Nietzsche on Islam

from The Antichrist translated by: H. L. Mencken

If Islam despises Christianity, it has a thousandfold right to do so: Islam at least assumes that it is dealing with men….


Christianity destroyed for us the whole harvest of ancient civilization, and later it also destroyed for us the whole harvest of Mohammedan civilization. The wonderful culture of the Moors in Spain, which was fundamentally nearer to us and appealed more to our senses and tastes than that of Rome and Greece, was trampled down (—I do not say by what sort of feet—) Why? Because it had to thank noble and manly instincts for its origin—because it said yes to life, even to the rare and refined luxuriousness of Moorish life!… The crusaders later made war on something before which it would have been more fitting for them to have grovelled in the dust—a civilization beside which even that of our nineteenth century seems very poor and very “senile.”—What they wanted, of course, was booty: the orient was rich…. Let us put aside our prejudices! The crusades were a higher form of piracy, nothing more! The German nobility, which is fundamentally a Viking nobility, was in its element there: the church knew only too well how the German nobility was to be won…. The German noble, always the “Swiss guard” of the church, always in the service of every bad instinct of the church—but well paid…. Consider the fact that it is precisely the aid of German swords and German blood and valour that has enabled the church to carry through its war to the death upon everything noble on earth! At this point a host of painful questions suggest themselves. The German nobility stands outside the history of the higher civilization: the reason is obvious…. Christianity, alcohol—the two great means of corruption…. Intrinsically there should be no more choice between Islam and Christianity than there is between an Arab and a Jew. The decision is already reached; nobody remains at liberty to choose here. Either a man is a Chandala or he is not…. “War to the knife with Rome! Peace and friendship with Islam!”: this was the feeling, this was the act, of that great free spirit, that genius among German emperors, Frederick II. What! must a German first be a genius, a free spirit, before he can feel decently? I can’t make out how a German could ever feel Christian….


For some reason, this post of mine on Nietzsche, which is now very old indeed, has recently attracted some comments of the variety “why don’t you towelheads go back to where you came from” laced with expletives and lacking not only refinement but any serious argument. Therefore, it seems only appropriate, because of the age of the post, to try and relocate it in the very different historical moment we live in.

First, some acknowledgement of the very serious crisis affecting many Muslims, particularly young Muslim men who resort to terrorism, ought to be faced. That is done superlatively well by Shaykh Abdalhaqq Bewley:

Second, although critical comments are more than welcome, particularly if they might lead to some beneficial discussion, the kind of abusive and profane comments I am receiving are immediately dispatched to the spam folder. Those who post them ought to understand their deep betrayal of the very distinctive elements that made the West and contributed to the Renaissance, Reformation, the Enlightenment, and modernity itself, however equivocally informed people regard these matters. These contributors are, in fact, merely symptoms of the utter collapse of our values and educational institutions, which I say not with any sense of Islamic triumphalism but with genuine alarm, because if the ship of the West goes down, for better or worse we are on that ship.

As to Nietzsche himself, if we can get away from his being tarred quite unjustly as a progenitor of the Nazis, whom Michael Lackey shows very cogently to have embraced a kind of Kantian Christianity, it is nevertheless probably time to re-evaluate his contribution to our age, whatever his kind words for Islam and Muslims. The work that I have found most valuable in that respect is Iain Thomson’s superb Heidegger’s Onto-theology, in which he tackles the distinctive contribution of Nietzsche to the metaphysics of an age that threatens to obliterate the human being.

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Abdassamad Clarke is from Ulster and was formally educated at Edinburgh University in Mathematics and Physics, and in Cairo in Arabic and tajwid and other Islamic sciences. He accepted Islam at the hands of Shaykh Dr. Abdalqadir as-Sufi in 1973. In the 80s he was secretary to the imam of the Dublin Mosque, and in the early 90s imam khatib of the Norwich Mosque, where he is currently an imam and teacher. He has translated the Muwatta of Imam Muhammad by Imam Muhammad ibn al-Hasan ash-Shaybani (jointly with Muhammad Abdarrahman), which was published by Turath Publishing at the end of July 2004 and a number of other works from Arabic: al-Qawl al-mu'tamad fi mashru'iyyat adh-dhikr bi'l-ism al-mufrad by Shaykh al-Alawi on the standing in Shari’ah of using the divine name in dhikr, which was published by Diwan Press as first part of The Two Invocations and since republished by Madinah Press, The History of the Khalifahs (the chapters on the Khulafa ar-Rashidun from as-Suyuti’s Tarikh al-Khulafa), the Complete Forty Hadith (translation of Imam an-Nawawi’s Forty Hadith along with the Imam’s explanation of their fiqh and linquistic usages) and Kitab al-Jami’ by Ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawani (published as A Madinan View), Rijal – narrators of the Muwatta of Imam Muhammad, all published by Ta-Ha Publishers of London, Kitab al-athar by Imam Abu Hanifah and transmitted by Imam Muhammad ibn al-Hasan ash-Shaybani (Turath Publishing 2006), The Compendium of Knowledge and Wisdom (a translation of Jami' al-'ulum wa'l-hikam by Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali, published by Turath Publishing 2007). In addition he has edited Aisha Bewley's translation of Ibn Hajar's abridgement of at-Targhib wa't-Tarhib, Ibn Taymiyyah's al-Kalim at-Tayyib both published by the UK Islamic Academy, Dr Asadullah Yate's translation of al-Ahkam as-Sultaniyyah, published by Ta-Ha Publishing and a number of other works. He is currently engaged with Suád Østergaard on a translation of the Qur’an into Danish, the first volume of which translated in collaboration with Jakob Werdelin, comprising Surat al-Fatihah, Surat al-Baqarah and Surah Ali ‘Imran, was recently published as Den gavmilde Qur’an: en fremlægning of de tre første suraer by Havens Forlag of Copenhagen. Translations yet to be published include Traditions of the Sunnah (Athar as-sunan) by Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Ali an-Nimawi (jointly with Mawlana In'amuddin), to be published by Turath Publishing Ltd. Among his unpublished translations are the Sciences of Tafsir comprising portions of Ibn Juzayy al-Kalbi’s Qur’anic commentary at-Tashil li ‘ulum at-tanzil, in particular his introductory sections on the essential elements of the sciences necessary for tafsir. He is author of a number of children’s books, The Year of the Elephant, The Great Victory and The Last Battle all of which are on the sirah of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, as well as The Story of Stories about the Prophet Yusuf, peace be upon him, in which he drew a great deal on the commentary of Ibn Juzayy, may Allah be merciful to him. He has also a poem God is Dead published in the Minaret journal of Stockholm, Sweden, and an as-yet unpublished collection of short stories called Tales Are Like That, and a novel called The Wings of the Butterfly. Abdassamad is a teacher of both adults and children in Qur’an recitation (tajwid) and meanings, Arabic language and the deen in general, most recently having organised and taken part in a conference under the auspices of Islamic Events of London on the History of the Islamic Khalifate, and having given discourses in London, Edinburgh, Dublin, Jena, Weimar, Copenhagen and the Midlands. 18 April, 2007 0:03

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  1. Considering Nietzsche’s wider philosophical views and what is written here, it seems his understanding of Islam stemmed from an orientalist fantasy of Islam as a harem obsessed and materialistic faith. I think if he had really studied Islam he would have hated it, perhaps not as much as Christianity but it would still be from his perspective a big no to life.

  2. I think you are hasty to give judgement against him. Read what he wrote very carefully, because I am convinced that he wrote it very carefully.

    If you read his criticisms of Christianity, you realise that they are just, in the same way that his praise of Islam is spot on in a way that often the modern Muslim’s defence of Islam, which has become for him a sort of distorted image of Judaism or Christianity, is not.

  3. I read Nietzsche at university, so I’m very familiar with his writings and his philosophy. He emphasises on the materialistic aspect of man and regards the concept of the soul being one which was carved out by forcing one’s passions inwards because of the strong in society being repressed in exhibiting their passions by the weak.

    Everything that Nietzsche talks about in admiration of Islam above is to connected to his perception of it’s asthetic culture, wealth, art etc Nothing at all to it’s spiritual sensibility which he believes is nothing more than an encumbarance to the fullest expression of the passions.

  4. Sidi, with due respect, having read Nietzsche at university is no guarantee of anything since university is the charnel house of knowledge. I speak as the unfortunate recipient of a degree from one.

    There is reading and there is ‘reading’. Nietzsche is all polemic and his philosophy lies hidden underneath. People ‘read’ many things from it, and they also ‘read’ many things into it. One of the most careful readers was Heidegger, but Anglo-Saxon philosophers don’t think highly of either.

    A more ascetic exponent of the passions than Nietzsche could not be imagined.

    Of course, he does not endorse the ‘soul’ as some immaterial phantasm, and neither do we, since we are the people who were told: “They ask you about the ruh. Say, ‘The ruh is the affair of my Lord, and you have been given nothing of knowledge except a little.'”

    Nor does he endorse the phantasm of the Judaeo-Christian god ensconced on clouds above the skies, but then neither do we. If that makes him a materialist, then Muslims are all materialists.

    Nevertheless, that does not make Nietzsche a Muslim but, in my view, someone who was looking around in the heavens for a qiblah. Perhaps it was a mercy that Allah took away his intellect. The mad have no reckoning.

    As-salamu alaikum,

    Abdassamad Clarke

  5. Walaikum Salaam wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatahou Sidi,

    I appreciate what you are saying. When I said I read Neitzsce at university, it doesn’t mean that I just read the given view of my lecturers, far from it, I actually did alot of my own reading into his works and works like the Genealogy of Morality seemed to me quite clear cut in terms of his body/soul opposition and also the repudiation of certain values which are held in common with our own based on such an opposition.

    While I agree that the Soul in Islam is certainly not an immaterial phantasm, it is also not just a product of repressed passions linked solely to the body and of course we don’t believe in God in the sky (which is a materialistic idea), but I didn’t get the impression that Nietzsche believed in anything beyond the physical world including any type of God.

    I appreciate however that I certainly haven’t done a systamatic study of his philosophy as perhaps Heideggar (and your good self) have and maybe when I have some time i’ll look into that, thanks for the pointer. I just found from my personal readings of Neitzsche a very unpleasant individual with a very unpleasant philosophy. But then I am quite willing to accept I may be wrong.

    Perhaps what may be said about Neitzsche is that he got as far as la ilaha but had yet to find Allah and His Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him), but then sadly that can be said of so many lost souls in western society.

    JazakAllah Khairun

  6. Ismaeel de Silva says
    “Considering Nietzsche’s wider philosophical views and what is written here, it seems his understanding of Islam stemmed from an orientalist fantasy of Islam as a harem obsessed and materialistic faith.”

    I find this extract FULL OF TRUTHS! Why not give the devil his due!

    As a Muslim, my first impulse is to say THANK YOU to the person who posted this. I think the extract has to be appreciated for what it is. This “harem” business as used in the West is out of place here!

    I have written only bad things about Nietzsche in the past because the French racists and fascists were always praising, worshipping and quoting him as being the greatest enemy of religion and GOD.

    This extract really surprises me a lot. Dr Tariq Ramadan did his thesis on Nietzsche, and because of that I thought his mind was twisted! But, I will not comment any further before I read more about “The Antichrist” and about Nittzsche.

    “The crusaders later made war on something before which it would have been more fitting for them to have grovelled in the dust—a civilization beside which even that of our nineteenth century seems very poor and very “senile.”—What they wanted, of course, was booty: the orient was rich…. ”

    I wish I had written this! Nietzsche’s mind is not that twisted after all! Allahu ‘alam!


  7. Nietzsche is not thinker that you can read once, or twice make your mind and hope that you get it right. He is perhaps most honest and bravest thinker of all times, and this of course makes him look crazy. From broad positions of moral prejudices of Christianity and Islam it might be rather hoped that he is crazy.

    In short I dare to say that Nietzsche considered himself as biggest enemy of Christianity, his entire project of reevaluation of all values was-is based on harsh critic of all crucial values of Christianity, lot of them are shared with Islam. However ,what he praises in Islam is rethinking and reevaluation of these values and degree of success that is accomplished by prophetic life of Muhamed . Most of these changes were, for the time being, huge leap forward in favor of stronger life, life with more care about body and health. This means that he praises Islam, for the radical turn from christian nihilistic attitude toward life on earth. Basic heavenly concept for Islam too is still there but it generaly shifted heavily towards life itself, this attitude is rather vital and harsh, hence closer to ideal of greatness stoic, breed in stoic harsh stance. So roughly speaking most of the modern western Cristian critics of Islam that surfaces trough ugly face of different islamofobias are in essence against most of these introduced differences.
    Most of these attacks concentrate on superficial things but main aim is this vital, stoic and harsh attitude that Islam promotes just as Nietzsche was and still is.

  8. Reading the Antichrist carefully, which is Nietzsche’s fullest and most hostile treatment of Christianity, you can see that the distinction between Jesus, peace be upon him, and Paul’s fiction is not clear to him. Paul is the inventor of everything sick that we find in Christianity. Increasingly, modern scholarship is laying bare the exact extent of Paul’s betrayal and the very different nature of Jesus’s teaching and of the early church in Jerusalem, which are so strikingly similar to Islam, as most scholars can see. Indeed, in his overblown “James, the brother of Jesus”, Robert Eisenman, whose erudition on early Christianity is overwhelming, displays an astounding ignorance on Islam, such that when he sees the striking similarity of the early church to Islam he has to postulate that Islam is in fact the result of early Christians seeking refuge in the deserts of Arabia. However, the resemblance makes perfect sense if, as is ordinary Muslim doctrine, both Jesus and Muhammad, may Allah bless them and grant them peace, were two messengers from the Divine with the same message.

  9. Admin:” Reading the Antichrist carefully, which is Nietzsche’s fullest and most hostile treatment of Christianity, you can see that the distinction between Jesus, peace be upon him, and Paul’s fiction is not clear to him.”

    You sound like you did not really read this Nietzsche at all, particularly his Antihrist. Distinction between Jesus in and New Testament (Pol’s account particularly) is brought there to sharp and plausible distinction, and to great extent is repeated over and ower. So plausible that even average 10y old would not miss this distinction, given the fact that one read the book . He gives all sick psychological reasons, power and political motives on priestly decadence that is deployed in N. Testament.

    “Paul is the inventor of everything sick that we find in Christianity.”
    This is out right Nietzsche’s sentence, I don’t know if you learned it from him, or come to same conclusion trough another source. In the first case it is counterfeit to start with, and in second it is ignorance about Friedrich Nietzsche’s position on this, to start with.

  10. My mistake. It is many years since I read the book, and obviously my memory is flawed. I still retain a memory that there are instances where Nietzsche has not got the distinction clear, but in order to substantiate that I would have to read the book again, and am unsure if I will get a chance to do that.

    All the best.

  11. – “Happy message” followed step by step the worst of everything: that of Paul. In Paul there is incarnation of opposite type to “happy messenger”, genius in hatred, in vision of hatred, in logic of hatred that lack any appreciation. He sacrifice it all to the hatred, this evangelist! After all he sacrificed Christ. ……”

    Friedrich N.- Antichrist-. //my rough and hasty translation in English, but clear enough .

    So for him Paul is genius of hatred, as opposed to Christ who is opposite and whom he sacrificed for the sake of hatred. I hope distinction is clear now.

    You may not like the rest in case you venture there to read it again, since he goes on very far when he talks about this opposition of Paul to Christ, but that does not mean that you should read it and advertise as a flat just because you suspect main goal and reasoning is very different than yours.

  12. I am a muslim, and I read Nietzsche from translation.. it really amaze me how, Nietzsche who against God, and have the tendency to be an anarchist and atheist were considered following Islamic value. What I see, Nietzsche must follow the free interpretation of Islam, like happen in Java (Indonesia), by a figure name Syaikh Siti Jenar. Not following as a way of life and teaching, but as a, existensialist, as a sufi, that have freedom to interpret Islam by the way he sees the world.

    And my perception must be far away from right, and might be wrong.. but, to see, the antichrist, and to prefer Islam.. it wasn’t really spiritualistic at all.. it must be materialistic reason. As muslim believes, that Christianity, had lost their spiritualistic touch, because they were ‘too much hands’ on their bible. and the refusal from Nietzsche against Christianity, is the refusal against the product of culture. and not divine, not God at all.

    That’s what I think, from a muslim perspective, Nietzsche was not against God at all. He against the literature, the bible, that had been written by human.

  13. This is for all you illiterate “bilingual” muslims out there. Nietzsche hated christianity, but just because your religion also holds christianity is condemn like he did, that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t of hated islam just as much …if not, more and rightfully so. I find it amusing how muslims will “read” about anything that clearly contradicts their beliefs when most of these “holy” muslim nations ban books of various intellectual streams. This brings up a quote from the man himself, and it goes something like “In the course of history, men come to see that iron necessity is neither iron nor necessary.” I find it beautifully smart and true how this notion contradicts the “iron miracle” in islam, which is regarded as one of the most miraculous evidence of the works of “allah” and the quran. Nietzsche would never believe in ANY religion because he regarded himself as god himself …a master of his own fate, the captain of his own soul. I am not atheist, but I rather respect more an atheist with an open mind than an intolerant mohammad freak. I don’t care or blame if this is making your stomach turn as you read this, but you can always blame in on the devil.

  14. Dear Duke, you completely misread Nietzsche. He was too great to hate. And as for what he would or would not have felt for Islam, the point about the quote is what he actually did say he felt about Islam, which is very far from what you seem to think. Perhaps you have not even read the passage.

    As to the idea that Nietzsche thought himself to be god, you clearly haven’t read him at all. That is quite unlike his thought.

    I suggest you read a little more about Nietzsche, and indeed even about Islam, before you accuse others of illiteracy. As the proverb goes: men are enemies of that which they are ignorant of.

    Abdassamad Clarke

  15. Brother, thank you for sharing that last part quote. It is very true, although unbeknownst to me at first, I admit that I had to look it up …only to find out it was used “against” me hence you blissfully assume I’m christian. And since you pulled such a smart one on me, I’m obliged to start this discussion with a quote from one of the greatest, and it goes something like “Whether you can observe a thing or not depends on the theory which you use. It is the theory which decides what can be observed.” How is this relevant you ask? You totally misinterpret the concept of one being their OWN god, which I never did claim or meant to say Nietzsche was god (allah) himself. Therefore it can only lead me to believe that you don’t comprehend what even a metaphor is. Do you know what a metaphor is? Do you know who was the first one to emphasize the importance of metaphors in documented scriptures? Do you even know who Nietzsche was or how he even viewed reality? I’ll even go as far as saying that you PERHAPS have read more than me, but there is this gut feeling telling me that you do believe I haven’t read any of the whatever passage you were referring to lol. My real name is Brian by the way …mr “admin”

  16. Dear Duke,

    How you could read into what I wrote that I thought you are a Christian I have no idea.

    And yes, I do not really believe you have ‘read’ the passage and do believe that you have probably not read much Nietzsche either. There is a difference between reading and ‘reading’ in a deep sense. Certainly, Nietzsche was not being metaphorical here. He is being quite plain-spoken and direct.

    And yes, I know exactly what a metaphor is but am not convinced that you do.

    The Einstein quote doesn’t fit here. And his work was already obsolete because of the genuinely profound work of Goethe who saw beyond the genuinely terrible nihilism that he knew was embodied in post-Newtonian science. Remember that both Bohr and Heisenberg realised that Einstein was the last of the old physicists rather than the first of the new.

    Nietzsche had a life-long respect for Islam, in which he followed in the footsteps of Goethe for whom he had tremendous admiration.

    I am not quite sure why you write with such a condescending attitude. You don’t know me and nothing that you have written shows that you have any particular right to be snooty.

    Nietzsche realised the decadence and tremendous nihilism of Christian culture and he arguably foresaw the terrible consequences of that. He tried manfully to reach beyond it to a transvaluation of all values. Somehow he recognised, even if partially, that Islam was that very transvaluation. But Islam has not been served well by some Muslims who are too eager to depict it as simply a cuddly type of Judaeo-Christian culture or, on the other hand, a hostile rejection of it, and who have failed to present its radical return to the primordial unitary teaching and way of behaviour.


  17. Hi abdassamad, it is nice to know your name too. The internet is a funny place isn’t it? You would think people would correspond with each other like they do in real life, but I digress. You’re going to have to forgive my inane sense of humor but I just can’t help myself after reading your above statements. I think when you say “Nietzsche ‘realized’ the decadence and TREMENDOUS nihilism of christian culture” is preposterous …would you please refer me to the book? To be honest, I have not read Nietzsche’s full catalog, as I’ve only read most of the books that fully connect with me.

    Yes, you’re right that he did recognize/viewed islam as a means to re-evaluate the “European disease” of Judaeo-Christian modernity and perhaps finding yourself, but I think you’re being shortsighted in your misapplied statement that islam was THAT VERY “transvaluation.” How you fail to mention his attraction for not just islam, but to the oriental culture is beyond me. There is plenty of other Eastern philosophy seen in Nietzsche’s “Beyond Good And Evil” (one of my favorites) where he challenges Judaeo-Christian concepts of right and wrong. At age 41, he reveals a note to his sister proposing a stay in Japan. Another point, remember that he was also into Zoroastrianism.

    How you seem to play aloof and deem Einstein’s quote irrelevant to this discussion is ludicrous and a lack of a better imagination, and how you seem to dupe Einstein’s work with Goethe comes as no surprise coming from a muslim. To better understand what I was really trying to get across was, again you blindly disregarded the concept of one being the “the overman” (the Ubermensch) as he quotes in his book “Thus Spoke Zarathustra.” I have a feeling that this discussion is going to get tossed left and right with so many topics, but I don’t think Nietzsche was an atheist at heart like so many claim. If anything, his quote “War to the knife with Rome! Peace and friendship with Islam!” as evident in “The Anti-christ”, reveals to me in essence, an old tiresome atheist with an unaware schizophrenic agnostic mentality. I also think the desire of Nietzsche wanting to live in North Africa at age 37 was nothing but a result from cultural claustrophobia, nothing less. He simply saw something in islam that wasn’t seen in the weak-ridden ways of christian living, and sort of admired how conservative, affirmative and devout the muslims were to their religion.

    To understand where Nietzsche came from, I think it’s more important to go back to the centuries when christianity was spreading to the north. The crusades were arguably the first religion freaks who slaughtered thousands of people, oppressed them, stole their children and converted them to their doctrine, subsequently leaving the majority of generations to come brainwashed. They even forced snakes down peoples throats and other crazy things to get people to become christians. Wherever the christians came, they polluted the culture, they brainwashed, they righteously burned these cultures and their records. That includes: the European cultures, the Asian cultures, the American cultures, and grasp, even the African cultures. How would you feel if for instance, lets just IMAGINE here that the beauty of your specific culture were to be obliterated and manhandled by a not so beautiful and scary “alien” culture? My first reaction would be anger, but I think it’s a result of Nietzsche’s personality: frustrated, thought-provoking, brooding, confused, and insane. Think about it mr Clarke, christianity is the root of all problems and misunderstanding in societies, and I think everything and anything that follows with it is no exception …that includes, from a historical standpoint, the ridiculous religion of islam. It’s sort of like a domino effect, you know? But I just think Nietzsche’s standpoint on islam leaves more of a black area than white because think about it, as much as the fact that Nietzsche wanted to live amongst muslims might appeal to you (because islam wasn’t spreading so much as christianity back then, as it is today) in essence, I think he was going to get one step forward, two steps back …only to find out that islam is just another man-made religion just like christianity …with a significant number of misleading feeble freaks who blow themselves up in defense of a “god” who rewards “72 virgins” in the calamity you whack jobs call heaven.

    The best I got out of your last post was at the very end, about how you portray islam and how it speaks to you. I’ve heard it many times before from witty christians; how inclusive in their dogma they are. That instead of thinking of it as just a religion, it is actually not a religion but a primitive way of life. And boy, was I ever so brainwashed.

    How I could read that you assumed I was christian? I don’t know, but something tells me you’re probably not like other muslims. And excuse my ignorance but, a muslim reciting something out of the bible is like a jew giving another jew the sieg heil. Or the Grinch sharing milk and cookies with santa claus lol.

  18. Brian,

    You must read the Quran , with an open mind, from its first page to its last. Read it as if you are not brainwashed about the Quran and as soon as your initial thought about the Quran kicks in at any moment while you are reading, make sure you take a deep breath and fight it . I can assure you that if you do that, none of your ignorance about Islam will survive. The Quran will speak to you by itself, and please give it a try then we can have a constructive discussion about Islam.

  19. Dear Brian,

    What a shotgun of a letter. I am peppered with pellets and hardly know where to begin.
    I didn’t know that Nietzsche wanted to live in Morocco. It is less important to me that Nietzsche said good things about Islam than the fact that much of what he says makes a great deal of sense to me. Nietzsche was emerging from the nightmare of Christendom as did I. So I feel, rightly or wrongly, that I understand exactly where he was since I have been there.
    Nietzsche clearly wasn’t a Muslim and so in that sense he did not see Islam as the transvaluation of all values. That was my insight, because I have found it to be so. But I have been very fortunate, because I had a teacher who relentlessly insisted on not ‘translating’ Islam into Judaic or Christian thinking but striving to hear it as it is. So we almost never use the word religion and we almost never refer to Allah as God. Islam starts with ‘no god’ and then says ‘only Allah’ or ‘there is but Allah’. Atheism is the beginning of the journey but not its end.
    As to the ubermensch, I don’t think Nietzsche was saying that he himself was that. He saw the need for him. Certainly he strove in that direction.
    As to 72 virgins and the suicidal young men, that is clearly a modern aberration very much in character with the young anarchists of the late 19th and early 20th century whom Dostoyevsky so clearly paints. They are both symptoms of the modern rather than specifically Muslim or Christian forms. After all, the greatest number of suicide bombers and other terrorists have actually been secularists and even atheists. It seems more a symptom of people losing their way than a symptom of the way they follow.
    But as I say, it is certainly difficult if not impossible to respond to everything you have written, so I will leave it at that for the moment.


  20. Good morning Abdassamad,

    I apologize for being so condescending and bombarding you with so many trail of thoughts which I’ve never shared with a muslim before. If it means anything to you, it was just me ranting and overgeneralizing my view of how there is so much misunderstanding in existence today from a historical perspective. Much of what I shared was how I also interpret Nietzsche’s nihilistic/anti-religious nature with limited reading of the quran, or to be more fair, islam. In my paranoid mind it seems that I share a deep lament for so much human misunderstanding, and I blame all religious establishments for trapping me in the middle of this whole fiasco.

    To be frank, I have never read or even heard of Dostoyevsky until now, but thanks for the reference.

    So are you saying that the 72 virgin myth draws from the hadith and not the quran? If neither, where do you think it originates? In the quran, is there nothing that demonstrates virgins as a reward for living the mohammad lifestyle?

    I have tried and tried to approach the quran with an open mind, but with the limited reading I have done, I just ironically find its attributes of proof that it’s the word of god rather too narrow and at times too vague …with no significant scientific and psychological substance to really soak it in and be spiritually enlightened. Perhaps you can enlighten me with a little mind shift that will help see a wider scope of things. It’s been a while since I’ve read anything, but I was wondering if you thought this website was foolproof:

    I agree to an extend that he strove towards becoming the ubermensch, but what about his assuring, if not bizarre aphorisms, assertions, and metaphors as seen scattered all over Human, All Too Human? Or in Ecce Homo where he would bestow the reader with affirmations like “I am the bringer of good tidings such as there has never been” or his quote “The abdomen is the reason why man does not readily take himself to be a god” from Beyond Good And Evil. I think it’s a matter of actually believing and not necessarily wanting, but I don’t know …this argument isn’t really going anywhere now because you’ll never grasp the perspective of schizophrenics who just destroy the idea of any religion.

  21. A suggestion, Brian. Reconsider the history of Christianity as first a falsification close to source with the work of Paul which, however great or small it was, was seriously amplified by the co-option of Christianity by the Roman Empire as a part of their power structure. Can anything more opposite to the figure of Jesus, peace be upon him, be imagined than the resultant papacy and the form of Roman Catholicism? Thus, with the centuries of ‘Christianisation’ it is almost totally impossible to reclaim an authentic picture of who Jesus was, something Nietzsche is clearly wrestling with in the Antichrist.

    Then consider the fact that the Romans radically misunderstood the Greeks and used them also for their power purposes, something that Nietzsche struggled with and later Heisenberg.

    Thus we have been presented with a dual falsification which has led many to reject Jesus, and by extension anything that looks like ‘religion’ too.

    Nietzsche was engaged in radical polemics. He had found both religion and philosophy had been turned upside down and so he had to engage in the thankless task of turning things upside-down in order to get a chance to see them the right way up. A task that may have claimed his sanity at the end.

    It is thus not necessary that he be absolutely right in everything he said, but he is someone whose basic premise is so good that we gladly overlook his mistakes.



  22. As to the 72 virgins, even if I was able to answer this one point satisfactorily, there would remain thousands of others that would have to be addressed. Rather you should look to roots: first, the nature of our physical existence. If the world is entirely physical and ruled by deterministic causality, then Islam is clearly ridiculous. But, if you have even the slightest doubt about the reductionist materialist thesis then you ought to keep an open mind.

  23. James,

    I am not going to publish your piece because of its defamation of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. You are wrong about him. His good character are known to mankind in all lands and through the ages and cannot be belied by one nihilistic Arab doctor. I don’t know why you have to descend to this level unless you are happy to be heir to generations of Christian European lies about the Prophet, peace be upon him. Read Thomas Carlyle’s Heroes, the Heroic and Hero-Worship in History, which is by no means partisan and certainly misses the mark very often, but is an honest attempt to undo the centuries of lies.

    As to the nihilism of the Arabs and the Iranis, I could not agree more. That said, and knowing as I do a great number of Arabs and not gainsaying the nihilism of their society, they are often of a very generous and kindly nature and with many good qualities. I cannot vouchsafe for the Iranis and carry no brief for shi’ism at all. They are wed to a fatal millennial and apocalyptic religion which bodes ill for them and for us.

    Certainly, when Nietzsche was alive, the societies of the Middle East and North Africa were a deal healthier than they are now, but then so were our societies, and yet he recognised the dark heart of nihilism here when everyone else was in triumphal mode over scientific discoveries and the general ascendancy of the West. But now nihilism covers all of the earth and it is up to us Europeans to recognise it since its birth was here, and it is probably up to European Muslims to cure it, since it is only Islam that carries the cure. Islam is the transvaluation of all values that Nietzsche longed for.


  24. Although the quoted section from the Antichrist does show Nietzsche’s preference there is a disturbing corollary. Nietzsche’s concept of the eternal return or eternal recurrence bears a striking resemblance to a belief of the Qarmathian sect, the defilers of the well of zamzam. The possible influence of this sect upon his thinking should be enough to discourage any muslim.

  25. God is dead.

    And that includes Allah.

    Nietzsche was for Exceeding-Man, not enshrining his infantile attempts to pigeonhole Infinity-Eternity into a divine deathmask.

  26. I agree with Abdassamad that Nietzsche appreciated Islam for its affirmation of some sort of primordial faith in the face of modernity, but this one passage does not hold a candle to the much larger tenets of Nietzsche’s thought:
    1.) If you refer to “Twilight of the Idols” Nietzsche speaks of the error of the Platonic idea of another world that lies beyond appearance and its manifestation in Judeo-Christian thought. I don’t know a lot about Islam, but I am pretty sure they believe in some sort of heaven (or paradise) that lies in a realm beyond this world.
    2.) The eternal return – Following from my last point, I read Nietzsche as embracing a materialistic metaphysic of eternal recurrence of the same… one that modern physics seems to be able to reconcile. Rather than a “first cause” of everything arising out of nothing (by the will of a god) and eventually returning to nothing, there would simply have always been everything and always will be. The constant reconfiguration of a finite amount of matter over an infinite period of time would imply an exertion of every possibility, repeating itself again infinitely.
    3.) Moral/metaphysical dualisms – while Islam obviously escapes most Cartesianism, I assume it still embraces the moralistic dualism of good/evil and master/slave (God/man). These dualisms arise from the very error I spoke of in the first rebuttal.

    I could go on, but it’s getting late. I would appreciate a response. I have recently become interested in Islam as I have fallen in love with a Muslim girl. Because I am not a Muslim, however, I apparently cannot be with her. I’m an avid reader of Nietzsche and I don’t feel I could ever honestly reconcile myself with becoming a Muslim.

  27. Jeff, excuse me for not writing in reply. I am simply not sure that I can do justice to the issue and to the questions you have raised. So I am going to cop out and refer you to a book by Shaykh Abdalqadir Al-Murabit called “For the Coming Man” which is an exploration of all of those themes. It is not a huge book but it is one by a Muslim author exploring Nietzsche and also Heidegger. It is an extremely rare book and so I was surprised to find it for sale on the internet here:

  28. As-Salaamu Alaykum, Sidi.

    Would you encourage other Muslims to read The Antichrist?

  29. wa alaikum as-salam,

    Probably not. I don’t think that most Muslims would have any need for it. It can, however, be a useful part of many Westerners’ journeys.


  30. Jeff, your point “1.) If you refer to “Twilight of the Idols” Nietzsche speaks of the error of the Platonic idea of another world that lies beyond appearance and its manifestation in Judeo-Christian thought. I don’t know a lot about Islam, but I am pretty sure they believe in some sort of heaven (or paradise) that lies in a realm beyond this world” has exercised my mind until today.

    What occurred to me is that this realm in which we live is one in which forms are characterised by meanings such as bliss and anguish, but that the other realm is the one in which meanings are characterised by form. In other words, the other realm is this one seen differently. This stems from the Sufic science of khayal:



  31. assalam alykom

    Abdassamad, I rais my hat to you. May Allah advance you in knowledge and grant you wisdom. I also ask him to use you to reforming the Ummah by intellect and pen!

  32. wa alaikum as-salam,

    Thank you for your kind words and ameen to your du’a, may Allah grant you the like and more and gifts that are close to your heart and your earnest desires. Ameen

  33. As-Salaamu Alaykum,
    I will start by identifying myself as a Buddhist, and a Nietzsche scholar. I won’t go into detail on his writings, but my opinion, after many years of reading and interpreting his work, is that he did indeed view Islam in a favorable light when contrasted with Christianity. I share his view. He also viewed Buddhism in the same favorable way. My views on Islam are not shared by most in the west, which is unfortunate. I hope that one day soon, these trying times will be behind us.

  34. wa alaikum as-salam,

    Thank you for your post.

    I have personal reasons to be grateful to the Buddha and his tradition: if it were not for the Noble Silence, I do not think I could have mediated the transition between Christian anthropomorphism and the science of Divine unity in Islam, a transition that is not helped by translators who render ‘salat’ as ‘liturgical prayer’ and other such abominations.

    It is my considered view that on approaching genuine Islam, and not the Judaeo-Christianised versions masquerading as it, one is on the verge of embarking on a transvaluation of all values both intellectually and in one’s behaviour, which I suspect was what Nietzsche intuited in it and approved of.

    Warm regards,

    Abdassamad Clarke

  35. I’m muslim and I totally agree with Nietzsche on his views on the false christianity that has ever been fed to the whole world…

  36. Liam,

    Nietzsche’s famous line, “God is dead,” is actually not a metaphysical assertion, but an observation regarding the place of God in Western civilization. I’m reasonably sure that Nietzsche would not say “God is dead” concerning the Muslim world, as the concept of God is still central to the Umma’s understanding of itself.

    I’m not a Muslim, but I really enjoy this passage from Nietzsche.

    First, it praisesin a roundabout way the martial valor of my ancestors, the Germanic nobility of “viking” stock. Though they were manipulated by the Church to seek pillage and booty for purposes beyond them, their strength is a virtue worthy of admiration in its own right. As one who took up the warrior’s calling for a time myself, this is no small matter to me.

    Second, it acknowledges what many of my countrymen (I’m American) refuse to acknowledge: that Islamic civilization was once the highest in the world, and that we have much and praise them for in a historical sense. During my time as a warrior I was part of the invasion of Iraq and served a tour in Afghanistan. I was young at the time, only 19, but I was filled with shame when I flew in a Chinook helicopter over the ruins of Uruk. Here I was, an invader to a civilization old beyond my country’s understanding, for reasons I didn’t entirely understand. I felt overwhelming dejection that my country would use me like that. I began talking to Iraqis during our patrols, learning about their beliefs and culture, and was left with the impression that we in the West have come to live a vapid, hollow existence with no sense of our past or purpose for the future.

    Years later, when I read Thus Spoke Zarathustra in college, the chapter “War and Warriors” grabbed my attention. “Ye shall only have enemies to be hated, but not enemies to be despised. Ye must be proud of your enemies; then, the successes of your enemies are also your successes.” I realized that in fact I had been proud of my enemies, or who my government had labelled my enemies, and that though I had fought for reasons still indefinable and perhaps maleficent, war had taught me a beautiful truth.

  37. As a Sociologist, and given how politicized Islam is, this entire thread completely escapes even the most remote connection to Nietzsche’s historic writings and what they would mean “today”.

    “that we in the West have come to live a vapid, hollow existence with no sense of our past or purpose for the future”

    My favorite quote from Nieztche: The individual has always had to struggle from being overwhelmed from the tribe, if you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself”.

    It’s called freedom. There is a much bigger trade-off when you live in a collective society that allows no room for creativity, individualization– it looks like Afghanistan. Don’t take this basic right for granted.

    For what its worth, you sound like you’re suffering from PTSD. See a doctor; not a Muslim cleric.

    Don’t bother responding–I have no interest in what anyone has to say (and I, BTW, have read the Quran in full–My “Western Journey” stopped at the Middle East).

  38. People often arrogate to themselves great meanings such as Nietzsche’s quote on individuation, which for him was true but for man today is a platitude. One is so struck by modern man endlessly repeating the same platitudes as the herd and sincerely believing that he has worked it all out for himself, when he is merely repeating the sentiments handed out to him by the machine.

  39. A sociologist wishes to tell us about freedom? Good, good, tell another. Perhaps you would like to explain which is the higher expression of this freedom you speak of, American Idol or MacDonald’s?

  40. “People often arrogate to themselves great meanings such as Nietzsche’s quote on individuation, which for him was true but for man today is a platitude. One is so struck by modern man endlessly repeating the same platitudes as the herd and sincerely believing that he has worked it all out for himself, when he is merely repeating the sentiments handed out to him by the machine.”


  41. Finding an correlation between Nietzsche and Islam is futile. Giving the fact that the Qu’ran defines itself as ‘al-Furqan’- the book that distinquishes [right from wrong]. Is of course in shear contrasts to what Nietzsche is saying in ‘Beyond good and evil’.

  42. recently start reading memories dreams and reflection,very much struck with jung views on christianty and christ and how believing in jesus a hindrance and take one away from God. also i am surprise to read jung view of God and spiritualty,his view God is just not love but can be terrible and fearsome as so much closer to islam view.i am fortunate to be a muslim.

  43. I didn’t read all these responses but from experience it is self evident to me that Abraham’s religions are set up as a process of forming the soul of mankind. It must start out a Jew because a Jew means a heart that is opened to compassion and until this happens, the Jews do not exist. Christianity is the religion that separates the heart to both reveal it and correct it and then the Jew is finished hence in Christianity Jews are only spiritual beings and not national. Islam is not possible without the inner cleansing of Christianity because the end result of Christianity and yes it has an end according to the New Testament, is to bring GOOD WILL to Man and PEACE on earth which is then manifested in Islam-Peace. Without a good root (open heart to compassion by God himself living here in this TEMPLE because the heart is his temple) and a new mind that reflects this heart (image and likeness of God) the religion of Islam is just OPPRESSIVE because no matter how good life is, if YOU ARE FORCED into it, you are oppressed. The story of the Prince and the Pauper reveal this in a fairy tale and the story of Siddhartha who wanted to know what things were like outside of the Kingdom and became the Buddha also tells this story. It continues with the New Testament story of the prodigal son who must spend his life in debauchery in order to appreciate being a SERVANT of all, which is what God is or he will not be happy. THIS WORLD is to experience what it is to have it all and how this affects both you and those who do not have much of anything and come to the conclusion of what FREEDOM really is to you –and everyone has to FEEL that experience to truly be happy.

  44. this much i know.Allah says man is forgetful and he need constant reminding of his compassion and mercifulness.this a muslim does when he prayes daily five has to read the first 7 lines of koran daily atleast 17 times in 24 hrs and those 7 line talk about nothing but compassion,graciousness mercy,and not to be judmental about others.a true muslim,a true believer can never be violent or hurt another human being becos his master and lord is merciful and compassionate.

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