Verboten Discussion?—Hitler, Muhammad, and Islam

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Hitler, Muhammad, and their respective flocks.

Cliff May deserves credit for his National Review Online column of Thursday (1/24/08) which dares to associate—however indirectly, and in the end, I am afraid, inadequately—those he terms, using layers of prophylactic rhetorical separation from orthodox Islam, either “militant jihadists,” or “Islamists,” and their movement as “militant Islamism,”—with Hitler, and his “movement,” i.e., Nazism.

May’s inchoate effort, should be applauded for its attempted illustration of any possible ideological nexus between Hitler’s Nazism, and Islam. But ultimately, the associations he makes—the “ability to nurse grievances and stoke ambitions,” Germans/Aryans as a master race, and the concordant supremacism of “militant Islamism,” and generic “fanaticism”—ignore much more intimate, if uncomfortable to acknowledge, doctrinal and historical connections between ancient Islam, and modern Nazism, which I have elaborated, below.

Islam, Nazism, and Totalitarianism

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

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

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 this discussion which captures Hitler’s racist views of Arabs on the one hand, and his effusive praise for Islam on the other:

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. [emphasis added] Hitler said that the conquering Arabs, because of their racial inferiority, would in the long run have been unable to contend with the harsher climate and conditions of the country. They could not have kept down the more vigorous natives, so that ultimately not Arabs but Islamized Germans could have stood at the head of this Mohammedan Empire. [emphasis added] Hitler usually concluded this historical speculation by remarking, “You see, it’s been our misfortune to have the wrong religion. Why didn’t we have the religion of the Japanese, who regard sacrifice for the Fatherland as the highest good? The Mohammedan religion too would have been much more compatible to us than Christianity. Why did it have to be Christianity with its meekness and flabbiness?”

A similar ambivalence characterized Nazi Germany’s support for Arab Muslim causes in the World War II era. Hitler for example, in December 1937, even proposed omitting his “racial ladder” theory—which denigrated the Arabs—from a forthcoming Arabic translation of Mein Kampf. And a Berlin Foreign Ministry spokesman, during a November, 1942 press conference reported in the New York Times, took “great pains” to assure Arabs that Nazi antisemitic policies were directed at Jews, exclusively. The spokesman elaborated:

The difference between Germany’s attitude toward Jews and Arabs has been clearly shown in the exchange of letters between the former Prime Minister of Iraq, Rashid Ali, and the German Institute for Racial Problems. We have never said the Arabs were inferior as a race. On the contrary, we have always pointed out the glorious historic past of the Arab people.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Islam Über Alles?—The Convergence of Jihad, Islamic Jew-Hatred, 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.

Leers—who was Goebbel’s favorite Nazi propagandist of annihilation— expressed two decades before eventually converting to Islam, in Blut und Rasse in der Gesetzgebung (“Blood and Race in Legislation,” 1936), his admiration for “the imperious and warlike Islam [of the peoples] who still had a clear Nordic racial component,” while also extolling in Der Kardinal und die Germanen (“The Cardinal and the Germans,” 1934) Islam’s ecumenical “tolerance.” In subsequent essays published during 1938 and 1942, von Leers produced analyses focused primarily on Muhammad’s interactions with the Jews of Medina. Collectively, 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.

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

7 responses to “Verboten Discussion?—Hitler, Muhammad, and Islam

  1. Mr. Bostom,
    As always, interesting and unique, andI always learn something new from your work, I appreciate it.

  2. Many thanks. I am pleased to add it to the Swastika & Scimitar series at Chronicles of Atlantis. The connect for me is the way that both National Socialism and Islam are convened in accord with what René Girard calls “the primitive Sacred;” namely, their need for victims to sacrifice.

    This, by the way, is a substantial reason why multicultural secularists seem to be at ease with the growing threat of Islamist takeover of the old Christian West: it concurs with its need for victims. In the case of the neo-pagans of the West, however, the victims are circumscribed to the unborn and opponents of relativism. Best

  3.' heroyalwhyness

    It boggles the mind that it took sixty years to shed daylight on this connection.

    FYI, Dr. Bostom, today I received notification from Amazon with an “Updated Delivery Estimate: April 22, 2008 – April 24, 2008” on your new book. . . and remind myself, patience is a virtue. ;D

  4. Count Keyserling (1880-1946 CE) account of his travels in Islamic countries in “The Travel Diary of a Philosopher”

    “Islam is a religion,” he wrote, “of absolute surrender and submissiveness to God – but to a God of a certain character – a War-Lord who is entitled to do with us as he will and who bids us stand ever in line of battle against the foe… The ritual of this belief embodies the idea of discipline. When the true believers every day at fixed hours perform their prayers in serried ranks in the mosque, all going through the same gestures at the same moment, this is not, as in Hinduism, done as a method of self-realization, but in the spirit in which the Prussian soldier defiled before his Kaiser. This military basis of Islam explains all the essential virtues of the Musalman. It also explains his fundamental defects – his unprogressiveness, his incapacity to adapt himself, his lack of invention. The soldier has simply to obey orders. All the rest is the affair of Allah.

    and John Wesley had this to say of Islam

    Ever since the religion of Islam appeared in the world, the espousers of it…have been as wolves and tigers to all other nations, rending and tearing all that fell into their merciless paws, and grinding them with their iron teeth; that numberless cities are raised from the foundation, and only their name remaining; that many countries, which were once as the garden of God, are now a desolate wilderness; and that so many once numerous and powerful nations are vanished from the earth! Such was, and is at this day, the rage, the fury, the revenge, of these destroyers of human kind.

    The Doctrine of Original Sin, Works (1841), ix. 205.

  5. Excellant essay. but the word cannot get out fast enough.It is ten minutes to midnight around here.A frightening coalenscing of PC ,sympathy for the pali’s,puffball treatment of islam in the media,islamic affirmative action,infiltration of the universities by petrodollars,free housing, free medical care,free money for immigrants,muslim demographics(hidden polygamy) and chain immigration,muslim demands for special treatment and muslim beachheads and ‘statements’ such as parading through an Indigo bookstore in a full bhurka,all are happening here and more.These people are not immigrants.They are invaders.

  6. “the renowned 20th century scholar of Islamic Law, G.H. Bousquet—referred to Islam as a despotic, or in 20th century parlance, totalitarian ideology. ”

    Now, I’ve indulged in 20th century history lately, and found the original source for the term ‘Totalitarian’. It comes from Mussolini and is his way to describe the perfect fascist state, where the state takes care of everything, guarantees everything and eliminates the need for dissent. (paraphrase). It was not meant as a derogative, and adherends of the nanny state will find the details familiar.

    Islam is such a system, regulating the laws and behaviour of its adherents down to the silliest detail.

    ‘Despotic’ is related but not quite the same. Fascist states obviously tend to be despotic. But if one looks at the basic tenets of Islam, it’s despotic too. By its own admission.

    No derogatives, here, just research 🙂

  7. “Had Charles Martel not been victorious at Poitiers — already, you see, the world had fallen into the hands of the Jews, so gutless a thing is Christianity! then we should in all probability have been converted to Mohammedenism, that cult which glorifies the heroism and which opens up the Seventh Heaven to the bold warrior alone. Then the Germanic races would have conquered the world. Christianity alone prevented them from doing so.”

    Adolf Hitler
    28 August 1942
    Hitler’s Table Talk 1941-44, page 667
    translated by N Cameron and R H Stevens, 1953