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Islamic Anarchism Zine

Islamic Anarchism Zine

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Published by Abu Ali

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Published by: Abu Ali on Jul 10, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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07/15/2014

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Varieties of Islamic Anarchism
A Brief Introduction
 Al-‘amr bi’l-ma’ruf wa nahy ‘an al-munkar
You shall command the right and forbid the wrong.
Quran 3: 104
 La ikraha fi ad-din
There shall be no compulsion in religion.
Quran 2: 256The following text is loosely based on a speech (originally titled “Islamand anarchism”) that I gave in Stockholm at the Anarchist Book Fair onJune 16, 2012. I’ve been working on a book about the topic for more than6 years and was encouraged by one of the workers manning a table tosimply put out a ten-page pamphlet to serve as an introduction until thebook is finished. After all, I’ve already written a chapter on Islamicanarchism in the book 
 Religious Anarchism: New Perspectives
(2009) butit’s expensive and unavailable at book fairs, libraries, etc. so a pamphletseemed like a nice idea to reach out to non-academics, activists, andindependent researchers. So here it is. Although this short introductiononly scratches the surface, it can hopefully provide a general outline andimpetus for further research. I don’t self-identify as either Muslim oranarchist and I’m not an expert in the study of either Islam or anarchism. Iwould simply like to share what little I feel that I have learned. Thepurpose is not to advocate any particular type of Islam or anarchism butinstead to help broaden our potential for understanding either of them or,if nothing else, the historical interaction and parallels between them. Iknow that as soon as I open my mouth, I’m bound to say somethingwrong or inaccurate so if you see something that you’d like to correct,add, or comment on then drop me a line (my first name [dot] last name@gmail.com). Many thanks to all who made this possible (includingGabriel Kuhn for copyediting and Mohamed Jean Veneuse for feedback).-Anthony T. Fiscella, N© (copyleft) 2012
How shall one begin to discuss an interaction between two complexcultures and social phenomena, each with their own local variations,internal disputes, and challenges to their respective canons?Sometimes it can be good to start off at a spot close to home. In mycase that would be the country I live in: Sweden. Though it may
 
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seem like an unlikely place to begin talking about Islam andanarchism, if we go back to the 1800s, we’ll see that Swedenhappens to be the birthplace of Ivan Aguéli, perhaps the firstanarchist to convert to Islam. Born on May 24, 1869 (as John Gustaf Agelii) in a tiny town named Sala, he developed an early interest inreligion, politics, and literature. From Dostoyevsky to Tolstoy andfrom Nietzsche to Swedenborg, he explored new ideas ravenously.His curious mind carried him to France where he joined theTheosophical Society and then to London where he met the anarchistphilosopher Peter Kropotkin in 1891. He began reading the Quranaround 1892 and converted to Islam by 1897. Aguéli usually wroteabout Islam and anarchism without connecting them to one another
1
 such as when he publically advocated syndicalism
2
: “We havealready received the solution of our generation. The union of individualism and solidarity… This union is called syndicalism andit is the only possible form of cooperation between socialism andanarchy.” Yet there were occasionally moments of vague overlap inhis Western and Eastern
3
paradigms such as when he wrote that oneof his favorite thinkers “Ibn ‘Arabi was a feminist,” and, aftershooting a matador in protest against animal abuse, defiantly toldFrench authorities “My fatherland is the universe.”Born eight years after Aguéli there was another young anarchistwho, fathered by a Russian acquaintance of anarchist MikhailBakunin, grew up in Geneva. Her name was Isabelle Eberhardt andher unconventional upbringing combined with a tomboy spirit whichled to an early expression of “queer”: She dressed as a male whenshe felt like it and, when she converted to Islam around 1896-97, shetook on a male name (Mahmoud Saadi). She moved to Algeria andbegan a lifestyle of purported promiscuity, smoking
kif 
(hashish),cross-dressing, and journeying across the North African desert byhorse.
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This dual identity in which the two parts seldom meet appears in others suchas contemporary U.S. prison activist Ali Khalid Abdullah who self-identifies asboth Muslim and anarchist and writes about both topics but rarely together.
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Syndicalism is a form of labor union intended to replace capitalism byorganizing the various trades on principles of direct action and confederation.
3
The distinctions “West” and “East” are very problematic –even fictitious– butare used (loosely) here for the sake of convenience and brevity.

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