Sunday, May 4, 2008

“Monotheistic Idolatry”

Prof. Paul Eidelberg

On September 11, 2001, nineteen Muslim terrorists hijacked four American passenger planes and flew them into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania killing 3,000 innocent men, women, and children. This horrendous act of murder was cheered by Muslims throughout the world. What shall we say of the religion of these people? Is there no essential or inevitable connection between the teachings of Islam and the deeds of believers?

Perhaps the most profound and disturbing insights into the nature of Islam, or at least of what is called “Islamism,” appeared in an essay of Professor Kenneth Hart Green published earlier this year. The essay is entitled “Leo Strauss’ Challenge to Emil Fackenheim: Heidegger, Radical Historicism, and Diabolical Evil.” The essay is one of a collection edited by S. Portnoff, J.A. Diamond, and M.D. Yaffe, Emil L. Fackenheim: Philosopher, Theologian, Jew, (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2008).

One of the problems of Green’s essay concerns Martin Heidegger, deemed by many as the greatest philosopher of the twentieth century. Heidegger not only joined the Nazi Party but never regretted it. How is one to explain such a monstrous thing: that a philosopher, especially of Heidegger’s rank, could associate himself with diabolical evil? Is there something in his philosophy that links him to such evil?

This is the question I raise about Islam. I am therefore indebted to Professor Green for allowing me to send a snippet of his essay to readers on my e-mil list, with the proviso that those who use it, acknowledge its source and do not use it for mass commercial purposes. Here is what Professor Green writes:

Were [the Jewish philosopher, the late Emil] Fackenheim to have had the chance to reflect on Islamism, or what is also known as radical, fundamentalist, or militant Islam, with its tendency to embrace a Nazi-style anti-Semitism combined with a fanatically-obscurantist Holocaust denial [think of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad], he might have suggested that this is a perfect exemplification of “absolute idolatry,” if not beyond it. For its intention is to present itself as God, or at least His immediate spokesman and mouthpiece, which makes it capable of justifying and sanctifying murder as good. As we have been so unfortunate as to witness, it produces both radical evil, and simultaneous unconscious denial of its evil, because as God (or His unmediated and unreconstructed representative), it can legitimately deny that what it is doing is evil. This is an original and unprecedented form of modern evil, and especially of religious abomination; it is beyond what one might call (in the language of Fackenheim) “absolute idolatry,” and emerges as a true “monotheistic idolatry.” This is the case because in its supposedly “religious” cause, it unapologetically and unself-consciously embraces all the modern devices (ideology, technology, mass persuasion, etc.), and employs them to do its radical evil, while denying that these were in any sense originally rooted in atheism and may in essence fundamentally remain so. The traditional religionist, on the other hand, always suspected this to be the case about the modern devices; hence about him one can at least say that he regarded them with mistrust and did his best to avoid them, which preserved a moral sense in him which is completely lacking in the Islamist… [I]t may well be the case that the moral corruption of contemporary Islam, and of totalitarian Islamism, derive from, or at least relate directly to, its virtually “religious” commitment to Holocaust denial (p, 151n42).

To provide supportive evidence for this remarkable analysis, certain facts should be it noted, beginning with the following from Professor Efraim Karsh, Islamic Imperialism: A History:[1]

● “I was ordered to fight all men until they say ‘There is no god but Allah.’”
— Prophet Muhammad’s farewell address, March 632

● “I shall cross this sea to their islands to pursue them until there remains no one on the face of the earth who does not acknowledge Allah.”
— Saladin, January 1189

● “We shall export our revolution throughout the world . . . until the calls ’there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah’ are echoed all over the world.”
— Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, 1979

● “I was ordered to fight people until they say there is no god but Allah, and his prophet Muhammad.”
— Osama bin Laden. November 2001

Consistent therewith, the Hamas Covenant declares: “The Prophet Allah has said: The Day of Judgment will not come about until Muslims fight and kill the Jews.” The Covenant regards “Death for the sake of Allah the loftiest of wishes.” Indeed, the Quran exalts the Muslim who “slays and is slain” for Allah (Sura 9:111).

The Hamas Covenant goes on to say: “It is necessary to instill in the minds of the Muslim generations that the Palestinian problem is a religious problem, and should be dealt with on this basis.” The Covenant therefore enjoins upon Muslims the following oath: “I swear by the holder of Muhammad’s soul that I would like to invade and be killed for the sake of Allah, then invade and be killed, and then invade again and be killed.”

According to the Center for the Study of Political Islam, Muslims have slaughtered approximately 270 million people since Muhammad.[2]

I think it is of the greatest importance to convey Professor Green’s insights to high profile individuals such as Daniel Pipes, Robert Spencer, John Bolton, Newt Gingrich, Brigitte Gabriel, Melanie Phillips, etc,


[1] Efraim Karsh, Islamic Imperialism: A History (New haven: Yale University Press, 2006), p. 1.
[2] See FrontPageMagazine, February 21, 2007.

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