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Islam, Guerrilla War, and Revolution: A Study in Comparative Social History

Haim Gerber
ISBN: 978-1-55587-128-4
1988/216 pages/LC: 88-11673

"Valuable for students of revolution, of Islam as a political movement, and of communism in the Third World.... His thesis is challenging; his subject, relevant; his research, careful; and his conclusions reasonable."—History, Reviews of New Books


Haim Gerber addresses the phenomenon of radical revolution within Islam, seeking both to understand a certain type of revolution and to discover whether there is a typical Muslim response to Communism.

Gerber first investigates the 1944 Marxist revolution in Albania and the 1967-1969 Marxist revolution in South Yemen. He finds, in conformity with the sociological theory of revolution, that these two revolutions were due not to the sway of ideologies nor to the extraordinary abilities of leaders, but to objective circumstances that were beyond the control of any individual.

The theory he builds to explain the cases of Albania and South Yemen is then tested in several other cases—notably that of the Algerian war of independence (1954-1962)—leading to the conclusion that Islam per se has little to do with the revolutionary potential of social movements. To corroborate this conclusion in a more direct manner, he dwells at some length on the anti-Communist Afghan resistance dating from 1979. Contrary to widespread views, Gerber finds that Afghanistan's guerrilla movement can not be seen as a specifically Muslim resistance. His more general conclusion is that the tools of social history can, indeed, be applied cross-nationally.


Haim Gerber is senior lecturer in the Department of Islam at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is author of The Social Origins of the Modern Middle East (a Choice Outstanding Academic Book for 1987).


  • Revolution and Revolutionary Guerrilla Warfare.
  • Guerrilla War and Revolution in Albania.
  • Guerrilla War and Revolution in South Yemen.
  • The Algerian War of Independence.
  • Islam and Revolution in Afghanistan.
  • Guerrilla War and Revolution: Comparative Perspectives.
  • Conclusions.