1981 Nobel Laureate Elias Canetti’s Chapter Title, from “Crowds and Power”—“Islam as a Religion of War”







Elias Canetti (1905-1994) was a German-language novelist, playwright, and non-fiction writer, of Sephardic Jewish descent. Canetti—whose works examined the emotions of crowds, the predicament of individuals at odds with their surrounding society, and the psychopathology of power—was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1981, “for writings marked by a broad outlook, a wealth of ideas and artistic power.”

He referred to Islam as “The Religion of War”—the title of a chapter in Canetti’s Crowds and Power—“Islam as a Religion of War”—describing Islam’s “religious war”, the jihad, as follows (on p. 142):

The faithful and the unbelieving are fated to be separate for ever and to fight each other…[as] a sacred duty and thus, though in a less comprehensive form, the double crowd of the Last Judgment is prefigured in every earthly battle.

In The Human Province, Canetti adds, regarding Muhammad, and jihad war (pp. 117-118):

[He is a de facto regent, it was he who first brought the prophets to power; no one before him ever utilized God so consistently and successfully. Faith for him is obedience. He is lavish with God’s possessions, the rewards he promises for the next world; he would be like a generous king. He calls himself God’s prophet; he could just as easily or better be named God’s command. [emphasis in original]…Muhammad certainly prefers wars to healing the sick…In Islam, God’s command is a great deal like a death sentence.

Andrew G. Bostom is the author of The Legacy of Jihad (Prometheus, 2005) and The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism " (Prometheus, November, 2008) You can contact Dr. Bostom at @andrewbostom.org

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