Islamic fundamentalism Ruthless Criticism

Translated from GegenStandpunkt 1-1995

Islamic fundamentalism

Islam is being talked about as the new enemy of “us.” After the “war of ideologies,” we hear, there now looms a “war of civilizations.” The main focus is on the Orient, which is said to be incompatible with the Christian Occident. In fact, “Islamists,” as they call themselves, are threatening the stability of established states from the Maghreb to Turkey – a region the EU considers its backyard and that “we” have a right to see function as desired – as well as many countries in the Near and Far East. The German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development blames the Islamist government in Iran for global terrorism; radical Muslims in France and possibly Germany are undermining tolerance for “our” immigrants. What bothers “us” about the radical groups’ activities is their disobedience, the rebellion they are attempting against German, European and Western conditions. “We” blame this on the false religion that the Islamists invoke. Modern Christians are thinking in fundamentalist terms here.

More level-headed politicians warn of a new enemy image and of a religious war;[1] they feel challenged to save the honor of the Islamic faith, and their warnings only prove how complete the image of a false faith already is, one which is incompatible with our way of life and our values, threatens us, therefore needs to be threatened. The highly educated know that Allah and his teachings not only deserve the same respect as other religious delusions, but that Islam could even be a role model for the tolerance it has shown over the centuries to Jews and Christians – which the latter can’t exactly say of themselves. On the other hand, the same recognition of world religions as different expressions of the Almighty is just the polite way of perfecting the enemy image: they attribute the difference between Christian religiosity and Islamic fanaticism not to the religious content of the Koran, but to the fact that the Islamic world has not gone through the “painful experience” of the European Enlightenment and has not yet learned to separate divine values from reality. Religious and cultural experts do not locate the conflict between the disciples of Jesus and those of Mohammed, but between the enlightened private religion of the West and the pre-enlightened religiosity of Muslims who turn into fanatics because they believe the good commandments of Allah must really be followed. The guardians of the Enlightenment give a fine testimony to their system of values; the insult they consider appropriate is not Islam but fundamentalism. Of course, they also attribute this to special ways of thinking and traditions, or rather to their absence. There is also an educated way of doing racism – they are just like that, we have to arm ourselves against them!

The united front between warriors for Western civilization and Western religion is countered here with a few theses on the origin, purpose and results of Islamic and other fundamentalisms.


It is wrong to try to attribute the fundamentalism of Islam to this religion’s specific character and to dive into the study of the Koran and Arab intellectual history to do so. Every religion is fundamentalist in its own right: a moral delusion that very apodictically claims to be theoretically true and applicable in practice. But every religion can also be incorporated into almost any political system of rule and made into a moral authority that sorts good and evil in any social and economic conditions. When it comes to contempt for reason, megalomania and adaptability, the world religions can’t point fingers at each other.

Every religion still consists of worshipping an imaginary Supreme Being above the real world and its real masters. Only to Him does the believer owe real and unconditional obedience; only His commandments are above all criticism. As a rule,[2] this God is a jealous God – the believer may have no other gods besides Him: Allahu akbar – Allah is great, there is no God but Allah! However, the Supreme Lord does not compete with the lords in this world: No religion calls for rebellion – rather, God demands that his faithful followers obey the worldly rulers, kings and heads of state, not because of the power of the mighty, but out of respect for Him and His commandments: “Give onto Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s!”[3] The worldly lords are also only agents of the Supreme Being and his commandments; appointed by Him to the heavy responsibility of ruling. The theoretical trick of making the powerful of the world into servants of the Supreme Being and equating them with the real subjects who are free and ultimately subject only to God is the democratic minimum needed to form a moral community out of rule and subordination and to give the servant dignity, even without democratic forms of government, without a secret ballot and a division of powers. Religion lived as a community of believers is not only the original historic form of patriotism, but also a lasting basis for it – independent of any mode of production, available and accessible to everyone.

The relationship to God turns everything into a duty and a service – “Thy will be done” not our vain will! – and a conscious resignation to a fate that the believer has not chosen for himself. “Kismet” says the Muslim. Religion entitles a freely affirmed self-restraint to an otherworldly reward in the first or seventh heaven and the worldly right to demand the same willingness from the other children of God. Whether they act godly, whether they deserve obedience when they hold a higher rank, solidarity and compassion when they are in need – these are the questions that concern Christians and Muslims. To answer them, however, they need their scribes.

This is because the commandments issued by the Almighty many centuries ago can’t be related so simply and directly to the here and now. And this is not just because the well-read can find an exception to every commandment and also the opposite in the voluminous Holy Scriptures, but because it is fundamentally not so clear what exactly follows from the very clear commandments about chastity, moderation, respect for the elderly and sharing with the poor. Does God demand that we share like St. Martin, who then no longer had a coat for himself, or donate five dollars to hunger relief at Christmas? Does the commandment of solidarity lead to “charity” or the welfare state or even socialism? (The latter probably least of all, because it robs the good deed of its object; it is good for almsgiving that there are plenty of poor people in the reach of all religions). How to apply the commandments to the present has to be learned: The fact that the Sermon on the Mount and the commandment “Thou shalt not kill!” can’t be used in following a security policy is obvious to Western Christians who would have been happy to turn the other cheek; because the unsurpassable justice of the principle of an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, can’t be refuted either. The Muslim knows that anyone who sacrifices himself in war is immediately admitted to heaven as a martyr – of course only if it’s a just war; otherwise he is a robber and a murderer. At the very least, God-fearing rulers must wage war to spread and defend the true faith, which of course is then promptly done and so unsparingly that all sides have only true devils against each other; as, for example, Iran and Iraq waged jihad against each other.

The art of interpretation is not only required because of the abstract nature of God’s commandments, but also, conversely, because of the unsuitable concreteness of the highest ordinances: The Prophet of Islam, but also Dr. Martin Luther – neither of whom could really have known how a modern economy works – got carried away with a very clear prohibition of interest. The fact that the moneybags who have it left over have given one and taken two back seemed the height of injustice to them. Here the scholars must find ways to reduce the concrete commandment to a metaphor – only excessive interest is usury and a sin! – or to play with its wording without hindering a growth-enhancing debt financing of businesses.[4] All power to apply the absolutely valid divine commandments to the present – and thus all judgment and condemnation in the name of the Supreme Being – falls within the power and casuistry of the “keepers of the word.”


The politicization of Islam does not arise from religion having a special role in Arab and Middle Eastern states that is different from the private religion of the West. Here as there, religion is at least one of the, often most, valid interpretations of rights and duties. The appointed lower and upper shepherds judge the godliness of the deeds of masters and servants. They know themselves to be agents of the ideal community which assigns its rights to the real one; they guide the morality of the people and organize the respective local patriotism. The secular lords generally appreciate the power of the spiritual rulers – and organize a wonderful symbiosis between spiritual and secular power in both the Occident and the Orient. Both benefit each other by serving the other.

The king, the republic, but also victorious anti-colonial nationalists appoint themselves patrons of the local religion and put their power at the service of religion and its values.[5] They build churches and mosques, organize the pecuniary substructure of the superstructure, collect church taxes or pay dignitaries from the state budget, and commission the religious education which gives priests and mullahs access to the youth. When it comes to marriage, family, and abortion law, the secular power likes to act directly as the executive arm of religious commandments. Whether established directly as a state religion or with a formal distance on both sides – the state ensures that the expenses of the religious circus are paid and provides the men of God with their presence among the people and the access to them that qualifies them to guide popular morality.

More than anything else, it is these benefits that the state provides them that convinces the spiritual rulers that they are dealing with a God-fearing state leadership that deserves their blessing. With this blessing they then serve it again: they give it a divine mandate for its work. The judges over the higher good and evil place themselves ideally above political power and evaluate it according to their standards: If the powerful serve God, then the religious leaders will ensure that the inferior people serve the powerful. All state activities and all social conflicts become subjects of religious judgment – the verdict is communicated in sermons and pastoral letters: Whether nuclear power plants and missile build-ups are okay; whether women should get drivers licenses and graduate from high school, whether poverty is proper to the nation’s difficult situation or is slowly becoming too severe – the men of God decide all this with a few moral principles. Of course, this is hypocritical: religious opinion leaders also politicize, they accept the government’s needs and goals or do not, and then, despite unpleasant appearances, allow good intentions to apply or simply don’t. But when they politicize – not unlike the laity – they claim the authority of the Bible, Koran, etc. in doing so.


Religion is responsible for everything; it criticizes a lot – precisely because it legitimizes. It demands that its warnings be heeded; to assert itself, it must not fear conflict. However, religion becomes an opponent of state power when it sees itself, i.e. its role as the organizer of the ideal national community, in danger – and therefore the moral community itself, which it believes the nation’s cohesion is based on. In this event, the men of God insist they themselves are the true representatives of the people and accuse the government not only of sinning against the Supreme Being, but of betraying the people and the country. With their godless orientation towards values foreign to the people, the political elites are weakening the moral community, undermining national identity, and surrendering the homeland to a hostile foreign country.

Like other cultural or racist exaltations of state power, religion also turns the relationship between political power and civic morality upside down. It lives on the conceit that the morality of the people it organizes and the sense of belonging that is based on it are the true foundations of the state; the external power apparatus is merely the executive organ of a spiritual identity. The believers and their prayer leaders feel comfortable and at home in their nation as long as they themselves accept this conceit – so they can cope with all the hardships of being governed – and they accept their conceit as long as the real state allows them to. When the spiritual masters think that the state is on the right track, they are happy to believe that it is acting in their spirit. When state personnel even come to pray and confess, everything is clear anyway. But if the harmony doesn’t materialize that is supposed to be brought about by everyone leading a decent and godly way of life, or if the statesmen are guilty of neglecting church services, then the religious leaders ask themselves: which master do the powerful actually serve? Faced with the disappointment of their conceit, they insist on it: they keep a record of the sins of those in power and once they have convinced themselves that a diabolical will prevails in the government palace, they feel called on to position themselves as an alternative state leadership. Then they preach political alternatives in the name of faith and see themselves as a fundamental political opposition, committed to intervening in the course of worldly power in the sense of a God-ordained rule.[6]

The realization that the state leadership is systematically destroying the moral basis of the community and that a rebellion is necessary to save the nation can impose itself on religious leaders in very different ways. Iran and Algeria, the two most prominent cases of fundamentalist politicization, are examples of this.

“Islam is political ... I am not one of those mullahs who just sits around and plays with his rosary. Nor am I the Pope who only holds religious ceremonies on Sundays. Of course I will get involved everywhere.”[7]

Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran came to this realization in the simplest way imaginable: Father and son Pahlavi wanted to establish a secular state modeled on the successful powers of Europe and tackled modernization with a cultural war against the outdated authorities and dignitaries: They banned pretty much all the customs that the mullahs had commanded in the name of the Koran: The veiling of women, religious dress, the levies that funded the madrasas, etc.:

“With the slogan of royal love, our religious sanctities are insulted... royal love means plundering, desecration of Islam, disregard for the rights of the believers, contempt for our laws, defamation of the Koran, extermination of the clergy and destruction of the holy message. The principles of Islam are in danger, our faith is in danger, the truth must be spoken. Whoever remains silent now is sinning against God.”[8]

A king who rides roughshod over spiritual authority and the inner bond that unites the nation in an Islamic country wants to weaken it, to hand it over to foreign powers for the shameful pomp that they make possible for him: The king is a foreign agent!

“This government has sold us out, it has sold our country and celebrated this betrayal... Parliament has decided to grant immunity to American military advisors, their families and civilian employees. They are to be spared prosecution in the future, no matter what crime they commit ... So if an American serviceman shoots down an ayatollah in the middle of the bazaar and then maims him with kicks, the Iranian police are not allowed to stop him, nor are Iranian courts allowed to convict him. An Iranian is valued less than an American dog. Because if one of us runs over an American dog, he will be punished for it. But if the cook of an American general runs over the Shah, no one can punish him... Are we to be crushed under the boots of the Americans because we are a weak country?”[9]

The Ayatollahs’ movement offered the numerous victims of Iranian modernization who had been torn from their old circumstances but were not needed for the country’s oil wealth the opportunity to explain their misfortune as a result of the Pahlavis’ dereliction of duty to the Islamic nation – and to stand up for the restoration of its dignity. The crusade undertaken for this purpose was not a social movement.

In Algeria, religion developed into an alternative nationalism via a completely different route. The socialism of the anti-colonial revolution saw itself as being in alliance with Islam; the liberation from foreign Christian masters relied on the active nationalism of an Algerian identity. Houari Boumediène, leader of the “Algerian revolution” from 1965 to 1978, wanted a “strong, authoritative, socialist and Islamic state.”

“He loved to repeat that ‘those who speak of Islam are the vanguard of the socialist revolution. The true revolution cannot be secular.’”[10]

The new government built mosques like never before – but it also built industries. It used the oil revenues and loans it received from this source of income to do this. Steel and chemical plants, so-called “industrializing industries,” were built, which were to gradually turn the entire country into an industrial state. It was only when oil prices fell at the beginning of the 1980s and Algeria lost its creditworthiness, became a subject of IMF supervision, and cut food subsidies and imports in order to meet its requirements, that the preachers began agitating against materialism and socialism.

Even before that, the new nation had only been able to do something with part of its people, training them and employing them in industrial development. A growing part of the rapidly increasing population eked out a living in the countryside, relatively untouched by the new advances, or migrated to the cities of the coastal strip to take part in the better life of the city. The slums and the numbers of unemployed young people grew there. In the national awakening, all of this passed as the cost of a better future, as long as the promise of reconstruction and the prospect of progress could be maintained. It was only once the country, trapped in unrepayable mountains of debt to foreign countries, admitted the failure of industrialization and continued without any prospect of reconstruction that the party that created the state, the “National Liberation Front,” lost the bonus of being an authentic representative of the nation – the sinecures and living standards of its functionaries are no longer seen as the reward for serving national progress and therefore look like a scandalous and corrupt wealth in the midst of poverty. Misery, unemployment and crime in the slums appear in turn to be a corresponding corruption of the nation’s human basis.[11]

The criticism of the clerics, which found many supporters, did not lament the lack of industrialization, which a new team would have to tackle better – alternative routes to national advancement having been discredited since the end of socialism; they criticized the division of society from the point of view of a decent poverty and the community of faith, a point of view that had been sacrilegiously abandoned by believers in progress with their European ideas:

“The FIS hardly offers a political program, so it names the culprits of the misery all the more clearly: Western decadence and, according to Madani, ‘the distance of the people from the divine laws.’” “After the socialist dictatorship, the young generation suffers from a void of ideas. They are looking for a way out and find it in the Koran, in Islam.” “We need the Islamic alternative. We will build an Islamic power whose laws follow only the Koran and Islamic law, the Sharia.” (Abbassi el-Madani)[12]

The politicizing preachers took note of the poverty, the slums and the idleness of people for whom there was no use – not so different from the industrialized North – solely as a moral degeneration of these children of God. They know the reason for this: westernization, in this diagnosis of the loss of national identity all moral failings are lumped together: Socialism, materialism, hedonism, individualism, etc. The cause of national decline and this decline itself are one and the same for the moral fanatics who see the country based on the moral classification of its subjects. And the remedy is clear: moral rehabilitation, and nothing else!

The Islamic integralists positioned themselves for this change in Algerian politics, founded a party and got themselves elected. The fact that this election was then annulled by the military government even before its second round because the wrong party was about to win was probably unnecessary, but definitive proof that the FLN and its officials are not misguided Algerians, but emissaries of the devil who satisfy their lust for power and money with the decline of the real Algeria. For the integralists, this crossed over to a fight for power.


When the believers, in all devotion to God, have decided that life under the sacrilegious state leadership is no longer bearable and that submission to fate would now be a sin, they become a political party and plan an uprising. They incite the good people against the state power and promote a true Islamic life. However, in their bid for the people, whose decency they want to see the homeland reflect, they come to realize that the infidels they want to drive out of office get their strongest support from the godless lives of the people. The Islamists are faced with the task of healing a national body that is rotten from top to bottom. The power struggle they wage is therefore only half directed against the state power – the other half is directed against sinful daily lives with targeted and untargeted terror.

The fanatical will for a national rebirth based on faith is not a political interest that exists alongside others and is capable of compromise: the representatives of the insulted national identity do not face political opponents with a different government program, but criminals against the Islamic national community. They are faced with evil itself, which can have no other purpose than to insult their God. They have to punish and eradicate this evil.

The movement is differentiated by a question that inevitably arises when religion, the stronghold of pure goodness, descends into the depths of the struggle for power: How do you get the good and at the same time morally neglected people behind you? Some preachers and prayer leaders remain in their mosques and agitate against the godless government. The political activists in Algeria who are motivated by this are in the FIS, which sees itself as a – repressed – parliamentary party that wants nothing to do with the terror that it “understands.” It recruits ordinary people for an uprising by drawing on their decency and needs. It propagates “Islam as a solution” at the lower levels of state administration where it has been able to establish itself by leading an exemplary godly life of feeding the poor and strict morals.[13]

The more radical parts of the movement adhere less to the promotional goodness than to the justice of their pious insurrection: they fight Westernization against all those they hold responsible for it. They do not make much distinction between the police and the military, who wage the power struggle against the Islamists outside the law as a war of extermination, and other examples of immorality. They murder schoolgirls who, firstly, aspire to a secular education and, secondly, do not wear veils; foreigners who embody the old supremacy of Europe and who corrupt the Islamic customs of the people with the example of their nefarious lifestyle. On their hit list are teachers in schools and universities who have displaced the wisdom of the Koran from state life with their Western science; journalists as a stronghold of secularism and Western conceptions of the state, as well as all providers and institutions of public entertainment: Television personalities, filmmakers, actors and directors; musicians who sing the wrong lyrics and play the wrong notes. In addition, ordinary Algerian citizens who hang out in busy squares during business hours come under scrutiny. The whole of life, with its buying and selling, the coffee in the café and the newspaper – all sins. Car bombs in busy squares communicate this to the hedonistic people. The fear of Islamic judgment is intended to convert the people and turn them into an instrument against the state.


When the faithful saviors of the nation have seized power and hold it, they continue the moral terror with which they struggled for power. This is the reform they intend. The economic resources of the nation, which they inherit and somehow manage, is not their concern.

Iran offers an example of how the Islamic state is put into practice. After the victory over the Shah, an army of revolutionary guards first wiped out every political alternative to Khomeini’s line, in particular any force that misunderstood the uprising in the name of Allah as a step towards some kind of socialism, and he finished the Shah’s work on this front. Since then, the army has been keeping watch over the morals of the people, the ban on alcohol, the obligation to wear the chador, and enforcing the barbaric justice of Sharia law. The moral prudes care little that their terror no longer strengthens the morality they believe in, but only spreads fear and terror and thus forces kowtowing to the demands of worldly power.[14] But this difference certainly doesn’t bother Western fans of law and order, who would undoubtedly be impressed[15] by the successful regime of decency if they could just forget the strangeness of this morality for a moment.[16]

Factories and oil wells inherited by the Islamic power somehow continue in operation under “socially responsible private ownership,”[17] their development is not one of the concerns of the religious revolution. The high clergy decides how much consideration for the lower classes is required by social responsibility, which, on the other hand, the Islamic state power can’t demand of cost-income accounting. It is doubted whether the inherent laws of capital and international reliability as a business partner will always be respected – and is doubted by the administrators of the world market. The Islamic revolution need not consciously turn against the principles of the profit economy; where zeal rages against the inherited sins of national sell-outs and the import of criminal customs, that is, where consideration for so-called global economic constraints is identified as the reason for decline, experts and pragmatists who want to tell the mullahs what is and isn’t possible are living dangerously. When it comes to the godliness of the economy, it is not objective constraints but God’s experts who have the last word.


For the powers that dominate the world and the world market, Islamic fundamentalism as an opposition movement and as an Islamic state are an enemy. The fact that it is possible to buy oil from these states and sell them some factories counts for little.

While the commercial viability of the Islamic state and its economy may be doubted in Western capitals, there is no doubt that they are hostile toward this state. The reversal of the relationship between state materialism and state morality that has taken place in this state is perceived by Western experts on the world order as the emergence of a new spirit – an anti-Western one. With their pious anti-imperialism, the Islamists declare themselves the enemy. They refuse to recognize “our values” as a model and to pursue them. They make it clear that they are reluctant, if at all, to play by the rules of “our” world system. Because they do not want to fit in, because they do not calculate like “us” and the states controlled by “us,” they are unpredictable and capable of anything: Terror in our cities, proselytizing our immigrants, and new religious wars.

As soon as the Shah was overthrown and the mullahs consolidated power against other factions of the revolution, Iran waged a war against Iraq which did not clearly separate between the goal of territorial conquest and proselytizing. After the children that Iran had sent to war as martyrs failed because of Iraq’s superior weaponry, the mullahs the sought to import technology and establish contacts with powerful suppliers – above all Germany. However, it is still not clear whether they are becoming “normal” or merely providing the means for their religious fanaticism.

This unpredictability of the Islamic states and movements is being pounced on by the major powers – albeit not uniformly. The USA has always pursued the goal of overthrowing the mullahs in Iran, and today more than ever. The old disgrace of having been thrown out of the country as an occupying power still has an impact, but above all Iran, like Iraq, contributes to the instability of the US-controlled Middle East: this makes the USA an implacable enemy of the mullahs: Against Iran and Iraq, it engages in “dual containment.” Germany, on the other hand, maintains quite a few contacts with the country of the mullahs, does a lot of business with them, and has already started a discussion about universalism or the cultural nature of human rights. In the other case, France and the EU support the Algerian military regime quite unconditionally against the fundamentalists who are threatening to take over the state; the “stability of the Mediterranean region” is the all-important consideration. This time, the US is calling for dialog with the moderate forces of the FIS and does not want to “discriminate against Islam.” Religious anti-imperialism is simply unsuitable to serve as a threat to the capitalist system of the world powers which would unite them in a new crusade against the Islamic religious warriors and prevent them from competing with each other: it is not a political world system; the nations and movements that profess it, firstly, do not have the decisive industrial and military means of power to challenge the West and, secondly, are divided among themselves. They remain an object of competition and nations perceive them differently as security problems in the “arc of crisis from Marrakesh to Karachi,” as our Inspector General Naumann puts it.

The domestic political dimension of the security problem is taken no less seriously by the EU’s Mediterranean neighbors, but also by Germany: Is there a danger that “our” immigrants will be politicized in a hostile way? In addition to the internal security services which keep foreign extremism under control and the deportation of fundamentalist activists, there is an attempt to counteract the false rise of religion in the intellectual field. The state of North Rhine-Westphalia is now introducing Islamic religious classes in which the state ensures the correct interpretation of the Koran in order to combat the Koranic schools which preach a religion that is no longer functional for the state. The culture war in the education system is being taken up and a counter-manipulation is being ensured that assigns religion its place as a servant of power.

[1] “There is a danger that, after the fall of Bolshevik imperialism, the West will create an Islamic enemy image out of ignorance, which could provoke Islamic peoples, elites and leaders into a confrontation.” (Helmut Schmidt, Die Zeit 4.2.1993)

[2] Not even Hinduism and the Shinto religion of the Japanese, which know a whole cosmos of spirits instead of one God, are less suitable for the sanctification and exaltation of modern capitalism and the training of its popular morality.

[3] Of course, the Koran also demands obedience to worldly power. Khomeini, who calls for rebellion in the name of religion, must fight against this commandment: “the Creator has decreed that he, the Prophet and the ruler must be obeyed. Who is meant by this ruler? Some are of the opinion that this refers to kings. They say that God has obliged people to obey rulers and kings. But how can the Creator, who sent his prophet to earth with thousands of provisions to administer justice, command the believers to follow, for example, an Ataturk, who everyone knows what crimes he has committed, or to obey a Pahlavi, whose offenses against God and the Koran would fill an entire book...” (Amir Taheri, Chomeini und die islamische Revolution, Hamburg 1985, p. 30)

[4] “Question: What is the prohibition of interest in the sublime Koran? Answer: The riba, which appears in 7 places in the Koran and is translated in traditional literature as interest, means, in its literal sense, a surplus on a capital. If we evaluate the other occurrences in the Koran that deal with unjust profit, with profit that has no equivalent in labor, we could evaluate riba as a type of surplus that has no equivalent in a commodity, in money or in wealth. It is clear that only one dimension of riba is interest. Every kind of increment to which no labor corresponds is riba. In this case, interest, as riba would be, is inadmissible. However, any concept of interest, which in other words is also used in the sense of ‘annuity’, does not correspond to riba. Just as the term interest can mean riba, there are also processes that are meant by the word interest that are not riba. In today’s economic systems, to make no distinction between bank interest in particular, to look only at the dictionary translation and label it as riba, does not do justice to the Koran. In view of inflation and loss of monetary value, the profit shares that banks and similar organizations issue under the name of interest cannot always be included under the term riba. This is because it is not an unjust and unreasonable increase, but essentially to protect a saver’s money from losing value. To call this riba, to impute an unjust reduction in value to the Qur'an in the name of preventing an unjust gain, is a sin as great as riba itself.” (Öztürk, Yasar Nuri, Der Islam, wie er im Koran steht, Istanbul 1993, p. 450 f.) Islamic banks like to turn their investors into legal partners, they then invest in “projects” and are compensated with “profit sharing” or a “risk premium” – neither of which is forbidden by the Koran. This means that no interest flows.

[5] At the end of May 1994, the state of Lower Saxony decided across party lines and with a two-thirds majority to write the Lord God into the preamble of the constitution. Eckard Spoo reports in the FR of June 1, 1994 on the debate in the state parliament: “... Reference to God as binding constitutional law to ‘occidental values’ or to ‘western culture’... The non-Christian minority would not have ‘anything imposed on it that it cannot relate to’... Conscience needs a ‘transcendental reference that makes it inviolable’... The bishop: ‘It is in the interest of all citizens of Lower Saxony to ensure the unavailability of fundamental rights. This unavailability seems to me to be expressed no better than by referring to the responsibility before God.”

[6] Because Islamism is the case of a politically rebellious religion, Western experts like to attribute this phenomenon to a political tradition of Islam that in fact does not distinguish it from Christianity at all: “It is not just a matter of exclusively religious feelings and actions, but of numerous, much more far-reaching cultural elements that are sanctified by Islam; they affect, as is repeatedly said, all areas of social life and everyday life, often persisting even when the faith disappears. ... What has also persisted is the entrenched notion that Islam offers not only a path to salvation, but (for many even above all) an ideal of the just society to be realized on earth. In the face of a scandalous act of violence, in the face of obvious injustice, Muslims often cry out: What? There is no more Islam!” (Maxime Rodinson, Islam: politique et croyance, Fayard, 1993, p. 35f) The Christian churches cannot be accused of offering only recipes for salvation and having nothing to say about the real world. The difference between them and Islamic fundamentalists is not that here is the hereafter and there is the here and now; the difference is that the Christian men of God are satisfied with their capitalist homeland, that the rule of law and private enterprise seem to them to be an appropriate playground for the freedom of a Christian man. If and where this is not the case, Christians also master the transition to “fundamentalism”: when it comes to respect for unborn life, the Catholic Church does not limit itself to private confessions and promises of salvation in the hereafter; it demands the state ban practices that make sex an object of lust and therefore make life “disposable.” The pill, abortion, pornography, etc., deprive people of their dignity and destroy the moral basis of society. Not all dignitaries confine themselves to demanding corresponding bans from the state. Bishop Dyba in Fulda has known for a long time that the path of authority is useless in a world that has become godless. In the USA, the pro-life movement is producing its first dead bodies in attacks on abortion clinics; in Poland, the true Catholic nation has brought about an anti-communist workers’ uprising in the name of the Black Mother of Czestochowa and now a deeply religious and crazed president ...

[7] Komeini, cited in: Nirumand, Bahman; Daddjou, Keywan; Mit Gott für die Macht, Eine politische Biographie des Ayatollah Chomeini, Hamburg 1989, p. 115

[8] ibid. p. 104

[9] ibid. p. 117

[10] Le monde, 2.5.1995

[11] “Economic reasons, it has to be said, ... were not directly responsible for the demonstrations – although a sharp decline in living standards played an important role in fomenting the uprisings. Algerians have become accustomed, perhaps too much so, to state welfare policies in recent years, but it was generally perceived that times had become tougher and that people had to live with the consequences of the fall in the price of oil... What the majority of the population did not accept was that the upper echelons of the FLN hierarchy continued to live in a luxury that was quite unusual for the rest of the country.” (The Middle East, 11/1988) This is how one journalist explains the first FIS uprisings: poverty was not the cause, but injustice. But when does the wealth of the rich appear unjust?

[12] Der Spiegel 24/1990. Abbassi el-Madani is one of the currently imprisoned leaders of the FIS.

[13] Similar propaganda by the deed is reported from the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood: “In Upper Egypt and in the slums of Cairo, where state institutions have totally failed in the social field, mainly due to corruption and bureaucratism, the Islamists built a social network. The victims of poverty, unemployment and social misery not only received promises for the future from the Islamists, but also services that made their ideology more attractive. Infirmaries, schools, libraries and other social institutions were active where the state was absent. These activities were accompanied by fierce attacks against the corrupt state and the slogan: ‘Islam is the solution.’” (Husseini, Abdul Mottaleb, FR 12.20.1994)

[14] Nirumand discovers the difference and a cheap triumph: “But Khomeini’s anachronistic ideas could not really be enforced even with the use of massive force. Behind the mullahs’ backs, the other life went on ... Women now know how to design their compulsory Islamic clothing, the chador, in such a way that they appear more attractive than ladies with low necklines.” (Nirumand, p. III)

[15] “In the north of the capital Mogadishu, which has been destroyed by civil war, Islamic law, or Sharia, already prevails. Since a group of clerics under Sheikh Sharif Muhidin founded a religious tribunal in August, more than 150 beatings have been carried out in public on the dusty square near the old port, and in dozens of cases robbers have had a hand or foot cut off. A young man sentenced to death for murder and rape was publicly stoned to death. The district, which is under the control of the self-proclaimed Somali interim president Ali Mahdi Mohammed, used to be one of the most lawless and dangerous areas in the world; today you can even go for a walk here after dark. ‘After 21 years of dictatorship and four years of anarchy, the tribunal has brought order’... In the eyes of many Somalis, the Islamic fundamentalists are the only ones who can put an end to the anarchy.” (Süddeutsche Zeitung 1.27.1995)

[16] This is the true content of civilized outrage at Islamic moral fanaticism: it is not the fanaticism but the foreign morality that is incomprehensible. Of course, it would be asking a little too much for Arab religious teachers to measure the decline in morals, which they are trying to stop with fire and sword, against the standard of “our” morals and not against theirs. Certainly, the position of women in Islam is somewhat different from that in Christianity, although until recently they had to be “subservient” to men and still have to fulfill their role as women, mothers and bearers of unborn life. But the terror against westernized women is not based on this image of women – even Islamic clerics adapt it to the new times, if they can gain something from it. The reason for the terror is that the believers are trying to save their broken nation by ruthlessly enforcing traditional morality.

[17] In Algeria, the revolutionary program has almost no economic policy section at all. The Islamists want to continue doing what the westernized devils have been doing so far: “The program of the FIS is not very precise and does not differ in its populist heterogeneity from the character of the FLN’s program. Although the economic role of the state is devalued in favor of socially bound private property and an emphasis on the role of small and medium-sized industry, the two programs have little in common with regard to the contribution of the so-called industrialization industries without further specification, the protection of the national economy from international competition and the emphasis on the need for moral behavior on the part of economic subjects... The FIS also wants state support, state supervision and only moderate competition.” (Elsenhans, Algerien, in: Handbuch der Dritten Welt 6, Bonn 1993, p. 209)