Mazar-e Sharif, Afghanistan

[photo by Steve Evans].

Rudolf Steiner occasionally made statements friendly to Judaism, yet fundamentally he preached an anti-Semitic (anti-Jewish) message. Likewise, Steiner occasionally found something to praise in Islam, but his basic view of the Muslim religion was profoundly negative. He associated Islam with the arch-demons Ahriman and Lucifer. [1]

“Mohammedism is the first manifestation of Ahriman, the first Ahrimanic revelation following the Mystery of Golgotha [Calvary, where Jesus was crucified]. Mohammed's god, Allah, Eloha, is an Ahrimanic imitation or pale reflection of the Elohim [i.e., gods], but comprehended monotheistically. Mohammed always refers to them as a unity. The Mohammedan culture is Ahrimanic, but the Islamic attitude is Luciferic.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), pp. 75-76. [2]

The chief problem with Islam, according to Steiner, is that Muslims worship a single god whom they mistakenly think is the One and Only God, when in fact there are many gods. Anthroposophy is polytheistic. Thus, Islam is a step backwards, according to Steiner, although Islam's revival of ancient traditions brought some benefits.

“Mohammedanism set its face against this impulse in its far-reaching decree: There is no God save the God proclaimed by Mohammed. It is a retrogression to the pre-Christian principle,* but clothed in a new form — as was inevitable six hundred years after the founding of Christianity. The God of Nature, the Father God — not a God of freedom by whom men are led on to freedom — was proclaimed as the one and only God. Within Arabism, where Mohammedanism was making headway, this was favourable for a revival and renewal of the fruits of ancient cultures, and such a revival, with the exclusion of Christianity, did indeed take place in the Orient, on a magnificent scale. Together with the warlike campaigns of Arabism there spread from East towards the West — in Africa as it were enveloping Christianity — an impulse to revive ancient culture.” — Rudolf Steiner, KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS: Esoteric Studies, Vol. 6 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1971), lecture 2, GA 240.

* Steiner taught that Anthroposophy is true, corrected Christianity. Thus, "true" Christianity is polytheistic.

Steiner implicated Islam in the false religious movements of modern times. He said that, like the Jews, Muslims make the error of worshipping a single god. Only Anthroposophy, Steiner said, knows the truth about the gods and about Christ.

“[D]o not allow yourselves to be what is put forward today as mysticism or actually preached as a tenet by certain denominations. When [a famous preacher], for example, speaks of the Christ, what he says is not true, for the simple reason that it can equally well apply to God in the general sense. It can be said alike of the God of the Hebrews, of the God of the Mohammedans, of all the other Gods. You will hear many a one who claims to be awakened today, saying: I experience God within me ... [B]ut it is the Father God only that such people experience and that in a very weakened form, because they do not realise that they are sick and are speaking merely in accordance with tradition.” — Rudolf Steiner, “How Do I Find the Christ?” (ANTHROPOSOPHICAL QUARTERLY, 1970), a lecture, GA 182. [3]

One of the virtues of Islam, Steiner said, was that it helped to spread civilization and produced advances in the sciences and logic. But he also said that these “advances” were barren and, ultimately, evil. He said that Islamic thinking — which he also called Arab thinking — is cold, abstract, dead. In this, Steiner indicated, it laid the groundwork for a man he hated: Woodrow Wilson. [4]

"In an epoch when the highest human faculty capable of development was that of thinking in cold, barren abstractions, when men knew only the one, abstract God, they began more and more to identify this God with thinking, to deify the life of thought and the human intellect — forgetting that real thinking has an essentially altruistic tendency. In Mohammed's followers, this talent for thinking about the world in pure abstractions was expressed with a certain originality and grandeur. One of these followers was Muawija. I wish you could look him up in history. You would find there a strange mental configuration, the prototype, as it were, of men who think in pure abstractions, who want to shape the world according to tenets contained in a few simple paragraphs. Muawija, one of Mohammed's followers, appeared again in our time as Woodrow Wilson. A revival of the abstract thinking of Mohammedanism gave rise to the view that it is possible to shape a whole world by applying the principles set forth in fourteen prosaic, abstract paragraphs, void of any real substance.” — Rudolf Steiner, KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS: Esoteric Studies, Vol. 7 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1973), lecture 6, GA 239. The reference to "fourteen paragraphs" is to the fourteen points Wilson proposed for the final settlement of World War I.

Steiner said that two defects in Islam — the rejection of the Christian Trinity, and the rise of cold, abstract Islamic thinking — produced terrible consequences, such as those found in modern medicine.

“[W]e should be able to feel, when we are speaking about rheumatism, gout, constipation, diabetes, migraine, about all conditions that are somehow connected with deposits which express the inherent weight of the substances, we should feel that something is entering into our experience that can be expressed in the words: Earthly gravity has laid hold of the human being. Much is contained in such words. You should permeate your investigations with such feelings.

“Just think how abstractly, how brutally, how heedlessly investigations are made into these things today and you will realize what is really lacking and has been killed, in spite of the fact that Arabism [i.e., Arab culture] did conserve much of the wisdom, conscientiousness and skill of ancient times. It has been killed because Moon, Sun and Saturn — this Trinity which was then disguised as Father, Son and Spirit* — disappeared and was repudiated by Arabian thought in Mohammedanism with the words: ‘Away with this Trinity. Mohammed proclaims only one God!’ (Mohammed himself did not say this, but the Angel who inspired him, did. He was not one of the best Angels although he was a very wise one.) And so we see that all differentiations in the world are allowed to disappear; things which ought to be known are darkened and our medicine has become an Arabian-Mohammedan medicine. European humanity was incapable of discovering the truth. Today these things must be known or mankind will go to pieces.” — Rudolf Steiner, COURSE FOR YOUNG DOCTORS (Mercury Press, 1994), lecture 4, GA 316.

* Steiner taught that the true Trinity consists of three separate gods, not a single God having three aspects.

At least some forms of Islamic architecture show the influence of the demon Ahriman, Steiner said:

“Anti-Christian influence is directly visible in Moorish architecture with its arches that run up into a point instead of being rounded. This is the mark of  [the demon] Ahriman. In architecture Ahriman worked as the Antichrist when he replaced rounded Romanesque arches with horseshoe and pointed arches.” — Rudolf Steiner, ARCHITECTURE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), p. 153. 

Islam has prevented certain wisdom to flourish, according to Steiner. Islam represents “retarded spiritual forces,” he said, although the Muslim faith also helped moderate the effects of Ahriman.

“[T]he influence that was to have gone out from Jundí Sábúr [an occult academy] was deadened, held back by retarded spiritual forces, which were nevertheless connected — although they form a kind of opposition — with the outflow of the Christ Impulse. Through the appearance of Mohammed and his visionary religious teaching, there was a deadening of the influence that was meant to go out from Jundí Sábúr. Above all in those regions where it was wished to spread the Gnostic wisdom of Jundí Sábúr, Mohammed took the ground from under its feet. He skimmed the cream off it, and so the Jundí Sábúr influence was left to trail behind and could accomplish nothing in face of what Mohammed had done. Here you can see the wisdom in world-history; we come to know the truth about Mohammedanism only when, in addition to other things, we know that Mohammedanism was destined to deaden the Gnostic wisdom of Jundí Sábúr, to take from it the strong Ahrimanically seductive force which would otherwise have been exercised upon mankind.” — Rudolf Steiner, THREE STREAMS IN THE EVOLUTION OF MANKIND (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1965), lecture 5, GA 184. [5]

Steiner said that Islam and Arabism were spread by violence and they led to the abomination known as modern science:

"What came outwardly and physically to expression in wars was, as we know, repelled by the Frankish [i.e., Germanic] kings and the other European peoples. We see how the Arabian campaigns which with such a powerful initial impetus were responsible for the spread of Mohammedan culture, were broken and brought to a halt in the West; we see Mohammedanism disappearing from the West of Europe. Nevertheless, divested of the outer forms it had assumed and the external culture it had founded, this later Arabism became modern natural science, and also became the basis of what Amos Comenius [6] achieved for the world in the domain of pedagogy. And in this way the earthly Intelligence, ‘garrisoned’ as it were by Arabism, continued to spread right on into the seventeenth century.” — Rudolf Steiner, KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS, Vol. 6, lecture 8.

Steiner taught that many people profess false religions; some become Muslims. Steiner said these people will suffer when they are reincarnated at low levels.

“Is it not so that many people today adhere to a faith because they were born into it and are too easy-going to question it? They are — it is perhaps an impossible thought — equally as good Protestants or Catholics as they would have been Moslems had their karma arranged for them to be born in Islam! We have reached the point in the evolution of humanity when souls will lag behind, in a sense, and will be handicapped in a future incarnation.” — Rudolf Steiner, LIFE BETWEEN DEATH AND REBIRTH (Anthroposophic Press, 1968), lecture 12, GA 140.

Steiner sometimes used the term “Arabism” almost as a synonym for “Mohammedism,” but usually he differentiated between the two, saying that Arabism sought to spread Arab culture while Mohammedism sought to spread Islam. But Steiner said the two movements went hand-in-hand, and they led to such evils as Charles Darwin and his theory of physical evolution, which is inferior to the vision of spiritual evolution promoted by Steiner himself.

“The aim of the Arabians in their campaigns was most certainly not that of mere slaughter; no, their aim was really the spread of Arabism. Their tasks were connected with culture. And what a Tarik [7] had carried into Spain at the beginning of the 8th century, he now bears with him through the gate of death, experiencing how as far as external history is concerned it runs dry in Western Europe. And he appears again in the 19th century, bringing Arabism to expression in modern form, as Charles Darwin.” — Rudolf Steiner, KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS: Esoteric Studies, Vol. 1 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1972), lecture 10, GA 235.

We'll close by hearing Steiner once again associating Islam with Woodrow Wilson, claiming that both Islam and Wilson suffer from abstract thinking and fatalism:

“Muavija [8] is a representative spirit in the first century after Mohammed ... If you follow the campaigns and observe the forces that were put into operation under Muavija, you will realise that this eagerness to push forward towards the West was combined with tremendous driving power ... If we follow this Muavija, one of the earliest successors of the Prophet, as he passes along the undercurrent and then appears again, we find Woodrow Wilson [sic: emphasis by Steiner].

“In a shattering way the present links itself with the past. A bond is suddenly there between present and past. And if we observe how on the sea of historical happenings there surges up as it were the wave of Muavija, and again the wave of Woodrow Wilson, we perceive how the undercurrent flows on through the sea below and appears again — it is the same current.

“I believe that history becomes intelligible only when we see how what really happens has been carried over from one epoch into another. Think of the abstraction, the rigid abstraction, of the Fourteen Points [Wilson's proposal for a "just" peace following World War I]. Needless to say, the research did not take its start from the Fourteen Points — but now that the whole setting lies before you, look at the configuration of soul that comes to expression in these Fourteen Points and ask yourselves whether it could have taken root with such strength anywhere else than in a follower of Mohammed.

"Take the fatalism that had already assumed such dimensions in Muavija and transfer it into the age of modern abstraction. Feel the similarity with Mohammedan sayings: 'Allah has revealed it'; 'Allah will bring it to pass as the one and only salvation.' And then try to understand the real gist of many a word spoken by the promoter of the Fourteen Points. — With no great stretch of imagination you will find an almost literal conformity.” — Rudolf Steiner, KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS, Vol. 1, lecture 10.

— Compilation and commentary by Roger Rawlings


[1] See "Ahriman" and "Lucifer".

[2] "Elohim" is a name for God used in the Old Testament. The form is plural, but the meaning is singular: God. Steiner and his followers take the plural form to mean that the authors of the Bible knew that there are many gods, not just one. [For more, see "Polytheism" and "Genesis".]

[3] Steiner taught that Christ is the Sun God. [See "Sun God".] Mainstream Christians, he said, do not understand Christ's real nature. He also taught that the God of the Jews, Jehovah, is a minor god who ruled the Jews from the Moon. [See "Genesis".] Any monotheistic faith is wrong, he taught, because there are many gods. [See "Polytheism".]

[4] Wilson was the 28th President of the United States. He led the USA into World War I, siding with the Allies against Germany, and he laid down principles for the settlement of the war that Steiner considered unfair to Germany. [See "Steiner Static" and "Steiner and the Warlord".]

[5] For more on Anthroposophy and gnosticism, see "Gnosis".

[6] John Amos Comenius was a Czech educational reformer and religious leader.

[7] Ṭāriq ibn Ziyād was the general who led the Muslim conquest of Spain. 

[8] Muavija was a putative successor to Mohammed. Steiner taught that he reincarnated as Woodrow Wilson.

To visit other pages in this section of Waldorf Watch, 
use the underlined links, below.

also see "Anthroposophical Christianity"
and "Judaism, The Hebrew Bible"

adepts : putting it to use

all : God and Godhead

basics : where he got it (Theosophy)

breathing spirit : meditations

Buddhism : and Anthroposophy

Clearing House : sneaking it in (cont.)

commandments : Steiner's ten

Father : beginning and end

grail : what's being sought


Krishnamurti : disagreement

Manichaeism : and Steiner and Augustine and gnosticism and...

Mithraism : the proto-Christ

Old Testament : the Waldorf interpretation

pagan : not Christian

seances : and mediums

signs : and symbols

Sun God : the Christ you didn't know

trinity : God, gods...

Veda : via Theosophy

Yoga : sort of

Zoroastrianism : and Anthroposophy