[Marxism] Marxism Digest, Vol 103, Issue 27

Jess Martin jlmartin100 at gmail.com
Tue May 15 19:12:58 MDT 2012

> On May 14, 2012, at 2:29 PM, Louis Proyect wrote:
> >
> >
> http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_162-57433131/u.s-charter-schools-tied-to-powerful-turkish-imam
> Does anyone know where Gulen fits in Islam?  He's obviously neither
> Sunni nor Shia, and, despite his tolerance, his materialism and
> secretive disciplined organization is scarcely what one expects from a
> Sufi.  So that seems to leave the Ismailis, who one only hears about
> when the (incredibly wealthy and conspicuously charitable) Aga Khan is
> occasionally mentioned.  Disturbing, when one remembers that Hassan-i-
> Sabah, the Old Man of the Mountain who directed the Assassins (named
> for him, not for hashish) was an Ismaili.
> Shane Mage

  While I cannot speak to Gulen's position, I do wish to point out that
most modern variations of Islam, including the modern version of Ismailism,
bear little to no resemblance to their past incarnations.  The variants of
Sunni and Shi'i Islam that existed in the 12th century differed greatly
from the 7th century, those variants of the 18th century differed still
further from both, and modern doctrines and organizations differ widely
across the spectrum.

The ideas of material wealth in the present world and taqiyya are practiced
among a wide variety of Islamic groups, Sunni, Shi'a and otherwise.  To
label this imam as being an Ismaili on the basis of some sort of doctrinal
process of elimination, and further to assume that he in some way, shape or
form represents a trend of thought similar to that of Hassan i Sabah, is
blithely ahistorical and succumbs to stereotypes of Islam.

As an aside, the Aga Khan Foundation, arguably the least exploitative and
most useful of NGO organizations in terms of short-term amelioration of
suffering, is run by the main modern branch of the Ismailis, which have
gone through several splits and incarnations over the centuries.

Posted in a comradely spirit of cultural and historical accuracy,

Jess Martin

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