Friedrich Nietzsche on Islam

Friedrich Nietzsche writes in his book, Der AntiChrist (the Anti-Christian) in 1888:

The whole labour of the ancient world gone for naught : I have no word to describe the feelings that such an enormity arouses in me. And, considering the fact that its labour was merely preparatory, that with adamantine self consciousness it laid only the foundations for a work to go on for thousands of years, the whole meaning of antiquity disappears! To what end the Greeks? to what end the Romans? All the prerequisites to a learned culture, all the methods of science, were already there; man had already perfected the great and incomparable art of reading profitably that first necessity to the tradition of culture, the unity of the sciences; the natural sciences, in alliance with mathematics and mechanics, were on the right road, the sense of fact , the last and more valuable of all the senses, had its schools, and its traditions were already centuries old! Is all this properly understood? Every essential to the beginning of the work was ready: and the most essential, it cannot be said too often, are methods, and also the most difficult to develop, and the longest opposed by habit and laziness. What we have today reconquered, with unspeakable self discipline, for ourselves for certain bad instincts, certain Christian instincts, still lurk in our bodies that is to say, the keen eye for reality, the cautious hand, patience and seriousness in the smallest things, the whole integrity of knowledge all these things were already there, and had been there for two thousand years! More , there was also a refined and excellent tact and taste! Not as mere brain drilling! Not as “German” culture, with its loutish manners! But as body, as bearing, as instinct in short, as reality. All gone for naught! Overnight it became merely a memory! The Greeks! The Romans! Instinctive nobility, taste, methodical inquiry, genius for organization and administration, faith in and the will to secure the future of man, a great yes to everything entering into the imperium Romanum and palpable to all the senses, a grand style that was beyond mere art, but had become reality, truth, life . All overwhelmed in a night, but not by a convulsion of nature! Not trampled to death by Teutons and others of heavy hoof! But brought to shame by crafty, sneaking, invisible, anaemic vampires! Not conquered, only sucked dry! Hidden vengefulness, petty envy, became master ! Everything wretched, intrinsically ailing, and invaded by bad feelings, the whole ghetto world of the soul, was at once on top ! One needs but read any of the Christian agitators, for example, St. Augustine, in order to realize, in order to smell, what filthy fellows came to the top. It would be an error, however, to assume that there was any lack of understanding in the leaders of the Christian movement: ah, but they were clever, clever to the point of holiness, these fathers of the church! What they lacked was something quite different. Nature neglected perhaps forgot to give them even the most modest endowment of respectable, of upright, of cleanly instincts. Between ourselves, they are not even men. 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 (1) 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.

1: Chandala is a Sanskrit word for someone who deals with disposal of corpses, and is a Hindu lower caste, traditionally considered to be untouchable.

This book review does a pretty good job summarizing “The Anti-Christ:”

The Anti-Christ is more about the organized religious institution of Christianity than it is about God or even Christians themselves (although he does criticize both God and Christians to some degree, too). The basis for his criticisms are as follows:

1. Christians lifted their religion from pagans.
2. The Bible is full of inconsistencies.
3. The leaders within the Christian faith are con-men and liars.
4. There are better choices than Christianity.
4a. The things Nietzsche states that he values over Christianity in the book include: Buddhism, Code of Manu, Jews/Judaism, Islam, and pretty much everything else.
5. The apostle Paul was one of the original Christian con-men.
6. Western civilization does not lie on a bedrock of Christianity as many modern people often claim (mistakenly in Nietzsche’s opinion). He states that since Christianity was lifted from the pagans, it’s really paganism that our civilization was built upon.

There is clearly a ring of truth in all of these assertions. I’m just not sure that it’s as big of a deal as Nietzsche makes it out to be. But who am I to argue with the brilliant Friedrich Nietzsche?


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