The author, Abdul Haq Compier, is a student and a scholar of Christian history and a recent convert to Islam.
By Abdul Haq Compier
The planned book burnings on September 11th brings back a tradition of intolerance which has plagued the Christian world throughout, and which augurs more violence to come. In his 1821 play, Almansor, the German writer Heinrich Heine wrote, ‘Where books are burned, they will ultimately burn people also’ (‘Dort, wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man auch am Ende Menschen.’ ). The phrase is often quoted to show that Heine had an intuition about the coming of the Holocaust. What is not often put forward, is that Heine was in fact talking about the burning of the Quran. In the work with the Arabic title ‘Almansor’, Heine is commenting on the crimes committed against Muslim Spain by the Christian Reconquista.
The true direction of Heine’s phrase being a protest against the burning of the Quran, his critique of the intolerance of the Christian world, and his generation’s love for the Muslim world, should be included in the discussions about the planned burning of the Quran in the United States.
In ‘The History of Religion and Philosophy in Germany’ of 1834, 99 years before Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party rose to power in Germany, Heine wrote another eerie prediction about the European people. Someday, he said, the German people would lose the moderation of the teachings of Christ and the old Germanic love of war would surface: ‘When you hear a crashing such as never before has been heard in the world’s history, then you know that the German thunderbolt has fallen at last. At that uproar the eagles of the air will drop dead, and lions in the remotest deserts of Africa will hide in their royal dens.’
Works by Heinrich Heine were included among the thousands of books burned by the Nazis in1933. To commemorate the terrible event, the famous lines of Heine’s 1821 play were engraved in the ground at the site; ‘Where books are burned, they will ultimately burn people also’.