The Surreal Success of a Civilizational Superorganism — Review of The Muhammad Code by Howard Bloom

By Fred Elbel
Volume 28, Number 2 (Winter 2018)
Issue theme: "Taxpayers Fund Illegal Aliens - The Earned Income Tax Credit Scam"

Book Review of:

The Muhammad Code
How a Desert Prophet Brought You ISIS, al Qaeda, and Boko Haram

By Howard Bloom
Feral House, 2016
350 pp., $16.28
Available from

Political Islam is the aspect of Islam that affects non-Muslims. If there would be only one book that I could read and recommend on political Islam, The Muhammad Code is that book.

The author, Howard Bloom, studied the instinctual underpinnings of war, creativity, genocide, and mass behavior for four decades. One of his earlier books, The Lucifer Principle, used Islam as an example of how ideas — that is, memes — direct social groups.

It is amazing how the author managed to absorb so much historical information and then present it in a highly informative, yet immensely readable and interesting manner. The book, with over 1,900 references, reads like a story that gradually unfolds, with each chapter revealing more about how and why political Islam has successfully pursued an agenda of conquest for 1,400 years. Bloom writes that

… when the Prophet died in 632 A.D. … [Islam] had conquered the core of the biggest empire in history, an empire 11 times the size of the conquests of Alexander the Great, five times the size of the Roman Empire, and seven times the size of the United States.

Most Westerners are only beginning to realize that the agenda of Islamic supremacy has by no means dissipated. Indeed, it cannot voluntarily reform itself. Bloom explains that the reason for this unassailable success is the weave of Islam’s memes — a term coined in Richard Dawkins’ book, The Selfish Gene.

Islam has outdone every other form of colonialism and imperialism on the planet. The key is the life of Muhammad and the principles he stamped on Islamic culture that carry on as the founder effect: that is, of a top predator picking on the little guy. Bloom reports that the Qur’an says, “Allah made it binding on the Muslims to fight in His way. Warfare is ordained for you, though you dislike it.” And that Muhammad said, “Fight everyone in the way of God and kill those who do not believe in God,” and “The head of…Islam…is the jihad.”

Bloom examines cultures defined by aggression. In the case of Shaka Zulu, one man totally transformed the Zulu from a weak tribe to a ferocious standing army. This leader, Shaka, “was an expert at the manipulation of an emotion that we’ll later see was critical to both the military and peacetime strategies of Muhammad—terror….”

Studies reveal that endless terror generates a physiological and emotional passivity. Bloom observes that “Muhammad seems to have intuited this deep structure of your psychology and mine.”

Through all of the fighting and bloodshed, Muhammad used strict and merciless discipline to motivate his troops. And although Muhammad said that martyrs “fighting in the cause of Allah” would receive a towering position in the afterlife, Bloom observes that:

You woke up in the morning, grabbed your harp, gathered with others on a cloud, and sang God’s praises. All day long. What an unendurable way to spend eternity. What a hell in the clouds.

What would galvanize men to a killing fever? “How about women. Girls. Virgins. Sex. That’s where innovation came in. Major innovation,” writes Bloom. “Yes, Muhammad did it. He added a new incentive to an old idea—paradise. He offered intercourse in the cushiest place around—the palace of God.”

One of the key memes that has made militant Islamic conquest perennially successful is that to the victors go the spoils. Bloom writes, “God gives money, goods, and sex… to those who are willing to kill in the name of Allah.” And of course, it’s not just sex in the afterlife. Rape is a legitimate way to spread the truth of Allah. Procreation is a form of Jihad.

Muhammad also made extremely clever use of the Jew, saying, “Whoever of the Jews falls into your hands, kill him.”

What’s the point of a permanent victim class that is perpetually victimized? Researchers have discovered that members of gangs arrange themselves into leaders, bullies, jokers, and nerds. Bloom says that the role of the nerd as a glue that maintains social cohesion goes all the way back to our animal past, and that pecking orders similarly apply to civilizations. Muhammad found an enemy in the Jew that perpetually bonds Islam together.

Bloom observes that Islam arose as “a new social learning machine, by the hunger of a new superorganism eager to compete in the pecking order of groups, a new superorganism driven by a new team of memes.” It became successful because the meme structure of Islam is unlike that of any other culture or religion. It is a masterful satisfier of what Richard Dawkins calls selfish genes. Bloom writes:

So the hunger...whispers, etc. of genes and memes—the hunger of replicators—whisper, shout, and scream in the holy books of Islam.

Western civilization is being challenged by the inordinately successful Islamic superorganism. Islam’s tenacious and successful memes have outdone the imperial conquests of Genghis Khan, Napoleon, and Julius Caesar, and of Western imperialism at its peak. Bloom warns:

Muhammad’s memes, in fact, are out to replace the memes we hold dear—human rights, gender equality, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, democracy, pluralism, and tolerance…

In reality, the 14-century-long struggle of Islam against the unbelievers, Islam’s nearly 1,400-year-long war to take the world, is a battle of mass minds, of collective intelligences, of group IQs testing their powers against each other. One uses the strategies, structures, and beliefs dictated by Muhammad. The other uses a secular meme scheme fashioned a mere 250 years ago in the Age of Enlightenment, in the days of the American Revolution, and in a series of bloody idea-driven internal wars—Europe’s revolutions of 1789, 1830, and 1848. How long will it take before this competition between Islam and Western enlightenment produces a clear winner? That we shall have to see.

About the author

Fred Elbel is an IT consultant and Director of Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform (CAIRCO). He has been active on immigration issues for several decades.