Roger Garaudy: why this French intellectual remains unknown. Hint: He was a Muslim

In our recent article on the legacy of Ahmed Deedat, we mentioned the fact that in 1986 he shared the Saudi heritage King Faisal Prize for “Service to Islam” with a certain Roger Garaudy.

Many readers may have naturally wondered:

Who was this Roger Garaudy? Who was this individual who received one of the most prestigious awards in the Muslim world? and that also for his “Service to Islam”; and then also having shared this honor with the famous Ahmed Deedat? (And how do you even pronounce his name?)

Roger Garaudy was France’s leading post-war communist philosopher. For example, he oversaw the translation of the Complete Works of Lenin (published by Social Editions in 47 volumes).

His books on the “complex” subjects of philosophy (Marx, Hegel, etc.) have been published by the best French university publishers.

Garaudy had shocked the French Communist Party⁠ (which he joined in 1933) as he began to embrace the Christian faith. The party then expelled him in 1970. He then became one of the European pioneers of political ecology.

Finally, he converted to Islam in the 80s, which also pushed him to adopt a critical position on Zionism in the field of geopolitics.

This This is why one of the greatest French intellectuals of the last century is virtually unknown. Yet he authored over 70 books and is objectively superior to many other French thinkers often fetishized within the Anglosphere, such as Michel Foucault (with whom Garaudy had disagreements when they were both teachers at the beginning of their career, which is quite symbolic). ).

Now let’s look in more depth.

Garaudy began his intellectual career as a Marxist thinker in the 1940s, just after World War II (during which he received medals for his participation in the resistance).

Typical of his Marxist position is what he says of Sartre and existentialism in his 1948 book Cemetery literature. According to Garaudy, Sartre and existentialism were a kind of bourgeois conspiracy to ensure that the youth, rather than revolting, would concentrate all their efforts in futile quests for “self-discovery”, “true freedom”, etc. .

This criticism⁠ – which resembles that of another Marxist philosopher, György Lukács⁠ – is still relevant because even today people like Jordan Peterson, despite identifying the evils, offer solutions that are only d other variants of the same disease.

It must be said that at the time already, Garaudy had something for people of Islam. In 1946, while in French-occupied Algeria, he published a provocative text The Historical Contribution Of Arab Civilization (“The historical contribution of Arab civilization”).

RELATED: Algeria’s 60th Independence Anniversary: ​​France Celebrates French Occupation

In the following years he continued to publish important Marxist-oriented books such as The Materialist Theory of Knowledge (“The materialist theory of knowledge”, 1953), God Is Dead – A Study Of Hegel (“God is Dead – A Study of Hegel”, 1962), etc.

He not only wrote about dry philosophy, but also about art and literature. He himself wrote a few novels and translated some of them (such as his translation of Boris Polevoy’s work Real man of the Russian language).

He began to distance himself from the Communists in the early 1970s. He was disgusted by the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia (1968) and then turned to a more “humanist” Marxism which would exorcise the overly authoritarian Stalinist version.

He found this “humanism” in Christianity and then wrote books trying to forge an alliance between Marxists and Christians.

Such an effort may seem idealistic today, but back then it was appreciated by Giulio Girardi, who was an influential Catholic priest and Italian philosopher who also died in 2012. And this Garaudy project is still the subject of theses in Western universities.

Indeed, during these years Garaudy was the subject of many books and theses, detailing his thought and his books. This was of course before the unofficial boycott, and now we will explore why it was ostracized.

After this “Christian Marxist” phase (which succeeds his previous “Marxist atheist” phase) Garaudy briefly flirts with the ecologist or ecologist movement, which at this time, is a relatively new movement.

Garaudy’s views on ecology are summarized in his 1979 book Call to the Living (“A call to the living”). He criticizes the notions of “development”, “economic growth”, as well as Western ideas such as individualism and rationalism.

RELATED: The Illusion of Individualism Spreads in the Muslim World

But Garaudy’s conversion to environmentalism is far from being as controversial as his conversion to Islam, formalized in 1982 after a long spiritual quest.

He had already published two books on Islam in 1981: promises of islam (“Promises of Islam”) and Islam Inhabits Our Future (“Islam is our future”), and in the years to come these publications were followed by many others on the subject.

These books on Islam are still regularly republished because of the interest they arouse among Muslims in France.

However, his anti-Zionist stance would ultimately cost him dearly.

As a biased obituary says:

Already in 1982, his militant anti-Zionism led him to compare Zionism to Nazism.

In the 1990s he published The founding myths of Israeli politicswho maintained, among a number of other controversial claims, that Hitler had ordered the deportation and not the extermination of the Jews and that typhus, not the gas chambers, was responsible for the deaths of Jews in the camps of Nazi concentrations.

After an outcry in the press, Garaudy was prosecuted under France’s tough laws against incitement racial hatred and the denial of crimes against humanityto be found guilty in 1998.

He appealed against the judgment at all possible levels but lost each time, with the final verdict of the European Court of Human Rights declaring that he had received a fair trial.

Garaudy died in Chennevières, in the Marne valley east of Paris, at the age of 98.

He essentially died persecuted and isolated, all because he rejected the Zionist version of history.

RELATED: Onward, the Zionist Project Continues with Unimaginable Cruelty

Yet another example of the sheer hypocrisy of freedom of expression— a non-Islamic liberal concept.

But as Muslims, what particularly interests us is how a man who was once the main French communist philosopher, then a pioneer in ecology, embraced Islam and had to suffer seriously for his faith.

His name and his life certainly deserve a more prominent place in Muslim public discourse.

May Allah (subhanaHu wa ta’ala) forgive his faults and accept his good deeds. Amin.

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