Islam and the Psychology of the Musulman

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By André Servier. Paris, 1923

Translated by A. S. Moss-Blundell. With a Preface by Louis Bertrand. London. Chapman Hall LTD. 1924

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Preface by Louis Bertrand (20 March 1866, Spincourt, Meuse – 6 December 1941, Cap d'Antibes). Louis Bertrand was a French novelist, historian and essayist. He was the third member elected to occupy seat 4 of the Académie française in 1925.

Chapter I: A Muslim Policy

France needs a Muslim policy inspired by realities and not by received opinions and legends — We can only understand any given portion of the Muslim people by studying Arab history, because of the solidarity of all Muslims and because Islam is nothing but a secretion of the Arab brain — There is no such thing as Arab civilization — The origins of the legend — How modern historians and the scholars of the Middle Ages were deceived — The Arab is a realist and has no imagination — He has copied the ideas of other peoples, distorting them in the process — Islam, by its immutable dogmas, has paralysed the brain and killed all initiative

Chapter II: Islam and the Desert

For any comprehensive knowledge of Islam and the Muslim, it is necessary to study the Desert — The Arabian Desert — The Bedouin — The influence of the Desert — Nomadism — The dangerous life — Warrior and bandit — Fatalism — Endurance — Insensibility — The spirit of independence — Semitic anarchy — Egoism — Social organization — The tribe — Semitic Pride — Sensuality — The ideal — Religion — Lack of Imagination — Essential characteristics of the Bedouin.

Chapter III: Arabia in the Time of Mohammed

Arabia in the time of Mohammed — No Arab nation — A dust or tribes without ethnic or religious bonds — A prodigious diversity of cults and beliefs — “ Two mutually hostile groups: Yemenites and Moaddites — Sedentaries and nomads — Rivalry of the two centers: Yathreb and Mecca — Jewish and Christian propaganda at Yathreb — Life of the Meccans — Their evolution — Federation of the Fodhoul — The precursors of Islam.

Chapter IV: Mohammed was a Bedouin of Mecca

Mohammed was a degenerate Bedouin of Mecca — Circumstances made him a man of opposition — His lonely and unhappy boyhood — Camel-driver and shepherd — His marriage to Khadija — His good fortune — How he conceived Islam — Islam was a reaction against the life of Mecca — His failures at Mecca — He betrays his tribe — His alliance with the men of Yathreb — His flight — First difficulties at Medina — How he had to resort to force — The principal cause of his success: the lure of booty — The taking of Mecca — Triumph of the Prophet — His death.

Chapter V: Mohammed's Doctrine

Mohammed's doctrine — Islam is Christianity adapted to Arab mentality — The practical essentials of Islam — The Koran is the work not of a sectarian but of a politician — Mohammed seeks to recruit his followers by every possible means — He deals tactfully with forces he cannot beat down, and with customs that he cannot abolish — Muslim morality — Fatalism — The essential principles of the reform brought about by the Prophet — Extension to all Muslims of family solidarity — Prohibition of martyrdom — The Muslim bows to force, but keeps his own ideas — The Koran is animated by the spirit of tolerance, Islam is not; the fault rests with the commentators of the second century, who by stereotyping the doctrine and forbidding all subsequent modification, have rendered all progress impossible.

Chapter VI: The Successors of Mohammed

Islam under the successors of Mohammed — Even in Arabia the new faith was only able to impose itself by force — The first Muslim conquerors were actuated by the desire for plunder not by any anxiety to proselytize — The expansion of Islam to Persia, Syria and Egypt was favoured by the hostility of the natives of those countries to the Persian and Byzantine Governments — The struggle for influence between Mecca and Medina, which had contributed to Mohammed's success, was continued under his successors, sometimes favourable to Medina, under the Caliphates of Abu-Bekr Omar and Ali; sometimes to Mecca, under the Caliphate of Othman — The Mecca party finally triumph with the coming of Maowiah — Conflicts between the tribes, between individuals, chronic anarchy: characteristics of Muslim society and the causes of its future ruin.

Chapter VII: Islam Under the Ommeyads

Islam under the Ommeyads — The Theocratic Republic becomes a Military Monarchy — The Caliphate established at Damascus, where it comes under Syrian influence, that is to say, Greco-Latin — The rivalries which divided Mecca and Medina break out between these towns and Damascus — The conquest of the Maghreb, then of Spain, realized through the complicity of the inhabitants, anxious to get rid of the Greeks and Visigoths — The attempted conquest of Gaul fails owing to the stubborn resistance of the Franks, and marks the limit of Moslem expansion — The Ommeyad dynasty, extinguished in orgies of Byzantine decadence, gives place to the dynasty of the Abbassids.

Chapter VIII: Islam Under the Abbassids

Islam under the Abbassids — The Caliphate is transferred from Damascus to Bagdad, where it comes under Greco-Persian influence — Through the administration of the Barmecids, ministers of Persian origin, the Caliphs surround themselves with foreign savants and men of letters, who give to their reign an incomparable splendor; but, in their desire to organize Muslim legislation, the Caliphs, under the inspiration of the Old Muslims, fix the Islamic doctrine immutably and render all progress impossible — This was the cause and the beginning of the decadence of Mohammedan nations — Spain breaks off from the Empire, setting an example of insubordination which is to find imitators later on.

Chapter IX: Islam Under the Last Abbassids

Islam under the last Abbassids — The Muslim Empire on the road to ruin — The Arab conquerors, drowned in the midst of subject peoples and incapable of governing them, lose their war-like qualities by contact with the good-for-nothing — Caliphs, reduced to the role of rois faineants, are obliged in self-defence to have recourse to foreign mercenaries, who soon become their masters — Provinces in obedience to nationalist sentiment break away from the Empire — The last Abbassid Caliphs retain possession of Bagdad only — Their dynasty dies out in ignominy.

Chapter X: The Dismemberment of the Empire

Causes of the dismemberment of the Muslim Empire — The chief is the inability of the Arabs to govern — The history of the Caliphs in Spain is identical with that of the Caliphs at Damascus and at Bagdad: the same causes of ephemeral grandeur, the same causes of decay — There was no Arab civilization in Spain, but merely a revival of Latin civilization — This was developed behind a Muslim facade, and in spite of the Muslims — The monuments attributed to the Arabs are the work of Spanish architects.

Chapter XI: Arab Decadence

Arab decadence in Persia, Mesopotamia, and Egypt — The provinces, relapsed into barbarism temporarily under Arab dominion, are re-born into civilization as soon as they are able to free themselves — General causes of the decay of the Arab Empire: Political nullity — Absence of creative genius — Absence of discipline — Bad administration — No national unity — The Arab could only govern with the collaboration of foreigners — Secondary causes: Religion, the vehicle of Arab thought — Too great a diversity among the conquered peoples — Despotic power of the prince — Servile position of women — The Islamization of the subject peoples raised them to the level of the conqueror and allowed them to submerge him — Mixed marriages — Negro influence — Diminution of the Imperial revenues — The mercenaries.

Chapter XII: The Muslim Community is Theocratic

The Muslim community is theocratic — Religious law, inflexible and immutable, regulates its institutions as well as individual conduct — Legislation — Education — Government — The position of women — Commerce — Property — No originality in Muslim institutions — The Arab has imitated and distorted — In his manifestations of intellectual activity he appears to be paralytic, and since he has impregnated Islam with his inertia, the nations who have adopted this religion are stricken with the same sterility — All Muslims, whatever their ethnic origin, think and act like a Bedouin barbarian of the time of Mohammed.

Chapter XIII: The Sterility of the Arab Mind

The Sterility of the Arab mind is apparent in every manifestation of intellectual activity — Arab civilization is the result of the intellectual efforts of non-Arab peoples converted to Islam — Arab science, astronomy, mathematics, chemistry, medicine, is only a copy of Greek science — In history and geography the Arabs have left a few original works — In philosophy they are the pupils of the School of Alexandria — In literature, with the exception of a few lyric poems of no great value, they are under the inspiration of Greek and Persian models — The literature of the Moors in Spain is of Latin inspiration — In the fine arts, sculpture, painting and music, the nullity of the Arabs is absolute.

Chapter XIV: The Psychology of the Muslim

The psychology of the Muslim — Steadfast faith in his intellectual superiority — Contempt and horror of what is not Muslim — The world divided into two parts: believers and infidels — Everything that proceeds from infidels is detestable — The Muslim escapes all propaganda — By mental reservation he even escapes violence — Check to the attempts to Introduce Western civilization into the Muslim world — Averrhoës.

Chapter XV: Islam in Conflict with Europe

Islam in conflict with European nations — The Nationalist movement in Egypt — Its origin — The National Party — Moustafa Kamel Pasha-Mohammed Farid Bey — The popular party — Loufti Bey es Sayed — The party of constitutional reform — Sheikh Aly Yousef — The attitude of England — Egyptian Nationalist's intrigues in North Africa .

Chapter XVI: Turkey as a Hope

France's foreign Muslim policy — We should help Turkey — The lessons of the Wahabite movement — In the Muslim world the Arab is an element of disorder, the Turk is an element of stability — The Arab is doomed to disappear; he will be replaced by the Turk — A policy of neutrality towards the Arabs: of friendly support towards Turkey — Conclusion


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