“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.”

by Ibn Warraq, New English Review, (January 2009)

Charles Watson, and G.-H. Bousquet refer to Islam as a totalitarian system tout court, while Bertrand Russell, Jules Monnerot, and Czeslaw Milosz compare Islam to various aspects of communism, and finally, among others, Carl Jung, Karl Barth, Adolf Hitler, Said Amir Arjomand, Maxime Rodinson and Manfred Halpern note Islam’s similarities to fascism or nazism (the latter two terms often used synonymously).

Charles Watson, a Christian missionary in Egypt, in 1937, described Islam as totalitarian by showing how, “by a million roots, penetrating every phase of life, all of them with religious significance, it is able to maintain its hold upon the life of Moslem peoples”.[1]G.H.Bousquet, formerly Professor of Law at the University of Algiers, and later at the University of Bordeaux, one of the foremost authorities on Islamic Law, distinguishes two aspects of Islam which he considers totalitarian: Islamic Law, and the Islamic notion of Jihad which has for its ultimate aim the conquest of the entire world, in order to submit it to one single authority.[2]

Islamic Law has certainly aimed at, to quote another great scholar of Islamic Law, and longtime Professor of Arabic at the University of Leiden, Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje, “controlling the religious, social and political life of mankind in all its aspects, the life of its followers without qualification, and the life of those who follow tolerated religions to a degree that prevents their activities from hampering Islam in any way”.[3] The all-embracing nature of Islamic Law can be seen from the fact that it does not distinguish between ritual, law (in the European sense of the word), ethics and good manners. In principle this legislation controls the entire life of the believer and the Islamic community, it intrudes into every nook and cranny: everything, to give a random sample, from the pilgrim tax, agricultural contracts, the board and lodging of slaves, the invitation to a wedding, the use of tooth-picks, the ritual fashion in which one’s natural needs are to be accomplished, the prohibition for men to wear gold or silver rings to the proper treatment of animals is covered.

Islamic Law is a doctrine of duties, external duties, that is to say, those duties which, continues Hurgronje, “are susceptible to control by a human authority instituted by God. However, these duties are, without exception, duties towards God, and are founded on the inscrutable will of God Himself. All duties that men can envisage being carried out are dealt with; we find treated therein all the duties of man in any circumstance whatsoever, and in their connections with anyone whatsoever”.[4]

Bertrand Russell in The Practice and Theory of Bolshevism, published in 1920 wrote,

“Bolshevism combines the characteristics of the French Revolution with those of the rise of Islam….Marx has taught that Communism is fatally predestined to come about; this produces a state of mind not unlike that of the early successors of Mahommet….Among religions, Bolshevism is to be reckoned with Mohammedanism rather than with Christianity and Buddhism. Christianity and Buddhism are primarily personal religions, with mystical doctrines and a love of contemplation. Mohammedanism and Bolshevism are practical, social, unspiritual, concerned to win the empire of this world”. [5]

Jules Monnerot in his 1949 study, Sociologie du Communisme[6] called Communism the Twentieth-Century ‘Islam’. Monnerot wrote that the ultimate aim of Soviet Communism was “the most absolute tyranny ever conceived by man; a tyranny that recognises no spatial limits (except for the time being those of the planet itself), no temporal limits (communist believers generally refuse to contemplate any post-communist ages), and no limits to its power over the individual: its will to power claims total possession over every man it wins, and allows no greater freedom in mental than in economic life. It is this claim that brings it into conflict with faiths, religions, and values, which are older than itself or developing independently; and then the battle is joined. We are the battle”.

“Communism,” continues Monnerot, “takes the field both as a secular religion and as a universal State [7]; it is therefore more comparable to Islam than to the Universal Religion which began by opposing the universal State in the Hellenistic and Roman worlds, and which can be said to have drawn men’s hearts away from the State to itself….Soviet Russia…is not the first empire in which temporal and public power goes hand in hand with a shadowy power which works outside the imperial frontiers to undermine the social structure of neighbouring States. The Islamic East affords several examples of a like duality and duplicity. The Egyptian Fatimids, and later the Persian Safavids, were the animators and propagators, from the heart of their own States, of an active and organising legend, an historical myth, calculated to make fanatics and obtain their total devotion, designed to create in neighbouring States an underworld of ruthless gangsters….This merging of religion and politics was a major characteristic of the Islamic world in its victorious period. It allowed the head of State to operate beyond his own frontiers in the capacity of commander of the faithful (Amir al-muminin); and in this way a Caliph was able to count upon docile instruments, or captive souls, wherever there were men who recognized his authority. The territorial frontiers which seemed to remove some of his subjects from his jurisdiction were nothing more than material obstacles; armed force might compel him to feign respect for the frontier, but propaganda and subterranean warfare could continue no less actively beyond it. Religions of this kind acknowledge no frontiers. Soviet Russia is merely the geographical center from which communist influence radiates; it is an “Islam” on the march, and it regards its frontiers at any given moment as purely provisional and temporary. Communism, like victorious Islam, makes no distinction between politics and religion, but this time the claim to be both universal State and universal truth applies not only within a civilization or world which co-exists with other different civilizations, other worlds, but to the entire terrestrial globe”.[8]

In The Captive Mind, Czeslaw Milosz devoted a chapter to how people in totalitarian societies develop means to cope publically with all the contradictions of real life. One cannot admit to contradictions openly; officially they do not exist. Hence people learn to dissimulate their views, emotions and thoughts, never revealing their true beliefs publically. Milosz finds a striking analogy of the same phenomenon in Islamic civilization, where it bears the name Kitman or Ketman [Persian word for concealment].[9] (Read More)

Islam has also been compared more precisely to Nazism or sometimes Fascism, usually used synonymously. For example, Carl Jung, the famous Swiss psychiatrist, was asked in the late 1930s in an interview if he had any views on what was likely to be the next step in religious development. He replied, referring to the rise of Nazism in 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.”[10] (Read More)