[Marxism] Lenin on Islam

Loupaulsen at sbcglobal.net Loupaulsen at sbcglobal.net
Fri Aug 18 22:04:05 MDT 2006

Louis Proyect:
I was just quoting Lenin, you know. Maybe your beef is with him. 

Well, you quoted Lenin writing, as a Russian communist, in Russia, about the
established Russian Orthodox Church.  On the other hand, what did Lenin
write about Islam?  Let us see:

In 1917: 

An appeal to the Islamic workers of Russia and the East, published under
Lenin's and Stalin's signatures:

`From now on, your beliefs and your customs, your national and cultural
institutions, are declared free and inviolable. Go, organize your national
life, freely and without fetters.... You must become the masters in your own
countries. . . . Your destiny is in your hands.'

This is excerpted here
http://www.marxists.org/archive/serge/1930/year-one/ch04.htm by Serge, and
was referred to by a speaker at the Baku Congress, but I haven't found the
whole document.

In 1919:

"Comrades, I am very glad of the opportunity to greet this Congress of
Communist comrades representing Moslem organisations of the East, and to say
a few words about the situation now obtaining in Russia and throughout the
world. The subject of my address is current affairs, and it seems to me that
the most essential aspects of this question at present are the attitude of
the peoples of the East to imperialism, and the revolutionary movement among
those peoples...." 

(I won't quote any more of the speech, but I will point out that Lenin
doesn't think it's a contradiction to talk about "Communist comrades
representing Muslim organizations", and he doesn't mention anti-religious
propaganda anywhere in the speech - it's all about fighting imperialism and
establishing the Soviet power.)


In 1921:
Comrade Chicherin:
I fully agree with you.[1] Draft or have someone draft such a circular
(could it include the whole of Narimanov's speech, or at least its
recommendation-this is worse than the whole).
Motion this in the C.C.
It is necessary.

(What was necessary? Here is a footnote: 
A reference to Chicherin's letter to the R.C.P.(B.) Central Committee,
received by Lenin, in which Chicherin proposed that a special circular,
urging the need for tact and care not to offend the Moslems' religious
feelings in conducting anti-religious propaganda, should be sent to the
Party organisations of the republics and regions with a Moslem population.
Chicherin referred to a speech by N. N. Narimanov as a model of the tactful
approach to Moslems. In Chicherin's letter Lenin underscored the passages
proposing the publication of the circular and characterising Narimanov's
speech (Central Party Archives of the Institute of Marxism-Leninism of the
C.P.S.U. Central Committee).


And now a little from Trotsky, a speech in 1919.  I think the notes in
brackets are Trotsky's own notes for the book "How the Revolution Armed


Comrade Zinoviev mentioned the events in Caucasia. In this connection I
cannot refrain from reading to you a fresh piece of news which I received by
telegraph, the evening before last, from one of the outstanding workers of
Transcaucasia, who has now made his way into Soviet Russia. He is a very
well- informed comrade, a native of Caucasia, who, on the basis of his
personal observations during the period of more than a year when he was cut
off from us, presents a picture of what is happening at present in Caucasia:

'Public opinion throughout Caucasia is focused on the revolt of the mountain
peoples of Caucasia-the Daghestanis, Ingushes, Chechens and Kabardians-which
began at the end of August. The inspirers and leaders of the revolt are the
spiritual leaders [The 'spiritual leaders' referred to here were the Moslem
mullahs.] of the hillmen, who have always marched with the people and for
the people. Apart from a handful of traitors from among the officers, who
have sold themselves to Denikin, all sections of the mountain peoples,
without help from any quarter but driven to desperation by Denikin's
atrocities, have resolutely refused to pay the contribution imposed on them,
or to provide the regiments demanded of them, to fight against the Soviet
power. With no arms except rifles and daggers, that is, without machine-guns
or artillery, they have hurled themselves into bloody battle against the
Cossack officer bands, being resolved either to conquer or to die. Universal
enthusiasm, attaining the level of fanaticism, has seized hold even of the
women, children and old men, who have taken on all the complex work of
bringing supplies to the front and the rebel units, since all the men are
under arms. In bullock-carts and on horses, the feeblest of the inhabitants
are conveying to the front, for the warriors, everything that they possess
in the mountain villages. Victory after victory is inspiring the rebels, who
have displayed marvels of heroism, and the immense amount of war booty
captured is strengthening their units, providing them with arms, of which
the hillmen have very few. In a series of battles the Daghestanis alone have
captured more than three million cartridges, sixteen pieces of artillery and
several dozen machine-guns. They have annihilated the entire garrison of a
mountain stronghold in Daghestan, killing more than 3,000 Cossacks.
According to reports received by the White-Guard newspaper Azerbaidzhan, a
large-scale battle took place on September 28, before Grozny, between the
rebel hillmen and four regiments of Shkuro's corps which had been specially
transferred there from the Soviet front in order to put down the hillmen's
revolt. Very many trophies were taken: 28 guns, 31 machine-guns, 48,000
rifles, a large quantity of ammunition and carts: 800 men were taken
prisoner and cut to pieces, and the remnant of the Volunteers retreated to
Kizlyar. By October 7, the rebels had cleared Denikin's men out of their
fortified strongpoints and captured the towns of Grozny,
Temir-Khan-Shura[Temir-Khan-Shura, in Daghestan, is now called Buinaksk] and

There, comrades, is a picture of the events that are now in progress in
Caucasia. A mighty rebellion has broken out in Denikin's immediate rear. And
we read here that he has taken a part of Shkuro's corps, his best fighting
units, from the Soviet front and shifted them down there. Furthermore,
Mamontov's representative has declared in Azerbaidzhan [Azerbaidzhan was
ruled at this time by a Moslem nationalist party which, while
anti-Bolshevik, was also opposed to Denikin, with his slogan of 'Russia one
and indivisible', and gave 'fraternal assistance' to the hillmen of the
Caucasus who were fighting against him.] that if they do not act immediately
against the revolt of the hillmen, Denikin will detach another corps from
the Soviet front in order to crush all Azerbaidzhan. Thus, our Southern
front has had added to it several new Red divisions, which we did not form,
or arm, or transfer from other fronts. These are the hillmen, the
freedom-loving poor peasants of the mountains who have risen against the
insults, oppression and torture inflicted on them by Denikin's bands, and we
say to them: 'Welcome, comrade hillmen, our new allies, take an honoured
place in our Soviet family.'

- - -
In short, Lenin was concerned about Russian Orthodoxy - the established
religion of Russia - but hardly at all about Islam, the religion of the
peoples oppressed by Russia.

Lou Paulsen

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