Interview on German TV with German-Egyptian political scientist and historian Hamad Abdel-Samad on the imminent collapse of Islam, and Islam and modernity.
Hamed Abdel-Samad (Arabic: حامد عبد الصمد; born in 1972 in Gizeh, Egypt) is a German-Egyptian political scientist, historian and author. Abdel-Samad was born as the third of five children, the son of a Sunni Imam. At the age of four he was raped by a 15-year-old, at the age of eleven by a five-member group of young people in a cemetery. Abdel-Samad came to Germany in 1995 at the age of 23.
Abdel-Samad became known to the German public through his book Mein Abschied vom Himmel (My farewell from heaven) (2009). It is neither a settlement with his culture, nor a call to abandon the Muslim faith. According to Abdel-Samad, he just wanted to understand the contradictions of his life. Following the book’s publication in Egypt a group issued a fatwa against Abdel-Samad and he was put under police protection.
Abdel-Samad calls for an “Islam light” in Europe without shari’a, jihad, gender apartheid, proselytism and “entitlement mentality”. He criticized the German political establishment for appeasing Islam, while ignoring fears about Islam. According to Abdel-Samad, this behavior created resentment in the German population.
Abdel-Samad participated in the German Islam Conference held at the invitation of the German Federal Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière.
In autumn 2010, Abdel-Samad took the journalist Henryk M. Broder on a 30,000 km-long road trip through Germany for a five-part TV series.
Extracts from the interview:
“Islam is not compatible with a modern lifestyle… The Islamic world has not accepted that it’s lost its power in the world long ago. They still insist on their cultural grandeur, moral superiority, towards the West. Thus they maintain this illusion”.
Host: Mr Abdel-Samad, in your new book you prophesy the collapse of the Islamic world. How did you come to the conclusion that an entire world religion will simply disappear?
Abdel-Samad: ‘Disappear’ is not what I said, I said ‘collapse’, meaning that Islam offers no answers to the questions of modern life. Islam is past it’s zenith, and is in a process of decay, of downfall – this is what I mean.
Host: You are speaking explicitly… of the spiritual attitude of the Islamic world , and state… that the mentality of many Muslims, possibly all Muslims is not fit for life in a modern world?
Abdel-Samad: In the Islamic world one lives in contradictions. People consume modernity, but are not open to thoughts of freedom, equality, questioning the holy, so the Islamic gets stuck in resentment, consumption without productivity.
Host: Why aren’t people in the Islamic world reacting productively or creative to the challenges, but rather, as you claim, aggressively?
Abdel-Samad: The Islamic world has not accepted that it’s lost its power in the world long ago. They still insist on their cultural grandeur, moral superiority, towards the West. Thus they maintain this illusion: Nothing good can come out of the West, for the people there are infidels. And therefore he’s the problem. And therein lies the problem.
Host: There was a time when the Islamic world was a world power and eventually everybody had to obey its command. But this is long gone, admittedly, but the Islamic world cannot be bad in itself, because it brought about so much good*
[* clearly the host is playing pc here or he doesn’t know history. There was very little good coming from the Islamic world and far more problems than benefits followed by extreme violence and oppression.]
Abdel-Samad: True. It was between 7th and 11th centuries that the Islamic world was still self-confident, and open to the world.
Many Muslims believe it was Islam that had given them a high culture.
I doubt this thesis. It was not Islam rather the openness of Muslims, the mixture of many peoples bringing something from their old high cultures, Persians, Arameans, Berbers, Jews and Christians, who ended up under Islamic rule. They have worked together in fertile ways and created this culture, not only the Muslims.
The proof of this is that the first important cities of knowledge in Islam were not Mecca or Medina, but rather Baghdad, Cairo and Cordoba. All originally non-Islamic countries.
Host: Let’s talk about immigration: This is recognized as a problem in Switzerland, as well as in Germany, at least as concerns Muslims. Why, as you write in your book can it be that Muslims, as you put it, indulge in a mentality of making demands?
Abdel-Samad: Yes, it comes straight out of this moral superiority. They come here, they depend on this land, Germany or Switzerland, but inside they also despise them.
Host: How does that show up in everyday life? Do you have some examples?
Abdel-Samad: Well, fathers forbid their daughters to participate in Swimming lessons, children are warned against adopting a ‘decadent’ lifestyle. From this comes no cultural symbiosis, not even parallel societies, but asymmetric societies.
Host: Thilo Sarazzin [German conservative politician opposing Islam] is causing furor these days with thoughts quite similar to yours. What differentiates you, from a Thilo Sarazzin, who many currently have on their hit list, when they say that it is not at all acceptable, even racist, what he says?
Abdel-Samad: This is not comparable. I’m dealing with the Islamic culture and it’s collapse. Thilo Sarazzin warns about the future of Germany. It could go on like this. I would say that 90% of what Thilo Sarazzin says is true, but people concentrate on those 10% where he is sort of missing the point, when he talks about genetics and intelligence.
Host: Thilo Sarazzin says that Germany is getting more stupid, because an increasing number of ‘stupid Muslims’ need to be integrated.
Abdel-Samad: It doesn’t have all that much to do with stupidity or intelligence, it is about social reality. It’s about young Muslims, many with no opportunity to get a good education, not being able to make themselves qualified, that they become a burden to the country, are not productive, and no country can cope with this. This is completely true.
Host: But who is to blame then? The integration policy of Germany, or the stubbornness [of Muslims]?
Abdel-Samad: It takes two to Tango. They were dealing with the problem in an old-fashioned way, and here we are and now of course they try to find scapegoats. Mr Sarazzin might have been wrong on some of his statements, but he is not responsible for the integration mess that we have.
Host: You are not only attacking [the problems], but you also propose a solution. You say that really there is no other option than to switch to a post-quranic age. You need to explain this? What is a “post-quranic” age?
Abdel-Samad: Many Muslim reformers make the mistake that they do not really want to break the chain holding the Islamic system together. They try to paint the chain in their favorite color, and call this a “Reform”. I believe that the untouchable nature of the Quran stands in our way and we need to leave this behind. Without polemicising against it or destroying it. We must simply separate ourselves from this notion, that this is the word of god, providing relevant instructions for daily life in the 21st Century. Post-quranic discourse means that we need to look for other explanations and solutions for our lives today.
Host: You once said that you have converted from faith to knowledge. That sounds incredibly sensible – then what do you tell all those people who say, “I want to believe, I need a God”?
Abdel-Samad: That’s quite fine. Completely fine. I am not calling people to atheism merely asking that each keeps his faith in his own heart rather than being a pain in the neck on the streets.
Host: I would consider you a radical thinker, which you can consider either positive or negative. You had a very religious upbringing. Your father was an Imam. How has that influenced you?
Abdel-Samad: Well, I would not consider myself a radical at the moment. I used to be a radical but now I try to think in sober and rational ways. Introducing rational ideas is indeed radical.
Perhaps the breaking of taboos has become a luxury, in the West. In the Islamic world it is a necessity. This is why I decided for this approach.