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My Interview by Mark Tapson on Dhimmitude and Islamic Antisemitism

January 23rd, 2012 by Andrew Bostom |
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In conjunction with my talk on Islamic Antisemitism at The Luxe Hotel in Los Angeles at 7:00 P.M. on Tuesday, January 24, 2012, I gave the following interview to Mark Tapson of Frontpage Magazine.com:

Mark Tapson: Dr. Bostom, what inspired you as a scholar to focus on Islam?

Andrew Bostom: It’s pretty straightforward. The stimulus was 9/11/2001. Until then I was simply a medical academic at Rhode Island Hospital (the major teaching hospital of The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University), and an average citizen trying to keep abreast of world events. I am not particularly religious as a Jew though I certainly support the state of Israel. But I grew up in New York, living in Queens most of my life, and I went to medical school in Brooklyn. My wife and I still have family in New York City, so the day of 9/11/2001 itself was traumatic, trying to make sure everyone was OK. A colleague’s wife was in the second tower. She was very lucky, barely getting out before it collapsed. On the way home I grabbed a book by Karen Armstrong about Islam. I was reading it and commenting to my wife that it just didn’t seem to jibe. (I learned later that Armstrong is a notorious apologist.) As I read it out loud my wife was just laughing. I didn’t find it particularly funny. Nor the news reports over the next days that were transparently apologetic. And I was alarmed at stories that appeared in the New York Times (and other New York area newspapers) about an Egyptian Imam who was preaching at a large Mosque in Manhattan, and spreading conspiracy theories about Jews leaving the World Trade Center in advance of the attacks, due to their “prior knowledge.” So I started reading independently. A small book by Yossef Bodansky, a terrorism expert, discussed Islamic antisemitism as a political instrument, and referenced the work of Bat Ye’or on the dhimmi. I got that book by Bat Ye’or, and everything else she has written in English—all her books, essays, and published lectures. I met Bat Ye’or after a correspondence with Daniel Pipes, and brought her to Brown (University) to give a guest lecture. She became a very close mentor, and introduced me to Ibn Warraq and that’s how things started. I had begun writing short essays within a year of 9/11. Ibn Warraq resided with us in 2003, for a time, and he encouraged me to consider a book project. I was increasingly interested in the Jihad and it was with Warraq’s support that I put that first book (The Legacy of Jihad) together.

MT: What do you say to the common defense that Islam preaches tolerance toward Christians and Jews – “people of the book” – and that Jew-hatred is not inherent within Islam?

AB: Although often invoked, these apologetic canards are diametrically opposed to Islamic doctrine and the sad, if predictable historical realities this sacralized hatred has engendered.

What has always been the nature of the system of governance imposed upon indigenous non-Muslims conquered by Islam’s timeless, institutionalized jihad wars?

In his seminal The Laws of Islamic Governance, al-Mawardi (d. 1058) — a renowned jurist of Baghdad — examined the regulations pertaining to the lands and infidel populations subjugated by jihad. This is the origin of the system of dhimmitude. The native infidel “dhimmi” (which derives from both the word for “pact” and also “guilt” — guilty of religious errors) population had to recognize Islamic ownership of their land, submit to Islamic law, and accept payment of the Koranic poll tax (jizya, the tax paid in lieu of being slain) based on Koran 9:29. Al-Mawardi notes: “The enemy makes a payment in return for peace and reconciliation. … Reconciliation and security last as long as the payment is made. If the payment ceases, then the jihad resumes.” A treaty of reconciliation may be renewable, but must not exceed 10 years. This same basic formulation was reiterated during a January 8, 1998, interview by Muslim Brotherhood “Spiritual Guide,” and immensely popular Al-Jazeera television personality Yusuf al-Qaradawi, confirming how jihad continues to regulate the relations between Muslims and non-Muslims to this day. The “contract of the jizya,” or “dhimma,” encompassed other obligatory and recommended obligations for the conquered non-Muslim “dhimmi” peoples. Collectively, these “obligations” formed the discriminatory system of dhimmitude imposed upon non-Muslims — Jews and Christians, as well as Zoroastrians, Hindus, and Buddhists — subjugated by jihad. Some of the more salient features of dhimmitude include:

– The prohibition of arms for the vanquished dhimmis

– The prohibition of church bells

– Restrictions concerning the building and restoration of churches, synagogues, and temples

– Inequality between Muslims and non-Muslims with regard to taxes and penal law

– The refusal of dhimmi testimony by Muslim courts

– A requirement that Jews, Christians, and other non-Muslims, including Zoroastrians and Hindus, wear special clothes

– The overall humiliation and abasement of non-Muslims

It is important to note that these regulations and attitudes were institutionalized as permanent features of the sacred Islamic law, or Sharia. The writings of the much lionized Sufi theologian and jurist al-Ghazali (d. 1111) highlight how the institution of dhimmitude was simply a normative and prominent feature of the Sharia

The dhimmi is obliged not to mention Allah or His Apostle. … Jews, Christians, and Majians must pay the jizya [poll tax on non-Muslims]. … On offering up the jizya, the dhimmi must hang his head while the official takes hold of his beard and hits [the dhimmi] on the protruberant bone beneath his ear [i.e., the mandible]. … They are not permitted to ostentatiously display their wine or church bells. … Their houses may not be higher than the Muslim’s, no matter how low that is. The dhimmi may not ride an elegant horse or mule; he may ride a donkey only if the saddle-work is of wood. He may not walk on the good part of the road. They [the dhimmis] have to wear [an identifying] patch [on their clothing], even women, and even in the [public] baths. … [Dhimmis] must hold their tongue.

The practical consequences of such a discriminatory system were summarized by the great historian of Muslim and non-Muslim (especially Jewish) relations during classical Islam, S.D. Goitein, in 1970 :

Taxation [by the Muslim government] was merciless, and a very large section of the population must have lived permanently at the starvation level. From many Geniza letters [a trove of Oriental Jewish correspondence etc., particularly from the Middle Ages, discovered in Egypt] one gets the impression that the poor were concerned more with getting money for the payment of their taxes than for food and clothing, for failure of payment usually induced cruel punishment. … The Muslim state was quite the opposite of the ideals … embedded in the constitution of the United States. An Islamic state was part of or coincided with dar al-Islam, the House of Islam. Its treasury was … the money of the Muslims. 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 … 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.

Important scholars of Islamic Antisemitism — from Hartwig Hirschfeld in the mid 1880s, Georges Vajda in the late 1930s, S.D. Goitein in 1971, and Haggai Ben-Shammai in 1988 — have demonstrated, collectively, all of the following:

– Clear historical evidence of specific Islamic antisemitism, from the Geniza record of the high Middle Ages — including the coinage of a unique Hebrew word to characterize such Muslim Jew hatred, sinuth — published in full by Goitein as of 1971

– The content of foundational Muslim sources detailing the sacralized rationale for Islam’s anti-Jewish bigotry, including Hartwig Hirschfeld’s mid-1880s essay series on Muhammad’s subjugation of the Jews of Medina, based upon the earliest pious Muslim biographies of Muhammad

– George Vajda’s elegant, comprehensive 1937 analysis focusing primarily on the hadith (the putative words and deeds of the Muslim prophet Muhammad, as recorded by pious transmitters)

– Haggai Ben-Shammai’s concise 1988 study of key examples of Jew-hatred in the Koran and Koranic exegesis

For example, Koran 3:112 is featured before the pre-amble to Hamas’ foundational Covenant—it is literally part of the very first statement of the document. [Here is the standard Arberry translation of 3:112: “Abasement shall be pitched on them, wherever they are come upon, except they be in a bond of God, and a bond of the people; they will be laden with the burden of God's anger, and poverty shall be pitched on them; that, because they disbelieved in God's signs, and slew the Prophets without right; that, for that they acted rebelliously and were transgressors.”]

In classical and modern Koranic exegeses by seminal, authoritative Islamic theologians this central motif is coupled to Koranic verses 5:60, and 5:78, which describe the Jews transformation into apes and pigs (5:60), or simply apes, (i.e. verses 2:65 and 7:166), having been “…cursed by the tongue of David, and Jesus, Mary’s son” (5:78). Muhammad himself—Islam’s founding prophet—repeats this Koranic curse in a canonical hadith (the words, deeds, and even unspoken gestures of Muhammad as ostensibly recorded by his earliest pious Muslim companions; Sunan Abu Dawoud, Book 37, Number 4322), “He [Muhammad] then recited the verse [5:78]: ‘…curses were pronounced on those among the children of Israel who rejected Faith, by the tongue of David and of Jesus the son of Mary’”. And 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, the Muslim Jesus (or at least his “body double” 4:157-4:158),  is updated with perfect thematic 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—the sira being the earliest pious Muslim biographies of Muhammad—maintains that Muhammad’s poisoning resulted from a well-coordinated Jewish conspiracy. As characterized in the hadith, Muslim eschatology 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, or Jerusalem, 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 (Sahih Muslim, Book 41, Number 6985) included in the 1988 Hamas Covenant (in article 7). This hadith is cited in the Covenant as a sacralized, obligatory call for a Muslim genocide of the Jews:

…the Islamic Resistance Movement aspires to realize the promise of Allah, no matter how long it takes. The Prophet, Allah’s prayer and peace be upon him, says: “The hour of judgment shall not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them, so that the Jews hide behind trees and stones, and each tree and stone will say: ‘Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him,’ except for the Gharqad tree, for it is the tree of the Jews.” (Sahih Muslim, Book 41, Number 6985)

Moreover, findings reported by the politically Left Israel Foundation, July 15, 2011, from an “intensive, face-to-face survey in Arabic of 1,010 Palestinian adults in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip” revealed  that 73% of this representative statistical sample of Palestinians surveyed agree with the dictates of the annihilationist canonical hadith (i.e., Sahih Muslim, Book 41, Number 6985) quoted in the Hamas Covenant.

Unfortunately, Hamas’ views on Islamic Jew hatred, are entirely concordant with those of the most authoritative religious educational institution within Sunni Islam for over 1000 years, since the late 10th century—Al Azhar University, in Cairo, Egypt. Consider a fatwa written January 5, 1956 by then Grand Mufti of Egypt, Sheikh Hasan Ma’moun, and signed by the leading members of the Fatwa Committee of Al Azhar, and the major representatives of all four Sunni Islamic schools of jurisprudence. [English translation from State Department Telegram 1763/ Embassy (Cairo) Telegram 1256 D441214] This ruling elaborated the following key initial point: that all of historical Palestine—modern Jordan, Israel, and the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria, as well as Gaza—having been conquered by jihad, was a permanent possession of the global Muslim umma (community), “fay territory”—booty or spoils—to be governed eternally by Islamic Law. The January, 1956 Al Azhar fatwa’s language and arguments are indistinguishable from those employed by Hamas (in its Covenant), revealing the same conjoined motivations of jihad, and conspiratorial Islamic Jew hatred:

 

Muslims cannot conclude peace with those Jews who have usurped the territory of Palestine and attacked its people and their property in any manner which allows the Jews to continue as a state in that sacred Muslim territory.

[as] Jews have taken a part of Palestine and there established their non-Islamic government and have also evacuated from that part most of its Muslim inhabitants… Jihad… to restore the country to its people.. is the duty of all Muslims, not just those who can undertake it. And since all Islamic countries constitute the abode of every Muslim, the Jihad is imperative for both the Muslims inhabiting the territory attacked, and Muslims everywhere else because even though some sections have not been attacked directly, the attack nevertheless took place on a part of the Muslim territory which is a legitimate residence for any Muslim.

 Everyone knows that from the early days of Islam to the present day the Jews have been plotting against Islam and Muslims and the Islamic homeland. They do not propose to be content with the attack they made on Palestine and Al Aqsa Mosque, but they plan for the possession of all Islamic territories from the Nile to the Euphrates.

The continual, monotonous invocation by Al Azhar clerics of such jihadist and antisemitic motifs from the Koran (or other foundational Muslim texts) is entirely consistent with the published writings and statements of the late Sheikh Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi—Grand Imam of this pre-eminent Islamic religious institution from 1996, till his death in March 2010.

My book The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism includes extensive first time English translations of Tantawi’s academic magnum opus, Jews in the Koran and the Traditions. Tantawi wrote these words rationalizing Muslim Jew-hatred, in his 700 page treatise:

[The] Koran describes the Jews with their own particular degenerate characteristics, i.e. killing the prophets of Allah [Koran 2:61/ 3:112], 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 [Koran 3:113], the bad ones do not.

Tantawi was apparently rewarded for this scholarly effort by being named Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University, a position he held for 14-years. These were 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, which represents some 85 to 90% of the world’s Muslims. And Sheikh Tantawi never mollified such hatemongering beliefs after becoming the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar as his statements on “dialogue” (January 1998) with Jews, the Jews as “enemies of Allah, descendants of apes and pigs” (April 2002), and the legitimacy of homicide bombing of Jews (April 2002) make clear.

Here is but a very incomplete sampling of barely known pogroms and mass murderous violence against Jews living under Islamic rule, across space and time, all resulting from the combined effects of jihadism, general anti-dhimmi, and/or specifically Antisemitic motifs in Islam: 6,000 Jews massacred in Fez in 1033; hundreds of Jews slaughtered in Muslim Cordoba between 1010 and 1015; 4,000 Jews killed in Muslim riots in Grenada in 1066, wiping out the entire community; the Berber Muslim Almohad depredations of Jews (and Christians) in Spain and North Africa between 1130 and 1232, which killed tens of thousands, while forcibly converting thousands more, and subjecting the forced Jewish converts to Islam to a Muslim Inquisition; the 1291 pogroms in Baghdad and its environs, which killed (at least) hundreds of Jews; the 1465 pogrom against the Jews of Fez; the late 15th century pogrom against the Jews of the Southern Moroccan oasis town of Touat; the 1679 pogroms against, and then expulsion of 10,000 Jews from Sanaa, Yemen to the unlivable, hot and dry Plain of Tihama, from which only 1,000 returned alive, in 1680, 90% having died from exposure; recurring Muslim anti-Jewish violence—including pogroms and forced conversions—throughout the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, which rendered areas of Iran (for example, Tabriz) Judenrein; the 1834 pogrom in Safed where raging Muslim mobs killed and grievously wounded hundreds of Jews; the 1888 massacres of Jews in Isfahan and Shiraz, Iran; the 1910 pogrom in Shiraz; the pillage and destruction of the Casablanca, Morocco ghetto in 1907; the pillage of the ghetto of Fez  Morocco in 1912; the government sanctioned anti-Jewish pogroms by Muslims in Turkish Eastern Thrace during June-July, 1934 which ethnically cleansed at least 3000 Jews; and the series of pogroms, expropriations, and finally mass expulsions of some 900,000 Jews from Arab Muslim nations, beginning in 1941 in Baghdad (the murderous “Farhud,” during which 600 Jews were murdered, and at least 12,000 pillaged)—eventually involving cities and towns in Egypt, Morocco, Libya, Syria, Aden, Bahrain, and culminating in 1967 in Tunisia—that accompanied the planning and creation of a Jewish state, Israel, on a portion of the Jews’ ancestral homeland.

 

MT: Some say that modern Islamic anti-Semitism was shaped by the influence of Nazism – but isn’t it the other way around? Can you elaborate on their symbiotic relationship?

AB: There are concordances between Nazism and jihadism over 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.

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 [the Ottoman practice of expropriating some 500,000 to 1 million Balkan Christian children during a period of 300 years, forcibly converting them to Islam, and making them slave soldiers—“janissaries”—waging jihad against their indigenous Christian societies), 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.

Almost 40 years ago (1973/74) Bat Ye’or published a remarkably prescient 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 Goebbels’ 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— represents the apotheosis of this convergence of jihad, Islamic antisemitism, and racist, Nazi antisemitism, described by Bat Ye’or.

Upon his arrival in Egypt in 1956, it was the jihadist and Nazi ally, Hajj Amin el-Husseini, former Mufti of Jerusalem, 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 simultaneously extols 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. 21 And even earlier, in a 1938 essay, von Leers 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.

Von Leers, for example, offers this reverent summary characterization of Muhammad’s activities in Mecca, and later Medina, which is entirely consistent with standard Muslim apologetics:

[Mecca] For years Muhammad sought in Mecca to succeed with his preaching that there was only one God, the sole, all-merciful king of Judgment Day. He opposed to the Christian Trinity the unity of God, rejected the Christian doctrine of original sin and salvation, and instead gave every believer as a guiding principle the complete fulfillment of the commands of the righteous, given by a compassionate and just God, before whom every individual person had to account for his acts.

[Medina] September 622 he left Mecca for Medina, where he took up residence. Here he encountered the Jewish problem for the first time. He believed in the victorious power of good in the world, he was firmly convinced that the religion of the one and only God, with its easy, practical, reasonable, basic laws for human life was nothing other than the original religion. He wanted to take mankind out of the current turmoil and lead it toward the original, clear vision of God. But since he had to deal with people who had been influenced by both Christianity and Judaism, he said that it was the religion in which Abraham (Ibrahim) had already believed, andwhich Christ and Moses had proclaimed, only each time it had been distorted by human beings. He said that this had been revealed anew to him by God. He wanted to make the path easy to follow for both Christians and Jews; thus at first he allowed his followers to pray facing toward Jerusalem. He repeatedly emphasized that he only wanted to purify the existing religions, to establish the restored, newly revealed faith. At the same time he was a skilled statesman. When the Arab tribes were unified, theJews became a minority in Medina. Muhammad provided them with a kind of protectorate agreement: they were to retain their administration and their forms of worship, help the faithful defend the city, not ally themselves with Muhammad’s opponents, and contribute to the faithful’s wars. The Jews could have been satisfied with this. But they began a general hate campaign against Islam, which proclaimed a pure conception of God.

Citing (or referring to) the relevant foundational text sources (i.e., Qur’an 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 chronicles Muhammad’s successful campaigns that 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 that 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 that forty-six years later became the keystone of Hamas’s 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’s 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.

Seven decades ago, University of Notre Dame historian Waldemar Gurian, and Protestant theologian Karl Barth, each elucidated the profound attraction of Islam for a hardcore Nazi ideologue such as von Leers—which also underpins the subsequent Islamic-Nazi symbiosis so evident in post World War II Egypt.

Gurian, a refugee, who witnessed first hand the Communist and Fascist totalitarian movements in Europe, concluded (in 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 [from, The Church and the Political Problem of Our Day] had offered this warning, published in 1939:

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.” 33 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]

However, as Brynjar Lia’s 1998 analysis of the Muslim Brotherhood’s formative years (1928-1942) points out,

…al-Banna was anxious to distance himself from the aggressive chauvinism and racism that flourished in several countries in the 1930s, and rejected racial theories as utterly incompatible with Islam. In fact, the Muslim Brothers used to make fun of the Young Egypt Party (Misr al-Fatah) which they saw as trying to imitate the German Nazis.

Lia acknowledges how Al-Banna’s and  the Muslim Brotherhood’s vision remained steadfastly Islamic—hence its deep resonance with the timeless aspiration of the Muslim masses to establish a transnational Muslim Caliphate via jihad.

Quoting the Qur’anic verse [2:193] “And fight them till sedition is no more, and the faith is God’s,” the Muslim Brothers urged their fellow Muslims to restore the bygone greatness of Islam, and to re-establish the Islamic empire…[T]het even called for the restoration of “former Islamic colonies” in Andalus (Spain), southern Italy, Sicily, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean islands…When they did express admiration of certain aspects of Nazism or Fascism, it was usually in the context of demonstrating that the Europeans had implemented some of “the principles of Islam,” such as modest dress code, encouragement of early marriage, a strong patriotism, and a military jihad spirit.

Remarkably concordant views on jihad were expressed by von Leers during the same era, prior to his formal conversion to Islam. I was able to obtain (from the Russian State Military Archive of captured Nazi documents), and have translated from the original German, an unpublished ~ 6000 word essay Leers’ wrote during World War II (apparently in 1942-1943), entitled, “Philosophies of Peace and War in Islam.”

Disingenuously ignoring the explicit imperial designs of jihad—to subjugate all of mankind under Islamic Law, as detailed with lucidity in the Koran, sunna, and a millennial continuum of Muslim jurisprudence—von Leers provides this hagiographic overview of Islam’s bellicose institution for global conquest, linked to his condemnation of Western European Christendom:

For quite a long time, however, the great colonial powers have been using treaties between themselves and smaller nations merely as a mutual means of help, that is, until one nation has become stronger than the other in its leadership and its means of war.  The Qur’an intends and demands that treaties be established upon the bases of justice and equal rights of access, without ulterior motives or underhanded intentions – otherwise, there will never be peace upon the earth.

Leers amplifies this traditional Muslim apologetic in his assessment of the Koranic injunction—verse 9:29—for timeless jihad against Judeo-Christian societies.

“Fight those who believe not in God and the Last Day and do not forbid what God and His Messenger have forbidden — such men as practice not the religion of truth, being of those who have been given the Book — until they pay the tribute out of hand and have been humbled” (9:29, Arberry translation). One must therefore fight against those who possess the Book and who threaten the land and life of the Muslims, who oppress the people or want to convert the Muslims to their faith.  This enemy, when defeated, must pay tribute….This payment, therefore, is not a “payment of reparations” in the European sense, by which the enemy is completely ruined.

Predictably, Leers also highlights this traditional Koranic statement of Jewish perfidy in relation to wartime treaties. But again, Leers “exegesis” on Koran 8:55 is entirely consistent with the gloss on this verse in the seminal, mainstream Koranic commentary Tafsir al-Jalalayn which maintains that 8:55 refers specifically to the Jewish tribe Banu Qurayza.

The Qur’an considered the Jews, who never remained true to the treaties they made with the Prophet, to be lower than cattle.  It says concerning them, “ Surely the worst of beasts in God’s sight are the unbelievers, who will not believe, those of them with whom thou hast made compact, then they break their compact every time, not being godfearing” (8:55-56, Arberry translation)

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.

Over 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 non-Muslim victims, not only Jews. This lack of understanding is little advanced by the spate of contemporary 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 global jihadism and Islamic antisemitism, since the 7th century advent of the Muslim creed, particularly during the last decade of Muhammad’s life.

Finally, an  October 1957 US intelligence report on von Leers’ writing and activities for Egypt and the Arab League confirmed his complete adoption of the triumphal 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

MT: Tell us about your forthcoming book, Sharia versus Freedom.

AB: Robert Conquest, the pre-eminent historian of Soviet Communist totalitarianism, harshly criticized those numerous Western academics and writers of the 1930s through the 1950s, who were willfully delusive about the Soviet Union. Conquest appositely characterized as “mindslaughter” this genre of Western apologetics regarding the ideology of Communism, and the tangible horrors its Communist votaries inflicted. Sadly, his critique of the Western intelligentsia highlights a cultural self-loathing tendency which has persisted and intensified over the intervening decades, through the present. Sharia Versus Freedom—The Legacy of Islamic Totalitarianism provides copious documentation of our era’s comparable Western intellectual “mindslaughter” regarding the existential threat posed by Islam’s living, self-professed mission—to impose Sharia, its totalitarian, religio-political “law,” globally.

Sharia Versus Freedom is a collection of my own recent essays on the Sharia, introduced by Andrew C. McCarthy’s Foreword. Divided into four thematic sections, the book elucidates, unapologetically, the Sharia’s defining Islamic religious principles, and resultant consequences of its application across space and time, focusing upon contemporary illustrations. A wealth of unambiguous evidence is marshaled, distilled, and analyzed, including: objective, erudite studies of the Sharia by leading scholars of Islam; the acknowledgment of Sharia’s global “resurgence,” even by post-modern, “anti-colonial” (i.e., against Western colonialism, albeit not Islamic jihad colonialism) academic apologists for Islam, combined with an abundance of recent polling data from Muslim nations, and Muslim immigrant communities in the West confirming the ongoing, widespread adherence to the Sharia’s tenets;  the plaintive warnings and admonitions of contemporary Muslim intellectuals—freethinkers and believers, alike—about the incompatibility of Sharia with modern, Western-derived conceptions of universal human rights; and the overt promulgation of traditional, Sharia-based Muslim legal systems as an integrated whole (i.e., extending well beyond mere “family law aspects” of the Sharia), by authoritative, mainstream international and North American Islamic religio-political organizations.

 

 

 

 

 


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