chapter  9
21 Pages

Hijacking Islam: the search for a new Soviet Interpretation of political Islam in 1980: Hanna E. Jansen and Michael Kemper


Soviet Oriental studies were always having trouble in explaining the attraction of Islam. With the rise of political Islam in the Middle East in the 1970s, Marxist scholars found themselves confronted with new problems: it seemed that in the Orient, Islam was more and more regarded as an independent political and economic system – and one capable of replacing socialism as the major alternative to Western capitalism. In particular the Iranian Revolution of 1978-1979 and the Islamic resistance movement against the socialist regime in Afghanistan caught the Soviets by surprise. How did Soviet Oriental studies, as the establishment responsible for explaining the Muslim world, react to these new challenges? This article analyzes the Soviet scholars’ attempts to come to a reevaluation of Islam in the single year of 1980 – still within the framework of Marxism-Leninism.