Greek European Culture


Koran – the invention of an artificial religion

Arthur Rimbaud spoke about the “bastard wisdom of Koran” (sagesse bâtarde du Coran; see Une Saison en Enfer), and his later fatalism maybe casts some light upon his own adventure; he doesn’t seem to have indeed understood how a genuine offspring is born. Koran is not a bastard wisdom, not only because it is not a wisdom, but also and mainly because it has no parents at all. Koran was constructed, it is a product of the laboratory, without real spiritual roots.

Koran has denial in the place of a heart, since it despises the very ‘elements’ of its construction, the Old and the New Testament. Spyrido Zambelius is accurate when he speaks about Koran as “an undigested, unintegrated mixture of the Old and the New Testament, a monstrous mixture of Judaism and Christianity, decorated with fictitious tales, that please or surprise the imagination of semi-wild peoples, while from the start to the end it emits political rage and religious frenzy” (see Zambelius, Byzantine Studies, Athens 1857, pp. 169-70).

Manuel II Palaeologus writes that peoples who followed Islam “were deceived and forced by Mohammed, who promised them victory against Christians (cf. Manuel Palaeologus, Epitaph to his brother Theodorus Palaeologus, PG 156.220). Ostrogorsky (Byzantine History) writes that “Mohammed [was not a prophetic but a political figure, he] was creating the foundations of a religious and political union of Arabs [i.e., of a religious union simply as a means to the political unity and expansion]. His work, although spiritually poor and underdeveloped, contained a primitive urge and huge dynamism.”

As a fictitious and treacherous power, to the degree that it influences islamic peoples, Koran can not but lead them to an ever greater spiritual decay. No matter how greatly was islamism influenced sometime by hellenism (Greek science in particular, and some superficial neoplatonic elements), how great a spirituality could have ever chosen to build upon the unnatural foundation of Koran? From Koran one can expect what one expects from any spiritual poison: whatever good might happen in islamic peoples, it happens “rather in spite of their creed than because of it.


  1. Sam

    This article is faulty on several fronts. However, I will focus on 2 primary distortions: that the Koran is too spiritually weak to inspire other forms of spirituality, and that Muslims generally conquered cities built by others while adding little. The second claim, while more egregiously misleading, is not as simple to deconstruct, so I will deal with it below. However as for the first claim, one immediately thinks of Sufism, which is a very spiritually developed movement that is still considered a form of Islam. While it is viewed as heretical by most Muslims, and it is not difficult to understand why Muslims view it as unorthodox and uncomfortably innovative for a faith, it is living proof that a spiritually rich outgrowth of the Koran is entirely possible. Furthermore, Sikhism is a religion that combined elements of Hinduism and Islam, again showing (though less decisively) that Islamic texts served as a source and inspiration for new forms of spirituality just as Judaism inspired Christianity and the latter in turn inspired Islam.

    And now your second argument, the claim that Muslims are incapable of building their own great cities or adding substantial greatness to the cities they conquer. While this article accurately points out that Constantinople as a city did not acquire much new greatness after its conquest by the Turks in 1453, it uses this observation as Exhibit A that Muslims have historically lacked the intellectual and spiritual stamina to build great cities and are only good and plundering the works of others. Now, I haven’t looked through this website yet but at a quick glance it seems like something of a Greek/Orthodox nationalist website, which means that they often use the word “Muslim” when others would use “Turk.” Because cultural interaction between Arabs and Greeks has greatly receded since the Seljuks and other Turks came to dominate Arab lands, from the Greek/Byzantine point of view the Turk had become the prototypical Muslim well before the final fall of Constantinople. This article deceptively takes a point that applies rather well to Turks and extrapolates it to Muslims in general–an absurdity so great it ruins the credibility of the entire article with one sentence.

    Now, if you type “Turkophobia” in Wikipedia you will come across anti-Turkish quotes from various historical figures, and they generally center around the theme that the Turks are poor in the arts, culture, literature, and the construction of great cities and monuments. Voltaire said “We know almost no city built by them; they let decay the most beautiful establishments of Antiquity, they reign over ruins.” Many of these quotes contrasts the Turks with other Muslims who are deemed more worthy on this front. After all, all of the great Arab cities that come to my mind, from Baghdad to Cairo to Cordoba, were built from scratch by the Arabs. Although Baghdad is an obviously Persian name, it is believed that it gets its name from some nearby village at the time, and there is little historical dispute that the Arabs founded a new city on a spot where none existed before. Another quote you will find in the Wikipedia article is from 19th century British Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone, saying:

    “Let me endeavor, very briefly to sketch, in the rudest outline what the Turkish race was and what it is. It is not a question of Mohammedanism sim­ply, but of Mohammedanism compounded with the peculiar character of a race. They are not the mild Mohammedans of India, nor the chivalrous Saladins of Syria, nor the cultured Moors of Spain. They were, upon the whole, from the black day when they first entered Europe, the one great anti-human specimen of humanity. Wherever they went a broad line of blood marked the track behind them, and, as far as their dominion reached, civilization disap­peared from view. They represented everywhere government by force as opposed to government by law.—Yet a government by force can not be main­tained without the aid of an intellectual element.— Hence there grew up, what has been rare in the his­tory of the world, a kind of tolerance in the midst of cruelty, tyranny and rapine. Much of Christian life was contemptuously left alone and a race of Greeks was attracted to Constantinople which has all along made up, in some degree, the deficiencies of Turkish Islam in the element of mind!”

    Finally, another 19th century figure, Cardinal Newman of England, describes the Turks as “The barbarian power, which has been for centuries seated in the very heart of the Old World, which has in its brute clutch the most famous coun­tries of classical and religious antiquity and many of the most fruitful and beautiful regions of the earth; and, which, having no history itself, is heir to the historical names of Constantinople and Nicaea, Nicomedia and Caesarea, Jerusalem and Damascus, Nineva and Babylon, Mecca and Bagdad, Antioch and Alexandria, ignorantly holding in its possession one half of the history of the whole world.”

    Note that the Cardinal mentions great Greek cities of antiquity as well as Mecca and Bagdad (sic), two cities that owe their entire history to the Arabs/Muslims.

    All this goes to prove that you are taking historically common anti-Turkish themes and applying them to Muslims in general, despite the fact that the most famous exponents of this theme were more discerning in their language and specifically excluded non-Turkic Muslims from their censure. You greatly overreached in your argument, leaving it with large gaping holes that a 25 year old non-historian like me could easily disprove.

  2. Dear Sam,

    Even some muslims claim that sufism is outside the sphere of Islam. Seemingly having Koran as its starting point, in truth sufism just uses concepts found in Christianity and other religions, e.g. the concept of the “one God”, common things like these, of which some are present also in the artificial mixture of the Koran, developing as an attempt of the healthy human mind to defend itself against Koran, to overcome the infirmity and artificiality of Koran. Sufism is a living proof that even books as the Koran can not totally poison the human mind.

    As for your claim that Muslims have a significant cultural contribution, I think you don’t offer enough proof. It is not a coincidence that most of the underdeveloped, oppressive and inhuman regimes, are in muslim territories.

    Thanks for taking the time to work on this lengthy response.

  3. Sam

    Hello again,

    I offered plenty of proof of Muslim contributions to the culture of the human race. Moorish Spain alone has contributed enough to permanently disprove the notion that Islam is some sort of chlorine gas that kills all cultural life. From Averroes (who essentially introduced Europe to secularism) to Avicenna to Ibn Khaldun, to the endless literary treasures of Islamic antiquity, their contributions are rarely disputed. I have no horse in the Greek/Turkish race but you seem to see the entire Islamic world through a Turkish lens. I have nothing against Turks but I do see validity in the claim that they have been historically lacking in culture. However I believe this point has little significance in the post-Ataturk era, but if I were a Greek or an Orthodox I would be much more concerned about the rampant nationalism found amongst the Turks than I would be about the contents of the Koran which have very little influence on modern Turkey.

    I personally don’t find a great deal of daylight between the Middle Eastern religions. They all have great potential for bringing out the best in people by encouraging charity, honesty, and mercy, but they are all also preoccupied with revenge and authoritarianism. Like all good things, both Islam and Christianity are at their best when they are practiced in moderation. I think the Spanish Inquisition was probably the greatest tragedy for Islam and the world not only because it was essentially a holocaust against all non-Catholics in the Iberian peninsula, but also because it eliminated the greatest center of enlightened liberal thought in the Islamic world at the time, ushering into dominance the more reactionary elements in that part of the world. I think if Islamic Spain was not wiped off the map then the entire Muslim world would look very different today. Even today we find that the people in Morocco, for example, don’t have the same unrealistic expectations for sexual modesty that we see among the Arabs further east, and it remains the only Arab country with a visible remaining Jewish community. This is the legacy of the Moors.

    I find it hard to understand how you can deny at least the Moorish contributions to world history. No less a Eurocentric lunatic than Adolf Hitler had profuse praise for the cultural achievements of the Moors, saying of Europe “only in the Roman Empire and in Spain under Arab domination has culture been a potent factor. Under the Arab, the standard attained was wholly admirable; to Spain flocked the greatest scientists, thinkers, astronomers, and mathematicians of the world, and side by side there flourished a spirit of sweet human tolerance and a sense of purist chivalry. Then with the advent of Christianity, came the barbarians.” For someone like Adolf Hitler to acknowledge the achievements of non-whites in western European soil who also happened to tolerate Jews, those achievements must have been too great for any reasonable person to deny. If you, as an Eastern Orthodox Christian, were living in Spain during the Inquisition I’m very sure you would have preferred to remain under the relatively magnanimous Muslim rulers than the extremist Catholic fanatics who swept the land and exterminated every trace of non-Catholic presence after 800 years of multi-religious coexistence. The fabled Golden Age of Jews in Spain came to a bloody end, and most of them fled to Islamic lands in the Ottoman Empire and North Africa where they were safe.

    All this goes to show is that Islam, like Catholicism and any other religion, is as good or as bad as the people who practice it at that particular time in history. When people focus on the spiritual side of their religion and de-emphasize the fire-and-brimstone themes, that is when the best in a faith is brought out.

    As for your last claim “It is not a coincidence that most of the underdeveloped, oppressive and inhuman regimes, are in muslim territories.” You’re right, it’s not a coincidence–it’s fiction. Taken a look at sub-Saharan Africa lately?

  4. First of all I’d like again to congratulate you on your will to communicate. On these matters I receive many letters, especially from Turks, even cursing me to burn in hell for all eternity!, etc, letters, of course, that are not published, – and then I’m accused for censorship. Regular visitors of Ellopos sites know very well that I don’t do censorship, that I just don’t confuse discussion with shouting and curses. Therefore, thanks for your letters, and let’s see your last one.

    You don’t offer “plenty of proof” of muslim contributions to culture. On the contrary. Averroes and in general the muslim commentators of Aristotle offered to culture whatever they offered, not as muslims but as commentators of Aristotle. Do you see the difference? You can not even say that this proves the muslim’s openness to learning, since their example had no continuation, and later muslim generations until today have a little, insignificant, or none at all interest in Greek philosophy, especially as regards the theological side of it. Averroes etc are not even necessary to a student of Greek philosophy; their contribution, even considered not as a muslim one, but just as a side of the influences of Greek culture, is not significant. Perhaps you hold them in a greater esteem, – however, no matter how valuable we agree they were, you still can not use them as symbols of muslim culture, since their attitude does not characterize Islam as such. It was temporary and marginal.

    As for Ibn Khaldun, it was him that said, “Watch how all the countries of the world, when conquered by Arabs, saw their civilization being destroyed, their population scattered, even the earth of their ground being transformed obviously!”

    We agree somehow on the difference that you see between Turks and other muslims, yet, if our criteria become more demanding, this difference does not remain that great.

    What you say about muslim tolerance can be proved in various times and places, but it is not valid at other times and places. It is important also to notice the reason of this tolerance, most often being the profit from special taxes imposed to “non-believers”, and also is important to see the limits of the tolerance, most often, if not always, excluding “non-believers” from political power, prohibiting their education, impeding their economical growth…, even practically treating them as complete slaves.

    When the Byzantines said that occupation by Turks would be better than occupation by Catholics they did not mean that Turks had a superior culture to that of the Catholics. On the contrary, they preferred the Turks precisely because of the difference and inferiority of their muslim culture, this way avoiding the danger of the Orthodox being to any degree seduced by the similarity of the Catholic to the Orthodox culture, and, under the difficulties of an occupation, forced to become Catholics. They knew also about the religious tolerance they were going to have, so long as the Ottoman state was interested more in money than in conversion of the “infidels” to Islam.

    As for the sub-saharan Africa, I never said that *all the underdeveloped and inhuman regimes are muslim. But don’t forget that Islam is very active even there. Perhaps you don’t have accurate information. Senegal, Gambia and Niger have 75 to 90% of the population muslim. Mali, Sierra Leone, Chad, Sudan, from 50 to 75%. Guinea, Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Tanzania 25 to 50%. But the traditional African religions of course are no better than Islam. Yet, even them, at least are religions, no matter how false or inferior – not fabricated ideologies. I emphasize that, because you failed to answer to the main point of this blog post, that Koran is an invented ideological product.