Why the Muslims Must Fight against Nazi Germany: Muḥammad Najātī Ṣidqī’s Plea

In: Die Welt des Islams
Israel Gershoni
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The term “Islamofascism” has developed and taken root only recently. It is part of a terminology that has been integrated into the academic and pseudo-academic discourse, which defines and explains contemporary global Islamic jihadism. In real time, in the 1930s and during the Second World War, 1933-1945, this term was totally alien to Muslim intellectuals in Egypt and in the Arab Middle East. Islam and fascism or Islam and Nazism were perceived as diametrically opposed terms. For most Arab intellectuals and publicists, who represent what is commonly referred to as Islamic thought or were spokesmen of Islamic movements, it was inconceivable to conjoin these two vastly different doctrines and ways of life. Any attempt to harmonize Islam and fascism, not to speak of the very term Islamofascism or fascist Islam, would have been anathema. This article focuses on the life and work of the Palestinian communist intellectual Muḥammad Najātī Ṣidqī (1905- 1979) and his book al-Taqālid al-islāmiyya wa-l-mabādiʾ al-nāziyya: hal tattafiqān? (“The Islamic Traditions and the Nazi Principles: Can They Agree?”). In this book—which specifically reached out to a Muslim audience—Ṣidqī critically discusses Nazi ideology to show that Islam and Nazism are antithetical. He also strives for convincing the reader of the obligation to refute and to fight against “pagan” Nazi racism. Ṣidqī thus participates in a more broader Arab intellectual current of the 1930s and the time of the Second World War, in which Islam and fascism and Islam and Nazism were perceived as diametrically opposed terms.

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