by Hugh Fitzgerald
Here is a hostile review by one Ulrich von Schwerin, a freelance writer based in Istanbul, of Thilo Sarrazin’s just-published Feindliche Übernahmen (Hostile Takeover), which is a sequel to Sarrazin’s best-selling Deutschland schafft sich ab (Germany Abolishes Itself), published in 2010. The first book’s theses on integration and immigration sparked a heated debate in Germany. Von Schwerin didn’t like that book.
Von Schwerin doesn’t like this book either:
In the [new] book, the former Berlin senator of finance and former member of the executive board of the Bundesbank claimed that Muslim immigrants had educational deficits and refused to integrate. While Sarrazin already explained why he perceived Muslims as a threat to Western societies in his previous book, he did not deal explicitly with the religion of Islam. He now tackles the religion more directly in his new book.
His initial question — to determine if Islam plays a role in the violent acts of Muslims — is understandable considering the world’s current events. Trying to find out if the religion itself has anything to do with the lower level of education, the lower rate of innovation and the weak economic development of certain parts of the Islamic world are also legitimate discussion points, which are also being debated by many Muslims.
Certainly the lower educational level of Muslims, as compared to non-Muslims, can be explained by a number of factors. First, girls in most Muslim countries are not offered the years of education, and then the kind of professional training, available to boys. Their main task is to be mothers and wives. The more secular the Muslim country — as Tunisia or Bosnia or Turkey (despite Erdogan) — the greater access females have to more years of study.
Second, many Muslims devote part of their early education to religious studies, consisting of rote memorization of the Qur’an, with those who commit the whole to memory being honored with the title “hafiz.” The enormous amounts of time and mental energy devoted to this leaves less of both for secular study.
Third, the “lower rate of innovation” in Muslim societies is a direct result of the hostility in Islam toward “bid’a” or “novelty.” Originally this referred to “innovation” in theological matters — Muslims already had the perfect faith, and there was no reason for any “innovation” to be offered. Over time, this opposition to “bid’a” extended to other areas beyond matters of faith — new ways of doing things, or thinking about things, were a threat. For many Believers, the ideal society was already achieved 1400 years ago, in the days of the earliest Muslims.
However, the author’s claim that his book provides a sober and impartial study of Islam quickly proves to be an empty assertion.
He explores Islam through the Quran, which he claims to have read in its entirety. Even though this approach sounds correct, his claim to be able to determine the core statements of Islam by reading the Quran without any knowledge of Arabic or theological background is an absurd presumption. Sarrazin openly admits that his analysis “exclusively” follows his own “direct understanding of the text,” as if the Quran were really to be understood without taking into account the context of its origin and the history of its reception.
Why is it an “absurd presumption” to read the Qur’an “without any knowledge of Arabic”? 80% of the world’s Muslims are non-Arabs; almost all of them read the Qur’an without such knowledge and no one accuses them of misunderstanding the Qur’an. When a non-Muslim is critical of Islam — such as Thilo Sarrazin (or Robert Spencer) — then that person’s not knowing Arabic suddenly makes them unqualified to discuss Islam. Are nearly 80% of the world’s Muslims unqualified to discuss Islam? Are they unqualified to call themselves Muslims? Are their beliefs mistaken because they don’t know Arabic?
He ignores everything that doesn’t fit into his own interpretation. He does not discuss the ambiguity of the text nor its poetic dimension. Instead of looking at the Quran as a whole, he takes individual excerpts out of context and reorganizes them under selected themes.
The “religious content” of the Quran is “very simple, the guidelines for the faithful are therefore very clear,” writes Sarrazin. His conclusion: The Muslims’ holy book is obsessive about questions related to sexuality, and it is full of hatred for unbelievers and calls for violence.
Why is Sarrazin’s reorganization of themes — as “jihad,” “Jews,” “Christians,” “deception in war,” “terror as a weapon,” “Meccan verses” — illegitimate? There is no other way to make sense of a book whose suras are arranged neither chronologically, nor thematically, but only by their length in descending order.
Von Schwerin claims that Sarrazin thinks the Qur’an is “obsessive about questions related to sexuality.” Now might he think that because of such verses as these?:
Virgins await those who enter paradise. 2:25
It’s permissible to have sex with your wives during Ramadan (at least after sunset). In fact you must “hold intercourse with them.” All of them. It is your sacred Muslim duty. 2:187
All good Muslim men should stay away from menstruating women And don’t have sex with them while they’re menstruating. It disturbs Allah just to think of it. 2:222a
After the women clean up you can have sex with them whenever you want. Allah loves clean men as much as he hates menstruating women. 2:222b
In the mind of Allah, women are like a field for men to plow. Plow them whenever you like (as long as they’re not menstruating, of course.) 2:223
When a man dies, his wives can’t have sex for four months and ten days. After that, if they’re not pregnant, it’s no sin for the dead man if his wives have sex again. 2:234
“Pure companions, and contentment from Allah.” Virgins await those who enter paradise. 3:15
Lewd women are to be confined to their houses until death. 4:15
If any of your women are lewd, cut off their inheritance. 4:19
If your slave wives are guilty of lewdness, punish them half as much as you punish your lewd free wives. 4:25
Men are in charge of women, because Allah made men to be better than women. Women must obey men, and if they refuse they must be punished. A husband may withhold sex from a disobedient wife. Disobedient wives may be beaten 4:34
Virgins await those who enter paradise. 4:57
Adam and his nameless wife (Eve?) didn’t know they were naked until they ate from the tree. 7:22
Lot offers his daughters to a mob of angel rapers. 11:78 and 15:71
“She bolted the doors and said: Come!” 12:23
You don’t have to be modest around your wives or your slave girls “that your right hand possess.” 23:6
The single-minded slaves of Allah will enjoy a Garden filled with lovely-eyed virgins. 37:40-48
Female companions await those who enter the Gardens of Eden on the Day of Reckoning. 38:52
Allah will reward faithful Muslims after they die with “fair ones with wide, lovely eyes.” 44:54
Allah will reward those in the Garden with beautiful wives with wide, lovely eyes. 52:20
Allah will give those in the Garden women of modest gaze whom neither man nor jinn have touched. 55:56, 55:72-74
Those in the Garden will be attended by immortal youths with wide, lovely eyes. 56:17-23
Allah made virgins to be lovers and friends to those on his right hand. 56:36-37
“O Prophet! Why bannest thou that which Allah hath made lawful for thee, seeking to please thy wives?”
Allah says that Muhammad can have sex with any of his wives whenever he wants. 66:1
Those in the Garden will be waited on by immortal youths, as beautiful as scattered pearls. 76:19
Those in the Garden will have maidens for companions. 78:33
First published in Jihad Watch.
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