Is Fitna a good title
for Wilders’s film?

17 March 2008

On 17 March 2008 the Dutch newspaper Volkskrant had an article entitled “Het hoeft niet meer, maar De Film komt er” (meaning: “It is no longer necessary, but The Movie WILL be published”).
I quote from the article (my English translation):

[...] said Mr. Wilders in an interview for the Dutch press agency GPD.

In the interview Mr. Wilders states he specifically wanted a title that also features in the Koran. In his opinion the word “Fitna” refers to situations in which a Muslim's faith is tested. He uses the term “reciprocally”. Mr. Wilders said: ‘Islam and the Koran are my ordeal. For me, this pernicious Islam is Fitna.’

I wonder if this title is really a good choice. It is true that the Arabic word “fitna” ( فتن ) can mean “test”, “temptation”, “trial”, but it can also mean “charm”, “attractiveness”, “enticement”.

So the word denotes the seductive force of sin, but at the same time also the believer's strength to withstand that temptation. The word itself is reciprocal.

Is this ‘fitna’ really what Islam means to Geert Wilders? Does he secretly feel attracted to Islam? Deep in his heart he would like to convert to Islam, but he keeps trying to resist that temptation?

I'm sure that is not what he means by this title.

Source of this information:
Arabic-English Dictionary.
The HANS WEHR Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic,
Edited by J M. Cowan.
Third Edition 1976.

Now this is a dictionary of MSA (Modern Standard Arabic), which is not exactly the same language as that of the Qur'aan ( القرآن ). But I suppose those changes will largely be in added words and meanings for modern concepts. Where religious notions are concerned, there will hardly be any difference.

The English meanings of ‘fitna’ ( فتن ), as listed by the aforementioned dictionary, are the following:
temptation, trial; charm, charmingness, attractiveness; enchantment, captivation, fascination, enticement, temptation; infatuation; intrigue; sedition, riot, discord, dissension, civil strife.

See also the explanation about this issue by Radio Netherlands Worldwide. It is available in English, Arabic and Bahasa Indonesia. There is also a dedicated internet domain for this. I found this site through a newspaper article in NRC.

See also Fitna ontleed in Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant (in Dutch).