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Islamic Radicalism

The Islamic groups constituted the backbone of the resistance movement. Among them, some were traditional and others novel in composition, ideology, or platform. The novel groups were fundamentalist and revolutionary. They aimed not only to oppose the invasion but also to reorganize the state and society. They intended to do so on the basis of Islamic ideology, which they had acquired from the radical thinkers of the modern Islamic world. That was why their story did not end with the repulsion of the invasion.

In Afghanistan as elsewhere in the Islamic world, Islamic fundamentalism (or Islamism or Islamic radicalism)[4] is the story of response to a society in transition from the traditional to the modern that sets the state on the road to secularization. The overriding concern of the Afghan Islamists was to defend Islam from the encroachment of atheism, which permeated the educated population after the country became dependent on the Soviet Union for schemes of modernization in the late 1950s. As a by-product of this dependence, there emerged a group of leftists influenced by the literature of the Tudeh Party of Iran, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and the Communist Party of China. Supporting the Soviet-assisted schemes of modernization, the pro-Moscow leftists did not oppose the government as strongly as leftists usually do. They chose feudalism, capitalism, imperialism, and to some extent Islam as their targets to prepare the atmosphere for intellectual change.

To undermine Islam, the leftists questioned the existence of God. Because of these efforts to spread atheism, some Afghans saw official atheism as the leftists’ goal. Leftist students at the Kabul educational centers became active in this endeavor, which also touched provincial high schools. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar notes that, while a student in his hometown in the province of Qunduz, he felt the need to set up an Islamic organization to combat the atheists.[5] Students and professors of Kabul University started the Islamic movement in the 1960s and disseminated the views of Islamist thinkers through translations of their works. Since the Islamic groups were at the bottom of the resistance movement, and since the movement has deeply affected Afghan politics, it is necessary to describe first the views of the modern Islamic thinkers and then, in this and the following chapter, the Afghan resistance groups in general and their programs of resisting the invasion.


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