A Blatant Lack of Objectivity

Analysis, posted 06.06.2011, from Germany, in:
A critical review of Hamed Abdel-Samad's "The Downfall of the Islamic World" by Christian Horbach. (Photo: picture-alliance/dpa)

Criticism of Islam would appear to be blossoming into a lucrative business in Germany. How else is the abundance of books that amount to little more than a description of the deficiencies of Islam to be explained? With the publication of a book written by the Egyptian-German author Hamed Abdel-Samad, another alleged magnum opus of this genre can be added to this collection.

Born in Egypt and himself a Muslim, Hamed Abdel-Samad claims that in writing this book he was on a humanistic mission; after all, he says, "anyone who really takes Muslims seriously, must criticise Islam."

With untiring intensity, he repeatedly explains to his readers just why he feels the need to leap to the defence of Islam on behalf of humanity: "the downfall of the Arab Islamic world is inevitable. Two principles dominate life and nature: variety and flexibility. Anyone who goes against these principles, dies out. The Islamic world has been doing just that for some time now and will, consequently, fall apart."

"The chronic Muslim state of being offended"

That, in a nutshell, is the sum of the book's basic assumptions. By describing conditions in the Islamic world and their causes, Abdel-Samad tries to outline the inevitability of the downfall of Islamic culture, yes even the "Islamic idea".

In doing so, he addresses a number of big themes, such as the Muslim reception of history. The average Muslim, he says, feels "at home in the ruins of history" and is neither capable of nor wants to live without a scapegoat for the misery that he himself has caused. He refers to "the chronic Muslim state of being offended".

He also writes of Islam's "anthropological wound", a phrase coined by the Syrian philologist Georg Tarabishi and borrowed from his work by Abdel-Samad. In his own words, Abdel-Samad says that "inside, Islamic culture is ashamed and tries to make up for this fact by demonstratively displaying moral superiority to the outside world".

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[Excerpt—See accompanying URL for full original text.]