Matthias Kuntzel has argued cogently in a series of essays about the unique dangers posed by Iran’s fusion of a martyrdom mentality with nuclear weapons capability and Holocaust denial. He maintains, “It is precisely this suicidal outlook that distinguishes the Iranian nuclear weapons program from those of all other countries and makes it uniquely dangerous.”
Kuntzel’s recently released book Jihad and Jew Hatred, in contrast, is a very problematic work. Kuntzel concludes this rather brief (~ 60,000 word) analysis of what he terms the “ideological roots of Islamism,” by calling for the West to challenge those putative “roots.” But his noble admonition—of vital importance—is thoroughly undermined by the author’s failure to provide a coherent assessment of these ideological roots consistent with a sound doctrinal and historical understanding of the permanent Islamic institution of jihad, Islam’s foundational, continuously expressed Jew-hatred, and their nexus with the modern totalitarianism and Jew-hatred of the Nazi movement.
Kuntzel’s presentation in Jihad and Jew Hatred is limited intractably by basic misunderstandings, and critical, at times selective omissions, which cannot be excused by its brevity. His quintessential argument is that Hassan al-Banna and the Muslim Brotherhood (and associated 20th century ideologues such as Sayyid Qutb) “invented” jihad war as a sui generis phenomenon, “catalyzed” by Nazism, inexplicably divorcing these “Muslim Brothers of invention” from the sacralized Islamic institution of jihad war, with its clearly demonstrable doctrine and history spanning a nearly 14 century continuum. A corollary argument is made with regard to the “invention” of Islamic Jew hatred by the same movement and ideologues, under even more “profound” Nazi influences.
Meet the “New” Jihad, Same as the “Old” Jihad
Kuntzel apparently misunderstands (and regardless, misrepresents) the basics of jihad, ignoring classical theory and practice. He then proceeds to describe the Muslim Brotherhood’s jihad ideology as a sui generis phenomenon divorced entirely from its intimate connection to a nearly 1400 year old Islamic institution, a salient characteristic of which was, and remains, its continuity. According to Kuntzel (from p. 13),
The [Muslim] Brotherhood's most significant innovation was their concept of jihad as holy war, which significantly differed from other contemporary doctrines and, associated with that, the passionately pursued goal of dying a martyr's death in the war with the unbeliever.
Before the founding of the Brotherhood, Islamic currents of modern times had understood jihad (derived from a root signifying "effort") as the individual striving for belief or the missionary task of disseminating Islam. Only when this missionary work was hindered were they allowed to use force to defend themselves against the unbelievers resistance. The starting point of Islamism is the new interpretation of jihad espoused with uncompromising militancy by Hassan al-Bana, the first to preach this kind of jihad in modern times.
This untenable thesis ignores copious doctrinal and historical evidence (compiled and presented in great detail here), summarized in the discussion that follows.
There is just one historically relevant meaning of jihad despite contemporary apologetics. Jahada, the root of the word jihad, appears 40 times in the Koran—under a variety of grammatical forms. With 4 exceptions, all the other 36 usages (in specific Koranic verses) are variations of the third form of the verb, i.e. jahida. Jahida in the Koran and in subsequent Islamic understanding to both Muslim luminaries—from the greatest jurists and scholars of classical Islam (including Abu Yusuf, Averroes, Ibn Khaldun, and Al Ghazzali), to ordinary people—meant and means “he fought, warred or waged war against unbelievers and the like,” as described by the seminal Arabic lexicographer E.W Lane. Indeed, Lane’s, An Arabic English Lexicon (6 volumes, London, 1865) is still used to this day by Muslim and non-Muslim scholars for definitive Arabic to English translation. Thus Lane, who studied both the etymology and usage of the term jihad, observed, “Jihad came to be used by the Muslims to signify wag[ing] war, against unbelievers”. Not surprisingly, there is unanimity between all major Sunni schools of jurisprudence (Hanafi, Hanbali, Shafi'i, and Maliki), as well as the Shi'ite jurisprudence regarding the permanent. aggressive nature of jihad war.
The Muslim prophet Muhammad himself waged a series of proto-jihad campaigns to subdue the Jews, Christians and pagans of Arabia. Islamic historian Arthur Jeffery in a 1942 essay belittled as “the sheerest sophistry” contemporary efforts
..made in some circles in modern days to explain away all the Prophet’s warlike expeditions as defensive wars or to interpret the doctrine of Jihad as merely a bloodless striving in missionary zeal for the spread of Islam…The early Arabic sources quite plainly and frankly describe the expeditions as military expeditions…Muhammad, as the head of the community of those who served Allah, taking the sword to extend the kingdom of Allah, and taking measures to insure the subjection of all who lived within the borders of what he made the kingdom of Allah
And as numerous modern day pronouncements by leading Muslim theologians confirm (see for example, Yusuf Al-Qaradawi’s, “The Prophet Muhammad as a Jihad Model”), Muhammad has been the major inspiration for jihadism, past and present.
Jihad was pursued century after century because jihad embodied an ideology and a jurisdiction. Both were formally conceived by Muslim jurisconsults and theologians from the 8th to 9th centuries onward, based on their interpretation of Koranic verses and long chapters in the “hadith”, or acts and sayings of Muhammad, especially those recorded by al-Bukhari [d. 869] and Muslim [d. 874]
Ibn Khaldun (d. 1406), jurist, renowned philosopher, historian, and sociologist, summarized these consensus opinions from five centuries of prior Muslim jurisprudence with regard to the uniquely Islamic institution of jihad:
In the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the [Muslim] mission and [the obligation to] convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force... The other religious groups did not have a universal mission, and the holy war was not a religious duty for them, save only for purposes of defense... Islam is under obligation to gain power over other nations.
Shi’ite jurisprudence was in agreement with the Sunni consensus on the basic nature of jihad war, as reflected in this excerpt from the Jami-i-Abbasi [the popular Persian manual of Shi’a Law] written by al-Amili (d.1622), a distinguished theologian under Shah Abbas I:
Islamic Holy war [jihad] against followers of other religions, such as Jews, is required unless they convert to Islam or pay the poll tax.
Moreover, “martyrdom operations” have always been intimately associated with the institution of jihad. Professor Franz Rosenthal, in a seminal 1946 essay (entitled, “On Suicide in Islam”), observed that Islam’s foundational texts sanctioned such acts of jihad martyrdom, and held them in the highest esteem:
..death as the result of “suicidal” missions and of the desire of martyrdom occurs not infrequently, since[such] death is considered highly commendable according to Muslim religious concepts.
Unequivocal, celebratory invocations for acts of martyrdom during jihad are found in the Koran, and even more explicitly, in the canonical hadith. Prominent examples include:
[Koran 9:111] Lo! Allah hath bought from the believers their lives and their wealth because the Garden will be theirs: they shall fight in the way of Allah and shall slay and be slain.
[Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 52, Number 53] Narrated Anas bin Malik: The Prophet said, “Nobody who dies and finds good from Allah (in the Hereafter) would wish to come back to this world even if he were given the whole world and whatever is in it, except the martyr who, on seeing the superiority of martyrdom, would like to come back to the world and get killed again (in Allah's Cause).”
[Sahih Bukhari: Volume 4, Book 52, Number 54] Narrated Abu Huraira: “The Prophet said, ‘By Him in Whose Hands my life is! Were it not for some men amongst the believers who dislike to be left behind me and whom I cannot provide with means of conveyance, I would certainly never remain behind any Sariya’ (army-unit) setting out in Allah’s Cause. By Him in Whose Hands my life is! I would love to be martyred in Allah's Cause and then get resurrected and then get martyred, and then get resurrected again and then get martyred and then get resurrected again and then get martyred.”
The American Revolutionary War hero John Paul Jones, in a letter to Prince Potemkin dated June 20, 1788 while Jones commanded Russian naval ships, wrote about a naval engagement with the Turkish fleet (outside Kimbourn) involving an unsuccessful martyrdom operation planned by the Muslim sailors:
…for it was the intention of the Turks to attack us and board us, and if we had been only three versts further the attempt would have been made on the 16th [June 1788] (before the vessel of the Captain Pacha [Pasha] ran aground in advancing before the wind with all his forces to attack us,), God only knows what would have been the result…The Turks had a very large force, and we have been informed by our prisoners that they were resolved to destroy us, even by burning themselves, (in setting fire to their own vessels after having grappled with ours.) [note added by Jones]: Before their departure from Constantinople, they swore by the beard of the Sultan to execute this horrible plan…if Providence had not caused its failure from two circumstances which no man could forsee.]
Kuntzel also asserts (on p. 79) that Muslim Brotherhood founder Hasan al-Banna, and his contemporary “Islamist” heirs developed the “principle of [Islamic] dominance,” or more specifically, the concepts of Dar al Islam and Dar al Harb (Arabic for, “The House of Islam and the House of War”). In reality, al-Banna merely reiterated what classical Islamic jurists had formulated, and Islamic dynasties (major and minor alike) had practiced continually, for over a millennium. Armand Abel, the leading 20th expert on the Muslim conceptions of Dar al Harb and Dar al Islam, elucidates the most prominent features of this medieval Islamic formulation, as follows:
Together with the duty of the “war in the way of God” (or jihad), this universalistic aspiration would lead the Moslems to see the world as being divided fundamentally into two parts. On the one hand there was that part of the world where Islam prevailed, where salvation had been announced, where the religion that ought to reign was practiced; this was the Dar al Islam. On the other hand, there was the part which still awaited the establishment of the saving religion and which constituted, by definition, the object of the holy war. This was the Dar al Harb. The latter, in the view of the Moslem jurists, was not populated by people who had a natural right not to practice Islam, but rather by people destined to become Moslems who, through impiousness and rebellion, refused to accept this great benefit. Since they were destined sooner or later to be converted at the approach of the victorious armies of the Prophet’s successor, or else killed for their rebelliousness, they were the rebel subjects of the Caliph. Their kings were nothing but odious tyrants who, by opposing the progress of the saving religion together with their armies, were following a Satanic inspiration and rising up against the designs of Providence. And so no respite should be granted them, no truce: perpetual war should be their lot, waged in the course of the winter and summer ghazu. [razzias] If the sovereign of the country thus attacked desired peace, it was possible for him, just like for any other tributary or community, to pay the tribute for himself and for his subjects. Thus the [Byzantine] Empress Irene [d. 803] “purchased peace at the price of her humiliation”, according to the formula stated in the dhimma contract itself, by paying 70,000 pounds in gold annually to the Caliph of Baghdad. Many other princes agreed in this way to become tributaries – often after long struggles – and to see their dominions pass from the status of dar al Harb to that of dar al Sulh. In this way, those of their subjects who lived within the boundaries of the territory ruled by the Caliphate were spared the uncertainty of being exposed arbitrarily, without any guarantee, to the military operations of the summer ghazu and the winter ghazu: indeed, anything within the reach of the Moslem armies as they advanced, being property of impious men and rebels, was legitimately considered their booty; their men, seized by armed soldiers, were mercilessly consigned to the lot specified in the Koranic verse about the sword, and their women and children were treated like things.
The essential pattern of the jihad war is captured in the classical Muslim historian al-Tabari' s recording of the recommendation given by Umar b. al-Khattab (the second “Rightly Guided Caliph”) to the commander of the troops he sent to al-Basrah (636 C.E.), during the conquest of Iraq. Umar reportedly said:
Summon the people to God; those who respond to your call, accept it from them, but those who refuse must pay the poll tax out of humiliation and lowliness. (Koran 9:29) If they refuse this, it is the sword without leniency. Fear God with regard to what you have been entrusted.
By the time of al-Tabari's death in 923, jihad wars had expanded the Muslim empire from Portugal to the Indian subcontinent. Subsequent Muslim conquests continued in Asia, as well as Eastern Europe. Under the banner of jihad, the Christian kingdoms of Armenia, Byzantium, Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Croatia, and Albania, in addition to parts of Poland and Hungary, were also conquered and Islamized by waves of Seljuk, or later Ottoman Turks, as well as Tatars. Arab Muslim invaders engaged, additionally, in continuous jihad raids that ravaged and enslaved Sub-Saharan African animist populations, extending to the southern Sudan. When the Ottoman Muslim armies were stopped at the gates of Vienna in 1683, over a millennium of jihad had transpired. These tremendous military successes spawned a triumphalist jihad literature. Muslim historians recorded in detail the number of infidels slaughtered, or enslaved and deported, the cities, villages, and infidel religious sites which were sacked and pillaged, and the lands, treasure, and movable goods seized.
This sanctioned, but wanton destruction resulted, specifically in: the merciless slaughter of non-combatants, including women and children; massive destruction of non-Muslim houses of worship and religious shrines—Christian churches, Jewish synagogues, and Zoroastrian, Hindu, and Buddhist temples and idols; and the burning of harvest crops and massive uprooting of agricultural production systems, leading to famine. Christian (Coptic, Armenian, Jacobite, Greek, Slav, etc.), as well as Hebrew sources, and even the scant Zoroastrian, Hindu and Buddhist writings which survived the ravages of the Muslim conquests, independently validate this narrative, and complement the Muslim perspective by providing testimonies of the suffering of the non-Muslim victims of jihad wars.
Arthur Jeffery (in the same 1942 essay mentioned earlier), stressing why detailed consideration of the institution of jihad remained essential, “not merely academic,” for understanding the contemporary Islamic world, highlighted these examples of ongoing jihad campaigns waged during the 19th and early 20th centuries:
…for the theory of the world which it [jihad] enshrines is still fundamental to the thinking of great masses of Muslim people to the present day. The troubles in India which lead up to the great Patna conspiracy trials of 1864 were due to the fact that Syed Ahmad of Oudh had preached against the Sikh cities of the Punjab a Jihad which later turned to one against all non-Muslim groups. The bloody episode of the Padri rebellion in Malaysia was due to the preaching of Jihad against the pagan Battak tribes. The Fula wars in the Hausa country [Western Sudan] in the early nineteenth century, which lead to Osman Dan Fodio’s setting up the ephemeral sultanate of Sokoto, began as a jihad preached against the pagan king of Gobir. The Moplah rebellion in South India in 1921, with its massacres, forcible conversions, desecration of temples, and outrages on the hapless Hindu villagers, could be heard openly proclaimed as a Jihad in the streets of Madras.
A quarter century earlier (in 1916), the great Dutch Orientalist Hurgronje noted the wide rank and file support among the Muslim masses for a restored Caliphate even at the very nadir of Islam's political power. And here is an extract from an article that appeared in the Calcutta Guardian in 1924 which linked the Pan-Islamic Indian Khilafat (Caliphate) Movement to trends that developed, and intensified following the Russo-Turkish War of 1876-78, fifty years prior to the advent of the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928:
The Islamic World was aroused to the fact that the area of Islamic independence was steadily narrowing, and the Qur’anic theory that Islam should dominate over every other religion was giving way to the contrary system. It was felt that the only Muslim power which could deal with those of Europe as an equal was Turkey; and pan-Islamism everywhere inculcated the doctrine that Turkey should be strengthened and supported. The Sultan was urged to advance through Persia into India and make common cause with the Sudanese Mehdi, and restore Egypt to an Islamic Sovereign.
Whither Islamic Jew Hatred?
Kuntzel’s conception of Islamic Jew hatred suffers from the same severe limitations described for his analysis of jihad. He provides only the barest, glaringly deficient outline of the theology and historical practice of this unique form of antisemitism, confined as it is to a mere four pages of discussion (pp. 33; 64-66), and accompanying footnotes. As per Kuntzel, only in Christian “mythology” (not its Islamic equivalent—whatever is meant by his term “mythology—a term, curiously, he does not apply here to Islam) were Jews depicted “constantly” as a “dark and demonic force,” leading (again, only in Christendom) to “anti-Jewish pogroms.” (No such “Medieval pogroms” in Islamdom are mentioned by the author in the context of this discussion, leaving the reader to assume, incorrectly, that none occurred.) Kuntzel ascribes these uniquely Christian phenomena (i.e., implicitly, both the theological, or “mythological” Jew hatred of Christianity, and resultant pogroms) to “simple” origins, which he cannot find (or more aptly, bother to research with any degree of seriousness) in Islam:
…since the Jews had been able to murder even the Son of God, nothing else in the filed of cosmic malice was beyond them. All the fairy tales about the deadly and powerful Jewish force derive from this Christian original. Muslim anti-Jewish prejudice on the other hand stems from a wholly different story, that of Muhammad’s experiences with the Jews of Medina. In this case it was not the Jews who defeated the Son of God, but the Prophet who emerged the clear victor.
Moreover, despite the author’s repeated use of the phrase “the anti-Jewish passages in the Koran” he barely characterizes two verses, alone, i.e., Koran 5:60, and (correctly noted) 5:82 (the latter of which is cited by Kuntzel [p.66] with the wrong enumeration as 5:85, the standard reference being 5:82). Thus a central anti-Jewish motif in the Koran—verse 2:61, and its reiteration at 3:112—is ignored altogether, as are a litany of other important anti-Jewish verses (many intimately related to this central motif, as described below), their exegeses in the Koran, and elaboration in the hadith, sira, and corpus of juridical and anti-Jewish polemical writings by Muslim luminaries from classical Islam, through the present era.
Apparently unknown to Kuntzel, more than four decades ago (in 1964), Moshe Perlmann the pre-eminent scholar of Islam’s ancient anti-Jewish polemical literature, observed appositely,
The Koran, of course became a mine of anti-Jewish passages. The hadith did not lag behind. Popular preachers used and embellished such material.
Salient examples of Jew hatred from these foundational Islamic sources, ignored by Kuntzel, include:
- How as a central anti-Jewish motif, the Koran decrees an eternal curse upon the Jews (Koran 2:61/ 3:112) for slaying the prophets and transgressing against the will of Allah. This motif is coupled to Koranic verses 5:60 and 5:78 which describe the Jews transformation into apes and swine (5:60), having been “…cursed by the tongue of David, and Jesus, Mary’s son” (5:78). The related verse, 5:64, accuses the Jews—as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas did in a January 2007 speech, citing Koran 5:64—of being “spreaders of war and corruption,” a sort of ancient Koranic antecedent of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The Koranic curse (verses 2:61/3:112) upon the Jews for (primarily) rejecting, even slaying Allah’s prophets, including Isa/Jesus (or at least his “body double”), is updated with perfect archetypal logic in the canonical hadith: following the Muslims’ initial conquest of the Jewish farming oasis of Khaybar, one of the vanquished Jewesses reportedly served Muhammad poisoned mutton (or goat), which resulted, ultimately, in his protracted, agonizing death. And Ibn Saad’s sira account maintains that Muhammad’s poisoning resulted from a well-coordinated Jewish conspiracy
- How the Koran’s overall discussion of the Jews is marked by a litany of their sins and punishments, as if part of a divine indictment, conviction, and punishment process. Specifically—the Jews wronged themselves (16:118) by losing faith (7:168) and breaking their covenant (5:13). The Jews (echoing an ante-Nicaean, Marcionite polemic) are a nation that has passed away (2:134; repeated in 2:141). Twice Allah sent his instruments (the Assyrians/or Babylonians, and Romans) to punish this perverse people (17:4-5)—their dispersal over the earth is proof of Allah’s rejection (7:168). The Jews are further warned about both their arrogant claim that they remain Allah’s chosen people (62:6), and continued disobedience and “corruption” (5:32-33) Other sins, some repeated, are enumerated: abuse, even killing of prophets (4:155; 2:91), including Isa [Jesus] (3:55; 4:157), is a consistent theme. The Jews ridiculed Muhammad as Ra’ina (the evil one, in 2:104; 4:46), and they are also accused of lack of faith, taking words out of context, disobedience, and distortion (4:46). Precious few of them are believers (also 4:46). These “perverse” creatures also claim that Ezra is the messiah and they worship rabbis who defraud men of their possessions (9:30). Additional sins are described: the Jews are typified as an “envious” people (2:109), whose hearts are as hardened as rocks (2:74). They are further accused of confounding the truth (2:42), deliberately perverting scripture (2:75), and being liars (2:78). Ill-informed people of little faith (2:89), they pursue vague and wishful fancies (2:111). Other sins have contributed to their being stamped (see 2:61/ 3:112 above) with “wretchedness /abasement and humiliation,” including—usury (2:275), sorcery (2:102), hedonism (2:96), and idol worship (2:53). More (and repeat) sins, are described still: the Jews’ idol worship is again mentioned (4:51), then linked and followed by charges of other (often repeat) iniquities—the “tremendous calumny” against Mary (4:156), as well as usury and cheating (4:161). Most Jews are accused of being “evil-livers” /“transgressors” /“ungodly” (3:110), who, deceived by their own lies (3:24), try to turn Muslims from Islam (3:99). Jews are blind and deaf to the truth (5:71), and what they have not forgotten they have perverted—they mislead (3:69), confound the truth (3:71), twist tongues (3:79), and cheat Gentiles without remorse (3:75). Muslims are advised not to take the Jews as friends (5:51), and to beware of the inveterate hatred that Jews bear towards them (5:82).
- How the Jews’ ultimate sins and punishments are made clear in the Koran—they are the devil’s minions (4:60) cursed by Allah, their faces will be obliterated (4:47), and if they do not accept the true faith of Islam—the Jews who understand their faith become Muslims (3:113)—they will be made into apes (2:65/ 7:166), or apes and swine (5:60), and burn in the Hellfires (4:55, 5:29, 98:6, and 58:14-19).
- How Muslim eschatology, as depicted in the hadith, highlights the Jews’ supreme hostility to Islam. Jews are described as adherents of the Dajjâl—the Muslim equivalent of the Anti-Christ—or according to another tradition, the Dajjâl is himself Jewish. At his appearance, other traditions maintain that the Dajjâl will be accompanied by 70,000 Jews from Isfahan wrapped in their robes, and armed with polished sabers, their heads covered with a sort of veil. When the Dajjâl is defeated, his Jewish companions will be slaughtered— everything will deliver them up except for the so-called gharkad tree, as per the canonical hadith included in the 1988 Hamas Charter (in article 7). Another hadith variant, which takes place in Jerusalem, has Isa (the Muslim Jesus) leading the Arabs in a rout of the Dajjâl and his company of 70,000 armed Jews. And the notion of jihad “ransom” extends even into Islamic eschatology—on the day of resurrection the vanquished Jews will be consigned to Hellfire, and this will expiate Muslims who have sinned, sparing them from this fate.
- How, also according to the hadith, stubborn malevolence is the Jews defining worldly characteristic: rejecting Muhammad and refusing to convert to Islam out of jealousy, envy and even selfish personal interest, lead them to acts of treachery, in keeping with their inveterate nature: “...sorcery, poisoning, assassination held no scruples for them.” These archetypes sanction Muslim hatred towards the Jews, and the admonition to at best, “subject [the Jews] to Muslim domination,” as dhimmis, treated “with contempt,” under certain “humiliating arrangements.”
- How a profoundly anti-Jewish motif occurring after the events recorded in the hadith and sira, put forth in early Muslim historiography (for example, by Tabari), is most assuredly a part of “the birth pangs” of Islam: the story of Abd Allah b. Saba, an alleged renegade Yemenite Jew, and founder of the heterodox Shi’ite sect. He is held responsible—identified as a Jew—for promoting the Shi’ite heresy and fomenting the rebellion and internal strife associated with this primary breach in Islam’s “political innocence”, culminating in the assassination of the third Rightly Guided Caliph Uthman, and the bitter, lasting legacy of Sunni-Shi’ite sectarian strife.
“Generosity” For “Appropriate Humility”—Or Dhimmitude?
Kuntzel’s fleeting characterization of the dhimmi condition for Jews—the actual plight of Jews subjected to the discriminatory legal and social effects of the combined anti-dhimmi, and specific anti-Jewish hatred of Islam’s core texts—is equally wanting. The intimate doctrinal connection between the institution of jihad war, and its corollary institution, dhimmitude (most notably via Koran 9:29, and centuries of voluminous Islamic jurisprudence produced across the length and breadth of Islamic civilization), is ignored entirely (and perhaps not even understood) by the author. Kuntzel further endorses (on p. 66) the complete bowdlerization of dhimmitude as a form of benevolent, paternal “generosity,” which rewarded “appropriate humility”—ignoring the conclusions of serious scholars of the dhimmi condition in general, and for Jews in particular, S.D. Goitein, and Bat Ye’or. Both have amply demonstrated the vacuousness of such apologetics. Gotein for example (in 1970), stated explicitly,
Christians and Jews were not citizens of the state, not even second class citizens. They were outsiders under the protection of the Muslim state, a status characterized by the term dhimma, for which protection they had to pay a poll tax specific to them. They were also exposed to a great number of discriminatory and humiliating laws...As it lies in the very nature of such restrictions, soon additional humiliations were added, and before the second century of Islam was out, a complete body of legislation in this matter was in existence...In times and places in which they became too oppressive they lead to the dwindling or even complete extinction of the minorities.
With regard to North African Jewry, specifically, under Islam, Goitein, in a 1974 paper, described the Jews’ cultural narrowing to an “exclusively Talmudic sphere” as a result of “...the almost permanent state of oppression and vexations, if not outright persecutions.”
Bat Ye’or’s extensive analyses of the dhimmi condition for both Jews and Christians published (in English) in 1985 and 1996, concluded:
…These examples are intended to indicate the general character of a system of oppression, sanctioned by contempt and justified by the principle of inequality between Muslims and dhimmis…Singled out as objects of hatred and contempt by visible signs of discrimination, they were progressively decimated during periods of massacres, forced conversions, and banishments. Sometimes it was the prosperity they had achieved through their labor or ability that aroused jealousy; oppressed and stripped of all their goods, the dhimmi often emigrated.
…in many places and at many periods [through] the nineteenth century, observers have described the wearing of discriminatory clothing, the rejection of dhimmi testimony, the prohibitions concerning places of worship and the riding of animals, as well as fiscal charges- particularly the protection charges levied by nomad chiefs- and the payment of the jizya…Not only was the dhimma imposed almost continuously, for one finds it being applied in the nineteenth century Ottoman Empire…and in Persia, the Maghreb, and Yemen in the early twentieth century, but other additional abuses, not written into the laws, became absorbed into custom, such as the devshirme, the degrading corvees (as hangmen or gravediggers), the abduction of Jewish orphans (Yemen), the compulsory removal of footware (Morocco, Yemen), and other humiliations…The recording in multiple sources of eye-witness accounts, concerning unvarying regulations affecting the Peoples of the Book, perpetuated over the centuries from one end of the dar al-Islam to the other…proves sufficiently their entrenchment in customs
Two particularly humiliating “vocations” that were imposed upon Jews by their Muslim overlords in Yemen, and Morocco—where Jews formed the only substantive non-Muslim dhimmi populations—merit elaboration.
Moroccan Jews were confined to ghettos in the major cities, such as Fez (since the 13th century) called mellah(s) (salty earth) which derives from the fact it was here that they were forced to salt the decapitated heads of executed rebels for public exposition. This brutally imposed humiliating practice—which could be enforced even on the Jewish Sabbath—persisted through the late 19th century, as described by Eliezer Bashan:
In the 1870's, Jews were forced to salt the decapitated heads of rebels on the Sabbath. For example, Berber tribes frequently revolted against Sultan Muhammad XVIII. In order to force them to accept his authority, he would engage in punitive military campaigns. Among the tribes were the Musa, located south of Marrakesh. In 1872, the Sultan succeeded in quelling their revolt and forty-eight of their captives were condemned to death. In October 1872, on the order of the Sultan, they were dispatched to Rabat for beheading. Their decapitated heads were to be exposed on the gates of the town for three days. Since the heads were to be sent to Fez, Jewish ritual slaughterers (Hebrew, shohetim) were forced to salt them and hang them for exposure on the Sabbath. Despite threats by the governor of Rabat, the Jews refused to do so. He then ordered soldiers to enter the homes of those who refused and drag them outside. After they were flogged, the Jews complied and performed the task and the heads of the rebels were exposed in public.
Yemenite Jews had to remove human feces and other waste matter (urine which failed to evaporate, etc.) from Muslim areas, initially in Sanaa, and later in other communities such as Shibam, Yarim, and Dhamar. Decrees requiring this obligation were issued in the late 18th or early 19th century, and re-introduced in 1913. Yehuda Nini reproduces an 1874 letter written by a Yemenite Jew to the Alliance Israelite in Paris, lamenting the practice:
…it is 86 years since our forefathers suffered the cruel decree and great shame to the nation of Israel from the east to sundown…for in the days of our fathers, 86 years ago, there arose a judge known as Qadi, and said unto the king and his ministers who lived in that time that the Lord, Blessed be He, had only created the Jews out of love of the other nations, to do their work and be enslaved by them at their will, and to do the most contemptible and lowly of tasks. And of them all…the greatest contamination of all, to clear their privies and streets and pathways of the filthy dung and the great filth in that place and to collect all that is left of the dung, may your Honor pardon the expression.
See No Hatred, Record No Consequences
Kuntzel’s woefully inadequate “presentation” of Islam’s doctrinal anti-Jewish (and overlapping anti-dhimmi) hatred is accompanied, not surprisingly, by a complete failure to illustrate any of the historical consequences of these sacralized hatreds. Some brief examples are adduced in the following discussion.
Rigid conformity to a motif in the hadith (and sira) based on the putative death bed wish of Muhammad himself, as recorded by Umar (the second Rightly Guided Caliph), “Two religions shall not remain together in the peninsula of the Arabs,” had tragic consequences for the Jews of Yemen. (The hadith and sira further maintain that Umar did eventually expel the Jews of Khaybar.) Thus a pious 17th century Yemenite ruler, Al-Mahdi wishing to fulfill the mandate of this hadith in Yemen, as well, in 1679-1680, expelled the entire Jewish population of Yemen – men, women and children— deporting them to the inhospitable wastelands of the plain of Tihama. This expulsion was accompanied by the destruction of synagogues, desecration of Torah scrolls, and inducements for conversion to Islam. Three-quarters of the thousands of Jews expelled perished from exposure to the intense daytime heat (and evening cold), absence of potable water, and the subsequent spread of epidemic disease. The major Yemenite Jewish community in San’a experienced a 90 percent mortality rate from this catastrophic exile—of about 10,000 persons exiled, only about one tenth, i.e., 1,000, survived.
Formal decrees (or modern pronouncements) and opinions from Muslim rulers, jurisconsults, and theologians—past and present—have repeatedly associated non-Muslim dhimmis in general, or Jews specifically, with Satan, and the torments of being consigned deservedly to Hell. The Abbasid Caliph al-Mutawakkil in an anti-dhimmi decree dated 850, according to Tabari's account, “…commanded that wooden images of devils be nailed to the doors of their homes to distinguish them from the homes of Muslims”. Ibn Abdun, a Muslim jurist from Seville, Spain invoked Koran 58:19 in a section of his treatise (dated 1100) on dhimmi servitudes which discussed the appropriate dress of dhimmis, and how Muslims should “greet” them:
You must not allow any…Jew or Christian to wear the attire of great men, doctors of law, or the wealthy. On the contrary, they must be objects of contempt and disgust; they are not entitled to a greeting of peace , [“Peace upon you!” (as-salam alaykum!)]. In effect [quoting 58:19] “Satan has gained the mastery over them, and caused them to forget God's Remembrance. Those are Satan's party; why, Satan's party, surely, they are the losers!” They must wear a distinctive, ignominious sign.
The common expressions and practices of ordinary Muslims demonstrate how such associations of the Jews with Satan and Hell have long been imbibed by the masses. Solomon b. Jeroham, the authoritative Karaite Jewish exegete who lived in Jerusalem during the mid-10th century, confirmed that the hateful doctrine regarding salutation (and humiliation), illustrated (above) by Ibn Abdun’s treatise, was actually practiced by Muslims in their encounters with Jews. Solomon included the following observation in his 955/56 commentary on the Book of Lamentations:
What can you say about people [Muslims] who curse you when you greet them, and when you do not greet them humiliate you and offend you?
And Walter Fischel has described the severe hardships imposed upon the Jews of 17th century Iran because of their image as sorcerers and practitioners of black magic, which was “as deeply embedded in the minds of the [Muslim] masses as it had been in medieval Europe.” The consequences of these bigoted superstitions were predictable:
It was therefore easy to arouse their [the Muslim masses] fears and suspicions at the slightest provocation, and to accuse them [the Jews] of possessing cabalistic Hebrew writings, amulets, talismans, segulot, goralot, and refu’ot, which they [the Jews] were using against the Islamic authorities. Encouraged by another Jewish renegade, Siman Tob Mumin from Isfahan, who denounced his co-religionists to the authorities, the Grand Vizier was quick in ordering the confiscation of all Hebrew cabalistic writings and having them thrown into the river.
Such punitive measures in turn forebode additional persecutions which culminated in the Jews of Isfahan being forcibly converted to Islam toward the end of Shah Abbas I’s rule (1588-1629).
A September, 2002 review of Friday sermons from Saudi Arabian mosques indicated that these motifs remain vibrant in popular modern Islamic religious teaching. At a mosque in Mecca, Sheikh Adnan Ahmed Siyami stated,
[Islam] believes that only Islam and the “Camp of Kufur [unbelief]” exist, and that there is no way to reach Paradise and to be delivered from Hell except by walking in the path of our Prophet Muhammad and joining Islam. Any other way leads to Hell.
Sheikh Muhammad Saleh Al-Munajjid, another contemporary Saudi cleric, referred to the Jews, explicitly in his related discussion during a sermon delivered at a mosque in Al-Damam:
The Jews are the helpers of Satan. The Jews are the cause of the misery of the human race, together with the infidels and the other polytheists. Satan leads them to Hell and to a miserable fate.
References to the Jews transformation into apes, or apes and swine—perhaps the most striking Koranic motifs for the Jews debasement—have been exploited in polemical incitement against Jews, or odes celebrating their having been disgraced and slaughtered. The sacralized prototype is clear: right before subduing the Medinan Jewish tribe Banu Qurayza and orchestrating the mass execution of their adult males, Muhammad addressed these Jews with hateful disparagement, as “You brothers of monkeys.”
Some 4000 Jews were massacred in the 1066 Granada pogrom, inspired in part by an anti-Jewish ode containing the line, “Many a pious Muslim is in awe of the vilest infidel ape,” referring to the Jewish communal leader, the vizier Joseph b. Samuel Naghrela. More Jews were killed in this one pogrom than in the Crusaders’ much more infamous ravages through the Rhineland 30 years later.
Anti-Jewish riots and massacres by Muslims accompanied the 1291 death of Jewish physician-vizier Sa’d ad-Daula in Baghdad—the plundering and killing of Jews, which extended throughout Iraq (and likely into Persia)—were celebrated in a verse by the Muslim preacher Zaynu’d-Din ‘Ali b. Said, which begins with this debasing reference to the Jews as apes: “His name we praise who rules the firmament./These apish Jews are done away and shent [ruined].” Another contemporary 13th century Muslim source, noted by historian Walter Fischel, the chronicler and poet Wassaf, “…empties the vials of hatred on the Jew Sa‘d ad-Daula and brings the most implausible conspiratorial accusations against him.” These accusations included the claims that Sa‘d had advised Arghun to cut down trees in Baghdad (dating from the days of the conquered Muslim Abbasid dynasty), and build a fleet to attack Mecca and convert the cuboidal Kabaa to a heathen temple. Wassaf’s account also quotes satirical verses to demonstrate the extent of public dissatisfaction with what he terms “Jewish Domination.”
Referring to the Jews as “brothers of apes,” who repeatedly blasphemed the prophet Muhammad, and whose overall conduct reflected their hatred of Muslims, the Moroccan cleric Al-Maghili (d. 1505) fomented, and then personally lead, a Muslim pogrom (in ~ 1490) against the Jews of the southern Moroccan oasis of Touat, plundering and killing Jews en masse, and destroying their synagogue in neighboring Tamantit. Each of these massacres was incited and/or celebrated by depictions of Jews as apes in verses by popular clerics—in the case of Touat, the “composer” of such a verse al-Maghili (d. 1505), an important Muslim theologian whose writings influenced Moroccan religious attitudes towards Jews into the 20th century—led the pogrom himself. Maghili also declared in verse, “Love of the Prophet, requires hatred of the Jews.”
Currently the invocation of Koranic references to the Jews as apes and pigs pervades Muslim (especially Arab Muslim) religious and political discourse in print, audio, video, and internet venues. Young children are targeted with these messages, and even encouraged to repeat them by approving adults during additional media coverage. Menachem Milson recently warned that repeated invocation of these motifs cannot be “dismissed as mere vulgar invective,” or “primitive magical thinking.” Rather, these recurring expressions need to be understood as a form of dehumanization serving as a pretext for the destruction of Jews. Given the murderous historical legacy of Muslim societies that invoked these Koranic motifs (i.e., in Granada, Baghdad, and Touat, Morocco), his concern is not alarmist.
Dazed and Confused?
Kuntzel’s book is also beset by rather confused self-contradictions, instead of lucidly posed questions, accompanied by coherent and satisfying responses. One brief example provides ample illustration.
Kuntzel cites the observations of J. Heyworth-Dunne (on p. 55), a Georgetown University Professor of Arabic and Middle East civilizations, written in 1950, ostensibly to support his own contention about the “uniqueness” of the Muslim Brotherhood’s vision. But in describing what would transpire “…should the ikhwan [Brotherhood] acquire power,” Heyworth-Dunne, as quoted by Kuntzel, makes clear that the orthodox Islamic, Shari’a-based restrictions advocated by al-Banna and the Muslim Brotherhood—the compulsory veiling of women; closing “un-Islamic” newspapers and periodicals, and making impossible the purchase of English and French novels; closing bars, restaurants, and cabarets, while forbidding the sale or consumption of alcohol and scourging anyone found consuming alcoholic beverages—merely represented a “…return to their Islamic customs which, in fact prevailed only 25 years ago.” Thus Heyworth-Dunne (writing in 1950) confirms that circa 1925 (“25 years ago”)—three years before the Muslim Brotherhood even arose—their supposedly “unique version” of Islamic Law and mores (pace Kuntzel) represented in fact a previously longstanding status quo!
The yawning gap of omissions, and clumsy self-contradictions aside, perhaps more unsettling is Kuntzel’s selective citation, and excerpting. Two egregious examples will suffice.
Breathlessly, Kuntzel recounts (in the Preface, pp. xix-xx) an anecdote from Albert Speer’s diary about Hitler’s delirious portrayal of New York being turned into a towering inferno (quoting Speer):
He [Hitler] described the skyscrapers turning into huge burning torches and falling hither and thither, and the reflection of the disintegrating city in the dark sky.
Kuntzel then grimly describes the drawings discovered for the Nazis “Amerikabomber,” an enormous mother ship from which small bomb-laden kamikaze planes could emerge as the main flying vessel neared the United States eastern seaboard. Although never implemented, the “Amerikabomber” plan was conceived, argues Kuntzel, to chasten American Jews through terrorist attacks on US metropolises. This motif, according to Kuntzel, was the inspiration for the 9/11/01 hijacked jetliner attacks of Mohammad Atta, Marwan el-Shehdi, and Ziad Jarrah, in particular, all of whom had been part of the infamous Hamburg, Germany Al Qaeda cell.
Contrast this recollection (and associated speculations) with the following omission by Kuntzel from the same anecdotal source, Albert Speer. Speer, who was Hitler’s Minister of Armaments and War Production, wrote a memoir of his World War II experiences while serving a 20-year prison sentence imposed by the Nuremberg tribunal. Speer’s narrative also includes this discussion which captures Hitler’s effusive praise for Islam as a martial paradigm:
Hitler had been much impressed by a scrap of history he had learned from a delegation of distinguished Arabs. When the Mohammedans attempted to penetrate beyond France into Central Europe during the eighth century, his visitors had told him, they had been driven back at the Battle of Tours. Had the Arabs won this battle, the world would be Mohammedan today. For theirs was 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…ultimately not Arabs but Islamized Germans could have stood at the head of this Mohammedan Empire…Hitler usually concluded this historical speculation by remarking, “You see, it’s been our misfortune to have the wrong religion…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?”
Kuntzel’s discussion of current Al Azhar Grand Imam Tantawi and his 700 page treatise rationalizing Muslim Jew hatred, Banu Isra’il fi al-Koran wa al-Sunna [Jews in the Koran and the Traditions], originally published in the late 1960s/ early1970s, and then re-issued in 1986/87, can only be described as disingenuous. [Note: Major extracts of this work translated into English for the first time, appear in The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism]. Kuntzel reduces this detailed, scholarly examination of the numerous anti-Jewish motifs in the Koran, which includes extensive discussion of materials from the Koranic commentaries, the hadith, and sira, to a random quote from Hitler, and Tantawi’s mention of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, along with other modern boilerplate Muslim conspiratorial allegations against Jews, excerpted from introductory, or passing remarks by Tantawi. However, an extract such as the following, which is a legitimate representation of the major themes addressed throughout this lengthy treatise, is not provided.
[The] Koran describes the Jews with their own particular degenerate characteristics, i.e. killing the prophets of Allah, corrupting His words by putting them in the wrong places, consuming the people’s wealth frivolously, refusal to distance themselves from the evil they do, and other ugly characteristics caused by their deep-rooted lasciviousness…only a minority of the Jews keep their word….[A]ll Jews are not the same. The good ones become Muslims, the bad ones do not. (Koran 3:113)
Tantawi was apparently rewarded for this scholarly effort by being named Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University in 1996, a position he still holds. These are the expressed, “carefully researched” views on Jews held by the nearest Muslim equivalent to a Pope—the head of the most prestigious center of Muslim learning in Sunni Islam, Sunnis representing some 85% to 90% of the world’s Muslims. And Sheikh Tantawi has not mollified such hatemongering beliefs since becoming the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar as his statements on the Jews as “enemies of Allah, descendants of apes and pigs,” the legitimacy of homicide bombing of Jews, or “dialogue” with Jews (just below), make clear.
…anyone who avoids meeting with the enemies in order to counter their dubious claims and stick fingers into their eyes, is a coward. My stance stems from Allah’s book [the Koran], more than one-third of which deals with the Jews…[I] wrote a dissertation dealing with them [the Jews], all their false claims and their punishment by Allah. I still believe in everything written in that dissertation. [i.e., from above, in Banu Isra’il fi al-Koran wa al-Sunna]
Tantawi’s case illustrates the prevalence and depth of sacralized, “normative” Jew hatred in the contemporary Muslim world. Even if all non-Muslim Judeophobic themes were to disappear miraculously overnight from the Islamic world, the living legacy of anti-Jewish hatred, and violence rooted in Islam’s sacred texts—Koran, hadith, and sira—would remain intact. The assessment and understanding of Islamic antisemitism must begin with a comprehensive and unapologetic analysis of the anti-Jewish motifs contained in these foundational texts of Islam. Kuntzel’s analysis—as epitomized by his highly selective discussion of Tantawi’s major work—fails, miserably, to advance this process.
Islam, Totalitarianism, and Nazism
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.
The pejorative characteristics of Jews as they are described in Muslim religious texts are applied to modern Jews. Anti-Judaism and anti-Zionism are equivalent—due to the inferior status of Jews in Islam, and because divine will dooms Jews to wandering and misery, the Jewish state appears to Muslims as an unbearable affront and a sin against Allah. Therefore it must be destroyed by Jihad. Here the Pan-Arab and anti-Western theses that consider Israel as an advanced instrument of the West in the Islamic world, come to reinforce religious anti-Judaism. The religious and political fuse in a purely Islamic context onto which are grafted foreign elements. If, on the doctrinal level, Nazi influence is secondary to the Islamic base, the technique with which the Antisemitic material has been reworked, and the political purposes being pursued, present striking similarites with Hitler’s Germany.
That anti-Jewish opinions have been widely spread in Arab nationalist circles since the 1930s is not in doubt. But their confirmation at [Al] Azhar [University] by the most important authorities of Islam enabled them to be definitively imposed, with the cachet of infallible authenticity, upon illiterate masses that were strongly attached to religious traditions.
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. Already in essays published during 1938 and 1942, the first dating back almost two decades before his formal 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.
Citing (or referring to) the relevant foundational text sources (i.e., Koran 13:36; 8:55-58; 59:1-15; the sira and canonical hadith descriptions of the fate of individual Jews such as Abu Afak and Ka’b ibn Ashraf, and the Jewish tribes Banu Qaynuqa, Banu Nadir, Banu Qurayzah, as well as the Jews of the Khaybar oasis), von Leers in his 1942 essay “Judiasm and Islam as Opposites,” chronicles Muhammad’s successful campaigns which vanquished these Jews, killing and dispersing them, “…or at most allow[ing] them to remain in certain places if they paid a poll tax.” Von Leers further describes the accounts (from the hadith, and more elaborately, the sira) of Muhammad’s poisoning by a Khaybar Jewess, and also notes the canonical hadith which records Caliph Umar’s rationale for his putative expulsion from northern Arabia of those remaining Jews who survived Muhammad’s earlier campaigns:
On his deathbed Mohammed is supposed to have said: “There must not be two religions in Arabia.” One of his successors, the caliph Omar, resolutely drove the Jews out of Arabia.
And von Leers even invokes the apocalyptic canonical hadith which 46 years later became the keystone of Hamas’ 1988 charter sanctioning a jihad genocide against the Jewish State of Israel:
Ibn Huraira even communicates to us the following assertion of the great man of God: “Judgment Day will come only when the Moslems have inflicted an annihilating defeat on the Jews, when every stone and every tree behind which a Jew has hidden says to believers: ‘Behind me stands a Jew, smite him.’”
Von Leers’ 1942 essay 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:
They [the Jews] were subjected to a very restrictive and oppressive special regulation that completely crippled Jewish activities. All reporters of the time when the Islamic lands still completely obeyed their own laws agree that the Jews were particularly despised…
Mohammed's opposition to the Jews undoubtedly had an effect—oriental Jewry was completely paralyzed by Islam. Its back was broken. Oriental Jewry has played almost no role in Judaism's massive rise to power over the last two centuries. Scorned, the Jews vegetated in the dirty alleys of the mellah, and were subject to a special regulation that did not allow them to profiteer, as they did in Europe, or even to receive stolen goods, but instead kept them fearful and under pressure. Had the rest of the world adopted a similar method, today we would have no Jewish question—and here we must absolutely note that there were also Islamic rulers, among them especially the Spanish caliphs of the House of Muawiyah, who did not adhere to Islam's traditional hostility to Jews—to their own disadvantage. However, as a religion Islam has performed the immortal service of preventing the Jews from carrying out their threatened conquest of Arabia and of defeating the dreadful doctrine of Jehovah through a pure faith that opened the way to higher culture for many peoples and gave them an education and humane training, so that still today a Moslem who takes his religion seriously is one of the most worthy phenomena in this world in turmoil.
And even earlier, in a 1938 essay, von Leers further sympathized with, “the leading role of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem [Hajj Amin el-Husseini] 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.” Leers’ description of the origins of the Muslim “forename,” Omar Amin he adopted as part of his formal conversion to Islam in a November, 1957 letter to American Nazi H. Keith Thompson, highlights his personal and doctrinal connections to the Mufti, with whom he engaged in a longstanding collaboration:
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 Hadj Amin el Husseini, the Grand Mufti.
This 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—a vision all too prevalent today:
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.
Delving more deeply, how are to we understand these seamless doctrinal connections between ancient Islam, and modern Nazism described so appositely by Bat Ye’or, and embodied manifestly in von Leers’ evolution from “Johannes,” to “Omar Amin?”
Although ignored in their entirety by Kuntzel, writings produced for 100 years between the mid-19th through mid-20th centuries, by important scholars and intellectuals—for example, the historians Jacob Burckhardt and Waldemar Gurian, philosopher Bertrand Russell, Carl Jung, the founder of modern analytical psychiatry, Protestant theologian Karl Barth, and sociologist Jules Monnerot—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 constraints, Carl Jung and Karl Barth (the latter with unrestrained passion) offered these warnings, both published in 1939:
[Carl Jung] We do not know whether Hitler is going to found a new Islam. He is already on the way; he is like Muhammad. [emphasis added] The emotion in Germany is Islamic; warlike and Islamic. They are all drunk with wild god. That can be the historic future.
[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 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]
Finally, 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.
Kuntzel’s conceptions of both jihad and Islamic Jew hatred are mere simulacra of these phenomena. Neither will do as history, independently, or worse still clumsily and disingenuously melded together with an excessive bolus of Nazism, into a purported explanatory “narrative.” G.H. Bousquet (d. 1978), one of the most widely acclaimed 20th century scholars of Islamic Law, wrote the following in 1950, unfettered by our current mind numbing, politically correct cultural relativism:
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.
By actively ignoring these basic doctrinal and historical truths, Kuntzel failed to examine and address the most compelling if uncomfortable questions about the ideological nexus between Islam, jihad, Islamic antisemitism, and modern totalitarianism, particularly Nazism.