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. Nietsche – a true idiot then …..

    No comment on the brutality, the rapes, massacres, beheadings, the contemptuous treatment of women, the paedophilia, the hatred of other faiths …

    He should have got out and about a bit more.

  2. It is rich that someone from a Western background could accuse Muslims of barbarities, when the West is responsible for the slaughter of the native peoples of America, the murder of Jews, Gypsies and others in the Second World War along with 50 million others, the murder of the millions in Soviet Russia under Communism, the barbarities of the Thirty Years War, the Hundred Years War, the First World War, the Inquisition and the Spanish Inquisition, the routine burning alive of women as witches across Europe, and the Crusades – the Crusaders cannibalised the inhabitants of Ma’arra in 1098 as well as arbitrarily slaughtering Jews across Europe before departing and then massacring Jews, Christians and Muslims, men, women and children in Jerusalem when they finally took it.

    That European women only got the right to own property and vote within historical memory and are still second-class citizens in the reality of modern life, that they are routinely beaten and murdered when marriages go wrong, that they still earn less than men right across the Western world even when doing equivalent work…

    That modern humanists have inherited Christianity’s historical denial of the truths of any other religion and arrogation to itself of the unique position of the truth and salvation…

    That you could accuse Muslims of paedophilia when the entire ranks of the Church and the political and entertainment establishment, particularly in the UK, have been exposed for rampant paedophilia…

    Really your hypocrisy is breathtaking.

  3. Nietzsche was a genius in many, many ways. On Islam, however, he lost the plot. The “Christianity” that he was at war with, was of course not the Christianity of the early apostles (as he himself has admitted), but rather the much more decadent kind that emerged long after the original, which demanded the slaughter of the human (“sinful”) spirit. Even though he despised St. Paul, he had much more in common with him than most people realize.

    Nietzsche simply did not really know about islamic culture. If he had known of the endemic child abuse and pedophilia that is basically enshrined (albeit passively) in many muslim cultures, he of course would of thought of them very differently. In “throwing the baby out with the bathwater”, he had basically succumbed to admiring a barbaric culture that ultimately would ensure that no one like Nietzsche would ever come to exist again. Let us not forget that Nietzsche himself was the product of Christianity (he came from a long line of preachers), and like Nietzsche said, Genius rarely has the gift of understanding itself.

    Nietzsche respected the Persian spirit that was relentless in it’s refusal to be conquered, but on this point, the baby truly went out with the bathwater.

  4. As to a ‘culture that would ensure that no one like Nietzsche would ever again exist’, it is rich to make that accusation when Nietzsche stood on the shoulders of a philosophical tradition transmitted to the West not by the Church but by the Muslims. The Church had sought to extinguish philosophy while nevertheless availing of the fertile Muslim theological sciences. The Muslims had managed to keep alive both philosophical and theological enquiry and then to overpass both with the astonishing oeuvre of Shaykh al-Akbar ibn ‘Arabi. For the overpassing of metaphysics, we in the West would have to wait for Martin Heidegger.

    Without Islam we would never have had a Nietzsche.

    Again, it is rich that someone from a Western background would accuse Muslims of paedophilia given the appalling extent to which the child-abuse of church, the political class, entertainers and society in general has been exposed.

  5. The truth will always prevail. History of Islam is clean and shines in our days, Islam is here to save mankind and free them from the tyranny of the church, the bankers etc … Nietzsche knew that and that’s why he had a great respect for the islamic faith.

  6. After his death, Elizabeth Förster-Nietzsche became the curator and editor of her brother’s manuscripts, reworking Nietzsche’s unpublished writings to fit her own German nationalist ideology while often contradicting or obfuscating his stated opinions, which were explicitly opposed to antisemitism and nationalism. Through her published editions, Nietzsche’s work became associated with fascism and Nazism;[13] 20th-century scholars contested this interpretation of his work and corrected editions of his writings were soon made available. His thought enjoyed renewed popularity in the 1960s, and his ideas have since had a profound impact on twentieth and early-twenty-first century thinkers across philosophy—especially in schools of continental philosophy such as existentialism, postmodernism, and post-structuralism—as well as art, literature, psychology, politics, and popular culture.

  7. The particular work that Elizabeth had control over was his unfinished and unpublished work on philosophy – most of his works had been of a polemical nature – The Will to Power.

  8. I think Nietzsche’s criticism of Christianity is genuine but somewhat misplaced at the same time. What he really criticises is the Christian culture that manifested from the Christian moral system of turning the other cheek, meekness and then build up all that anger inside of oneself bursted out in rages of petty revenges.

    This is why I think he saw Islam in a more favourable light since it is a lot more materialist, masculine and transcendent at the same time.

  9. The proper approach would be to understand thoroughly Nietzsche’s metaphysics and then to see what it was in Islam that made sense through that filter.

  10. The muslim culture of anadalous was quite different from the current wahhab trend, quite unique and european just like the jews that had their european school the muslims had this transformation in the iberian peninsula. The roles have changed, the west is currently more enlightened but don’t you fucking put christianity as its source as a piece of shit scholar but its negation that was our key, a return the classical age. Nietzsche was quite aware of this phenomenon, when he declared pope borgia as someone that represents life, the guy was about to destroy christinanity but then we had the half assed protestant reformation happened.
    I want you to focus on ”christianity has destroyed the mohamedean harvest” This has reoccurred recently with the split of the ottomans into nation states, the hand of christians is in there, i dont need to give you history lesson there it would be too long and if you are a scholar you can already fuck off. The regression of radical muslims was the hand of christianity. Death worshipers yeah both are it now, but one is keen is the apocalypse doctrine if humanity escapes its grasp.
    So what was the harvest of the mohamedeans? We might never know to what fruits they would bare. But we dont want them to be that, we still subvert their society, bring them back into religions, with wars and mysery. The regression of syria, afganistan, lybia, liban, iran, iraq even helping saudi arabia is christianitys hand again, WE DONT WANT THEM TO BECOME SECULAR.

  11. Somewhere in there I suspect there is an argument, but you make up for your failure to articulate it with expletives, which I don’t ordinarily allow on this site. Although Nietzsche (and Heidegger) were great and extraordinary thinkers, they were quite wrong in assuming we could return to the classical age. We don’t really have their languages (except for the exceptional egg-heads) nor any authentic grasp of their cultures and their religions. Whatever the cause of our dilemma, we are stuck with what we have. We can’t go back but must go on. That is something that pertains to us all, Muslims and non-Muslims, Christians, Jews, Atheists and Humanists. If we don’t begin to think and talk together constructively and convivially, we probably have no future as a species.

  12. It is widely known amongst rhetoricians and polemicists that a motivated mind can make a case with nearly anything it can lay its hands on. Common methods, include cherry picking, decontextualization, misinterpretation, withholding contrary evidence. This is what this desperate article seeks to accomplish.

    Two cherry picked quotes from a famous philosopher divorced from context, and? The implication here is obvious, can’t you see , a great thinker has trashed Christianity and praised Islam, therefore Islam is good..etc Or something to that effect.

    Various points need to be raised here:

    1- Nietzsche knew nearly nothing about Islam, and lived in times were the west had very little translated from Islamic texts.

    2- What Nietzsche despised about Christianity is precisely it’s most admirable qualities, I.e the loving of one’s enemies, altruism, the emphasis on universal brotherhood. Which he saw as weakness, as opposed to the manly war-like nature of Islam. Incidentally Adolf Hitler also had a similar opinion of both Christianity and Islam, considering Islam to be closer to Nazi ideology.

    “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 more compatible to us than Christianity. Why did it have to be Christianity with its meekness and flabbiness? ”

    Speer, Albert (1997). Inside the Third Reich. New York: Simon and Schuster, p. 96.

    3- Nietzsche was an atheist who proclaimed the “death of God”, and had a peculiar quasi-social Darwinist ideology of the uber-menchen (superman). An interpretation of which, was stridently embraced by many Nazi and Italian Fascist ideologues.

    4- Nietzsche as the provocative title of his book suggests (antichrist) was a rebellious iconoclast who wanted to provoke sometimes just for the sake of it. Although he had some brilliant insights, timeless poetry and some creative spurts here and there, the man did lose his mind to insanity, spending the last 10 years of his life in a mental ward.

    I could go on, but that suffices for the absurd implications of this pointless article. I suggest for you instead of wasting time with this childish chest thumping triumphalist rhetoric, to engage in self criticism and join the rest of civilization.

    But something tells me, old habits die hard…

  13. Many of your points are perfectly valid. I found this passage many years ago while reading the Twilight of the Idols and The Antichrist, resonating with some parts and having reservations about others. Clearly the issue is much more nuanced than can be hinted at without a major study. Nietzsche was a master polemicist with a mission, and thus nuance was not his prime concern. Nevertheless in both his works, in spite of the overstatement, there is much of interest and merit. He did touch on something troublesome both in the Platonic tradition and also in Christianity. Surprisingly, more recently I found the study of Michael Lackey (, who makes a strong case for the Nazis being Kantian Christians rather than Darwinian Nietzschean overmen. I was also struck when reading Plato’s Republic that here was something with much more claim to being an inspiration for the Nazis than poor Nietzsche.

    However, the work that really changed my perspective on Nietzsche is Iain Thomson’s masterful “Heidegger on Ontotheology” ( This work is almost entirely outside of the subject matter of this post, but I have found it a very useful work in general on Heidegger, Nietzsche, education and the university, and on Nazism and Heidegger’s engagement with it.

    So, there is much more to this matter than my initial post could encompass. Thank you for your comments.



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