingly powerful movement that swept over half of the known world? Completely disproving the Marxian principle of dialectical materialism, the Prophet effected a complete change of the existing socio-political system prevailing in Arabia, bringing about a revolution in the whole of human existence as it were.

Muslims cannot accept the Communist dictum that their destiny is at the mercy of opposing economic forces, leaving out God’s Will altogether. Unlike Marxism, The Holy Quran teaches that human beings are Allah Almighty’s khalifah (ambassador) on earth, possessing freewill and the creative potential (within limits) that Allah bestowed on the human being.

Inspired by Divine Guidance, humans can move forward to change the circumstances of their existence, ignoring or sweeping aside the prevailing economic conditions. Allah says in the Quran:

{Verily, We did offer the trust [of reason and volition] to the heavens, and the earth, and the mountains: but they refused to bear it because they were afraid of it. Yet man took it up – for, verily, he has always been prone to be most wicked, most foolish.} (Quran 33:72)

The above verse means, among other things, that Allah Almighty entrusted humans with certain responsibilities, ensuing from the amanah (of reason and freewill) He gave them. That is to say, humans are given the ability to choose, to acquire knowledge, and to use that knowledge to change the circumstances of their life.

And thus they can realize their potential as God’s khalifah on earth, and do their best to live up to the mandate of ruling the earth. In short, Muslims cannot rule out the role of humans in effecting changes in society, trusting an inexorable economic law to bring in a revolution, however desirable it may be.

The Islamic position on communism does not in any way mean that Islam does not give any importance to the economic factor in human life. Certainly Islam acknowledges and understands the importance of a good economic basis for any improvement in the social life of a community.

But it firmly rejects the idea that man is simply “an economic animal”, which is the basis not only of Communism, but also of Capitalism. Islam does not teach that if economic conditions of a people are improved, all the ills of the society are cured.

Economics, with all its significance, is still only one aspect of human life. There are other important areas of human life such as the spiritual and cultural spheres, where too there are issues to be addressed. Mere economic solutions can do little in these areas.

Islam lays a great deal of emphasis on the moral values that should direct the affairs of human life. This is needed for any society that wishes to live in a world filled with kindness, generosity, and love.

The spiritual force of Islam has proven time and again that it is a powerful agent of change par excellence. Unlike Communism that downplays the role of the individual in social change, Islam begins any social change at the level of the individual. The Guidance of Allah in the form of the Quran addresses each individual human.

Essentially it is by effecting a revolution in the mind, heart, and soul of individual human beings that Islam paves the way for a social change. How can a Muslim go after the communist ideology, knowing that it wants to set aside and stealthily replace Divine Guidance and the Example of the Prophet?

Certainly not.

And Allah knows best. I hope this helps answer your question. Please keep in touch. Salam. 

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

Rights of Workers in Islam

Zakah and the Economic System in Islam

The Global Economic Crisis – Steps Every Muslim Should Take

About Professor Shahul Hameed
Professor Shahul Hameed is an Islamic consultant. He also held the position of the President of the Kerala Islamic Mission, Calicut, India. He is the author of three books on Islam published in the Malayalam language. His books are on comparative religion, the status of women, and science and human values.