Winston Churchill defined Mein Kampf as “the new Koran of faith and war.” Consistent therewith, Haj Amin al-Husseini, the notorious former Mufti of Jerusalem, declared, “There is a definite similarity between the principles of Islam and the principles of Nazism.”
Although Hitler and Muhammad shared an enthusiasm for military adventurism and a hatred of Jews, still, their world views would seem to be diametrically opposed. Let us see.
Nazism and Islam more alike than unlike
Hitler grounds his Jew-hatred in racism as well as atheism. His Jew-hatred flows from the sewers of nineteenth-century ‘race theory.’ Its calculated blasphemy, its materialism (despite Hitler’s self-described ‘idealism’), and most obviously its idolatry of a ‘master race,’ ought to offend, and deeply offend, any serious student of the Koran. Islam calls for the conversion of all ‘races’ to Islam, and it does much more than merely call for such conversion—it conquers for it. Moreover, the insistent legalism of Islam sets strict limits on any would-be tyrant. To be sure, Islam is ‘totalistic,’ as are most religions. Islam seeks to explain and to regulate all of human life. This suggests that Islam is ‘totalitarian.’ Various scholars—Bernard Lewis and Daniel Pipes among them—deny this.
One may indeed conclude that Islam is not ‘totalitarian’ in the modern sense, since modern totalitarianism involves the all-encompassing power of the state and the exaltation of its leader. Hence it can be said that might does not make right for the Muslim, as it does for the Nazi, the Communist, or the Fascist. Besides, is it not obvious that for the Muslim God rules, not Hitler or Stalin? It may well be, however, that we are here dealing with half-truths which obscure Islam’s linkage to Nazism.
What links Islam to Nazism is the ethos of jihad. For both Islam and Nazism war is not merely a means to an end: mere conquest. War for both is a moral imperative: for the Nazi, to purge the world of racial impurity, for the Muslim, to purge the world of religious impurity. Both have or require an enemy: for the Muslim the ‘infidel,’ for the Nazi the ‘Jew,’ Accordingly, both Islam and Nazism aim at purifying i.e. conquering the world, and there is no limit to the violence that may be used to achieve that aim. The genocide perpetrated by Muslims against the Armenians preceded the genocide the Nazis perpetrated against the Jews.
The Nazis regarded the Jews as a virus infecting mankind, something that had to be exterminated. Although Muslims reject this racism—for a Jew could convert to Islam—Islam’s contempt for non-believers has much in common with the Nazi’s contempt for non-Aryans, Jews in particular. As in Nazism, Islam has never respected the sanctity of human life; it has always regarded infidels, Jews or Christians, as devoid of human rights—as subhuman. Bat Ye’or has documented fourteen centuries of dhimmitude—the degradation and dehumanization of countless Jews and Christians. Dhimmitude is inherent in the ethos of jihad—the most distinctive principle of Islam.
Also inherent in the ethos of jihad, but which has no parallel in Nazism, is the will to martyrdom. The most horrific manifestation of this jihad ethos is the homicide-suicide bomber. Islam may forbid what may be termed ‘personal’ suicide but not in the ethos of holy war. That Arab parents can exult in their children being sacrificed as human bombs is of course mind-boggling. This pagan-like phenomenon indicates that the sanctity of human life is not a normative Islamic doctrine. Indeed, on page after page of the Koran¸ unbelievers are consigned to Hell—Islam’s crematoria.
If the will to martyrdom is construed in terms of sacrificing the individual for the sake of the community, then Islam converges with Nazism. While Muslims exalt the umma, the Islamic nation, Nazis exalt the volk, the Aryan race. Lost in both is the dignity of the individual.
In Jewish law the individual stands on a par with the community, and such is his infinite worth or dignity that he cannot rightly be sacrificed for the sake of his community. (That Nazism regards Jews as ‘selfish’ should be understood in this light.) The dignity of the individual has no other rational source than the Torah’s conception of man’s creation in the image of God. Adam is an individual. It follows, given Islam’s subordination of the individual to the collective, that Islam, like Nazism, rejects the God of the Bible! The same God also creates diverse nations, which attests to His infinite creativity. Both Islam and Nazism reject the existence of diverse nations. Both would impose on mankind a stultifying uniformity.
The contrast with Judaism could hardly be more striking. Aside from the Seven Noahide Laws of Universal Morality, Judaism insists on differentiation and individuation. One nation should not impose order on others by erasing their salutary national differences. Diversity in unity, reflected in the twelve distinctive tribes of Israel, is a basic Torah principle.
Militant nations cannot tolerate much diversity, especially where the militancy is animated by a creed or ideology as in Islam and Nazism. In the case of Islam, its extraordinary military success and global expansion during the first hundred years of its inception was perceived by Muslims as ‘proof’ of Islam’s validity and superiority. Might did indeed make right, in Islamic history. In fact, according to Islamic doctrine, the mere seizure of state power gives religious authority to its leader even if he is not a devout Muslim.
The ethos of jihad has an ethics which is quite pragmatic, as one may expect from a militaristic religion. One might go so far as to say that Nazi militarism is jihad secularized—jihad without religious pretensions and obfuscations. Although literary Islam and Nazism have profound differences, these are of little significance to the victims of these militant doctrines. The one reduces human beings to dhimmis, the other to slaves. Militarism in a religious as well as in an atheistic creed means expansionism, murder, and degradation.
In Islam, as well as in Christianity, belief in its founder is part of the creed. The Jews have suffered the consequences of rejecting both. Many if not most Christians have forgiven the Jews for their stubborn adherence to Judaism, a religion that does not proselytize and that seeks not external glory but internal perfection. The Jewish rejection of Muhammad always rankled Muslims and aroused their hatred. But with the progress of Zionism, the Balfour Declaration, and especially with the rebirth of Israel, fear began to take hold of Muslim clerics and rulers. So long as Jews were dhimmis, Muslims did not feel threatened theologically or politically. This is no longer the case, which is why Muslim leaders throughout the world have held conferences to confront the ‘Jewish and Zionist menace’ and have issued papers which could have been written by Nazis.
Consider, for example, a 1968 international conference of Arab theologians held at Cairo’s Al Azhar University—Islam’s most authoritative university. The mufti of Lebanon referred to the Jews as the “dogs of humanity.” They do not even constitute a true people or nation. Their evilness has been transmitted throughout their history by means of their cultural inheritance. By their behavior, the Jews have called forth the hatred and persecution of all the peoples with whom they have come into contact. They deserve their fate. As for the State of Israel, it is the culmination of the historical and cultural depravity of the Jews. It must be destroyed, having been established through aggression which is its congenital and immutable nature. This must be achieved by jihad.
The participants at this conference make no distinction between Judaism and Zionism. Their virulent statements against Jews and the State of Israel point to nothing less than genocide and politicide.
For decades Muslim anti-Semitism, worldwide, has outpaced those of the neo-Nazis; “what was historically a Christian phenomenon”—largely transcended—“is now primarily a Muslim phenomenon.” “The mounting scale and sheer extent of this vehemently anti-Semitic literature and commentary in the newspapers, journals, magazines, radio, television, and in the everyday life of the Middle East [is indescribable] …” Not only is Mein Kampf a fast-selling title in the region, but even in Egypt, which has a peace treaty with Israel, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion has reappeared on a forty-one part Egyptian television program and in recycled form in Arab print media. And this is actually one of the least toxic of such excrescences. Palestinian Authority TV had this to say about Jews and Judaism: “Their Torah today is just a collection of writings in which those people wrote lies about God, His prophets and His teachings …To their prophets they attribute the greatest crimes: murder, prostitution, and drunkenness. The Jews do not believe in God …” Meanwhile, in countless mosques Muslims are poisoned by recent Islamic sermons denigrating Jews:
“Their tongues never cease lying, [disseminating] abomination and obscenity.… The Jews preached permissiveness and corruption, as they hid behind false slogans like freedom and equality, humanism and brotherhood. They kill Muslim youth, entice the [Muslim] woman with shameful deeds, and act to lure others through her. They defile the minds of adolescents by arousing their urges. They are envious of the Muslim woman who conceals herself and protects her honor; for this reason, they preach to her to expose herself and throw off her values. Their goal is to destroy the Muslim family, to shatter religious and social ties and foundations. They are cowards in battle. They flee from death and fear fighting. They love life.”
“Read history and you will understand that the Jews of yesterday are the evil forefathers of the even more evil Jews of today: infidels, falsifiers of words, calf worshippers, prophet murderers, deniers of prophecies. The scum of the human race, accursed by Allah, who turned them into apes and pigs. These are the Jews—an ongoing continuum of deceit, obstinacy, licentiousness, evil, and corruption.”
“The Jews are miserly and enslaved by money.… Most of the world’s wars, particularly the great modern wars, were planned and started by the Jews so as to disseminate corruption in the land, and to achieve their goals on the ruins of the human race.”
“The Jews are defiled creatures and satanic scum…. The Jews are the cause of the misery of the human race …. The Jews are our enemies and hatred of them is in our hearts. Jihad against them is our worship.”
Der Sturmer is tame compared to the anti-Semitic cartoons of the Arab world. Such is their hatred and loathing that Arabs depicts Jews as snakes, dogs, spiders, rats, and locusts.
A chilling example of what this zoomorphism signifies may be gleaned from the Syrian celebration of the tenth anniversary of the Yom Kippur War. In that ceremony, “Syrian militia trainees [male and female] put on a show for Syrian president Hafez Assad. Martial music reached a crescendo as Syrian teenage girls suddenly bit into live snakes [some four or five feet long], repeatedly tearing off flesh and spitting it out as blood ran down their chins. As Assad applauded, the girls then attached the snakes to sticks and grilled them over fire, eating them triumphantly. Others [militiamen] then proceeded to strangle puppies and drink their blood.”
Bearing also in mind that the Syrians exterminated some 18,000 Sunni residents of the city of Hama in 1982 with cyanide—to speak of Arab Nazis is not to succumb to hyperbole.
Islam and “Islamism”: a valid distinction?
Some scholars may contend that what has here been imputed to Islam should in truth be imputed to “Islamism.” They allege that Islamism, as distinct from Islam, twists Koranic teachings to un-Koranic uses. The candid scholar will admit that the Koran lends itself to such twists, and much more clearly so viewed from the Sharia, Islamic law. Robert Westrich lists Koranic verses condemning a variety of vices imputed to certain Jews, including falsehood, distortion, cowardice, greed, corruption of Scripture. But the fact that the Koran condemns these vices does not preclude those influenced by the Koran from attributing such vices to the Jews—the more readily so given the Koran’s unrelenting degradation of non-believers. This degradation was canonized by the Umariyah—the legal code of the seventh-century Caliph Umar—which established dhimmitude. That dhimmitude was also construed as an act of charity or patronage hardly minimizes its dehumanization of Jews and Christians under Muslim rule. Indeed, as Bat Ye’or has shown, the condition of the dhimmi was in certain respects inferior to that of a slave.
Turning to the Middle East, if distinctions are to be made between Islam and Islamism, two are in order. First and foremost, Islamism is a rejection of Arab nationalism and, in this respect, a return to classical Islam. However, Islamists have been influenced by modernism, which makes the return to classical Islam impossible. Second, Islamism has adopted the anti-Semitic racism of Nazism.
It is easy to see exactly where Israel stands with respect both to Arab nationalism and Islamism. Arab nationalism was always an instrument of state-builders, just as nationalism had been in Europe. It opposes the imperial state (except when a given nation-state decides to take on an empire), but loyally serves whatever state the state-builders envision. What are the Islamists, but Muslims who seek to seize control of the apparatus of the modern state, which they nonetheless reject as fragmenting the umma?
The existing regimes in the Islamic world are highly unlikely to change (except for the worse) by means of internal forces—‘inside-out.’ Despotism can be quite stable, making victory out of failure. Only a comprehensive geopolitical strategy can transform those regimes, ‘outside-in.’ [According to the first named author of this essay], such a transformation would require the radical transformation of the United States into an all-conquering, benevolent world power – hardly imaginable, unless another 9/11 drove America to desperation, and transformed this complacent democracy into a benevolent universal despotism, something beyond the will and wisdom of the American people, as well as beyond the secular mentality of contemporary political science.◙
 Winston Churchill, The Gathering Storm (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1948, p. 55.
 See Bernard Lewis, The Political Language of Islam (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988), p. 31; Daniel Pipes, Militant Islam Reaches America (New York: W.W. Norton, 2002), pp. 39-40, who distinguishes between Islam and Islamism and regards the latter as totalitarian.
 Bat Ye’or, Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations and Collide (Fairleigh Dickenson University Press, 2002), pp. 85, 87.
 See Bezalel Naor (ed.), Of Societies Perfect and Imperfect: Selected Readings from Eyn Ayah Rav Kook’s Commentary to Eyn Yaakov Legends of the Talmud (New York: Sepher-Hermon Press, 1995), pp. 7-10.
 D.H. Green (ed.), Arab Theologians on Jews and Israel (Geneva, 1976), p. 8.
 Daniel Pipes: “American Muslims vs. American Jews.” Commentary, May 1999.
 Robert Westrich, “Muslim Anti-Semitism: A Clear and Present Danger,” The American Jewish Committee, 2002. See also the numerous examples of virulently anti-Jewish sermons culled by researchers in the FBIS Report: “Destroy the Jews, Americans: Friday Sermons Slam U.S.-Israeli Plans Against Iraq, Arab Nation, January 24, 2003.
 For an extensive collection of these cartoons accompanied by penetrating political analysis, see Arieh Stav, Peace: The Arabian Caricature, A Study of Anti-Semitic Imagery (New York: Gefen, 1999).
 Jerusalem Post Magazine, October 21, 1983.
 See Westrich, op.cit.
 See Bat Yo’er, op. cit., p. 89.
 The locus classicus of this view is Sayyid Qutb’s Milestones. The book is widely distributed in the Arab world, and is easily available on the Internet. For an excellent commentary see Zeidan, op. cit. It might also be noted that the attempt by many Islamists to dominate existing state apparatuses by infiltration is right out of the playbook of the Italian Marxist, Antonio Gramsci. It is fair to say that Islamists have learned from radical modern thinkers ‘right’ and `left.’ Indeed, Arafat, to give only the most prominent example, aligned himself with the Soviet bloc throughout the Cold War, styling himself along the lines of a Mediterranean Castro.
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