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What George Bush Thought of Mohammed

By George Bush I don't mean the 41st or 43rd Presidents of the United States, but the 19th century clergyman and historian George Bush, who was also the author of the first American biography of Mohammed. Bush was also the great-grand uncle of the 41st President, and the great-great grand uncle of the 43rd President. But his views on Islam were significantly different than those of his more Saudi friendly modern day relations.

George Bush was one of the more famous ministers of his day, a biblical scholar, a liberal and controversial thinker. And while his biography of Mohammed was not particularly controversial in its day, you would have trouble finding a single bookstore willing to carry it today. Bush questioned everything about Mohammed's life and history, and phrases such as, "But in the Koran, a complete fabric of imposture, the last thing we are to expect is an honest adherence to the truth", would summon riots today.

Indeed riots nearly occurred when some of the clerics at Egypt's Al Azhar University got their hands on a translation of Bush's book, "The life of Mohammed: founder of the religion of Islam". A nervous state department in 2004 quickly put out a notice stating that the book had not been written by the current President, but by "a distant relative of the current president, five generations removed, but not his direct ancestor", was the product of "more parochial times" and its views "have nothing to do with the attitudes of current President Bush, who is respectful of Islam as one of the world's great religions"

Yet despite the long passage of time and the greater availability of sources today, George Bush's 19th century text on Mohammed is overall a good deal more accurate than the apologetic pablum that Karen Armstrong and her ilk ship out to college campuses. In fact George Bush seemed to understand Islam a good deal better than his grand-nephews several times removed.

George Bush draws a picture of Mohammed as a canny plotter, the orphaned son of a powerful dynasty looking to reclaim what his family had lost. A clever merchant who kept his ear close to the ground and plotted to take advantage of the power vacuum created by tribal infighting and the decline of the Persian and Roman empires. A man who with greedy genius built an empire by transforming his personal ambitions into a vast religion.

Boasting chapters with summaries such as "Mohammed forms the design of palming a new religion upon the world, the Prophet pretends to have a night journey through the seven heavens" and "the Jews the special objects of Mohammed's enmity", pull rather few punches and at times read as if they had been written by Geert Wilders, not a fairly progressive liberal clergyman and New York University professor.

Take Bush's critique of Mohammed's progressive revelation of the Koran;

He declared himself appointed to promulge a new revelation in successive portions, the aggregate of which was to constitute the Bible of his followers. The original or archetype of the Koran, he taught, was laid up from everlasting in the archives of Heaven, being written on what he termed the preserved table, near the throne of Allah, from which the series of chapters communicated by Gabriel were a transcript. This pretended gradual mode of revelation was certainly a master stroke of policy in the impostor.

...Had the whole volume been published at once, so that a rigid examination could have been instituted into its contents as a whole, and the different parts brought into comparison with each other, glaring inconsistencies would have been easily detected and objections urged which he probably would have found impossible to answer. But by pretending to receive his oracles in separate portions, at different times... he had a ready way of silencing all cavils, and extricating himself with credit from every difficulty, as nothing forbade the message or mandate of to-day being modified or abrogated by that of to-morrow.

Or George Bush's commentary on Mohammed's cynical campaign to win over converts;

The marks of imposture are much more discernible upon the pages subsequently revealed, in which the prophet had private ends of a sinister nature to accomplish... He applied himself in the most insinuating manner to all classes of people; he was complaisant and liberal to the poor, cultivating their acquittance and relieving their wants; the rich and noble he soothed by flattery; and bore affronts without seeking to avenge them. The effect of this politic management was greatly enhanced by the peculiar character of those inspired promises and threatenings which he brought to enforce his message.

His promises were chiefly those of a blissful paradise in another life; and these he studiously aimed to set forth in colours best calculated to work upon the fancies of a sensitive and sensual race, whose minds in consequence of their natural habits were little susceptible of the images of abstract enjoyments. The notions of a purely intellectual or spiritual happiness pertains to a more cultivated people.

... Mohammed was well aware that a plenitude of these visible and palpable attractions, to say nothing of grosser sources of pleasure, was an indispensable requirement in a heaven suited to the temperament of his countrymen... such is the Mohammedan paradise, rendered alluring by its gross, carnal and luxurious character.

Or his commentary on how Mohammed got around the difficulty of producing actual miracles;

At a later period, when he was at Medina at the head of an army, he had a more summary way of solving difficulties arising from this source, for his doctrine then was, that god had formerly sent Moses and Jesus with the power of working miracles, and yet men would not believe, and therefore he had now sent him, a prophet of another order, commissioned to enforce belief by the power of the sword. The sword accordingly was to be the true seal of his apostleship.

Or Bush writing of Mohammed's night journey to Jerusalem;

The attentive observer of the distinguishing traits of Islamism will not fail to discover innumerable points of resemblance between that system and the divinely revealed religion of the Jews; and it appears to have been an object studiously aimed at by the impostor (Mohammed) to assimilate himself as much as possible to Moses, and to incorporate as many peculiarities of the Jewish economy into his own fabrication as he could without destroying the simplicity of his creed. This fact is in keeping with what may be asserted in general terms, that the descendants of Ishmael, under a consciousness that the covenanted blessings of God have flowed down in the line of Isaac and Jacob, have ever shown a disposition to imitate what they could not attain.

George Bush also notes the transition from Mohammed as the man of peace who does not compel anyone in religion, to the brutal warlord. A transition defined by how much power Mohammed had at his disposal.

In numerous passages of the Koran, published at Mecca, he expressly declared that his business only to preach and admonish, that he had no authority to compel anyone to embrace his religion... Indeed so far was he from allowing his followers to resort to violence, that he exhorted them to bear with meekness the injuries offered them on account of their faith...

But his exemplary moderation continued for the space of twelve years, seems to have been owing altogether to his want of power, and the ascendancy of his enemies; for no sooner was he enabled by the assistance of the men of Medina, to withstand his adversaries, than he suddenly "altered his voice" declaring that Allah had allowed him and his followers to defend themselves by human weapons against the infidels, and as his forces increased, he pretended to have the divine permission to act upon the offensive also, to attack his foes, to root out idolatry, and the urge the true faith at the point of the sword.

... This force, intolerant and sanguinary spirit will be found to distinguish most of the chapters revealed at Medina, so that it can be frequently determined from the tone and temper pervading it, without consulting the date, whether the portion was revealed before or after the flight. The prophet's followers have faithfully acted up the spirit of these precepts, and the terrific announcement attending the Moslem arms has been, "The Koran, death or tribute."

Finally Bush sums up the moral code of Mohammed thusly;

"Even at the present day among the prophet's disciples all over the East, no trait is more common or more revolting than 'recklessness of life', which is doubtless to be ascribed as much to national habits as to native cruelty or ferocity of disposition. We must indeed think but little of the morality of such a people, and must behold with indignation a pretended prophet, while professing to purify the moral code of his countrymen, continuing still in the practice of some of the worst of its tenents. Here, in fact our heaviest condemnation falls upon Mohammed. He did not observe the rules of morality which he himself laid down, and which he enforced upon others by such terrible sanctions. No excuse can be offered for the impostor on this score. He abused his claims as a prophet to screen the guilty excesses of his private life, and under the pretence of a special revelation, dispensing himself from the laws imposed by his own religion, had the female sex abandoned without reserve to his desires.

... This is but too fair a specimen of the general character of the Koran. By far the greater part of its contents were fabricated to answer particular purposes which he could effect in no other way; and this was an expedient which never failed. If any new enterprise was to be undertaken, any new objections answer, any difficulty to be solved, any disturbance among his followers to be hushed, or any offence to be removed, immediate recourse was had to Gabriel, and a new revelation, precisely adapted to meet the necessities of the case, was granted.

....teaching, that the grand principles of morality are not eternal and immutable, growing out of the very nature of the relations substituting between the Creator and his creatures, but are mere arbitrary rules, subject to be relaxed, modified, or dispensed with, as circumstances may dictate."

In short George Bush reduces the story of Mohammed and the narrative of Islam to its bare bones as a sham and charade, carried out by one man and his greedy and deluded disciples. Bush is by no means as harsh as he could be no Mohammed. At times he defends him against the attacks of early Christian writers. He takes tales of Mohammed's supposed heroism in battle at face value, though those tales all come from his own followers. Nevertheless the book succeeds at dissecting Islamism far better than any college text could.

And if all this had not sufficiently succeeded in offending and enraging Muslims, George Bush had also called for the creation of a Jewish State in Israel.

It is ironic that a 19th century George Bush understood the character and menace of Islam, far better than his 20th century kindred. Had George W. Bush listened more to his namesake and less to CAIR, America might be far safer for it.


  1. So? This is what they've said about Judaism too..and every other religon.

    There are more Jews who believe that Moses was similar or worse..thats why we have so many atheists.

  2. He also apparently wrote a perush on the Torah.


  3. interesting, yes he was a biblical scholar, though as a swedeborgian, he would have been rather eccentric religiously

  4. Utterly fascinating!

  5. Anonymous28/10/09

    How can one get a copy of this book? Will google make it available as part of their effort to make books, that are out of publication, available? (Bet you they will not.)

    It should be noted that like the New Testiment the Koran was written many years after the "events." Same with the follow-up writings (whatever it is called).

    I think it is fairly well accepted that the big M was influenced by Jews. I once heard that his thing about 7 virgin was due to a mistranslation of the Hebrew text. Maybe you know more about that.

  6. Anonymous28/10/09

    Someone commented that Moses wasn't necessarily different then Mohammed. This assumes that the Torah was written much later, like the Christian text and the Koran. While it is impossible to argue the point, there is one major difference between the Torah and all other "bibles" (I think it is fair to call the Koran a Bible too.). I refer to the "revelation" at Mt. Sinai. It would be totally crazy to state that thousands of people witnessed the voice of G-d if it wasn't true.

    There is a cute story about two sons fighting over the inheritance of their dead fathers title. Suddenly one son announced that he had an important thing to say. He gathered all the relevant people and said, Last night our dearly departed father came to me in a dream and said I'm the ONE!" Therefore, I should get the title.

    Suddenly the other son got up and said, That's funny, our father came to me last night and said that he intended to make me the one."

    That is the problem of hidden revelations. However, there is a risk if one claims widespread involvement, since anyone can claim it isn't true. That is one of the major proofs that the Torah is different then other Bibles. Unfortunately, this is not a very strong argument if one considers the events around the time of the return of the Jews to Judah. The returning Jews need to form a tight unity to re-establish themselves in a land that they had left 70 years before. What better way to establish this unity then to say that their forefathers stood together and witnessed the revelation. Since this claimed occurrence took place over 1000 years before there was little chance that anyone was able to deny it, nor did anyone want too. However, it was still a very bold move to have made if it wasn’t true. Then there are the various miricals that

    Then there are the various miracles that we speak of. Even if one wants to claim that miracles happen to people from different backgrounds that doesn’t lessen there revelation or deny G-d.

  7. anon 1

    there's a copy on Google Books if you search for it

  8. Anon 2,

    Faith is personal. Moshe and the Twelve Tribes did not try to conquer the world, only to reclaim the land of Abraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov. They were specifically prohibited by G-d from making war on neighboring states.

    By contrast Mohammed conducted a war without end, for personal enrichment, thereby demonstrating his corruption and the problem that Islam poses for the world, in an open ended conquest of the world.

  9. Anonymous6/12/10

    I wonder, why do people like George W Bush call Islam a great religion? Great, because of its ideals like jihad and endsieg? Or great because of the number of believers? As if religion was something demoratic and to be judged be the number of its adherents.


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