The Communist Party was vital to the voluntary work movement in the 1970s and 1980s, and I was interviewing one older Party member about those years. We talked about organizing, and at some point he began telling me stories about the Muslim Brotherhood. Apparently they didn’t get along too well, and the Brotherhood really went after the communists. At one point, he recalled how that he and his friend had decided to sing some inappropriate wedding song in Salfit. During the song, angry Brotherhood members cut their microphone. The next day, he told me laughing, he received news that they had sentenced him to death. (The bigger joke was that they were so uptight that they didn’t even consider the dead in West Beirut to be martyrs.)
But how did the communists fund their activities? There were a bunch of ways, from selling olive oil harvested and pressed by volunteers, to setting up local bazaars and taking a cut from the merchants (there weren’t many shops in the villages in those days), to asking for donations at the olive press from farmers during the harvest. But one of the most effective was this: during Ramadan, they would sell calendars that gave the times for prayers each day.