Marxism vs Islam (and christianity and evangelism and Rastafarianism and so on)

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Marxism vs Islam (and christianity and evangelism and Rastafarianism and so on)
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I found a link to the 'Marxism and Islam' stream a little while ago having missed the stream originally.  I read with interest but was surprised to see how much focus there was on the originators of religions and what their intentions were.   Its ok to accept that we recognise that individuals use religion as a comfort and as a way to try to understand the world but it is still a mystified world view.   Whilst I would not pretend to have a detailed knowledge of the history of religions, there are a few points Id like to make.   

I found Dawkins’ materials an interesting read in that he at least is rejecting the supernatural interpretations of the world but what he intentionally avoids is a social/political interpretation of religions’ role in society and I feel that that is what some of the discussion in the earlier does too.  Only jk seemed to approach things in this way

Surely what Jesus and Mohammed thought is pretty irrelevant to us.  What context they emerged in, what role their movements played in society and what their followers (in history) have done with the mythology is.

Islam’s origins  lie in feudal times and this remains reflected in its ideas and practice today.   A far as I understand it, Mohammed was a feudal ruler who successfully developed  a new code of behaviour to strengthen himself and his regime.  He was an element in the  ascendant phase of feudalism. Its feudal origins appear in its perspectives of a unification of religion and the state and the consequent attempt to control and codify the behaviour (subservience) and the lifestyles of its population it rules over.  Albeit without creating legal category of serfs as such, this approach is a feudal approach to civil society.  Whilst religion may not be have been essential for feudal authority, it did provide a strong support for feudal structures and was in most parts of the world  a key element in systems for learning, education and social control.   Islam is a theocracy in a similar vein to the catholic church  in its heyday whose structure and practice was also determined by its roots in feudalism.  

As the state’s role in capitalism has expanded over the last decade, islam, with its retained focus on political power in the state,   has been particularly suited to taking over the management of state capitalism and has become an ideal representative of state capitalism

Catholicism performed a similar role to islam in  feudalism  but with the emergence of capitalism in Europe, it was changed dramatically by the new social relations that were developing and confronted by the direct challenge of protestantism which was a more appropriate to the emergent capitalism.  Islam does not appear to have experienced such a challenge, ie the period of enlightenment that is discussed in the earlier stream, and and now appears to have adapted well to the needs of society in decadent capitalism.  Is this why is appears to have been growing so strongly in the 20th century?

Christianity today has a different role in society to islam even if it has some common history. 

I see religions in different countries and regions of the world as performing similar but different roles.  Whilst the tendency to accept religious ideas as individual can be shown a certain sympathy seems reasonable, It seems to me that is a view conditioned by experience of capitalism in the heartlands of capitalism where protestant religion is less of an active threat to wc struggle.  Islam is a more dangerous religion in the sense that it seeks state power and seeks to dominate the everyday lives of workers within those states though brutal state regimes.  In the revolution such religions wont passively lie down as the church of england is likely to; they will be on the forefront of the physical battle against the wc.

OK, it is necessary to keep an antipathy for religion in context and I know I have generalised quite strongly here, so I would be interested to hear whether comrades see this approach as reasonable  or an overreaction to some of the extremes of Islam.  After all during the revolutionary wave post WW1, I would think religion was a stronger force in European society than today and this did not prevent the wc struggles at that time.  Also its not just a question of islam’s impact on society – catholicism still has a big role in some countries and as does evangelism in the USA.

I would also be interested to hear of the practice of revolutionaries in moslem countries and how they respond to the church there.    What happens to in those countries where other religions have a big role in capitalist ideological controls?How is intervention in such countries affected ?

jk1921
Intersting observations Link.

Intersting observations Link. As to whether one religion is more dangeorus than another--I don't know. I think it depends on the context. In the USA, there are many evangelical groups that aspire to play the kind of political role that you say political Islam does in the Muslim world. They are held back by certain counter-tendencies within capitalism however, which also produce a more secular, rational, "progressive" worldview (although generally compatible with neoliberlaism). I think its a matter of the balance of forces within the bourgeois state and national (or regional) history as to what actually prevails at the level of government.

As Bill Maher is fond of saying, there is a progressive, rational European society of around sixty million people in the United States, its just surrounded by about 250 million bible toting rednecks. But I think this is part of the trajectory of decomposition today, the splitting up of society into increasingly existentially opposed factions (even if there is some basis in the political economy for them). Still, it is interesting to me how some societies (the Netherlands, Quebec) etc. can go predominantly in the direction of increased secularlism, while others head towards religious irrationalism (the US "heartland," parts of the Third World, Middle East/Israel) etc.

A.Simpleton
For resurrecting (cough) this

For resurrecting (cough) this thread which I too missed and wished I hadn't

I think there are some important issues tied up in this area and at all levels such a history of 'chinese whispers' that end up as 'received wisdom'. I tried last night to untangle some just to get some 'headers' to define discussion (fell asleep on the sofa and woke up to a blank screen)

You make an excellent start Link :'mystified world view' 'does it matter what the root was' 'are not the overarching social implications of what 'that' became more important' ' what the Atheist Dawkins -let's say - 'under-investigated' : 'the greater or lesser, now here now there, power and influence 'for' (sometimes 'against') the State in history,'  'does the degree of that power and influence have relation to the 'root' and thus make one religion innately more intractable to challenge ( i.e. 'dangerous' in your words)

I have made a modest study of the history of religions and met Tibetan Lamas, Turkish Imams, Catholic priests and one of my best friends married an 'ex-Metropolitan' (Archbishop) of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow then Oxford: interestingly he was made an 'ex' when Putin's mob decided to take back 'their property' - the Orthodox Churches in England - and he was literally 'escorted from the building' like some sacked gutter press editor: he's now working on a book about 'Genes and Memes' .... 

Starting with Marx and his clarity on 'Atheism': and it is very apposite that Link uses the word 'antipathy'.

In 1842 at the age of 23 he wrote to a friend Ruge ;

'I have always refused the label 'atheist' - which reminds one of children assuring anyone who is prepared to listen that they are not afraid of the bogey man '

Then obviously the 1844 manuscripts where he states what Link lays down about the mystified world view:

This state and this society produce religion, which is a reversed world consciousness, because they are a reversed world . Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopaedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d’honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, and its universal basis of consolation and justification. It is the fantasy that the human essence has been made real since the human essence has not acquired any true reality.

Now I won't go on too long now but reading this for the umpteenth time the phrases: 

'general theory' 'moral sanction' 'universal basis of justification' struck me. It's maybe a way in to grasping the issue of the degree of influence and power that a religion - or one of its endless sects/fractions - may have on the State.

I said in my last post on the original thread, that once Christianity became the Roman Empire's state Religion - predictably - it became a 'different beast'. I do think, however,that the actual root basis (what the original vision/teching was and how it was couched) does have some bearing on how different and/or how 'beastly' it can become. Not ignoring by any means the objective conditions of the State that sanctioned it. By which I mean that The Roman Empire was on the way out and even if it had not been I wonder whether some latter Emporer would have invaded expanded in Adventurist-Imperialist style in order to institute 'Christianity'

Islam and Mohammed's 'final and total' reception of the exact words of Divinity came into a very established Sassanian 'empire' yes on the one hand but also a veritable soup of differences. Through the centuries many Islamic Theologians and Philosophers - some very influential - posed 'adjustments' to help what you describe as the 'similar' but 'different' roles in the State.

Ibn Al Kindi for example was a master of mathematics, chemistry, astronomy, medicine and his philosophical approach was to harmonise 'reason' and 'revelation': he advocated an allegorical interpretation of the Qu'ran: and he wasn't burnt at the stake for his labours. The Islamic World has had plenty of Galileos but also State mediators in an almost secular sense.

Your statement still holds 

I see religions in different countries and regions of the world as performing similar but different roles 'A

Actually I tend to agree with you that Islam is a more intractable mystification and obstacle but perhaps for different reasons: The Prophet took ten years to write down the transmitted Qu'ran: big problem for me was when I learned that 120 of the verses - charity, patience, endurance - were crossed out by him (he was told to presumably) and replaced with one single verse about the 'lower jihad' ( The greater jihad being the 'holy' fight against your bad self)

Also it pronounces to the world that (although Abraham, are mentioned more times than Mohammed) it is final: the completion of ALL divine revelation forever ...what am I trying to get at ....er..... (to be continued)

Bit rambling but I hope contributary ..

AS

 

 

 

 

 

Alf
individuals in history

Very interesting contribution from Link and some stimulating references from AS.There is much to agree with in Link's post (for example about how Islam adapts well to state capitalism because of the rejection of any distinction between religion, society and the state) but there are a couple of things about Link's historical approach which i would question.

I think that we should reject the mechanical application of a historical materialism which virtually dismisses the role of the individual in history. Trotsky has a very interesting section on this in his History of the Russian Revolution witrh regard to the indispensable role that Lenin played within the overall constellation of social and political forces in 1917. The idea that the individual is a purely passive reflection of social and historical forces gained a lot of ground in the 'orthodox' marxism of the Second International. A relevant example in Kautsky's History of Christianity, which although an excellent contribution in many ways suffers from virtually ignoring the role played by the individual Jesus. In my opinion, just as marxism wouldn't have been the same without Marx, Christianity, Islam and Buddhism would not have been the same without the exceptional individuals Jesus, Mohammed and Gautama.  

Secondly, it is not at all certain that the mode of production that underlay the Islamic civilisation was feudalism: for Marx and Engels it was closer to what they called the Asiatic mode of production. In any case this is a debate to be developed. And Mohammed did not begin life as a feudal ruler, but as a rather marginal product of the merchant strata who led a revolt against the decaying system which dominated Arabia at the time. It is the fact that both Christianity and Islam began as revolts of the oppressed and the exploited which gave them their moral force, as elements in the development of a conception of a unified humanity, which was of course in turn founded on real tendencies towards the economic unification of mankind in that era. This was an era sometimes referred to by historicans as the 'Axial Age' and it gave rise to all the 'world religions', which were both a product of and active factor in the material unification of human civilisation.  

A.Simpleton
Debate on :@}

Yes this category 'Asiatic mode of production' is for me a fine example of the way Marx/Engels were never content to 'fudge' distinctions (even if it messed up the 'feng shui' of a thesis - as it were)

The Sassanian Empire with its prophet of choice Zoroaster was I imagine the identifiable 'stable' power - for want of a better word - element:: the Arabian peninsula was different indeed: heterogenous tribal groupings each with their codes of honour. Depending on the geographical location (if such can be applied to nomadic bedouins) some tribes were ideally situated on important trade routes. They 'safeguarded' commerce between Damascus - a prime 'depot'- and the mediterranean. Mecca was such a settlement.

I would, as a first thought response, take mild issue with alf's point that :

'It is the fact that both Christianity and Islam began as revolts of the oppressed and the exploited which gave them their moral force'

Mohammed was born in Mecca into the clan of Hashim of the tribe Quraysh who were at the time of his birth certainly the most powerful and prestigious tribe in 'important' Mecca: not an 'oppressed' beginning at least . Whereas Jesus (wherever he was born: trust me you don't want to go to the 4 x 4 column Catholic texts on 'was Jesus born in [email protected]~) grew up in Galilee, a Roman 'protectorate' self ruled by Herod within the Roman province of Judaea but not of 'Provincial Status' - the classic Roman Empire technique of 'annexing' one territory beyond the one they cared about. So Jesus was 'low class' by comparison, spoke in a Northern Accent, the son of a 16 year old girl.

alf would know better than I the historical context of the cubic stone, black 'Ka'bah' set up by Abraham in the 'House of God' in Mecca. Both Jews, Christians and the Arab Tribes made pilgrimmage to it but as far as I can deduce most Arabs considered Allah was the one true creator God. 

****

With regard to your point Link re:  Islam's inherent 'predisposition' as a smooth companion to State Capitalism (especially 'over the last decade') I have not enough knowledge to bring any grounds for disagreement - my focus being rather stuck in the earlier history. I think you are right. Even though at the time of the Prophet's death there were seven different 'readings' of The Qu'ran in the regional tribal dialects , the alternatives were eliminated.

Certainly throughout earlier development there were many scholars/philosophers contributing to the 'f'iqh' - schools of law ( especially with regard to the 'Hadith' the other main text of Islam - a collection of Mohammeds practices, sayings, from the revelation onwards : Hanafi, Maliki, Hanbali, Shafi'i, Ja'fari were all scholars who founded 'schools of law' and a certain 'adaption' almost 'utilitarian' was being investigated. However pretty early on these more philosophical/adaptable voices were - quite brutally - silenced.

Yes alf : Jesus was nailed to the floor for championing the oppressed, Mohammed had to run for his life pretty soon after the revelation as the 'upstart' who said 'God told me everything': but although Muslims and the Qu'ran speak much of the 'former prophets' throughout Jewish tradition and speak of Jesus as also 'God's prophet', I don't buy it. The NEW Testament (testamentum: witness's evidence) is IMHO qualitatively different in intention and tone. It is the opposite of The Qu'ran and the bible belt KKK guys with their 'Kill Faggots' signs and the 'Born Agains' who both rely heavily on arbitrary cherry picking from the OLD testament for their spooky fundamentalism.

If ever there were organisations for whom the word 'Monolithic' is a spot on description, it is they.

AS

 

 

 

jk1921
Exceptional Individuals

Alf wrote:

Very interesting contribution from Link and some stimulating references from AS.There is much to agree with in Link's post (for example about how Islam adapts well to state capitalism because of the rejection of any distinction between religion, society and the state) but there are a couple of things about Link's historical approach which i would question.

I think that we should reject the mechanical application of a historical materialism which virtually dismisses the role of the individual in history. Trotsky has a very interesting section on this in his History of the Russian Revolution witrh regard to the indispensable role that Lenin played within the overall constellation of social and political forces in 1917. The idea that the individual is a purely passive reflection of social and historical forces gained a lot of ground in the 'orthodox' marxism of the Second International. A relevant example in Kautsky's History of Christianity, which although an excellent contribution in many ways suffers from virtually ignoring the role played by the individual Jesus. In my opinion, just as marxism wouldn't have been the same without Marx, Christianity, Islam and Buddhism would not have been the same without the exceptional individuals Jesus, Mohammed and Gautama.  

Secondly, it is not at all certain that the mode of production that underlay the Islamic civilisation was feudalism: for Marx and Engels it was closer to what they called the Asiatic mode of production. In any case this is a debate to be developed. And Mohammed did not begin life as a feudal ruler, but as a rather marginal product of the merchant strata who led a revolt against the decaying system which dominated Arabia at the time. It is the fact that both Christianity and Islam began as revolts of the oppressed and the exploited which gave them their moral force, as elements in the development of a conception of a unified humanity, which was of course in turn founded on real tendencies towards the economic unification of mankind in that era. This was an era sometimes referred to by historicans as the 'Axial Age' and it gave rise to all the 'world religions', which were both a product of and active factor in the material unification of human civilisation.  

Its interesting that we say Thatcher was just a cog in the machine of capital, yet Marx, Lenin, Jesus, Mohammed, etc. are exceptional individuals. There's a certain tension here. Do exceptional indivduals only emerge from the oppressed strata as expressions of subjectivty, while the ruling class only produces cogs as an expression of the dead weight of the "system."?

 

Link
Islam as a faction of state capitalism

 

Jk, I think I agree with Alf about the impact of individuals to the extent that one of my own counterarguments would be that  the impact of individual gurus of today such as Thatcher Keynes or L Ron Hubbard whether for religious or political movements  clearly has some impact on what their followers think and do.  What I am not sure about is that as you go back in history then the original gurus have less and less impact.   I cant see that whoever Jesus and Mohammed actually were as individuals has much relevance to the myth builders of today.

In terms of the Asiatic mode of production, does it really exist??  I have never read a definitive definition or analysis – more of suggestions as to what it is.  In the end it seems to me to be just a variation of feudalism based on centralised authority and rigid legal control of those underneath – which is primarily religious in content and with perhaps a less structured system of nobility rankings. Presumably there it is less land and agriculturally based than European feudalism. 

Question – Is there comparability between the political structures of Islam and Catholicism in feudal times? 

On jk’s query about differing levels of threat from differing religions, I think that what I am trying to get at is that they do behave differently and that judgements should be made about them in context as you say.  Without being an expert, some religions such as zen or Buddhism seem more individually based, the Cof E is fairly passive in Europe but less so in Africa, Catholicism has lost its original feudal role in Europe but retains a state influence in other countries.  Islam however is not a passive religion nowadays and neither is some of the American fundamentalism.  Islam seeks state capitalist power and seeks to impose its standards on the whole population.  As a result the state in such countries operates with factions of the church rather than distinct political parties. 

I cannot see Islam taking a supportive or passive response to a working class uprising let alone a revolution, it represents the state and is for capitalism against the wc.  Even in areas with a strong Islamic Church in Europe, I cannot see the church authorities accepting the expropriation of mosques and the banning of Friday services for example 

jk1921
On the AMP--I think the

On the AMP--I think the difference with feudalism, is that the AMP is supposed to be a "closed" system from which no real internal dynamic to evolve towards another system is present, whereas fedualism was supposed to have an internal tension (merchants vs. lords in the standard view; rural land tenants vs. gentry in the revisionist view) from which capitalism developed. The AMP may have adapted to capital as a result of imperialism, but left on its own, it was supposed to stagnate.

A.Simpleton
more relevant

I came at this from 'the wrong end Link' : pardon the tangent, though some of the tangential points may be informative.

When you write :

' Islam however is not a passive religion nowadays and neither is some of the American fundamentalism.  Islam seeks state capitalist power and seeks to impose its standards on the whole population.  As a result the state in such countries operates with factions of the church rather than distinct political parties.'

I think you're getting to the heart of the matter. I understand now: it's the 'power' and 'influence' within State Capitalism of different religions - the 'ease' of that alliance - that is the issue: or put the other way round: the analysis required is to what extent quantitively and/or qualitatively the differences between the religions makes them more or less easily incorporated/allied to state oppression and as State weapons of mystification/oppression and equally: does the history of these varying ruling alliances, through different modes of production, inform that same enquiry.

You have chosen an 'entry point' into clarifying an important complex issue: furthermore it is problematical to get at 'real' information re: Islam which is and isn't quite the same thing as 'being a Muslim' because there are many different roots and established factions - factions with very antagonistic histories and as you say it's essence is not passive so these antagonisms are easily activated in the service of oppression/diversion: whether by a particular capitalist state or even eminently usable by external Imperialist powers/alliances. it is easy to fall into mis/disinformation.

I'll have to think much more to get a grip on the higher theoretical implications: it's easy to see how/why 'the sigh of the oppressed people' is such an apt description in European Capitalism: it's easy to see the power of church and state at it's zenith in feudal England in 1500 -say: I at least can't discern so easily with any clarity how Ayatollah/Premier/Iranian capitalism is structured.

I agree it's not really about Jesus or Mohammed but The Qu'ran is a powerful object: not only in its 'final, last, total, irrefutable truth about every aspect of every day of every life: the object itself is so 'holy'. Even at a fundamentalist christian gathering, you might drop a Bible and say sorry: drop The Qu'ran on the floor and you might lose a small limb.

any signposts welcome

AS 

Link
response to jk1921 on AMP

Thanks for the clarification.  What you say suggests to me that AMP is a variation of feudalism then.  An external factor such as the lack of a bourgeois class cant be enough to define a new mode of production

Alf
not so fast!

So Marx was mistaken to see it as a distinct social form in the development of history? I think more argument is needed. He included the Asiatic mode as one of the four main stages of human civilisation after the dissolution of primitive communism. This notion figures in the crucial summary of his conception of historical materialism, the  "preface to a contribution to the critique of political economy". This is discussed in one of the early articles in the series on decadence. https://en.internationalism.org/ir/2008/135/ascent-and-decline-of-societies

Link
Asiatic mode of production

 

Alf, was Marx right about an asiatic mode or not?  The article you mention seems to agree it did exist but calls it controversial and recognises problems and weaknesses in the analysis not least the historical lack of knowledge in Marx's time.  Also the description given of the asiatic mode in the article is not differentiated well from feudalism, to me it sounds a similar structure.

Does it however matter if it is a mode of production or a variation of feudalism?  It seems agreed that it was lacking in dynamism and unable to develop into capitalism in itself, in which case,  isnt it a backwater in history awaiting the intrusion of capitalist exchange? This must have started happening just as the merchants appeared in feudal society and spread out across feudal Europe and the rest of the world searching for new products. 

It seems to me the most important elements of the progression of modes of production is primitive communism, slave society, feudalism and then capitalism.  There will have been detours and roadblocks on the way but they would only be significant historically if they actually prevented that progression and they haven’t.

Not sure where this leads us though, my basic question was about the similarities between social structures under feudalism in Europe and whatever mode of production existed in the rest of the world.  Do you think this is valid?

Link
On Islam as a state capitalist force

 

Agreed AS, I think the more important issues to do with religion are related to its role in the state and this does appear to be different in different parts of the world.  As you say Islam varies a lot across the world so while Ive generalised in talking about it as a state institution, there is not a lot of unity between the factions of islam certainly not in the sense of its capacity to unify against the west for example.  I‘m more interested in how a regime which is primarily based on religious doctrine and structures faces up to its working class ie exerts is control through mystification and violence, and how the working class and its militants respond. 

I am uncomfortable when we look at such religions which seek to exert a strong grip on its followers' everyday lives and suggest something in the vein that religion is ‘’a person thing that Marxists ought to let individuals work out for themselves’’.   How does the working class fight back as class when its main opponent is a religious state rather than a state of political parties and trade unions?

Generalising again, Islamic regimes seem oppressive and consistently use violence to support themselves and its not just women, gays, other religions and branches of islam and apostates: its retail workers, hairdressers, health workers, education workers and so forth that are victims of the oppression and threats of violence to ensure conformity.   What is it like to work in factories in Islamic countries??  Your point about the Quran itself is well made – the librarian at my college became a target for a while because the Quran was on the bottom shelf in the library and the bible was higher up!!!  We pick these examples that seem very strange to western eyes but it happens because their approach is to set controls on behaviour which apply to every moment of people lives.

I have never lived in a religious state capitalist regime and as an outsider I wonder what differences there are.  I do see in Birmingham that the church can have a significant impact on everyday lives and I see little that suggest a wc responds easily to this domination.  

I ask these questions because its also likely to be true that violent regimes are weaker precisely because they need the violence.  Just because the adherents of these religions wont recognise  opposition movements to the regimes doesn’t mean there  aren’t any.  So how does the wc respond within these regimes.

In Birmingham as an example, calls for working class unity will mean taking on the mosques and the gangs that seem to be used to keep workers in line so I am not just raising the issue in relation to other countries but also in terms of intervention ‘at home’

Fred
Surely religion today is just

Surely religion today is just bourgeois ideology writ large.  Holy writ you might say. Everyone keeps quiet and goes to the mosque or prays in serried ranks in the streets of Saudi Arabia, and doubtless elsewhere where people are frightened, because if you don't the scary religious police, with bright red  hair and whips, will come and smack you one.  Similarly, if you are a woman in a place where the Islsmic religion is the dominant ideology, other women - kowtowing to religious demands - will pinch your arms or worse, if you are not properly covered.

 

If the bourgeoisie in some countries can successfully use religious claptrap as a way of subduing their  workers  then they will won't they?  And why not?  Its a less expensive form of subjugation than the complications of bourgeois democracy and a theocracy is a well tried and successful way of keeping everyone in line.  After all, if people are convinced that real  life only begins after death, then they are much more likely to accept the miseries of working class hardship and servitude while on this planet and look forward to death as a happy release. 

 

The power of religion may be regrettable but then the power of capitalist ideology  and the grip of capitalist relations of production  are regrettable too.  Religion today just helps to reinforce all this.  It teaches submission to higher powers and helps persuade people who have little to look forward to in life that it isn't really their own fault but god's will and they should just passively accept it and shut up, and work harder for less money. 

 

Eventually, god willing, the working class will have to take on not just the mosques, the monarchy, the religious establishments, the trade unions, the army and police, and terrorists official and unofficial, but the bourgeois state itself and all its crazy trappings. 

 

 

 

A.Simpleton
Sharp

Spot on ....

'It teaches submission to higher powers and helps persuade people who have little to look forward to in life that it isn't really their own fault but god's will and they should just passively accept it and shut up, and work harder for less money.'

'Islam' literally means 'submission' and the creed is that one is born 'in debt' to Allah who is the 'creditor' - and that's just a Muslim Academic's description ...

However - and this is something I even find myself drifting towards - it is easy to fall for 'the myth of the clash of religions': partly because I really do think there is a qualitative difference in 'creed' despite the brutal, indifferent uses the Ruling Class impose upon whatever 'real human spiritual essence' might be contained therein.

Examples that are qualitatively different:

Buddha (which means 'Awake' and this always amuses me when the Jehovah's Witnesses come round and try to give me their eponymous magazine: I used to graciously accept it and give them the latest copy of WR in return)

One of Gautama Siddharta's teachings is prefaced with the statement: 'Don't believe anything you read or hear, no matter who wrote it or said it ...even me...test it as you would test metal ' 

Now this is not to say that the 'King' of Bhutan - supposedly the last Buddhist Kingdom - is not committing genocide - there's a whole 'ethnic cleansing' thing going on there: and the borders are frequently closed, which I won't go into here.

Jesus: at 'Jacob's' well with 'the Samaritan woman': he asks: 'will you give me a drink?' she replies :'You're a Jew, I'm a Samaritan , we shouldn't even talk to each other' 

(Simpleton's translation)

Jeez:  'If you knew the water I drink, you would never be thirsty again'

S.W : ' ...yeah ....right .... my ancestors worshipped on the hillsides .... now the Jews say we must worship in 'The Temple' .... so what's a Samaritan supposed to do ( ...already ..)

Jeez: ' ... yes ... your ancestors worshipped on the hillsides ... and now the Jews say you must worship in 'The Temple' ... but (verily of course) I say unto you one day we will all worship in spirit and truth.

Now - as with Siddharta's soundbyte - it has a more open-ended 'spiritual aroma' to me: and as I stated above, Marx refused the label 'atheist': for him 'atheism' was the necessary negation of class based 'theism' not the absolute dismissal of any number of spiritual capabilities of our Species - unrealisable in the unprecedented alienation of Capitalism.

And always 'The Crusades' are brought up as an example of how fucked up 'religion' can be: abso-fucking-lutely right: but looking more thoroughly at the 'vergegenstandliche' Faktum. The disparate bunch of adventurist wealth-seekers and their duped cannon fodder went (forth ...naturally) in the first crusade armed with a better map of the 'afterlife' than of the actual terrain they were going to cross. The first massacre they committed was to kill everything in sight in a ....er...'christian' settlement.... oops....

At its worst the 'powerarchy' - to coin a hideous neologism - of any religion can serve the oppressors.

With regards to your specific question Link about Muslim workers: it is hard to elucidate. In Tehran (my brother has stayed there twice) there are an incredible number of heroin addicts for example: it's £4 a gram: there is also a real awareness and defiance in women's 'white collar' circles of the edicts of The Qu'ran.

I simply don't know if we can know.

AS