Front Page Magazine: Hitler and Jihad

Hitler and Jihad

By Andrew G. Bostom | Friday, October 24, 2008

Andrew G. Bostom is a frequent contributor to Frontpage, and the author of The Legacy of Jihad, and the forthcoming The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism.

A recent report (summarized in translation here) by the Hamburg intelligence service —the Office for the Protection of the Constitution [Verfassungsschutz]— stressed the hostility of the neo-Nazi North German Action Office toward “Anti-Islamification” efforts in Cologne. At the North German Action Office’s [Aktionsbüro Norddeutschland], “campaigns” page website, links are featured with titles such as “National Socialists in Lower Saxony,” “Free! Social! National!,” and “May 1 — Day of struggle for national Socialism.” The Hamburg domestic intelligence report noted the neo-Nazi group’s repeated allusions—commonplace in Nazi “analyses”—to the American “east coast,” which are meant to characterize “Jewish” domination of America and, by extension, the world. And in a statement published on its website (German link) September 25, 2008, five days after an “Anti-Islamification Congress” was banned by Cologne municipal authorities, the North German Action Office elucidated its solidarity with the global jihad:

Inasmuch as it is a determined opponent of the western-plutocratic one-world policy, we regard Islam, globally considered, as an ally against the mammonistic dominance of the American east coast. The freedom of nations is not threatened by Islam, but rather by the imperialism of the USA and its vassals from Jerusalem to Berlin.

Such concordance between Nazism and jihadism reflects an historical continuum evident since the advent of the Nazi movement. This nexus was already apparent in Hitler’s own observations from 1926, elaborated upon over the following decades by both the Nazi leader, and other key Nazi officials, and ideologues. Not surprisingly, there are two predominant, recurring themes in this discourse: jihad as total war, and the annihilationist jihad against the Jews.

Perhaps the earliest recorded evidence of Hitler’s serious interest in the jihad was provided by Muhammad ‘Inayat Allah Khan [who adopted the pen name “al-Mashriqi”—“the Orientalist” or “the Sage of the East”]. Born in the Punjab in 1888, al-Mashriqi was a Muslim polymath who attended Cambridge on a government scholarship, and excelled in the study of oriental languages, mathematics, engineering, and the sciences.

Not only did Mashriqi translate the standard abridged version of Mein Kampf (then commonly available) from English into Urdu, during one of his sojourns in Europe, which included time spent in Berlin, he met Hitler in the early years of the Fuehrer’s leadership of the National Socialist [Nazi] Party. Their meeting took place in 1926 at the National Library. Here is the gist of Mashriqi’s report on his interaction with Hitler as described in a letter to the renowned scholar of Indian Islam, J.M.S. Baljon:

I was astounded when he [Hitler] told me that he knew about my Tazkirah. The news flabbergasted me. . . I found him very congenial and piercing. He discussed Islamic Jihad with me in details. In 1930 I sent him my Isharat concerning the Khaksar movement with a picture of a spade-bearer Khaksar at the end of that book. In 1933 he started his Spade Movement.

Mashriqi also wrote this independent summary of his 1926 encounter with Hitler on May 31, 1935:

If I had known that this was the very man who was to become Germany’s savior I would have fallen around Hitler’s neck, but on the occasion I was engaged in small talk and tried to find out what he understood about Germany’s weakness at the time. Professor [Weil, the host] said, introducing Hitler to me: “This is also a very important man, an activist from the Worker’s Party.” We shook hands and Hitler said, pointing to a book that was lying on the table: “I had a chance to read your al-Tazkirah.” Little did I understand at that time, what should have been clear to me when he said these words!

The astonishing similarities—or shall we say the unintentional similarity between two great minds—between Hitler’s great book and the teachings of my Tazkirah and Isharat embolden me, because the fifteen years of “struggle” of the author {Hitler] of “My Struggle” [Mein Kampf] have now actually led his nation back to success. But only after leading his nation to the intended goal, has he disclosed his movement’s rules and obligations to the world; only after fifteen years has he made the means of success widely known. It is possible that he has arrived at those means and doctrines by trial and error, but it should be absolutely clear that Mashriqi [referring to himself in the third person] has identified those means and doctrines in al-Tazkirah a full nine years and in the Isharat a full three years before the success of the Nazi movement, simply by following the shining guidance of the Holy Koran.

Mashriqi founded the Khaksar Movement, an Indian Muslim separatist (i.e., promoting the Pakistan “idea”), and global jihad supremacist organization. Its ethos is revealed in Mashriqi’s writings (for example, his Qaul-i-Faysel): “…we {Muslims] have again to dominate the whole world. We have to become its conqueror and its rulers.” His widely circulated pamphlet Islam ki Askari Zindagi further declared: “The Koran has proclaimed in unequivocal words to the world that the Prophet was sent with the true religion and definite instruction that he should make all other religions subservient to this religion [Islam]…”

Mashriqi emphasized repeatedly in his pamphlets and published articles that the verity of Islam could be gauged by the rate of the earliest Muslim conquests in the glorious first decades after the Muslim prophet Muhammad’s death (Mashriqi’s estimate is “36,000 castles in 9 years, or 12 per day”). He asserted “Nearly three-quarters” of the Koran concerns conquest, jihad (holy war), and related themes. And Mashriqi reminded that the Koran promises hellfire to all those who do not participate in Jihad bi-l-saif (“jihad with the sword”), or object to it. Mashriqi also believed the Koran’s jihad verses confirmed that if a Muslim fought for the cause of Islam, this action alone was sufficient for his salvation, requiring no other good deeds. According to Mashriqi, Islam’s “five pillars”—the confession of the oneness of Allah and Muhammad’s prophetic mission, the ritual prayer five times daily, the pilgrimage (haj) to Mecca, the giving of alms, and the fast in the month of Ramadan—were all aspects of military exercise: the confession of faith actually meant that the true Muslim had to forsake all worldly gains in the interest of military revival, prayer (to be performed in uniform and in a regimented way) was a kind of military drill, the haj was something like a grand counsel of Muslim soldiers where plans against enemies could be formulated, the fast was a preparation for the deprivations of siege warfare, the giving of alms, lastly, was a means of raising funds for Muslim re-armament. In short, he stated, “To leave the martial way of life is tantamount to leaving Islam.”

But it was the “Ten Principles” Mashriqi elucidated in the Tazkirah—the work Hitler discussed with him in 1926—which produced a quintessential message of Islam enshrining the ideals of militaristic nation-building. This vision sounded almost identical to sections of Hitler’s Mein Kampf (compare to Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, pp. 169-179, Reynal and Hitchcock trans, 1941)—certainly in the following paraphrase from al-Tazkirah prepared by some of Mashriqi’s colleagues for foreign consumption:

A persistent application of, and action on these Ten Principles is the true significance of

“fitness” in the Darwinian [sic] principle of “Survival of the Fittest”, and a community of people which carries action on these lines to the very extremist limits has every right to remain a predominant race on this Earth forever, has claim to be the ruler of the world for all time. As soon as any or all of these qualities deteriorate in a nation, she begins to lose her right to remain and Fitter people may take her place automatically under the Law of Natural Selection.

Albert Speer, who was Hitler’s Minister of Armaments and War Production, wrote a contrite memoir of his World War II experiences while serving a 20-year prison sentence imposed by the Nuremberg tribunal. Speer’s narrative includes a discussion which captures Hitler’s effusive praise for Islam, “…a religion that believed in spreading the faith by the sword and subjugating all nations to that faith. Such a creed was perfectly suited to the Germanic temperament.” Hitler, according to Speer’s account, repeatedly expressed the conviction that, “The Mohammedan religion…would have been much more compatible to us than Christianity. Why did it have to be Christianity with its meekness and flabbiness?” These sentiments were also expressed by Hitler to Dr. Herman Neubacher, the first Nazi Mayor of Vienna, and subsequently, a special delegate of the Nazi regime in southeastern Europe. Neubacher wrote that Hitler had told him Islam was a “male religion,” and reiterated the belief that the Germans would have been far more successful conquerors had they adopted Islam in the Middle Ages. Additional confirmation of Hitler’s very favorable inclination towards Islam is provided by General Alexander Loehr, a Lutwaffe commander (executed in 1947 for the mass-murders of Yugoslav civilians). Loehr maintained a smiling Hitler had told him that Islam was such a desirable creed the Fuehrer longed for it to become the official SS religion.

Hitler appears to have viewed the uniquely Islamic institution of jihad as an appropriate model for waging genocidal, total war. During the mid to late 19th century, jihad total war campaigns—adapted to the conditions of modern warfare—were waged by the Ottoman Empire against its Bulgarian and Armenian Christian minorities. The Ottoman tactics included innumerable atrocities, mass slaughter, and extensive, murderous deportations. Official Ottoman jihad declarations during World War I assured that the genocidal aspects of Islamic doctrine were “updated” by the application of modern total war offensive doctrines, and directed at the Armenians, in particular. This jihad-inspired policy begot razzias (raids), massacres of villagers, massacres of Armenian conscripts in work battalions, and mass deportations—all representative of an overall total-war strategy implemented by the Ottoman state, and military high command.

And the disintegrating Ottoman Empire’s World War I jihad genocide against its Armenian minority, specifically, served as an “inspirational” precedent to Hitler. During August of 1939, Hitler gave speeches in preparation for the looming invasion of Poland which admonished his military commanders to wage a brutal, merciless campaign, and assure rapid victory. Hitler portrayed the impending invasion as the initial step of a vision to “secure the living space we need,” and ultimately, “redistribute the world.” In an explicit reference to the Armenians, “Who after all is today speaking of the destruction of the Armenians?,” Hitler justified their annihilation (and the world’s consignment of this genocide to oblivion) as an accepted new world order because, “The world believes only in success.”

Vahakn Dadrian—the foremost scholar of the Armenian genocide—observes that although Hitler’s motives in seeking to destroy the Jews were not identical with those of the Ottoman Turks’ in their attempts to eliminate the Armenians, “…the two victim nations share one common element in Hitler’s scheme of things: their extreme vulnerability.” Moreover, Hitler emphasized the urgent task, “…of protecting the German blood from contamination, not only of the Jewish but also of the Armenian blood.” Predictable impunity—the ease with which the Armenian genocide was committed and how the perpetrators escaped retributive justice—clearly impressed Hitler and his henchmen, considering a similar action against the Jews. Indeed, the German Jew, Richard Lictheim who as a young Zionist leader had negotiated with Ottoman leaders in Turkey during World War I, characterized the “…cold-bloodedly planned extermination of over one million Armenians…[as] akin to Hitler’s crusade of destruction against the Jews…” And as historian Abram Sachar noted, “…the genocide was cited approvingly twenty-five years later by the Fuehrer…who found the Armenian ‘solution’ an attractive precedent.”

Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS (Nazi Secret Service), and eventually all German police forces, was another champion of Islam’s singular bellicosity. Accordingly, Himmler foresaw that within the framework of the Waffen-SS, several Muslim divisions would be created to wage jihad “shoulder to shoulder” with Nazi and Axis power soldiers. Himmler was the guiding force behind the establishment of a Waffen-SS 13th (later dubbed Handzar) Division—comprised exclusively of Muslims from Bosnia and Herzegovina. He argued in support of the creation of this Muslim division that the global Islamic community (umma) was very sympathetic to Nazism, and that the targeted Balkan Muslims had a special consciousness of their Muslim Bosnian-Herzegovinian identity. Indeed, Himmler and his collaborators believed that these Balkan Muslims were ideally suited to forge a nexus between the Nazi Germanic “racial north,” and the Islamic east. SS General Gottlob Berger described how Himmler’s creation of the Handzar division was the apotheosis of this vision:

For the first time a connection is being established between Islam and National Socialism on an open, honest base, since it will be ruled from the North where blood and race are concerned, and from the East ideologically and spiritually.

As the ultimate fulfillment of his vision, Himmler also strove to re-create a contemporary version of the Ottoman Muslim devshirme levy, and form a modern janissary corps, not only in Bosnia-Herzegovina, but the Sanjak (regions in Serbia and Montenegro), most of Croatia, and the major part of Srem (which includes provinces in Serbia and Croatia between the Danube and Sava rivers). Historian Jennie Lebel describes this effort:

In order to supply the Reich on time with a “loyal population” for this planned SS border area [i.e., as outlined above in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, and Serbia], Himmler gave orders to collect children, male and female, who had been left without one or both parents and send them to Germany in order “to create a kind of Janissaries” and the “future soldiers and soldiers’ women of the old military border of the Reich.” The collection of the children was to be taken care of by the commanders of the Waffen-SS divisions. They had to report once monthly to Himmler personally on the number of children collected. This was stated in two letters by Himmler, one addressed to General Arthur Phleps on May 20, 1944, and the other to General Gottlob Berger on July 14 of the same year. Copies were sent to General Kammerhofer, SS representative for the NDH [Croatia], to General Erwin Rosener in Slovenia, General Hermann Behrends in Serbia and General Herman Foegellein, liason officer of the Waffen-SS with Hitler.

Hajj Amin el-Husseini—the pre-eminent Arab Muslim leader of the World War II era—was viewed by Hitler (and also the Waffen-SS)—as a “Muslim Pope.” For example, the Nazi regime promoted this former Mufti of Jerusalem in an illustrated biographical booklet (printed in Berlin in 1943) which declared him Muhammad’s direct descendant, an Arab national hero, and the “incarnation of all ideals and hopes of the Arab nation.”

On June 30, 1922, a joint resolution of both Houses of Congress of the United States unanimously endorsed the “Mandate for Palestine,” confirming the irrevocable right of Jews to settle in the area of Palestine—anywhere between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. The Congressional Record contains a statement of support from New York Rep. Walter Chandler which includes an observation, about “Turkish and Arab agitators… preaching a kind of holy war [jihad] against…the Jews” of Palestine. During this same era within Palestine, a strong Arab Muslim irredentist current—epitomized by Hajj Amin el-Husseini—promulgated the forcible restoration of Shari’a-mandated dhimmitude for Jews via jihad. Indeed, two years before he orchestrated the murderous anti-Jewish riots of 1920, i.e., in 1918, Hajj Amin el-Husseini stated plainly to a Jewish co-worker (at the Jerusalem Governorate), I.A. Abbady, “This was and will remain an Arab land…the Zionists will be massacred to the last man…Nothing but the sword will decide the future of this country.”

Despite his role in fomenting the1920 pogroms against Palestinian Jews, el-Husseini was pardoned, and subsequently appointed Mufti of Jerusalem by the British High Commissioner, in May 1921, a title he retained, following the Ottoman practice, for the remainder of his life. Throughout his public career, the Mufti relied upon traditional Koranic anti-Jewish motifs to arouse the Arab street. For example, during the incitement which led to the 1929 Arab revolt in Palestine, he called for combating and slaughtering “the Jews”, not merely Zionists. In fact, most of the Jewish victims of the 1929 Arab revolt were Jews from the centuries old dhimmi communities (for eg., in Hebron), as opposed to recent settlers identified with the Zionist movement. With the ascent of Nazi Germany in the 1930s and 1940s, the Mufti and his coterie intensified their anti-Semitic activities to secure support from Hitler’s Germany (and later Bosnian Muslims, as well as the overall Arab Muslim world), for a jihad to annihilate the Jews of Palestine. Following his expulsion from Palestine by the British, the Mufti fomented a brutal anti-Jewish pogrom in Baghdad (1941), concurrent with his failed effort to install a pro-Nazi Iraqi government. Escaping to Europe after this unsuccessful coup attempt, the Mufti spent the remainder of World War II in Germany and Italy. From this sanctuary, he provided active support for the Germans by recruiting Bosnian Muslims, in addition to Muslim minorities from the Caucasus, for dedicated Nazi SS units. The Mufti’s objectives for these recruits, and Muslims in general, were made explicit during his multiple wartime radio broadcasts from Berlin, heard throughout the Arab world: an international campaign of genocide against the Jews. For example, during his March 1, 1944 broadcast he stated: “Kill the Jews wherever you find them. This pleases God, history, and religion.”

Hajj Amin made an especially important contribution to the German war effort in Yugoslovia where the Bosnian Muslim SS units he recruited (in particular the Handzar Division) brutally suppressed local Nazi resistance movements. The Mufti’s pamphlet entitled, “Islam and the Jews”, was published by the Nazis in Croatian and German for distribution during the war to these Bosnian Muslim SS units. This incendiary document hinged upon antisemitic motifs from the Koran (for example, 5:82), and the hadith (including Muhammad’s alleged poisoning by a Khaybar Jewess), and concluded with the apocalyptic canonical hadith describing the Jews’ annihilation. And Jan Wanner has observed that,

His [the Mufti’s] appeals…addressed to the Bosnian Muslims were…close in many respects to the argumentation used by contemporary Islamic fundamentalists…the Mufti viewed only as a new interpretation of the traditional concept of the Islamic community (umma), sharing with Nazism common enemies.

This hateful propaganda served to incite the slaughter of Jews, and (Serb) Christians as well. Indeed, the Bosnian Muslim Handzar SS Division was responsible for the destruction of whole Bosnian Jewish and Serbian communities, including the massacre of Jews and Serbs, and the deportation of survivors to Auschwitz for extermination. However, these heinous crimes, for which the Mufti bears direct responsibility, had only a limited impact on the overall destruction of European Jewry when compared with his nefarious wartime campaign to prevent Jewish emigration from Europe to Palestine. Wanner, in his 1986 analysis of the Mufti’s collaboration with Nazi Germany during World War II, concluded,

…the darkest aspect of the Mufti’s activities in the final stage of the war was undoubtedly his personal share in the extermination of Europe’s Jewish population. On May 17, 1943, he wrote a personal letter to Ribbentrop, asking him to prevent the transfer of 4500 Bulgarian Jews, 4000 of them children, to Palestine. In May and June of the same year, he sent a number of letters to the governments of Bulgaria, Italy, Rumania, and Hungary, with the request not to permit even individual Jewish emigration and to allow the transfer of Jews to Poland where, he claimed they would be “under active supervision”. The trials of Eichmann’s henchmen, including Dieter Wislicency who was executed in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, confirmed that this was not an isolated act by the Mufti.

Invoking the personal support of such prominent Nazis as Himmler and Eichmann, the Mufti’s relentless hectoring of German, Rumanian, and Hungarian government officials caused the cancellation of an estimated 480,000 exit visas which had been granted to Jews (80,000 from Rumania, and 400,000 from Hungary). As a result, these hapless individuals were deported to Polish concentration camps. A United Nations Assembly document presented in 1947 which contained the Mufti’s June 28, 1943 letter to the Hungarian Foreign Minister requesting the deportation of Hungarian Jews to Poland, includes this stark, telling annotation: “As a Sequel to This Request 400,000 Jews Were Subsequently Killed.” Moreover, in the Mufti’s memoirs (Memoirs of the Grand Mufti, edited by Abd al-Karim al-Umar, Damascus, 1999) he describes what Himmler revealed to him during the summer of 1943 regarding the genocide of the Jews. Following pro forma tirades on “Jewish war guilt,” Himmler told the Mufti that “up to now we have liquidated [abadna] around three million of them.”

According to historian Howard M. Sachar, meetings the Mufti held with Hitler in 1941 and 1942 lead to an understanding whereby Hitler’s forces would invade Palestine with the goal being “..not the occupation of the Arab lands, but solely the destruction of Palestin(ian) Jewry…” And in April, 2006, the director of the Nazi research center in Ludwigsburg, Klaus-Michael Mallman, and Berlin historian Martin Cueppers, revealed that a murderous Einsatzgruppe Egypt, connected to Rommel’s Africa Korps, was stationed in Athens awaiting British expulsion from the Levant, prior to beginning their planned slaughter of the roughly 500,000 Jews in Palestine. This plan was only aborted after Rommel’s defeat by Montgomery at El Alamein, Egypt, in October/November 1942.

The Mufti remained unrelenting in his espousal of a virulent Judeophobic hatred as the focal tenet of his ideology in the aftermath of World War II, and the creation of the State of Israel. And the Mufti was also a committed supporter of global jihad movements, urging a “full struggle” against the Hindus of India (as well as the Jews of Israel) before delegates at the February 1951 World Muslim Congress: “We shall meet next with sword in hand on the soil of either Kashmir or Palestine.” Declassified intelligence documents from 1942, 1947, 1952, and 1954 confirm the Mufti’s own Caliphate desires in repeated references from contexts as diverse as Turkey, Egypt, Jerusalem, and Pakistan, and also include discussions of major Islamic Conferences dominated by the Mufti, which were attended by a broad spectrum of Muslim leaders literally representing the entire Islamic world (including Shia leaders from Iran), i, e., in Karachi from February 16-19, 1952, and Jordanian occupied Jerusalem, December 3-9, 1953. Viewed in their totality these data do not support the current standard assessment of the Mufti as merely a “Palestinian Arab nationalist, rife with Jew hatred.”

During an interview conducted in the late 1930s (published in 1939), Karl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist and founder of analytical psychiatry, was asked “…had he any views on what was likely to be the next step in religious development?” Jung replied, in reference to the Nazi fervor that had gripped Germany,

We do not know whether Hitler is going to found a new Islam. He is already on the way; he is like Muhammad. The emotion in Germany is Islamic; warlike and Islamic. They are all drunk with wild god. That can be the historic future.

Although now, inexplicably, almost ignored in their entirety, writings produced for 100 years between the mid-19th through mid-20th centuries, by important scholars and intellectuals, in addition to Carl Jung—for example, the historians Jacob Burckhardt and Waldemar Gurian, Protestant theologian Karl Barth, and most notably, the renowned 20th century scholar of Islamic Law, G.H. Bousquet—referred to Islam as a despotic, or in 20th century parlance, totalitarian ideology.

Being imbued with fanaticism was the ultimate source of Muhammad’s great strength, and lead to his triumph as a despot, according to the 19th century Swiss historian Burckhardt:

Muhammad is personally very fanatical; that is his basic strength. His fanaticism is that of a radical simplifier and to that extent is quite genuine. It is of the toughest variety, namely doctrinaire passion, and his victory is one of the greatest victories of fanaticism and triviality. All idolatry, everything mythical, everything free in religion, all the multifarious ramifications of the hitherto existing faith, transport him into a real rage, and he hits upon a moment when large strata of his nation were highly receptive to an extreme simplification of the religious.

The Arabs, Burckhardt emphasizes, Muhammad’s henchmen, were not barbarians and had their own ingenuities, and spiritual traditions. Muhammad’s successful preaching among them capitalized upon an apparent longing for supra-tribal unification, “an extreme simplification.” Muhammad’s genius, “lies in divining this.” Utilizing portions of the most varied existing traditions, and taking advantage of the fact that “the peoples who were now attacked may also have been somewhat tired of their existing theology and mythology,” Muhammad

…with the aid of at least ten people, looks over the faiths of the Jews, Christians, and Parsis [Zoroastrians], and steals from them any scraps that he can use, shaping these elements according to his imagination. Thus everyone found in Muhammad’s sermons some echo of his accustomed faith. The very extraordinary thing is that with all this Muhammad achieved not merely lifetime success, the homage of Arabia, but founded a world religion that is viable to this day and has a tremendously high opinion of itself.

Burckhardt concludes that despite this achievement, Muhammad was not a great man, although he accepts the understandable inclination,

…to deduce great causes from great effects, thus, from Muhammad’s achievement, greatness of the originator. At the very least, one wants to concede in Muhammad’s case that he was no fraud, was serious about things, etc. However, it is possible to be in error sometime with this deduction regarding greatness and to mistake mere might for greatness. In this instance it is rather the low qualities of human nature that have received a powerful presentation. Islam is a triumph of triviality, and the great majority of mankind is trivial…But triviality likes to be tyrannical and is fond of imposing its yoke upon nobler spirits. Islam wanted to deprive distinguished old nations of their myths, the Persians of their Book of Kings, and for 1200 years it has actually prohibited sculpture and painting to tremendously large populations.

University of Notre Dame historian Waldemar Gurian, a refugee, who witnessed first hand the Communist and Fascist totalitarian movements in Europe, concluded (circa 1945) that Hitler, in a manner analogous to the 7th century precedent of Muhammad, had been the simplifier of German nationalism.

A fanatical simplifier who appeared as the unifier of various German traditions in the service of simple national aims and who was seen by many differing German groups—even by some people outside Germany—as the fulfiller of their wishes and sharer of their beliefs, with some distortions and exaggerations—such, as long as he had success, was Adolf Hitler.

Based upon the same clear understandings, and devoid of our era’s dulling, politically correct constraints, Karl Barth, like Carl Jung (cited earlier), offered this warning, also published in 1939:

[Karl Barth] Participation in this life, according to it the only worthy and blessed life, is what National Socialism, as a political experiment, promises to those who will of their own accord share in this experiment. And now it becomes understandable why, at the point where it meets with resistance, it can only crush and kill—with the might and right which belongs to Divinity! Islam of old as we know proceeded in this way. It is impossible to understand National Socialism unless we see it in fact as a new Islam [emphasis in original], its myth as a new Allah, and Hitler as this new Allah’s Prophet.

Investigative journalist John Roy Carlson’s 1948-1950 interviews of Arab Muslim religious and political leaders provide consummate independent validation of these Western assessments. Perhaps most revealing were the candid observations of Aboul Saud, whom Carlson described as a “pleasant English-speaking member of the Arab League Office.” Aboul Saud explained to Carlson that Islam was an authoritarian religio-political creed which encompassed all of a Muslim’s spiritual and temporal existence. He stated plainly,

You might describe Mohammedanism as a religious form of State Socialism…The Koran give the State the right to nationalize industry, distribute land, or expropriate the right to nationalize industry, distribute land, or expropriate property. It grants the ruler of the State unlimited powers, so long as he does not go against the Koran. The Koran is our personal as well as our political constitution.

And after interviewing Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna himself, who “preached the doctrine of the Koran in one hand and the sword in the other,” Carlson observed:

It became clear to me why the average Egyptian worshipped the use of force. Terror was synonymous with power! This was one reason why most Egyptians, regardless of class or calling had admired Nazi Germany. It helped explain the sensational growth of the Ikhwan el Muslimin [Muslim Brotherhood]

In a brilliant, dispassionate contemporary analysis, Ibn Warraq describes 14 characteristics of “Ur Fascism” as enumerated by Umberto Eco, analyzing their potential relationship to the major determinants of Islamic governance and aspirations, through the present. He adduces salient examples which reflect the key attributes discussed by Eco: the unique institution of jihad war; the establishment of a Caliphate under “Allah’s vicegerent on earth,” the Caliph—ruled by Islamic Law, i.e., Shari’a, a rigid system of subservience and sacralized discrimination against non-Muslims and Muslim women, devoid of basic freedoms of conscience, and expression. Warraq’s assessment confirms what G.H. Bousquet concluded (in 1950) from his career studying the historical development and implementation of Islamic Law:

Islam first came before the world as a doubly totalitarian system. It claimed to impose itself on the whole world and it claimed also, by the divinely appointed Muhammadan law, by the principles of fiqh [jurisprudence], to regulate down to the smallest details the whole life of the Islamic community and of every individual believer… the study of Muhammadan Law (dry and forbidding though it may appear)… is of great importance to the world of today.

Thirty-fours years ago (1973/74) Bat Ye’or published a remarkably foresighted analysis of the Islamic antisemitism and resurgent jihadism in her native Egypt, being packaged for dissemination throughout the Muslim world. The primary, core Antisemitic and jihadist motifs were Islamic, derived from Islam’s foundational texts, on to which European, especially Nazi elements were grafted. Nazi academic and propagandist of extermination Johannes von Leers’ writings and personal career trajectory—as a favored contributor in Goebbel’s propaganda ministry, to his eventual adoption of Islam (as Omar Amin von Leers) while working as an anti-Western, and antisemitic/anti-Zionist propagandist under Nasser’s regime from the mid-1950s, until his death in 1965—epitomizes this convergence of jihad, Islamic antisemitism, and racist, Nazi antisemitism, as described by Bat Ye’or. Upon his arrival in Egypt in 1956, it was Hajj Amin el-Husseini who welcomed von Leers, stating, “We are grateful to you for having come here to resume the struggle against the powers of darkness incarnated by international Judaism.” The ex-Mufti oversaw von Leers’ formal conversion to Islam, and remained one of his confidants. And von Leers described the origins of the Muslim “forename,” Omar Amin, that he adopted as part of his conversion to Islam in a November, 1957 letter to American Nazi H. Keith Thompson,

I myself have embraced Islam and accepted the new forename Omar Amin, Omar according to the great Caliph Omar who was a grim enemy of the Jews, Amin in honor of my friend Hajj Amin el Husseini, the Grand Mufti.

Already in essays published during 1938 and 1942, the first dating back almost two decades before his conversion to Islam while in Egypt, von Leers produced analyses focused primarily on Muhammad’s interactions with the Jews of Medina. These essays reveal his pious reverence for Islam and its prophet, and a thorough understanding of the sacralized Islamic sources for this narrative, i.e., the Koran, hadith, and sira. which is entirely consistent with standard Muslim apologetics.

Von Leers’ 1942 essay, for example, concludes by simultaneously extolling the “model” of oppression the Jews experienced under Islamic suzerainty, and the nobility of Muhammad, Islam, and the contemporary Muslims of the World War II era, foreshadowing his own conversion to Islam just over a decade later. And even earlier, in a 1938 essay, von Leers further sympathized with, “the leading role of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem in the Arabians’ battles against the Jewish invasion in Palestine.” Von Leers observes that to the pious Muslim, “…the Jew is an enemy, not simply an ‘unbeliever’ who might perhaps be converted or, despite the fact that he does not belong to Islam, might still be a person of some estimation. Rather, the Jew is the predestined opponent of the Muslim, one who desired to bring down the work of the Prophet.”

Until his death in 1965, von Leers remained unrepentant about the annihilationist policies towards the Jews he helped advance serving Hitler’s Reich. Indeed he was convinced of the righteousness of the Nazi war against the Jews, and as a pious Muslim convert, von Leers viewed the Middle East as the succeeding battleground to seal the fate of world Jewry. His public evolution over the course of three decades illustrates starkly the shared centrality to these totalitarianisms—both modern and ancient—of the Jews as “first and last enemy” motif. Finally, an October 1957 US intelligence report on von Leers’ writings and activities for Egypt and the Arab League confirmed his complete adoption of the triumphalist Muslim worldview, desirous of nothing less than the destruction of Judeo-Christian civilization by jihad:

He [Dr. Omar Amin von Leers] is becoming more and more a religious zealot, even to the extent of advocating an expansion of Islam in Europe in order to bring about stronger unity through a common religion. This expansion he believes can come not only from contact with the Arabs in the Near East and Africa but with Islamic elements in the USSR. The results he envisions as the formation of a political bloc against which neither East nor West could prevail.

Fifty years later ignorance, denial, and delusion have engendered the sorry state of public understanding of this most ominous conversion of hatreds, by all its potential victims, not only Jews. This lack of understanding is little advanced by the current spate of analyses which seek “Nazi roots” of the cataclysmic September 11, 2001 acts of jihad terrorism, and see Nazism as having “introduced” antisemitism to an otherwise “tolerant”, even philosemitic Islamic world beginning in the 1930s. Awkwardly forced, and ahistorical, these analyses realign the Nazi cart in front of the Islamic steed which has driven both jihad and Islamic antisemitism, since the 7th century advent of the Muslim creed, particularly during the last decade of Muhammad’s life.

But even if all vestiges of Nazi militarism and racist antisemitism were to disappear miraculously overnight from the Islamic world, the living legacy of jihad war against non-Muslim infidels, and anti-Jewish hatred and violence rooted in Islam’s sacred texts—Koran, hadith, and sira—would remain intact. The assessment and understanding of the uniquely Muslim institution of jihad, and Islamic antisemitism, begins with an unapologetic exposure of both the injunctions sanctioning jihad war, and the anti-Jewish motifs contained in these foundational texts of Islam. Yet while the West has engaged in self-critical mea culpa, acknowledging its own imperialistic past, shameful role in the slave trade, and antisemitic persecution—taking steps to make amends where possible—the Islamic nations remain in perpetual denial. Until Muslims acknowledge the ugly realities of jihad imperialism, and anti-Jewish persecution in their history, the past will continue to poison the present, and there will be no hope of combating resurgent jihadism, and Islam’s unreformed theological hatred of Jews in modern times, from Morocco to Indonesia, and within Muslim communities living in Western, and other non-Muslim societies across the globe.

About Eeyore

Canadian artist and counter-jihad and freedom of speech activist as well as devout Schrödinger's catholic

6 Replies to “Front Page Magazine: Hitler and Jihad”

  1. Before you get carried away, like you usually do get to know what you are Talking about!!!

    What is Jihad

    Article follows my comments;

    The issues of Jihad, Use of Voilence, Apostasy, Blasphemy, Women and Conversions are addressed in this article.

    I dropped the idea of highlighting a few sentences, as it turned out to be half of the article, 5 pages out of 10. However, I am pleased to place at least a few samplers of the quality of his writing;

    – all violence done in the name of Jihad is murder, mass murder or terrorism and this is one of the worst crimes that any Muslim can commit. Therefore, it is easy to see that those engaging in wrongful violence in the name of Jihad have in fact acted contrary to the very concept and dictates of Jihad as prescribed by God throughout the Qur’an.

    – The first mistake was casting the historians’ recorded news, that is facts, of the early Muslim battles in religious tones and the second mistake was casting all subsequent battles of Muslims into the exclusive scenery of religious Jihad. This second mistake by far has been the more egregious in its ability to mislead.

    – Historically there have been many kinds of battles that have not been religious Jihad, such as civil, national and regional wars

    – Wars fought for secular, economic or political reasons and goals are more easily terminated on terms that can be acceptable, even if disliked, to the warring sides unlike religious wars whose devotees seek vindication and protection of their faith, values and way of life.

    – young Muslims today think not only that all past wars were true religious Jihad but that current wars that have nothing to do with any religion are also religious Jihad.

    – Most wars do not meet the high conditions of Jihad. In authentic Jihad there can be absolutely no killing of any prisoners and noncombatants; there can be no use of poisonous weapons; there shall be no atrocities, such as any mutilation of people and animals, committed in conquered lands; there shall be no raping, pillaging and razing; there shall be no wanton despoliation of natural resources and necessary killing must only be done humanely. Therefore, in true Jihad the use of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons as well as the use of cluster and smart bombs and white phosphorus, is anathema because it flies in the face of several rules of engagement.

    – To put it in stark terms, I would ask the suicide bomber why he or she believes that he or she loves Islam when the intended action will only bring fear and hatred of Islam to the religion and the community.

    – In addition, he who turns back on his heels, not the least harm wills he do to God; and God will reward those who are grateful.By relying on some of the Hadiths, or prophetic traditions, and interpreting some of the Quran’s verses stating that Islam is the last, complete revelation by God for mankind, they argue that God will accept no faith but Islam and so therefore a Muslim has no right to convert from the one true, last religion. This cha0uvinistic outlook is very prevalent in other religions, such as evangelical Christianity which believes it has the only true beliefs that will give mankind eternal life with God in Heaven.

    – The Quran`s teachings about women were enormously progressive in their original historical context. Women’s legal and financial rights and equality with men saw dramatic advances over pre-Islamic social norms. Westerners not knowing this, see, instead, restrictive social traditions that are given the cover of religion being very harshly enforced by impassioned religious leaders in that society. This Western view is worsened dramatically and intentionally by some Western propagandists, such as but certainly not limited to very influential, high profile evangelical leaders, who denigrate Islam, the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) and the Quran, for instance, by calling the Prophet a terrorist and the Quran the work of the Devil.

    – I should like to add here that while Islam does allow divorce, the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) strongly disliked divorce unless the difference or problems between the spouses were genuinely irreconcilable.

    Enjoy reading, it is enlightening. Article courtesy – Newsweek/Wpost.

    Mike Ghouse

    1. What is Jihad?

    Jihad is an Arabic word that means, very broadly, striving hard or exerting oneself to the best one’s power and ability to behave in the way God, or in Arabic “Allah”, has set forth for mankind. This behavior has two aspects: personal and communal interaction. The Quran, which Muslims believe is God speaking directly and with completion to mankind, is divided into sura or chapters that are, in turn, subdivided into aiya or verses. The Quran frequently urges Muslims to strive hard in different aiya that address different circumstances that we face in life, be it in daily, routine life or in unusual, tumultuous and extreme times, such as we are living in today. Therefore, the central question that is important in this regard is what kind of striving God is requiring Muslims to make. Most of the Islamic scholars, called Ulma, for the past fifteen centuries believe that Muslims should strive hard to attain their nearness to God by struggling to overcome bad desires or weaknesses of character, especially if acquired and to the extent possible if genetic. Muslims are reminded that they must adhere, or strive hard to adhere, to all the standards in Islam; they cannot “cherry pick’, no matter what the circumstances. They are to participate in the defense of the Muslim community when attacked by enemy forces that are intent and directed towards the destruction of the faith and the community of Islam.

    2. Under what conditions does Islam sanction the use of violence?

    It is crucial to understand, especially in today’s war on terrorism, which some high profile, influential people construe only in terms of Islamo-fascism or other emotive artifice against Islam, that there is no mention, let alone urging, in the Quran for individual Muslims to start or actively participate in military action or in any physical violence against an enemy of Islam, actual or alleged, without a clear declaration from the highest, relevant political authority first. That is why you see political and religious leaders questioning and challenging the authority of those calling for “Jihad” today. Without this initial, properly authorized, declaration of Jihad, all violence done in the name of Jihad is murder, mass murder or terrorism and this is one of the worst crimes that any Muslim can commit. Therefore, it is easy to see that those engaging in wrongful violence in the name of Jihad have in fact acted contrary to the very concept and dictates of Jihad as prescribed by God throughout the Qur’an. In addition, I should like to point out that preemptive war for regime change is strictly forbidden.

    It is also clear that true, or properly declared, Jihad strictly forbids Muslims, whether as individuals or collectively as a political identity, to wage war against non-Muslims simply because of their religious belief. True Jihad is only waged against those, Muslim or not, who are actively engaged in the destruction of the faith and the community of Islam and the force to be used to counteract or neutralize that destructive action has to be, must only be, of the kind or relevance and to the minimum degree appropriate to succeed without engaging in “overkill”.

    Therefore, within this context of Jihad, the question arises how the definition came to be construed broadly to mean the kind of fighting that we see globally today rather than the very limited, self-defensive action against clearly identified, active enemies. The answer has historical roots. Some historians have wrongly understood the definition of Jihad that was applied to the first battles that the founding Muslims were forced to fight for survival in the advent of Islam. Also some jurists tried to find justification in those battles for subsequent fighting by utilizing comparisons and verses in the Quran to make Muslims feel confident in themselves as warriors and confident in the purpose and view of the battle. It was to assure the warriors that their fighting, their killing and dying, and those battles were religiously correct. How did the jurists do this convincingly? First, they relied on the historians’ narratives and second, they gave every aspect of life a religious cover and meaning due to the influences and in keeping with the culture and times of the middle Ages.

    However, there are two inherent flaws in this approach, which essentially reduces, renders and transforms persuasion from unbiased, intellectual curiosity and analysis of objective facts to unquestioning, subjective propaganda. The first mistake was casting the historians’ recorded news, that is facts, of the early Muslim battles in religious tones and the second mistake was casting all subsequent battles of Muslims into the exclusive scenery of religious Jihad. This second mistake by far has been the more egregious in its ability to mislead.

    It is undeniable that the first Muslim battles were fought out of necessity and in self-defense for the very existence of Islam, for the first Muslims to practice their new faith and for the establishment and preservation of the founding Islamic community. The long-established communities saw the new Islamic faith and community as life threatening for many reasons, not least of which was economic since it abolished slavery and treated women as equals with legal rights. As there was no other reason for and goal than self-preservation in these initial battles, it is illogical to cast this existential religious character to some or all subsequent battles because it falsely conveys an inherent quality of religion and the magnified consequence of religious annihilation to them. This can be particularly persuasive to those with passion but with little to no comprehensive knowledge or objective understanding of history or religion for they can be easily manipulated by propaganda. Historically there have been many kinds of battles that have not been religious Jihad, such as civil, national and regional wars.

    Wars fought for secular, economic or political reasons and goals are more easily terminated on terms that can be acceptable, even if disliked, to the warring sides unlike religious wars whose devotees seek vindication and protection of their faith, values and way of life. Further, exclusivity of eternal salvation and life is a common belief to devotees of particular faiths, especially those that include a proselytizing component, so that losing in war for these devotees includes a tacit admission that their faith is inferior to the conqueror’s or that their faith will be vanquished by the conqueror. Therefore, when the West defines the war on global terrorism as a war on qualified Islam, such as Islamo-fascism, which is a highly charged, emotive but intellectually vacuous term, the West casts a genuine cause that is acceptable to all rational civilizations into a religious cause of questionable purpose and goals.

    So based on these earlier jurists’ misleading interpretations and coupled with the West’s depictions of the war on global terrorism in these charged religious terms, young Muslims today think not only that all past wars were true religious Jihad but that current wars that have nothing to do with any religion are also religious Jihad.

    So it is clear that Jihad is not a war of aggression or preemption to conquer and occupy foreign lands, to possess and exploit the natural resources, property, lives and futures of others, be they Muslim or non Muslim. To reiterate, individuals can only battle in genuine Jihad after the proper declaration from the highest, appropriate government authority. If it is a religious battle, it must be existential for the religion, for the right to worship and for the Islamic community.

    Those acts commonly considered terrorist actions are an abomination to Islam and strictly forbidden in true Jihad. Most wars do not meet the high conditions of Jihad. In authentic Jihad there can be absolutely no killing of any prisoners and noncombatants; there can be no use of poisonous weapons; there shall be no atrocities, such as any mutilation of people and animals, committed in conquered lands; there shall be no raping, pillaging and razing; there shall be no wanton despoliation of natural resources and necessary killing must only be done humanely. Therefore, in true Jihad the use of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons as well as the use of cluster and smart bombs and white phosphorus, is anathema because it flies in the face of several rules of engagement.

    Applying these strict and absolute preconditions and conditions of true Jihad to the fighting today, it is hard, if not impossible, to consider this fighting Jihad. Nevertheless, such mandatory prerequisites have not prevented horrors from being perpetrated in the very name of Jihad and of Islam to the great sorrow of many millions of Muslims. While I do not find in Islam or in rational thinking any justification that excuses those who engage in atrocities, no matter what their avowed religious affiliation or expressed motivations may be, it is also true that not sufficient, objective analysis has been taken to rationalize their motivation in order to counteract their terrorism.

    3. What would you tell suicide bombers who invoke Islam to justify their action?

    Suicide bombers are first and foremost people, not lifeless weapons like cluster bombs or killing machines like armed airships, so before telling them anything I would listen to them, their life story, their motivation, their goals, their reasoning and how they reconcile their intended action not only to achieve their goals but to stay within Islam and true Jihad. This point is very important because a suicide bomber in Afghanistan may have a very different life story, goals and motivation from a suicide bomber in the Occupied Territories. Further there is a difference between targets: dying in fighting legitimately against enemy soldiers actively engaged in destroying Islam, the freedom of Muslims to practice Islam and the Islamic community is totally different from dying to kill unarmed, innocent civilians who are neither part of or sympathetic to but under the occupation of an active enemy force. After listening to the suicide bomber, I would discuss in an atmosphere of “a level playing ground” the difference between true Jihad and war for political or other secular reasons. We would discuss, in keeping with Islamic principles of warfare, alternative and appropriate means as well as the relevant degree of force, if indeed any is necessary, to directly combat successfully the actual or perceived threat after it has been defined accurately and fully.

    Framing the argument purely in Islam, on the assumption that the suicide bomber is a Muslim, for not all suicide bombers are Muslim, we would start in agreement on the most fundamental basis: that the soul is not ours to destroy; our soul belongs only to God and it is our duty to nourish and preserve it from harm. From there I would go to the next step of mutual agreement. The Quran states explicitly and very clearly that Allah commands each Muslim to uphold Justice and to do good deeds, saying ‘surely Allah loves those who do well to others’. If necessary, we would return to these two grounding principles of mutual agreement whenever necessary but the discussion or debate would then embark using the whole Quran and the true Hadiths as well as the Islamic principles and historical facts, circumstances and justifications of warfare. We would engage in critical debate and intellectual curiosity. The point in the approach and substance would be to make the suicide bomber come to his or her own conclusion through Socratic questioning and logical reasoning that the action he or she contemplated is absolutely forbidden in Islam. For someone to become a suicide bomber, as it is generally perceived, the person first had to be indoctrinated or brainwashed as well as feel hopeless in resolving the threat or making things better outside of his or her suicide. Therefore, what and the manner of what I would say to the suicide bomber would have the goal of undoing the brainwashing and preventing any subsequent brainwashing through actual knowledge and personal conviction; by substituting reasoning for emotion and control for helplessness. My purpose would be to convert the suicide bomber from an enemy into an ally who could talk to and persuade others from becoming suicide bombers. Two mistakes the American government has made and continues to make is converting friends and allies into enemies and not making enemies or potential enemies into allies.

    Ideally, the suicide bomber would through the discussion convince himself or herself that in the Qur’an violence, as defined in the Islamic tradition, is absolutely prohibited outside true Jihad whether undertaken by an individual or by a political or alleged religious entity. The suicide bomber would understand with conviction that Islam does not accept the justifications voiced today by terrorists and that wrongful violence becomes a complete abomination when it associated with Islamic slogans or justifications.

    The concept of Jihad is complex for it permits defensive war for reasons totally outside of protecting Islam, the right to worship and the Islamic community. However, the same rules of engagement apply. So while the suicide bomber may defend his or her action by arguing this aspect of Jihad as well as buttressing this Islamic right with the complementary and equivalent right under international law to fight against illegal occupation and state terrorism by a harsh occupying force, I would hope to convince the suicide bomber that unless the preconditions and conditions of Jihad are met, violence that is outside Quranic correctness is terrorism.

    I believe that we are in a very dangerous situation right now because there is too much high profile, vociferous confusion in linking suicide bombing and violence to Islam, as a religion, without the necessary understanding of the religion being given the same opportunity and prominent airing. Indeed many who publicly state their confusion between hearing that Islam is a moderate religion that advocates peace but that its practitioners are extremists or terrorists only compound the problem by implying that what they hear is false propaganda. The linkage of violence, suicide bombing and terrorism with Islam serves the goals of both the so-called Islamic, since I do not consider them Muslim, terrorists who want their actions to be considered Islamic and others who know little to nothing of Islam but have their reasons for instilling global fear of Islam through highly emotive, imprecise and false rhetoric. I would ask a true Muslim who intends to be a suicide bomber why he or she would want to help the forces against Islam rather than work for the good of Islam by explaining the truth about the religion. To put it in stark terms, I would ask the suicide bomber why he or she believes that he or she loves Islam when the intended action will only bring fear and hatred of Islam to the religion and the community.

    QUESTIONS ON APOSTASY: How does Islam define apostasy? Is it permissible for a Muslim to convert to another faith? How can laws against apostasy and blasphemy be reconciled with the Quranic injunction of “no compulsion in religion”?
    How does Islam define apostasy?

    There is no definition of apostasy, called in Arabic rida, in the Quran but rather descriptions or incidents although the meaning of the word is well known as it is used in the Quran. The meaning of rida is turn around, which developed a similar, negative connotation of harmful betrayal in the Western term, turncoat.

    Is it permissible for a Muslim to convert to another faith?

    Aiya 144 of Sura 3, “Al-Imran”, (literally meaning “the family of Mary”) states:Mohammed (PBUH) is no more than a Messenger and indeed (many) Messengers have passed away before him. If he dies or is killed, will you turn back on your heels (as disbelievers)? In addition, he who turns back on his heels, not the least harm wills he do to God; and God will reward those who are grateful.

    This aiya was revealed by God to the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) while he was still alive so it shows that reversion to the original belief or converting to another religion or belief was foreseen in Islam and addressed. An example of how Islam, the religion, deals with apostasy and blasphemy is found in a very early historical event.

    Within the first Muslim community led by the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) was a man called Abu Bakre, who was also the Prophet’s father-in-law. Upon the death of the Prophet, Abu Bakre was elected to be the first caliph, who resided in and ruled from Medina. Also upon the death of the Prophet, in Najd, central of Arabia, lived a man called Musaylima who immediately declared himself a prophet. He urged people to believe in and follow him becoming, within a short period, a religious leader with a substantial following. While Musaylima kept to imitate the belief and same practices of Islam, his self-designation as a prophet was blasphemous because Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) was the “seal” of prophets, meaning that he was the last one. Therefore, Musaylima was a liar and false prophet. Abu Bakre sent a messenger to Najd from Medina urging Musaylima to abandon his claim. Musaylima not only refused but also answered Abu Bakre harshly and put the messenger to death. Upon hearing this news, Abu Bakre sent armies, one after another. The Muslim army had engaged in a sever wars with fighters from some tribes of Najd, those wars are known in the Islamic history by the name of the wars of apostasy.

    The intolerance many Westerners see in Islam today derives not from this application of Islam to conversion but rather other historical events that presented existential problems to the fledgling Islamic community. Islam had many enemies and it was the intent of some to infiltrate the community and then sow sufficient suspicion and dissent to cause physical strife within the community, hoping it would lead to its demise. These converts to Islam were false so soon would renounce Islam. Because of the genuine threat to the community’s continuation, capitol punishment was imposed on Muslim converts, called “Munafiqoon” or hypocrites. Not only was such a punishment necessary to safeguard the community from within but it also attempted to insure that anyone who chose to become a Muslim did so with true intent, respect and commitment to both the religion and the community. The issues of apostasy and hypocrisy are very complex, from both the religious and social points of view, and to compound the matter the issues are so intertwined over the centuries that deep knowledge is required to separate the issues. Unfortunately many today, whether they are called religious leaders, experts or not, do not have the sufficient wisdom to apply the principles correctly. Many intentionally distort what Islam says or requires for their own purposes and this is true for some Westerners as much as for some Muslims.

    How can laws against apostasy and blasphemy be reconciled with the Quranic injunction of “no compulsion in religion”?

    Quranic law is known as the “Shariya of which there are several different schools. Because the laws are not monolithic, it is not possible to really answer this question superficially. Some Islamic jurists have argued that freedom is granted to all mankind. Therefore, logically, a Muslim can choose his faith, but these scholars condition this freedom on the convert from Islam to another religion keeping silent in his practice and speech. In other words, he is not to proselytize his new faith to the Islamic community in which he lives. Other jurists completely disagree. By relying on some of the Hadiths, or prophetic traditions, and interpreting some of the Quran’s verses stating that Islam is the last, complete revelation by God for mankind, they argue that God will accept no faith but Islam and so therefore a Muslim has no right to convert from the one true, last religion. This cha0uvinistic outlook is very prevalent in other religions, such as evangelical Christianity which believes it has the only true beliefs that will give mankind eternal life with God in Heaven.

    Blasphemy is unacceptable in all Islamic schools of law. However, some Muslim countries have created a secular judicial forum to settle civil charges equivalent to blasphemy so that the accused can be tried outside the religious judicial system. As in the West, judicial systems have to work for the people and community they serve. Since religion plays a major role in daily life of people living in Islamic countries, the law should comply with and serve the needs of the community. This is no different from what is happening in the United States with Americans wanting their legal system to change to closer reflect Christian principles.

    QUESTIONS ON WOMEN: What are the rights of women in Islam? How does Islam view male-female equality? How does this differ from the Western view?

    Islam gives women many rights because the Quran clearly states that women are equal to men although men are given greater obligations to protect women. The Quran acknowledges the obvious differences between the genders, such as women being the sole gender to bear children, and their roles in the community. From a Western perspective, you would find the rights and duties of women in reference to those of men a combination of “equal but different” but without the wrongful discrimination, the US Supreme Court found in this concept applied to racial discrimination and dynamic, complementary equilibrium. With regard to this second concept the usual analogy is made to pieces of a jigsaw puzzle fitting together in order to make the fractured picture or, in this case, society whole, an integrated whole. However, I would add that rather than these pieces being fixed as they are in a jigsaw puzzle, they are fluid and changing as well as being fixed because what the Quran states is as relevant today and in very different societies with their own characteristic and local traditions. In other words women’s rights and duties in the Quran are universal and to be expressed or implemented in the “here and now”.

    This is purely from a religious point of view and that is the reason you find some women and men in societies with restrictive traditions limiting the rights and role of women in their society arguing to be given their rights as stated in the Quran. For instance, women in the Prophet Mohammed’s community rode horses; learnt how to swim and swam; actively participated in battles; were fully educated and according to their ability and learning were respected by men who sought their advice; owned their own property and were influential and wealthy business women who ran their own businesses. The Quran forbade in the absolute the pre-Islamic practice of burying alive the first-born daughter. Islam forbids slavery. Slavery was not only very prominent in pre-Islamic society but it was also an economic pillar of society’s financial well-being. Islam established a system that would allow the abolishment of slavery without destroying the society economically. Female slaves were treated as property for their owners to do unto them what they pleased so you can see the Quran first recognized these women as human beings not as property or chattel and then gave them rights of equality.

    Westerners today become fearful when they see men and women calling for or demanding women’s fundamental rights guaranteed in the Quran because they do not know what the Quran, or more correctly God, gives, they do not know how the Quran’s rights were radical freedoms in the society and at the time of that society when the Quran was revealed by God. The Quran`s teachings about women were enormously progressive in their original historical context. Women’s legal and financial rights and equality with men saw dramatic advances over pre-Islamic social norms. Westerners not knowing this, see, instead, restrictive social traditions that are given the cover of religion being very harshly enforced by impassioned religious leaders in that society. This Western view is worsened dramatically and intentionally by some Western propagandists, such as but certainly not limited to very influential, high profile evangelical leaders, who denigrate Islam, the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) and the Quran, for instance, by calling the Prophet a terrorist and the Quran the work of the Devil.

    Criticism by Westerners of Islam for preventing women from becoming fully educated and taking an active role in their society’s well-being, for preventing women from driving and for other things is, therefore, totally misplaced. Indeed, people forget the first Muslim woman head of state was Shajrat Al- Durr of Egypt over 800 years ago. More recently, Benazir Bhutto was Prime Minister of Pakistan. In addition, there are many prominent women held high seats in the governments of Malaysia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.

    Another very common criticism of Islam by Westerners is the inequality to divorce. Generally speaking, it is harder for women to divorce their husbands than husbands are their wives. However, what is unknown or unstated by Westerners is that the contract of marriage allows the woman to list all her conditions that would be grounds for divorce without lengthy procedural complications that is a divorce pursuant to the contract. If she marries unconditionally then she faces legal problems if she wants a divorce not because of Islam but by social norms. In Islam, women are not to be coerced into marriage and they are not to be prevented from listing their grounds for divorce or conditions of marriage in the contract. Men do not have this right in the contract. I should like to add here that while Islam does allow divorce, the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) strongly disliked divorce unless the difference or problems between the spouses were genuinely irreconcilable. This is why a man must divorce his wife three times before it is final and why he must marry another woman first if the divorced spouses want to remarry. This process is mediation and has the same purpose many states in the United States now that is only since the late twentieth century, require before spouses can divorce.

    Westerners point out that Muslim men can marry Christian or Jewish women without their converting to Islam unlike Muslim women whose fiancés must convert to Islam before marriage. This distinction has social reasons based upon several premises. First, divorce is not encouraged and that puts an added seriousness to marriage and the suitability of prospective spouses. Society wants the marriage to work and for the unit to be harmonious within society for everyone’s benefit. Second, society is paternalistic and the husband is head of his household. The children will bear his family name. Third, it is assumed that parents will want their children to grown up in their religious community and become practitioners or believers in the same religion as them. Muslims consider Islam to be the final and complete religion desired and commanded by God. It is impossible for a true Muslim parent to teach his or her children to be believers in a different religion, just as it would be impossible, say of Billy Graham to have brought his children up Muslim while being an evangelical Christian preacher. A wife and mother will accept that she teach and/or allow her children to grow up and become believers in her husband’s religion. Therefore, it is assumed that a Jewish or Christian wife accepts that her children will be Muslims. For a Muslim wife of a non-Muslim husband to teach her children to become believers in a religion other than Islam is impossible. This religious difference, it is assumed, would cause irreconcilable problems for the family leading to divorce. As mentioned above, Islam requires that women be protected and so to protect women from this unpleasant situation, social tradition requires Muslim women to marry Muslim men.

    Islamic tradition and values include a very clear picture of gender roles, especially within the family. The predominant view is that in order to maintain family order, the husband or father has the final say in matters of dispute. From this practice, outsider observers may understand that women in Islam have no equality with men. This social or domestic practice, however, is not religious; in fact, it is a pre-Islamic practice or a local custom that you find in Western homes as well.

    From the preceding discussion, it is easy to see that Islam treats women’s rights well within the scope of contemporary international human rights. I would like to emphasize that the oppression of women is not an exclusive Islamic issue or problem. Some Muslim leaders just like those in other religions have often used or misused their own religion to control social behavior of women and men in various contexts. The roots of female subordination in social status and abuse by men as evidenced in numerous societies today go much deeper and broader than Islam.

    However, it is true that many Muslim women do not know their rights in Islam and there is strong concern in the community to educate women on their rights. This concern is quite controversial in some segments as it flies in the face of tradition and control enjoyed by some.

    Another concern in the community is the proper and full implementation and enforcement of women’s Islamic rights through competent social institutions and fair, correct procedures.

    I would like to conclude this question by pointing out that Islamic religious tradition is rich with stories of Muslim women who are role models, for men and women of all ages and societies, of faith, courage, leadership and virtue.


    Abdullah al-Askar is a Professor of History at King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He received his PhD at the University of California, Los Angeles. His studies and publications focus strongly on the social transformations of the Saudi people, including Al-Yamama in the Early Islamic Era, which tracks the early political and geographic development of the Saudi Peninsula. Dr. Al-Askar has participated in a number of international conferences geared towards improving dialogue between the Arab and Western worlds, most recently taking part in the US-Islamic World Forum in Doha.

  2. Well I wish your brand of Islam was the real one. Actually it doesn’t matter if its the ‘real’ one or not so much as the one that is practiced. Sadly one can’t help but notice that pretty much every single act of terror carried out by Muslims on the west and elsewhere has been done in the name of Islam, for Islam and the terrorists often even made videos explaining that this was an Islamic action against the infidels, some of those are here on this blog.
    Also, Koran was written so that Medina abrogates Mecca. The Mecca passages are most certainly calls to holy war.

    The Qur’an:

    Sura (2:191-193) – “And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution [of Muslims] is worse than slaughter [of non-believers]…and fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah.” There is a good case to be made that the overall context of these verses is defensive war, however, there are two worrisome pieces to this passage. The first is that the killing of others is authorized in the event of “persecution.” The second is that fighting may persist until “religion is for Allah.”

    Sura (2:244) – “Then fight in the cause of Allah, and know that Allah Heareth and knoweth all things.”

    Sura (2:216) – “Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not.”

    Sura (3:56) – “As to those who reject faith, I will punish them with terrible agony in this world and in the Hereafter, nor will they have anyone to help.”

    Sura (3:151) – “Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers, for that they joined companions with Allah, for which He had sent no authority”. This speaks directly of killing Christians, since they believe in the Trinity (ie. what Muhammad incorrectly believed to be ‘joining companions to Allah’).

    Sura (4:74) – “Let those fight in the way of Allah who sell the life of this world for the other. Whoso fighteth in the way of Allah, be he slain or be he victorious, on him We shall bestow a vast reward.”

    Sura (4:76) – “Those who believe fight in the cause of Allah…”

    Sura (4:89) – “They but wish that ye should reject Faith, as they do, and thus be on the same footing (as they): But take not friends from their ranks until they flee in the way of Allah (From what is forbidden). But if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them; and (in any case) take no friends or helpers from their ranks.”

    Sura (4:95) – “Not equal are those believers who sit (at home) and receive no hurt, and those who strive and fight in the cause of Allah with their goods and their persons. Allah hath granted a grade higher to those who strive and fight with their goods and persons than to those who sit (at home). Unto all (in Faith) Hath Allah promised good: But those who strive and fight Hath He distinguished above those who sit (at home) by a special reward,-” This passage not only criticizes “peaceful” Muslims who do not join in the violence, but also demolishes the modern myth that “Jihad” doesn’t mean holy war in the Qur’an, but rather a spiritual struggle. Not only is the Arabic word used in this passage, but it is clearly not referring to anything spiritual, since the physically disabled are given exemption. (The Hadith reveals the context of the passage to be in response to a blind man’s protest that he is unable to engage in Jihad).

    Sura (8:12) – “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them”

    Sura (9:38-39) – “O ye who believe! what is the matter with you, that, when ye are asked to go forth in the cause of Allah, ye cling heavily to the earth? Do ye prefer the life of this world to the Hereafter? But little is the comfort of this life, as compared with the Hereafter. Unless ye go forth, He will punish you with a grievous penalty, and put others in your place.” This is a warning to those who refuse to fight, that they will be punished with Hell.

    There are over a hundred more like this some more and some less clear but together most Muslims interpret this as calls to holy war against the non Muslim and this is Jihad.

    you’re article above also makes many unsubstantiated claims which are simply untrue or do not matter such as this one
    “- young Muslims today think not only that all past wars were true religious Jihad but that current wars that have nothing to do with any religion are also religious Jihad.”

    Let’s say this is true. If its what Muslims think then its what Islam is no matter how you interpret Islam. It isn’t science its dogma. how people interpret and act on it is all that matters.

    This one is a good laugh…
    “Most wars do not meet the high conditions of Jihad. In authentic Jihad there can be absolutely no killing of any prisoners and noncombatants; there can be no use of poisonous weapons; there shall be no atrocities, such as any mutilation of people and animals, committed in conquered lands; there shall be no raping, pillaging and razing; there shall be no wanton despoliation of natural resources and necessary killing must only be done humanely. Therefore, in true Jihad the use of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons as well as the use of cluster and smart bombs and white phosphorus, is anathema because it flies in the face of several rules of engagement.”
    I want your source on that. I already gave several Koranic verses which tear this to bits and again, EVEN if you are correct, which you are not, its how Muslims today interpret this stuff which matters as its what motivates them to act on it. When the Catholics of the middle ages engaged in the inquisition Jesus would have had an an apoplectic fit. Doesn’t mean it wasn’t true Catholicism and most especially it did not mean that decent people should not have fought the Church. The argument that Jesus would not have approved of which burnings in no way would have meant the Church should not have been stopped in its irrational zeal for heretic blood.
    I could comment further on this nonsense but I can’t get past the first part as once a thing is clearly untrue its hard to wade through all the rest. Hope this satisfies.

  3. Correction, the Medina passages are calls to holy war abrogating the Mecca passages which, probably plagiarized from the Coptics, are verses of relative peace.


    There are several hostile myths around Islam thanks to Western media and communal forces in India. Western media by and large was never sympathetic to Islam but after 9/11 it became downright hostile and did not feel shy in spreading all sorts of myths about it. The Zionist factor can also not be discounted. In India the Sangh Parivar and particularly the RSS has gone an extra mile to defame Islam. Lastly, we should not ignore the role the Muslim extremists play in discrediting Islam through their own shameful role.

    Generally people form their opinion about anything by reading newspaper headlines. And newspaper headlines tend to be sensational. The events of 9/11 provided newspapers one

    more opportunity to sensationalize news about Islamic militancy. Even social scientists and scholars studying Islam in Western world project Islam as religion of violence and fanaticism. Also, Islam is projected as anti-modernism, anti-science, anti-democracy and anti-women.

    If not media people at least social scientists and scholars should be able to make distinction between what a religion teaches and how social structures impact a believer’s behaviour. But most of the western scholars also do not make such distinctions and whatever happens in a Muslim society is blamed on Islam. A religion finds its own level in a given society. Thus one has to understand social structure as much as religious faith. A religion is not practiced in a vacuum, it is practiced in a concrete historical and social conditions. A religion may stand for most modern and democratic ideals, but same cannot be practiced in a backward feudal society.

    If the Muslim countries do not have democracy and modern political institutions, it is not because of Islam but because these countries have feudal social structure. There is nothing in the Qur’an or Islamic teachings, which opposes democracy or democratic governance. No Muslim country has had industrial revolution without which it is not possible to have genuine democratic governance. Most of the Islamic countries were colonized by western countries and it is these countries, which foisted one or the other form of dictatorship, monarchy or sheikhdom and throttled democratic movements in their own interests. It is USA, which has supported monarchies, sheikhs or military dictators in these Muslim countries. And now they blame Islam for lack of democracy in these countries.

    The Qur’an requires even the Prophet (PBUH) to consult his companions in all secular matters (3:158) and also Muslims should consult each other in their affairs (42:38). Thus the Qur’an clearly encourages democratic institutions and this was required when the world had not known democracy at all. However the pre-modern society was not prepared for democratic governance and Muslims came under the influence of Roman and Sassanid institutions and soon monarchy developed in the Islamic world. Islam was totally feudalized and continues to be so in the absence of modern capitalist revolution.

    If one studies the Qur’an carefully and impartially one will find it refreshingly modern, liberal and humane in approach. It emphasized human dignity (17:70), freedom of conscience (2:256) and equality of all human beings without any discrimination on the basis of caste, creed, language or tribe or color as these distinctions are only for identities, not for discrimination (49:13). These are most modern ideals and part of UN human rights declaration of 1949. The Prophet (PBUH) again and again exhorted his followers not to discriminate among Arabs and non-Arabs. Muslims never practiced racism and gave equal rights to black people right from the beginning. The western countries practiced racism until recently and are yet not completely free of racial discrimination. The Prophet (PBUH) appointed Bilal, a liberated black slave as his Muazzin (i.e. caller to the prayer) a great honour to which many of his eminent companions were aspiring.

    Islam, as the popular myth has, is a religion of violence, religion of jihad. It is far from true. Contrary to this myth Islam is a religion of compassion and love, as much as any religion like Buddhism or Christianity is. It is true Islam came into existence in a most violent society and the Prophet had to face violent opposition and it was not easy to establish peace in that society. One has to face the situation in concrete historical conditions and has to try to go beyond it.

    The main aim of Islam was to establish a just and compassionate society but Muslims also had to respond to given situation. The Qur’an no where glorifies violence but permits it reluctantly in the given situation making it clear to Muslims not to be tempted to be aggressors as Allah does not love aggressors (2:190). Also, the Qur’an requires Muslims to fight to liberate men and women and children who are weak from the oppressors (4:75)

    The Qur’an never permitted war of aggression and never allowed Muslims to kill a single soul as it will mean killing whole humanity and taught them to save innocent life as saving one innocent life amounts to saving whole humanity (5:32). Had Muslims followed this Qur’anic teaching they would have been a great example for peace and non-violence but in that violent Arab society of the time it was so difficult to follow this exemplary Qur’anic teaching.

    Some people either out of ignorance or with deliberate intention quote the verse 9:5 to the effect that the Qur’an requires Muslims to ambush unbelievers and kill them until they believe. It is far from the case. This verse refers to those unbelievers who broke their pledge with Muslims and attacked them. Naturally the Qur’an, in the given conditions, requires Muslims to wage war against such betrayal until they embrace Islam and establish prayer and pay the poor rate. But it is certainly not a general permission to kill any unbeliever or force him at the point of sword to embrace Islam. The very next verse (9:6) belies such an assumption. This verse clearly lays down that if the unbelievers lay down arms and seek protection, provide them with protection and convey him to the place of safety so that no harm comes to him. Unfortunately this verse is not referred to and only previous verse (i.e. 9:5) is quoted to prove that Islam is a violent religion and teaches its followers to kill non-believers or convert them at the point of sword.

    Another aspect of Qur’an which even Muslim scholars (‘ulama) are often unaware of is transcendent aspect of the Qur’anic teachings. The Qur’an takes realistic attitude of the given but does not confine itself to it but wants to go beyond the given situation and desires to create an ideal one based on higher values. If it exhorts Muslims to defend themselves with weapons, if attacked, it also requires Muslims to work for establishing justice and peace so that humanity can flourish.

    It does not want to stuck with war and violence even for defense but wants to go beyond and forgive and show compassion. Forgiveness and compassion are certainly higher values and revenge, retaliation (qisas) are in keeping with human nature. The Qur’an does not disregard given situation but also does not take it as final and encourages to go beyond and establish higher values.

    Thus for stealing it provides harsh punishment (for hardened criminals) but in the very next verse (i.e. 5:39) it says, “But whosoever repents after his wrongdoing and reforms, Allah will turn to him (mercifully). Surely Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” Thus it is not punishment alone but forgiveness and mercifulness, which is more important. Punishment should be meted out where necessary but stress should be on reforming those who are repentant and one must show mercy and compassion to such people.

    Similarly the Qur’an permits slavery in view of the given situation but encourages believers to go beyond the given situation and liberate slaves and even exhorts them to spend part of the zakat money on liberation of slaves. It also exhorts Muslims to treat slaves like themselves (i.e. feed them same food they eat and clothe them what they wear) until they are unable to liberate the slaves.

    Similarly it requires Muslim to fight for self -defence where absolutely necessary but work for justice and peace so that world becomes violence-free. The situation in the Arab society was such that it was not possible to do away with violence easily and so violence was permitted in that context but ultimate aim was to establish peace, which is an ideal condition. That is why the Muslims were made to greet each other with peace (salam ‘alaykum and wa ‘alaykum salam). Thus it will be seen peace is fundamental, not war.

    It is unfortunate that many Muslims themselves think that jihad is essential part of Islam and mean thereby that one has to use violence for establishing Islamic values. In fact the Qur’an does not use the word jihad in the sense of war or violence. The Qur’anic use of the word jihad is in its literal sense i.e. to make utmost efforts for spreading goodness (what the Qur’an calls ma’ruf). As shown by us in another article the use of the word jihad in the sense of war is a post-Qur’anic usage.

    Thus it will be wrong to infer, as people often do, that Islam is religion of jihad (in the sense of war) and wages war against non-Muslims. The fact is that Islam permitted war reluctantly as it was absolutely necessary but made it clear that ultimate aim is to establish a peaceful society. In other words violence is existential and peace is transcendent and ideal. Ideally a Muslim should try his best to establish peace and minimize use of violence.

    It is true that there has been abundant use of violence in the Muslim history but that is because the Muslims hardly ever followed the Qur’anic ideals in their lives. It happens with the followers of all religions. All of us pay lip service to the ideals of our religions or quote them to prove its superiority but hardly ever follow it in our practical lives. The Christians too stress love and compassion but their history too is full of violence. But the problem is that we wrongly compare history of one religion with ideals of other religion.

    If we compare teachings of Islam with those of Christianity both stress forgiveness and compassion but if we compare history of Islam with teachings of Christianity we find violence in Islam and love and compassion in Christianity but this is not fair and objective comparison. But this is what we often do and derive wrong conclusion. It is necessary to compare teachings with teachings and history with history.

    The Qur’an in fact repeatedly stresses four fundamental values i.e. justice (‘adl), benevolence (ihsan), compassion (rahmah) and wisdom (hikmah) and these are Allah’s names too. Thus a good Muslim should be just, benevolent (for humanity), compassionate and wise. If he does not practice these values he cannot qualify as good Muslim. These values must be established and one must constantly struggle to establish these values. That is real jihad. The Prophet (PBUH) is also reported to have said that real jihad is to speak truth in the face of a tyrant and he also is reported to have said that to fight with the sword is ‘small jihad’ and to control ones desires is ‘great jihad’.

    Also, one has to bear in mind that in any religious tradition there is no single trend but there exists multiple trends and one should not cite example of one particular trend and generalize it. What media does is to cite example of few extremists among Muslims and then generalize it for all Muslims. It is most unfair and unscientific method. It is true a few Muslims use violence and justify it in the name of jihad but it is wrong to say all Muslims agree with such an untenable position. Most of them oppose such indiscriminate use of violence but media hardly listens to their voices, as it does not make sensational news and the media hungers for sensational news.

    There are peaceful trends in Islam represented by Sufi Islam, which is followed by a great majority of Muslims. The very basic doctrine of Sufis Islam is sulh-I-kul i.e. total peace and peace with all. There is absolutely no place for violence and intolerance in the Sufi Islam. Peace, tolerance and respect for all faiths is very basic doctrines among the Sufis. One of the Sufi schools believes in what is called wahdat al-wujud (i.e. Unity of Being) which implies all are manifestation of one being and so all distinctions of caste and creed become irrelevant. This is the most inclusive trend in Islam. Ibn al-Arabi of Spain was founder of this doctrine. Love is very central to this school of Sufism. Most of the Muslims all over the world follow Sufi Islam and not Wahabi Islam which is purist and tends to be quite intolerant.

    Unfortunately the western media often cites example of Wahabi Islam of Saudi Arabia and show that Islam is intolerant. In Saudi Arabia too reality is not static. It is changing and now changing fast. The Muslims, as well as the ruling family, is realizing the consequences of sectarian and intolerant approach and are bringing about changes and working for peace and attacking terrorism. One should understand that Islamic world is no more static. It is changing and trying to adjust with new realities although its pace may not be satisfactory for some. People take time to adjust in matters of religion and tradition. Social change is very complex process and requires great deal of patience.

    There is another powerful myth about Kufr and kafir. It is thought that Muslims regard all non-Muslims as kafir and hate them and either want to convert them or to kill them. Once again it is far from true. It is unfair to quote some of the Qur’anic verses to this effect without understanding its context. Qur’an clearly distinguishes between harbi (warmongering) and non-harbi Kafirs and advises Muslims to live in peace with the latter. Not only that it requires Muslims to fulfil covenant with Kafirs, if any and never to renege on the covenant unless they renege. To honour a covenant with Kafirs is a must for Muslims.

    The verse 9:4 makes it clear to Muslims that they must honour the covenant with polytheists. It says, “Except those of the idolaters with whom you made an agreement, then they have not failed you in anything and have not backed up any one against you, so fulfil their agreement to the end of their term. Surely Allah loves those who keep their duty.” It is clear from this verse that Muslims must keep their agreement with the idolaters as long as they do. There is no question of reneging on it and killing anyone of them or even forcing them to embrace Islam.

    The chapter 109 of the Qur’an is quite seminal in this respect. The Kafirs are free to follow their religion as Muslims are to follow their own. It is clear declaration of harmonious co-existence with anyone, whatever their belief. And even if one calls someone to the way of Allah it has to be not only in peaceful but also in the best possible manner and with wisdom. Thus the Qur’an says, “Call to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and goodly exhortation, and argue with them in the best manner.” (16:125)

    In view of this verse who can say that the Qur’an wants to impose Islamic beliefs with coercion? Its very basic doctrine is freedom of conscience as pointed out above and in the Verse 2:256. Faith and freedom go together; one cannot separate one from the other. And in fact there can be no real faith without genuine freedom. Faith is matter of conviction and conviction cannot be imposed with coercion, it can be acquired only by exercising ones freedom. That is why the Qur’an stresses the importance of freedom of conscience.

    Also, every non-Muslim cannot be described as kafir. In Arabic the word kafir means one who hides truth and refuses to accept it. Those who possess truth in the form of earlier scriptures like Torah or Bible or any other scripture (like the ones possessed by Hindus) are not Kafirs as they possess truth from Allah. Allah has sent his guides (hadis) to all the nations (13:7). The Sufi saints in India accepted Hindus as possessing truth through their scriptures like Vedas and others. They refused to call them Kafirs.

    Thus the word kafir should be applied with circumspection and not loosely as many Muslims tend to do. It is either out of ignorance or arrogance of possessing ‘superior’ faith. They need to be educated in the Qur’anic terminology. The problem is of religious leadership also. They insist on traditional meanings which themselves were product of specific historical situation. That historical situation exists no more but the tradition persists and these traditions are adhered to.

    The word kafir has assumed very different internal dimensions too. Every sect of Islam considers the rival sect as being kafir. Thus one can say the Muslim theologians have declared more Muslims as Kafirs than non-Muslims. Thus there is great need to sensitize Muslim religious leadership itself in this matter. In fact the word kafir has been used by the Qur’an for those who actively opposed Islam when the Prophet (PBUH) was preaching. They were not only opposing but persecuting him and his followers. The whole concept of Kufr has to be related to that historical situation.

    If we carefully study the general tenor of the Qur’an it should be left only to Allah to decide who is kafir and who is not. Secondly, even if there is consensus on someone’s being kafir, one must coexist harmoniously with him unless he adopts hostile and aggressive attitude towards Muslims. It is also important to note that in history of Islam there has not been general consensus among Muslims who is and who is not kafir. In view of all this it is best left to Allah to decide, as He alone knows the inner thoughts of human beings.

    Thus it will be seen from above that there are so many myths about Islam and these myths are not grounded in reality. These myths must be critically examined before being accepted. One should not, as it often happens, quote the Qur’anic verses without understanding their historical context. It is, to say the least, being either unaware of methodology of understanding a scripture, or adopting a priori hostile view. Most of the scholars take a priori hostile view and help spread such myths about Islam.

    Such myths create unnecessary hurdles in promoting peaceful co-existence, which is so vitally needed in modern world which is becoming more and more diverse and plural, thanks to the faster means of communication and economic migration which is taking place on ever increasing scale due to globalisation. There is great need to understand world religions more objectively and sincerely to promote world peace. There was time when religious rivalries were rampant. But now time has come to shed these rivalries and promote peaceful co-existence.

    However, there may or may not be religious rivalry there are powerful political interests who misuse religion and religious hostilities for their own ends. The USA under the leadership of Bush deliberately chose to pursue the policy of confrontation with Islam and built up anti-Islam ethos through use of media. Huntington also wrote a book Clash of Civilizations to serve the US political agenda after collapse of communist regime in Russia.

    One has to be wary of such developments and political misuse of religion. We must do everything possible to create proper understanding of every religion so that in our pluralist world everyone can live in peace and harmony

  5. Lengthy post but utter nonsense. Islam took thriving civilizations and turned them into feudal medieval stagnant cultures. Egypt was astonishing before Islam. After Mohamed invaded it, they lost the knowledge of all the ancients and couldn’t even read the hieroglyphs.
    As for the usual ‘European colonial’ arguments they are the weakest ones. Islam colonized Europe sometimes for as much as seven centuries while Europe colonized parts of the Arab peninsula for a few decades at most. Yet Spain is an advanced nation under its own secular post Christian rule and the Arab peninsula remains a desert backwater with no water. sorry the facts are grotesquely against your post

  6. I’d like to add that if you look at a globe, color in red every violent conflict on the affected area, then remove all the red which has Muslims on one or both sides the world become an astonishingly peaceful place. Islam is the cause of pretty much most of the worlds backwardness, abuse of women and minorities, genocidal activities in words and deeds (Koranic demands for extinction of the Jewish peoples and the activity in Darfur) So as to peaceful and harmonious coexistence the answer is easy. Have people abandon Islam

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