Stalin and Islamic Law

I came across this image on Facebook earlier today. Not the poster, but someone else was touting this as proof that Stalin supported Shari’a law. This happens fairly often because there is what is called “Islamic socialism”. Typically this ideology refers to people Mummer Kaddafi, sometimes called “Green Socialism”. Meaning, they feel it’s possibly to fuse the philosophy of Islam with Marxism, scientific socialism. This is false, Islam is a religion which is idealism, and Marxism flat out rejects this. Not to mention the fact Kaddafi had communists killed.

Unfortunately this is used as ammunition for Tea Party types who think communism and radical Islam are a conspiracy. Strangely they forget all those decades when they were screaming communism was an Atheist conspiracy. This is harmful on two levels, it fuels reactionaries and it fuels reactionary ideas among socialists. Thus it is necessary to refute this idea.

This is the image that was passed around:

Islamic Stalin

It seems pretty convincing… when you take it out of context. To the original poster’s credit (who was merely posting it, not claiming it) he provided the source and asked people what it means. It is from “The Congress of the Peoples of Daghestan”. It was about the autonomy that had been given to the nation from the Communist revolution.

In this work Stalin was responding to the accusation by the West that the Soviets had banned Shari’a law. (Ironic given how the West reacts to it in their countries.) This is what Stalin said in full context:

Now that it is able, thanks to the victory over its enemies, to occupy itself with problems of internal development, the Government of Russia considers it necessary to tell you that Daghestan must be autonomous, that it will enjoy the right of internal self-administration, while retaining its fraternal tie with the peoples of Russia.

Daghestan must be governed in accordance with its specific features, its manner of life and customs.

We are told that among the Daghestan peoples the Sharia is of great importance. We have also been informed that the enemies of Soviet power are spreading rumours that it has banned the Sharia.

I have been authorized by the Government of the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic to state here that these rumours are false. The Government of Russia gives every people the full right to govern itself on the basis of its laws and customs.

The Soviet Government considers that the Sharia, as common law, is as fully authorized as that of any other of the peoples inhabiting Russia.

If the Daghestan people desire to preserve their laws and customs, they should be preserved.

Stalin was actually making it clear that with the autonomy now gained by Daghestan, the people were free to choose it if they wished, and that it had not been banned. However, this should not be confused with a tolerance of Shari’a Law. Immediately afterward he advocated education in fighting it. He, in an indirect way, explained that it came from a lack of education and that the main goal should be to provide that education.

[…] The Soviet Government has no other object than to raise Daghestan to a higher cultural level by enlisting the co-operation of local forces.

The Soviet Government knows that the worst enemy of the people is ignorance. It is therefore necessary to create the greatest possible number of schools and organs of administration functioning in the local languages.

The Soviet Government hopes in this way to extricate the peoples of Daghestan from the quagmire of ignorance into which they were plunged by the old Russia.

It’s important to note as well that Shari’a was abolished through education, not mass murder as the West has seen fit. There were trials that prosecuted husbands who killed their wives. Women sued to have the Burka made no longer mandatory. A great source of this is Anna Louise Strong’s work The Stalin Era.

Big public trials were held of husbands who murdered wives; the pressure of the new propaganda confirmed judges who gave the death sentence for what old custom had not considered crime. The most important weapon for freeing women was, as in Russia proper, the new industrialization.

Stalin was very far from supporting Shari’a, no matter the protests by Tea Partiers. Even the 1920s Soviet Union was more progressive than America today.


Congress of the Peoples of Daghestan, Marxists Internet Archive

The Stalin Era, IV. New People,Anna Louise Strong