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Communism and Islam

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The Oxford Dictionary of Islam What is This? Covers the religious, political, and social spheres of global Islam in the modern world

    Communism and Islam

    Communists in the Muslim world have generally proclaimed official atheism and opposed established religious hierarchies. From the 1940s through the 1960s, Communists and Islamists sometimes joined forces in opposing colonialism and seeking national independence. Communists were most successful in Central Asia, where Soviet rule in 1920s led to secularization, destruction of patriarchal family structures, and the creation of a proletarian workforce and social ownership via industrialization. Detachment from other Islamic societies was caused by the Soviet emphasis on ethnicity, territorial frontiers, and standardization of languages. The antireligious policies of the Soviet state combined with relative isolation from historic Islamic centers of learning drastically reduced the number of ulama in Central Asia and transformed Islamic identification into a set of customary observances coupled with ethnicity. Islamic identity as a form of ethnicity was also found in Communist-ruled China, Yugoslavia, Albania, and Afghanistan. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 led to the reemergence of independent states with renewed Muslim identity across Central Asia.

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