Muslims pray at Marthoma Cheriapally Church in Kothamangalam Kerala during anti-CAA protest

Remember Faiz Ahmed Faiz writing about Allah? He was a communist. But many communists in Kerala believe that when the Muslims in this country are hit from head to toe for their culture, identity and faith, they should not even utter the word Allah' in their protests on streets. In the ballroom dance of electoral politics, these communists forgot to read Marx who said thatreligion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, soul of soulless conditions….’ before he brought in the word opium of the people!’ It is an opiate atheist mind which refuses to address `the condition for the need for religion.’

For Marx, the problem lies in the obvious fact that religion merely helps you to forget the pain and suffering. From the Marxian perspective of religion, relief from pain may be received to a certain extent from religion, but the real treatment is to solve the underlying problems `causing’ the pain. The Muslims who protested in Kerala for that matter, did not chose to sit at home and pray to Allah and do nothing about it politically, but came out on streets to protest against their oppression. There is nothing anti-Marxist in this behaviour. For Marx, with all its problems, religion was not the real problem. Religion was seen as a set of ideas, and ideas and expressions of material realities. For him, with all its problems, religion was a need of the oppressed people and the structural conditions had to be addressed first. Had Marx regarded religion as a more serious enemy, he would have devoted more time to it in his writings. Instead, he focused on economic and political structures which were oppressive to people.

For the Muslims in Kerala, if they believe that God is present everywhere, the street is not a revolutionary cow without Allah. The real tragedy is that this discussion is taking place when religion is misused beyond repair in Indian Parliament and on the streets of India by the Hindutva forces. If the Malayalee communist believes that the use of God or religion is both same, both those who are oppressed and those who oppress in the name of God and religion are the same, then I must say with all my convictions in atheism: `who the fuck is bothered about your non-God faith?’

K.P. Sasi is a film maker, cartoonist and writer


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2 Comments

  1. During the period of Marx, opium was used as a pain killer. If he were alive today, he would have written, `religion is the Analgin of the oppressed’, since these days, Analgin is used as a non narcotic pain killer. But what is more important is that Marx did not refute the capacity of religion to address pains of the marginalised. All he was suggesting as a doctor was that one must address the root cause of pain, which according to him was the social and economic structure which needed a drastic transformation. When Marx is translated into Malayalam, the translators usually add on adjectives on the word opium, thinking that Marx is comparing religion to something very dangerous. Though Marx was critical to religion on many occasions, he expressed his soft side also towards religion. The mechanical Marxists in Kerala, unfortunately could not comprehend Marx properly. And this is the main reason why they get upset when Muslims whisper `Allah’. The literary illiterate Hindutva scientists in IIT Kanpur also behaved in a similar fashion, hearing the word `Allah’ in the poetry of Faiz. They have organised a special committee to analyse whether Faiz is `anti Hindu’. In Pakistan, Faiz was jailed as pro-Hindu and pro Indian and was about to be hanged once. If you remove the tragic moments in history, the Indian political history is going through a phase of a series of comic events. Charlie Chaplin should have been born in India today.😊

  2. Marx in his essay ‘On Religion’ (re: Introduction to Contributions to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law) described religion as `logic in a popular form’, suggesting that the people, before the arrival of scientific discoveries, invented religious beliefs and rituals as a popular way of organizing their experiences and rationalizing them .

    As for the dream of Charlie Chaplin’s rebirth in India today, he would be lynched by the Hindutva
    mob here. At least in the US in the 1950s, when he was persecuted by the McCarthy regime, he was allowed to escape from America and seek refuge outside.

    Sumanta Banerjee