Myths About Islam
By Timothy R. Furnish
Mr. Furnish, Ph.D (Islamic History), is Assistant Professor, History, Georgia Perimeter College, Dunwoody, GA 30338. Mr. Furnish is the author of Holiest Wars: Islamic Mahdis, their Jihads and Osama bin Laden (Praeger, 2005).
[..]There are in particular seven myths about Islam and Islamic history that have been repeated so often in the media that they’ve achieved conventional wisdom status.
First, it is untrue that Islam is the world’s fastest-growing religion. (Mormonism and Scientology also claim this, but few outside of Salt Lake City and Hollywood believe it.) As Philip Jenkins of Penn State University demonstrates in his work Christianity—in particular Pentecostalism—is the world’s most-rapidly growing faith. Currently there are 2 billion Christians and 1.3 billion Muslims (out of a world population of 6 billion), and in the 21st century Christianity will maintain its lead, thanks to explosive growth in sub-Saharan Africa and China.
Second, despite the claims of even President Bush in a number of public statements, Islam is not solely a “religion of peace.” Yes, there are verses of toleration in the Qur’an: Sura(chapter) al-Baqarah:256 says “there shall be no compulsion in religion;” Sura al-Furqan:65ff says that Allah will be merciful to those who repent and do good works; and Sura al-Nisa’:19ff enjoins Muslim men to provide financially for wives and ex-wives. But verses such as these are arguably outweighed by others: Sura Anfal:12ff and Sura Muhammad:3ff command the beheading of unbelievers; Sura al-Nisa’:34ff allows for beating of one’s wives and in verses 74ff and 94ff, promises great reward for those who die fighting for Allah; Sura al-Ma’idah:51 says “Believers, take neither Jews nor Christians for your friends.” Of course there are violent sections in the Bible—or at least in the Hebrew Scriptures/Old Testament (Joshua and David were military leaders as much as religious ones). But no one denies that, as many—both Muslim and non-Muslim—deny these violent and misogynistic passages in the Qur’an. Many arguments can be made against such verses (they must be contextualized, they are applicable only to that time, they are metaphorical, etc.) but one cannot say they do not exist.
Someone who simply rehashs that “the Qur’an teaches peace” obviously hasn’t read it. No doubt most Muslims do not read the passages about decapitation as a blueprint for today. But just as some Christians take literally, for example, the command of to Christ handle poisonous snakes (Luke 10:19), some Muslims take literally the injunction to behead unbelievers. And the latter practice is a bit more injurious to other folks than the former.
Third on the misinformation parade is the allegation that jihad does not mean holy war. This falsehood crops up often in text books and in the media, where the politically-correct tirelessly repeat that jihad actually means only “striving to be a good Muslim.” This is half-right. But early on in Islamic history, jihad came to mean fighting against unbelievers in order to expand the territory under Muslim rule. al-Bukhari lived in the 9th century CE and was the most authoritative compiler of sayings attributed to the prophet Muhammad; he mentions jihad many times as meaning “holy war.” Jihad as “Muslim piety” is mainly the province of the Sufis, the mystics of Islam, and has become a minority view today. Furthermore, Islamic history is chock-full of leaders declaring jihads against their enemies—even the moderately Muslim Ottoman Empire declared a holy war against the French, British and Russians in World War I!
Fourth is the whopper that Islam spread peacefully from Arabia, as if the followers of Muhammad went door-to-door ringing doorbells and handing out brochures. From the mid-7th century CE Muslims militarily overran regions and then pressured the conquered to convert. (Yes, Christian kingdoms did the same—but, again, no one denies that!) Muslim Arab armies destroyed the entire Persian Empire (modern Iran), replacing its official Zoroastrian religion; about the same time they invaded the surviving Christian Roman (Byzantine) Empire and within a few decades had taken half its territory. In 732 CE a Muslim army from Morocco was in France! By 750 CE Muslims ruled from the Iberian Peninula to India. And Muslim armies would stay on the offensive for the next millennium, with only two exceptions: the “Reconquista” in Iberia and the Crusades.
The fifth tiresome myth is that the European Catholic Crusaders started the war with Islam and that for eight centuries Muslims have been brooding over the horrible injustices thereof. Actually, the Crusades, 1095-1291, were simply the first time that European Christians managed to take the fight to their enemy’s territory. And besides: why are the Crusades being constantly used as a club with which to beat the West—remember the scathing attacks on President Bush when, not long after 9/11, he referred to a “crusade” against terrorism?—when the Muslims won? Usama bin Ladin’s constant references to Americans as “Crusaders” is thus a perfect marriage of historical illiteracy with keen psychological insight into his enemy’s self-hate.
Another fairy tale about Islam is that poverty produces terrorists. This hoary myth tells us more about the worldview of its American adherents than it does about the ranks of the Islamists. Most of the 9/11 and London bombers were university-educated and at least middle-class. The same is true for Palestinian suicide bombers and most likely those in Iraq. Naive Americans take their domestic paradigm about poverty and crime—that the former causes the latter—and apply it to a context where it doesn’t fit Regarding the recent London bombings, a British terrorism expert said that “socioeconomic background does not appear to [have] play[ed] a role.” Poverty may be necessary, but it is hardly sufficient, to explain Islamic terrorism.
And finally, we have politically-correct mendacity number seven, which even British Prime Minister Tony Blair recently repeated: that Islam has been “hijacked” by terrorists. In this view Bin Ladin, the ayatollahs in Iran, the former Taliban rulers of Afghanistan, the Saudis with their Wahhabism (a particularly puritanical brand of Sunni Islam)—all are twisting a “moderate” religion to suit their purpose. The “Islam = peace” brigade essentializes Islam as peaceful. UBL essentializes it as jihad. Although there are Qur’an verses, and sayings of Muhammad, on both sides, many do support Bin Ladin and his ilk. Also, Islamic history is replete with Muslim scholars whom the modern Islamic fundamentalists draw upon. The most famous is Ibn Taymiyah who, 700 years before George Bush said “you’re either for us or against us,” divided the world into the domain of Islam and that of war. The only good ruler is a Muslim ruler, asserted Ibn Taymiyah. And by that he meant one that enforces shari`ah, or Islamic law. Most Muslims do not agree, but some do. (And only 10 percent of 1.3 billion is 130 million.) But it is no use pretending that the UBLs of the world have falsely “hijacked” Islam. Indeed, their view of the faith—however intolerant and violent it may seem—has a basis in Islamic theology and history.
Islam is where Christianity was before the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) and then the Enlightenment led the West to divorce religion and state, thereby removing (mostly) the threat of religious-based warfare. As a fellow monotheist with Muslims, I pray that the moderate strands within Islam win out over the more fundamentalist ones, allowing that civilization to follow suit. And for we in the West to help with that, we need to open our eyes to the reality of the harsher aspects of Islam and Islamic history. Anything else is simple—and dangerous—self-deception.
Goebbels and the Jihadist Youth
April 11th, 2006
The Big Lie as propaganda device has a long and dishonorable history, gulling onto complacency those who prefer to avoid unpleasant worries. The Nazi propagandist Goebbels was its most notable practitioner, but for sheer numbers and historical roots, no other group can match the efforts of jihadist Muslims, with their religiously-sanctioned practice of deceiving infidels to protect the faith.
Al-Jazeera aired on March 24, 2006, a rather chilling, one-sided “dialogue” between representatives of Arab and Danish student organizations who met in Damascus, ostensibly to discuss the violent worldwide Muslim reactions following publication of the Muhammad cartoons by the Danish paper Jyllands-Posten. Video clips and a written transcript of this event are available through the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
Ahmad Al-Shater, Chairman of the Arab Students Union, and his Sudanese Student Union colleague “Muhammad,” were unremittingly truculent in their presentations, which melded classic taquiyya (sanctioned dissimulation of Islamic doctrine to “protect” the faithful), or sheer ignorance, Muslim Jew-hatred, and a Goebbels-like distortion of contemporary events, including the requisite conspiratorial Judenhass (Jew-hatred).
Al-Shater began by stating that it was the nefarious “Zionists” and “imperialists” who had deliberately misrepresented Islam by wrongfully associating the religion with terrorism. He asserted categorically:
According to the Islamic religion, even in times of war, it is forbidden to uproot a tree, it is forbidden to kill a woman, it is forbidden to kill a child, it is forbidden to destroy wells… It is forbidden to fill wells with earth… Water wells… It is forbidden to harm human life, it is forbidden to destroy a church, it is forbidden to attack a religious belief…
Classical Islamic doctrines on jihad war, and more importantly the actual practice of jihad campaigns in accord with this theory, put the lie to Al-Shater’s uninformed or deliberately taquiyya-laden assertions. Al-Shater’s basic contention that “it is forbidden to attack a religious belief” is patently absurd—the archetypal proto-jihad campaigns of Muhammad himself imposed Islam and Islamic suzerainty upon the pagans, Jews, and Christians of ancient Arabia, and continue to provide the rationale for aggressive jihad imperialism to this day.
For example, Muhammad, according to a summary of sacralized Muslim sources,
..waited for some act of aggression on the part of the Jews of Khaybar, whose fertile lands and villages he had destined for his followers…to furnish an excuse for an attack. But, no such opportunity offering, he resolved in the autumn of this year [i.e., 628], on a sudden and unprovoked invasion of their territory.
Ali (later, the fourth “Rightly Guided Caliph”, and especially revered by Shi’ite Muslims) asked Muhammad why the Jews of Khaybar were being attacked, since they were peaceful farmers, tending their oasis, and was told by Muhammad he must compel them to submit to Islamic Law. The renowned early 20th century scholar of Islam, David Margoliouth, observed aptly:
Now the fact that a community was idolatrous, or Jewish, or anything but Mohammedan, warranted a murderous attack upon it.
Moreover, this canonical hadith (from Sahih Muslim Book 019, Number 4324), which further incorporates a Koranic verse (K 59:5), states clearly that Muhammad also sanctioned the destruction of the trees (i.e., date palms) of infidel foes:
It is narrated on the authority of ‘Abdullah that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) ordered the date-palms of Banu Nadir to be burnt and cut. These palms were at Buwaira. Qutaibah and Ibn Rumh in their versions of the tradition have added: So Allah, the Glorious and Exalted, revealed the verse (K59:5): “Whatever palm-tree you cut down or leave standing upon its roots, It is by Allah’s command, and that He may abase the transgressors”
And with only minor points of internal disagreement, the consensus amongst all four major schools of classical Sunni Islamic jurisprudence contradicts each claim made by Al-Shater. The Hanafi jurists Abu Yusuf (d. 798), Shaybani (d. 803/805), and Shaikh Burhanuddin Ali of Marghinan (d. 1196), state:
[Abu Yusuf]—It seems that the most satisfactory suggestion we have heard in this connection is that there is no objection to the use of any kind of arms against the polytheists, smothering and burning their homes, cutting down their trees and date groves, and using catapults.
[Shaybani]—The army may launch the attack [on the enemy] by night or by day and it is permissible to burn [the enemy] fortifications with fire or to inundate them with water.
[Shaikh Burhanuddin Ali of Marghinan]—in the Traditions…the Prophet plundered and despoiled the tribe of al-Mustaliq by surprise, and he also agreed with Asamah to make a predatory attack upon Qubna at an early hour, and to set it on fire, and such attacks are not preceded by a call…If the infidels, upon receiving the call [to Islam], neither consent to it nor agree to pay capitation tax, it is then incumbent on the Muslims to call upon God for assistance, and to make war upon them, because God is the assistant of those who serve Him, and the destroyer of His enemies, the infidels, and it is necessary to implore His aid upon every occasion; the Prophet, moreover, commands us so to do. And having so done, the Muslims must then with God’s assistance attack the infidels with all manner of warlike engines (as the Prophet did by the people of Ta’if), and must also set fire to their habitations (in the same manner as the Prophet fired Baweera), and must inundate them with water and tear up their plantations and tread down their grain because by these means they will become weakened, and their resolution will fail and their force be broken; these means are, therefore, all sanctified by the law.
The Hanbali jurist, Ibn Qudama (d. 1223) concurs, and both he and Ibn Taymiyya (d. 1328), also a Hanbali, elaborate on the issue of when killing women and children may in fact be allowed:
[Ibn Qudama]—It is permitted to surprise the infidels under cover of night, to bombard them with mangonels [an engine that hurls missiles] and to attack them without declaring battle (du‘a’). The Prophet attacked the Banu Mustaliq unexpectedly, while their animals were still at the watering-place; he killed the men who had fought against him and carried off the children into captivity. It is forbidden to kill children, madmen, women, priests, impotent old men, the infirm, the blind, the weak-minded, unless they have taken part in the combat.
[Ibn Taymiyya]—As for those who cannot offer resistance or cannot fight, such as women, children, monks, old people, the blind, handicapped, and their likes, they shall not be killed, unless they actually fight with words [e.g. by propaganda] and acts [e.g. by spying or otherwise assisting in the warfare]. Some [ jurists] are of the opinion that all of them may be killed, on the mere ground that they are unbelievers, but they make an exception for women and children since they constitute property for Muslims.
Averroes (d. 1198), the renowned philosopher and scholar of the natural sciences, who was also an important Maliki jurist, outlines some of the (rather trivial) points of controversy:
Opinions vary as to the damage that may be inflicted on their property, such as buildings, cattle, and crops. Mālik allowed the felling of trees, the picking of fruits and the demolishing of buildings, but not the slaughter of cattle and the burning of date-palms…According to Shāfiī, dwellings and trees may be burnt as long as the enemy have the disposal of fortresses.
The Shafi’i jurist Al-Mawardi’s (d. 1058) opinion confirms the prevailing consensus views:
The amir [leader] of the army may use ballistas and catapults when besieging the enemy, for the Messenger of Allah…set up a catapult against the inhabitants of Ta’if. He may also destroy their homes, make night raids against them and cause fire. If, moreover, he reckons that by cutting their date-palms and their trees down it will serve to weaken them, such that they are overcome by force or are compelled to make a peace agreement, then he should do so; he should not, however, act in this way if he does not see any such benefit in it…. It is also permitted to block off the supply of water to them, or to prevent them from using it, even if there are women and children amongst them, as it is one of he most potent means of weakening them and gaining victory over the, either by forcer or through a treaty. If a thirsty person amongst them requests a drink, the amir may either give him to drink or refuse him, just as he has the option of killing him or letting him live.
Even the writings of the much lionized paragon of mystical Sufism and Shafi’i jurist al-Ghazali (d. 1111)—who, as noted by the esteemed scholar W.M. Watt, has been “…acclaimed in both the East and West as the greatest Muslim after Muhammad…”—underscore how these practices were normative:
one must go on jihad (i.e., warlike razzias or raids) at least once a year…one may use a catapult against them [non-Muslims] when they are in a fortress, even if among them are women and children. One may set fire to them and/or drown them…One may cut down their trees…One must destroy their useless books. Jihadists may take as booty whatever they decide..
Ibn Hudayl, a 14th century Granadan author of an important treatise on jihad, explained how these allowable methods facilitated the violent, chaotic jihad conquest of the Iberian peninsula, and other parts of Europe:
It is permissible to set fire to the lands of the enemy, his stores of grain, his beasts of burden – if it is not possible for the Muslims to take possession of them – as well as to cut down his trees, to raze his cities, in a word, to do everything that might ruin and discourage him…[being] suited to hastening the Islamization of that enemy or to weakening him. Indeed, all this contributes to a military triumph over him or to forcing him to capitulate.
And these repeated attacks, indistinguishable in motivation from modern acts of jihad terrorism, like the horrific 9/11/01 attacks in New York and Washington, DC, and the Madrid bombings on 3/11/04, or those in London on 7/7/05, were in fact designed to sow terror. The 17th century Muslim historian al-Maqqari, explained that the panic created by the Arab horsemen and sailors, at the time of the Muslim expansion in the regions subjected to those raids and landings, facilitated their later conquest:
Allah thus instilled such fear among the infidels that they did not dare to go and fight the conquerors; they only approached them as suppliants, to beg for peace.
The essential pattern of the jihad war is captured in the classical Muslim historian al-Tabari’ s recording of the recommendation given by Umar b. al-Khattab (the second “Rightly Guided Caliph”) to the commander of the troops he sent to al-Basrah (636 C.E.), during the conquest of Iraq. Umar reportedly said:
Summon the people to God; those who respond to your call, accept it from them, but those who refuse must pay the poll tax out of humiliation and lowliness. (Koran 9:29) If they refuse this, it is the sword without leniency. Fear God with regard to what you have been entrusted.
By the time of al-Tabari’s death in 923, jihad wars had expanded the Muslim empire from Portugal to the Indian subcontinent. Subsequent Muslim conquests continued in Asia, as well as Eastern Europe. Under the banner of jihad, the Christian kingdoms of Armenia, Byzantium, Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Croatia, and Albania, in addition to parts of Poland and Hungary, were also conquered and Islamized by waves of Seljuk, or later Ottoman Turks, as well as Tatars. Arab Muslim invaders engaged, additionally, in continuous jihad raids that ravaged and enslaved Sub-Saharan African animist populations, extending to the southern Sudan. When the Ottoman Muslim armies were stopped at the gates of Vienna in 1683, over a millennium of jihad had transpired.
These tremendous military successes spawned a triumphalist jihad literature. Muslim historians recorded in detail the number of infidels slaughtered, or enslaved and deported, the cities, villages, and infidel religious sites which were sacked and pillaged, and the lands, treasure, and movable goods seized.
And once again, despite Mr. Al-Shater’s ignorance or disingenuous denial, this sanctioned but wanton destruction, resulted in: the merciless slaughter of non-combatants, including women and children; massive destruction of non-Muslim houses of worship and religious shrines—Christian churches, Jewish synagogues, and Zoroastrian, Hindu, and Buddhist temples and idols; and the burning of harvest crops and massive uprooting of agricultural production systems, leading to famine. Christian (Coptic, Armenian, Jacobite, Greek, Slav, etc.), as well as Hebrew sources, and even the scant Zoroastrian, Hindu and Buddhist writings which survived the ravages of the Muslim conquests, independently validate this narrative, and complement the Muslim perspective by providing testimonies of the suffering of the non-Muslim victims of jihad wars.
Al-Shater also spewed forth this lying invective—180 degrees divorced from reality—which included a frank “burning of the Reichstag” reference to mosque destruction considering the recent bombing of the revered Shi’ite “Golden Mosque” in Samarra—a striking contemporary event, but also just another manifestation of over a millennium of Muslim sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shi’a:
Those who try to pin the blame for terrorism on the Muslims, headed by the leader of international terrorism, America, and by Zionism and imperialism, are killing our children in Palestine and Iraq on a daily basis, as you can see. They are destroying schools. They are destroying churches and mosques. They violate our honor. They rape women and slit open the stomachs of pregnant women.
The bitter irony is that in stark contrast to Al-Shater’s mendacious slurs against American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, or Israeli forces in Gaza, Judea or Samaria, it is modern jihad campaigns which have been fraught with the atrocities he enumerates. A few prominent examples include: the Ottoman massacres of the Bulgarians in 1876 and larger genocidal slaughters of the Armenians at the close of the 19th century, through the end of World War I; the Moplah jihad against the hapless Hindus of South India in 1921; the massacres of Assyrian Christians by Arab and Kurdish Muslims near Mosul in 1933; and the recent genocidal jihad waged against Southern Sudanese Christians and Animists by the Arab Muslim Khartoum government, primarily during the last decade of the 20th century.
American correspondent Januarius A. MacGahan recorded these observations from Batak, July-August, 1876 during his investigation of the Bulgarian massacres:
The number of children killed in these massacres is something enormous. They were often spitted on bayonets, and we have several stories from eye-witnesses who saw little babes carried about the streets, both here and at Otluk-kui, on the point of bayonets. The reason is simple. When a Mahometan has killed a certain number of infidels, he is sure of Paradise, no matter what his sins may be…the ordinary Mussulman takes the precept in broader acceptation, and counts women and children as well. Here in Batak the Bashi-Bazouks, in order to swell the count, ripped open pregnant women, and killed the unborn infants. As we approached the middle of the town, bones, skeletons, and skulls became more numerous. There was not a house beneath the ruins of which we did not perceive human remains, and the street besides were strewn with them.
Lord Kinross described the slaughter of the Armenian community of Urfa in December, 1895, one of a series of brutal massacres committed by the Ottoman Turks between 1894 and 1896, as follows:
Cruelest and most ruinous of all were the massacres at Urfa, where the Armenian Christians numbered a third of the total population. Here in December 1895, after a two-months siege of their quarter, the leading Armenians assembled in their cathedral, where they drew up a statement requesting Turkish official protection. Promising this, the Turkish officer in charge surrounded the cathedral with troops. Then a large body of them, with a mob in their wake, rushed through the Armenian quarter, where they plundered all houses and slaughtered all adult males above a certain age. When a large group of young Armenians were brought before a sheikh, he had them thrown down on their backs and held by their hands and feet. Then, in the words of an observer, he recited verses of the Koran and “cut their throats after the Mecca rite of sacrificing sheep.”
When the bugle blast ended the day’s operations some three thousand refugees poured into the cathedral, hoping for sanctuary. But the next morning – a Sunday – a fanatical mob swarmed into the church in an orgy of slaughter, rifling its shrines will cries of “Call upon Christ to prove Himself a greater prophet than Mohammed.” Then they amassed a large pile of straw matting, which they spread over the litter of the corpses and set alight with thirty cans of petroleum. The woodwork of the gallery where a crowd of women and children crouched, wailing in terror, caught fire, and all perished in the flames. Punctiliously, at three-thirty in the afternoon the bugle blew once more, and the Moslem officials proceeded around the Armenian quarter to proclaim that the massacres were over. They had wiped out 126 complete families, without a woman or a baby surviving, and the total casualties in the town, including those slaughtered in the cathedral, amounted to eight thousand dead.
Vahakn Dadrian recounted the harrowing details of the slaughter of 6400 Armenian children, young girls, and women from Yozgad, described in Reverend K. Balakian’s eyewitness narrative of the World War I period (1914-1920), Hai Koghota (The Armenian Golgotha). The victims were left by their Turkish captors at a promontory some distance from the city. Then,
To save shell and powder, the gendarmerie commander in charge of this large convoy had gathered 10,000-12,000 Turkish peasants and other villagers, and armed with “hatchets, meat cleavers, saddler’s knives, cudgels, axes, pickaxes, shovels”, the latter attacked and for some 4-5 hours mercilessly butchered the victims while crying “Oh God, Oh God” (Allah, Allah). In a moment of rare candor, this gendarmerie commander confided to the priest-author, whom he did not expect to survive the mass murder, that after each massacre episode, he spread his little prayer rug and performed the namaz, the ritual of worship, centered on prayer, with a great sense of redemption in the service of Almighty God.
J. J. Banninga, an American graduate of the Western Theological Seminary, spent forty-two years in India, serving for 25 years as head of the Union Theological Seminary at Pasumalai in South India. His analysis of the 1921 Moplah (i.e., Muslims of Arabic and Hindu descent living in the Malabar district of South India) jihad—one of many periodic outbreaks of Moplah fanaticism—included these harrowing descriptions:
…the Hindu population fell easy prey to their (i.,e., the Moplah) rage and the atrocities committed defy description…The tale of atrocities committed makes sad reading indeed. A memorial submitted by women of Malabar to Her Excellency the Countess of Reading mentions such crimes as wells filled with mutilated bodies, pregnant women cut to pieces, children torn from mother’s arms and killed, husbands and fathers tortured, flayed, and burned alive before the eyes of their wives and daughters; women forcibly carried off and outraged; homes destroyed; temples desecrated…not less than 100 Hindu temples were destroyed or desecrated; cattle slaughtered in temples and their entrails placed around the necks of the idols in place of garlands of flowers; and wholesale looting. No fiendish act seems to have been too vile for them to perpetrate.
…There were, during the rebellion, many cases of forced conversion from Hinduism to Mohammedanism. There was a double difficulty about restoring these people to their old faith. In the first place there is a severe penalty resting on any Mohammedan that perverts…and in the second place there is really no door save birth into Hinduism.
On August 11, 1933, less than a year after British withdrawal from the region, the “new” Iraqi armed forces, aided by local Arab and Kurdish tribesmen, began the wholesale massacre of Assyrians in the Mosul area (Simel, Dohuk). Before the end of August, 1933, 3000 Assyrians were murdered, and thousands more displaced. An example typical of the carnage was described in a contemporary chronicle believed to have been written by Mar Eshai Shimun XXIII, a Cambridge University graduate and Patriarch of the Church of the East:
The inoffensive population was indiscriminately massacred, men, women and children alike, with rifle, revolver and machine gun fire. In one room alone, eighty-one men from the Baz tribe, who had taken shelter… were barbarously massacred. Priests were tortured and their bodies mutilated. Those who showed their Iraqi nationality papers were the first to be shot. Girls were raped and women violated and made to march naked before the Arab army commander. Holy books were used as fuel for burning girls. Children were run over by military cars. Pregnant women were bayoneted. Children were flung in the air and pierced on to the points of bayonets. Those who survived in the other villages were now exposed day and night to constant raids and acts of violence. Forced conversion to Islam of men and women was the next process. Refusal was met with death. Sixty five out of ninety five Assyrian villages and settlements were either sacked, destroyed or burnt to the ground. Even the settlements which existed from the year 1921 and who had no connection in any way with the trouble were wrecked and all property looted by Iraq army and tribesmen.
The intrepid Dr. John Eibner made 20 visits to the Sudan during decade of the 1990s, reporting on the recrudescence of jihad slavery. The Arab Muslim dominated Khartoum government established an overtly jihadist Popular Defense Force, which further incorporated local Arab militias. Their jihad depredations targeting the Christian and Animist tribes (principally the Dinkas of northern Bahr al-Ghazal, together with the black African Nuba tribes of southern Kordofan) slaughtered, displaced, and enslaved tens, sometimes hundreds of thousands at a time. During the spring of 1998 alone, more than 300,000 persons were displaced, while the total number killed and enslaved remained unknown. These Dinka victims—women and children—shared the fate of the Nuba, as described by Eibner:
Some Nuba captives end up as chattel slaves but the overwhelming majority are deported to concentration camps elsewhere in Sudan, where they serve in slave-like conditions. The children are sent to militant Qur’anic schools, while the women are sent out to work without pay as day laborers on farms and in private homes. Sexual abuse is rife.
Al-Shater’s conspiracy mongering (the publication of the Danish cartoons was yet another act of the “cabal”), and gross distortions of Islamic doctrines and history were complemented by his lionization of Holocaust deniers Roger Garaudy and David Irving (whose name he could not recall—“He relies on documents. I cannot recall his name, but he is a great English intellectual, a university professor, who refuted the Holocaust.”), as well as the viscerally anti-American and Antisemitic British politicians George Galloway and Ken Livingston.
The briefer presentation of Al-Shater’s colleague, Sudanese Student Union Chairman “Muhammad” included raw Muslim Judenhass, threats to Danish soldiers, and equally mendacious assertions of U.S. murderousness in Iraq—compared, with earnestness, to the putatively “light casualties” inflicted on the Iraqis during Saddam’s 30-year reign of domestic terror.
I’d like to tell you that harming the Prophet is not a new thing. One thousand four hundred years ago, the Jews tried to kill him in Al-Madina. In our religion, harming the Prophet is where we draw the line. We are prepared to die to prevent this……As you know, Bush killed 110,000 people in Iraq, while Saddam did not kill even one third of this figure. Saddam did not kill even 30,000 people throughout his rule. I would like to welcome you on this visit, because the image of Denmark and the Danish people has become very negative in the Arab and Islamic world. In conclusion, I would like to say that tomorrow America will pass a resolution in the U.N. Security Council calling for international military intervention in Sudan. Among these forces, obviously, there will be Danish forces. I would like to inform you that because the Sudanese people are so angry over this affront, they will kill the Danish soldiers before they kill the others.
He may be invoking an oral tradition, preserved in the hadith, for this uniquely Islamic motif of Jew hatred (Bukhari- Volume 3, Book 47, Number 786), which maintains that the perfidious Jews caused Muhammad’s protracted, excruciating death from poisoning.
Narrated Anas b. Malik: A Jewess brought a poisoned (cooked) sheep for the Prophet who ate from it. I continued to see the effect of the poison on the palate of the mouth of Allah’s Apostle
The rest of Sudanese Student Union Chairman “Muhammad” statements speak for themselves.
And what were the responses of the Danish Student Delegation Head to his Muslim interlocutors, the Chairmen of the Arab Students and Sudanese Student Unions?
…as a representative of the Danish youth and not a representative of the government, I cannot explain to you why the Danish government has not apologized…And another important question, in your last very concrete questions about… could a Danish newspaper have made drawings of the Holocaust or denying the Holocaust. And the answer to that question is yes. There’s no law in Denmark preventing a Danish newspaper from making drawings of the Holocaust.
These muted, largely non-sequitur responses by the Head of the Danish Student Delegation are a tangible product of the “Eurabian ethos”, which Bat Ye’or warned, pervades Western European academic and political institutions. The very “cartoon dialogue” itself was but a microcosm of the larger Euro-Arab Dialogue process and a distressing illustration of the most craven dhimmitude that parent institution has engendered, threatening, as Bat Ye’or notes, the very foundations of Western society:
This Eurabian ethos operates at all levels of European society. Its countless functionaries, like the Christian janissary slave-soldiers of past Islamic regimes, advance a jihadist world strategy. Eurabia cannot change direction; it can only use deception to mask its emergence, its bias and its inevitable trajectory. Eurabia’s destiny was sealed when it decided, willingly, to become a covert partner with the Arab global jihad against America and Israel. Americans must discuss the tragic development of Eurabia, and its profound implications for the United States, particularly in terms of its resultant foreign policy realities. Americans should consider the despair and confusion of many Europeans, prisoners of a Eurabian totalitarianism that foments a culture of deadly lies about Western civilization. Americans should know that this self-destructive calamity did not just happen, rather it was the result of deliberate policies, executed and monitored by ostensibly responsible people. Finally, Americans should understand that Eurabia’s contemporary anti-Zionism and anti-Americanism are the spiritual heirs of 1930s Nazism and anti-Semitism, triumphally resurgent.
Andrew G. Bostom is the author of The Legacy of Jihad.
BY EDWARD N. LUTTWAK
May 3, 2006
Many people know many things about Islam and its history. Unfortunately, much of what they know happens to be untrue. The great Jewish Orientalists of the 19th century, such as Gustav Weil and Ignaz Goldziher, can be blamed for myth no. 1: that Islam is especially tolerant of other religions. Their scholarship was immense but they were too eager to praise Islam to remain objective.
Christians and Jews ("Peoples of the Book") are exempted from the death-or-conversion choice imposed on pagans (the Zoroastrians of Iran were later added to the list), but under all known schools of Muslim law, Christians and Jews are only allowed to survive as dhimmis, of protected subjects, under a long list of deliberately humiliating restrictions, obligations, and prohibitions. Some are obsolete - they had to pay a head tax, they were not allowed to ride horses as opposed to humble donkeys, and many more - but others remain in force.
In Egypt, for example, there are at least 10 million Christians, but under the constitution, only a Muslim can be president - and there are similar provisions in other Muslim republics. In Saudi Arabia - where no one can be elected president, since the entire state and all its oil are claimed as private property by the ruling family - there are millions of Christians, but they are not allowed to have a single church, and it is a criminal offense to hold a prayer service, however informal, anywhere else. In all Muslim lands, the penalty for assisting a Muslim to convert was and is death for all concerned - no small matter for believing Christians whose highest duty is to save other souls by conversion.
Nevertheless, sections on Islam in American college texts are full of fantasies about Islamic tolerance, often featuring a mythic Andalusia where all was wonderfully multicultural until the wicked Christians arrived. Absurdly, some of those same texts celebrate, as yet another example of tolerance, the welcome that the fleeing Maimonides received in Fatimid Egypt: He had fled from Andalusia, of course, then the scene of one of Islam's recurrent outbursts of murderous fanaticism; we are living through another.
It is perfectly true that until quite recently, Christians were even more intolerant than Muslims, exempting only Jews from the prohibition of all other religions, and persecuting even the Jews at times. But Muslims are only slightly less culpable when compared to the greater part of humanity: serenely indifferent Hindus and Jains, agnostic Confucians, aesthetic Shinto devotees, cheerfully pluralist Buddhists, and more.
Myth no. 2 is that Muslim extremists are not attacking us, but only counterattacking, so that if non-Muslims would only stop provoking them, all would be well. It is perfectly true that in recent decades Muslims of one kind or another have suffered decisive defeats in the Indian subcontinent, in Iraq, Israel, and Timor-Leste, among other places. Westerners easily empathize with people under attack, so many in the West readily accept the claim that Muslim violence is just a defensive reaction. That is Osama bin Laden's version, too, when addressing non-Muslims: He talks about the sufferings of the Muslims of Chechnya, Palestine (a Muslim land for him, whose Christians and Jews are irrelevant), Kashmir, Andalusia, and Timor-Leste.
But when Mr. bin Laden talks to his fellow Muslims, he says something else entirely: "I was ordered to fight [non-Muslims] until they say that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is his prophet." That is a trifle pretentious in echoing the exact words that Muhammad himself supposedly declaimed, but it is certainly orthodox Islam: Muslims must convert non-Muslims by force, if necessary, or otherwise kill them, unless they are exempted Christians or Jews. That is why Islam has been on the attack from its birth in the seventh century. Muhammad started fighting to force conversions and his followers continued fighting in all directions, successfully spreading Islam by force from Arabia to the wider Middle East, and across Asia.
The only reason the continuity of Muslim aggression is news to some is because until recently almost all Muslim countries were under European colonial rule or subjected to European protectorates. Under Christian rule, Muslims could hardly continue to attack. With de-colonialization, the violence resumed. It has now reached virtually all places where Muslims are in contact with non-Muslims, so that there are almost daily reports of outrages from Nigeria, Sudan, and Egypt in Africa; from Iraq (Christians are fleeing the country), Israel, and Lebanon in the Middle East; from India, Thailand, the Philippines, and Indonesia.
Timor-Leste, by the way, happens to be mostly Christian, but because it was liberated from the domination of Muslim-ruled Indonesia, it is now on the list of Islamic grievances under the Muslim doctrine that any land once ruled by Muslims belongs to Islam forever, even if the population is mostly non-Muslim. That is the doctrine cited by Hamas to claim the whole of Israel, and which other fundamentalists do not hesitate to apply to southern Spain, southeast Europe, and much of southern Ukraine and southeast Russia, among other places.
But Muslims certainly cannot be faulted for Myth no. 3: that Islam is a religion of peace. That myth is strictly the creation of Western liberals and especially American educational administrators, librarians, and academics determined to invent their own peaceful Islam, in which even Jihad is always or at least mostly an entirely nonviolent spiritual struggle.
That reflects the very American belief that all religions are equally good, when in the harsh reality of history they are not even equally bad. How many Buddhist attacks upon Muslims were recorded around the world in retaliation for the destruction of the colossal Buddhist rock carvings at Bamyan in Afghanistan? Zero, in spite of the fact that the destruction was not the spontaneous misdeed of a few hotheads but rather an organized attack with artillery, formally authorized by Muslim clerics of the vast Deobandi movement (headquartered in secular India, where it enjoys tax-exempt status). What would happen to Buddhists in Muslim lands if a comparable mosque - if any such exists - were deliberately destroyed by the formal order of assembled Buddhist priests? One could go down the list of other religions to construct an infinity of examples showing that they are not all the same when it comes to violence, but it is hardly necessary to expose the fraud perpetrated in many texts on Islam now being taught in American schools and universities.
None of the three myths can survive the light of competent scholarship, and the author of "Islamic Imperialism: A History" (Yale University Press, 288 pages, $30), Efraim Karsh, of King's College, London, is much more than merely competent. He starts at the beginning, with the missionary preaching of Muhammad in the seventh century, and almost reaches the present. In just 234 pages of text, Mr. Karsh recounts and analyzes the different forms of Islamic imperialism, starting with the first Muslim conquests of the Arabs, which were astonishingly successful because of an extraordinary coincidence: They attacked out of the desert just when the Byzantine and Sassanid Persian empires had fought each other to exhaustion in the last, longest, and by far most destructive of their many wars. Muhammad's promise of victory was thus validated in a way that evidently seemed miraculous to his followers.
The Arab ascendancy lasted more than two centuries, but then it was the Turkic converts to Islam who became the warriors, and then inevitably the rulers. This process started with the appearance of Turkic raiders on the Christian borderlands of the Byzan tine Empire, and with the Turkic palace guards of Arab potentates, and culminated in the Ottoman Empire, which conquered Constantinople in 1453 and survived largely intact for more than 400 years.
Mr. Karsh does not explore all the many and varied Muslim polities of Asia, Africa, and Europe (Spain, Sicily, the Crimea): some brilliantly successful and tolerant also (up to a point), such as the Mughal empire at its best; some murderously intolerant, such as the Mughal empire at its worst, but all of them necessarily imperialist. Mr. Karsh is not a Leninist who falls for the canard that imperialism is merely aggravated capitalism, and he is not a political primitive for whom the word is a species of wickedness, so his account is far from hostile. Yes, there was loot to be had when attacking the infidel successfully, but down the centuries the motivation was primarily, or largely, or at least significantly idealistic.
Believing Muslims, like Christians, believe that only their faith (or rather their own version of it) can provide salvation from an eternity of suffering after death. It follows that it is wicked for a Muslim (or Christian) not to do his best to convert as many as possible, which can best be done under a Muslim rule, as the Muslims rightly believe (there are very few converts in non-Muslim lands). Muslim imperialism is therefore a religious duty, motivated by an altruistic love of humanity.
Even a suicide bomber who kills only innocent babies can rightly claim that insofar as he contributes to the ultimate victory of Islam, he will ultimately save many more babies from eternal suffering, giving them paradise instead, complete with virginal black-eyed beauties, if they are males. It is enough to make one nostalgic for the imperialist freebooters of the West, down to King Leopold I of Belgium: They only wanted loot, not to force salvation on their victims.
Mr. Luttwak is a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Exploding the Myths of Islamic Terrorism
By Ken Connor
Christian Post Guest Columnist
Jul. 07 2007
Though the bombs failed to detonate, this week's attacks in London have exploded persistent myths about Islamic terrorism. These myths—perpetuated by the politically correct, the unreasonably optimistic, and the willfully ignorant—have crippled the West's ability to adequately confront the Islamic threat. Unless the West finally wakes up and faces reality, our chance for long-term survival is questionable. Hopefully the bombs of London will be our wakeup call.
The first myth to go up in smoke after this week's failed attempts at terror is that radical Islamic theology is the result of poverty and illiteracy. Some commentators would have us believe that terrorism would cease if all Muslim children were educated and affluent, and therefore, America's foreign policy should focus on economic aid and education. It is increasingly clear, however, that many of the men behind the London bombings were physicians. Highly educated with well-paying jobs in a prosperous nation, these men certainly do not fit the profile so often painted of Islamic terrorists. One thing is clear: it is not poverty or ignorance that drives Muslims to terrorism. Even those who are highly educated and trained to "cure" were willing to kill in the name of Allah.
A second myth, which has dominated the thinking of some fellow conservatives, is that democracy is the surefire antidote to terrorism. They maintain that if Muslims lived in freedom and were able to elect their leaders in a democratic way, then our terrorist enemies would lose their desire to kill innocents. President Bush said in his Second Inaugural Address, "The concerted effort of free nations to promote democracy is a prelude to our enemies' defeat." It now seems clear, however, that even those who enjoy freedom and democracy can be won over by radical theology. The medical professionals implicated in this week's attacks were living miles away from tyranny and were enjoying all of the benefits of modern Western Democracy. But, it was not enough to blunt their impulse to inflict terror. Their interpretation of Islam inspired them to bomb the very nation which offered them freedom. We must not deceive ourselves into thinking that once men and women live in democracy, then terrorism will cease. It is not that simple.
Third, many would have us believe that terrorism is caused solely by Western foreign policy, especially the Iraq War. In the wake of this week's attempted bombings, however, a remarkable article appeared in London's Daily Mail which provides valuable insight into the minds of radical Muslims. According to the article, written by a former fanatic, Hassan Butt, British Muslim terrorist groups "laugh in celebration" when pundits say that the sole cause of terrorism is our foreign policy. According to Butt, although Western foreign policy did anger him, "what drove me and many others to plot acts of extreme terror within Britain and abroad was a sense that we were fighting for the creation of a revolutionary worldwide Islamic state that would dispense Islamic justice." (emphasis added)
These terrorists are not just retaliating against unpopular policies overseas. Even if every last Westerner left the Middle East, these radicals would still pursue their worldwide Islamic State. Their goal stems from a particular understanding of Islam that has won adherents around the world. These Muslims believe that it is God's will for them to conquer the whole world, by violence if necessary. In light of the violence they have perpetrated, can there be any doubt that ideas have consequences? It is past time to confront the violent ideas of many Muslims.
One of the most obvious differences between Islam and Western Christianity is the relationship between politics and religion. Mohammad, in addition to being a religious leader, was a military commander and political ruler. From the beginning, there has been little distinction between religion and politics in the Muslim world. For Islamic radicals, the differences between evangelizing and conquering are inconsequential, because politics and religion go hand-in-hand. This is in obvious contrast with the example of Jesus Christ, who pursued no worldly political ambitions and who even surrendered himself into the hands of political leaders to be crucified. As Christ continually reminded his disciples, his kingdom was not of this world. He did not offer his disciples a political agenda. Though the Christian faithful have always seen it as their duty to pursue justice in the political arena, it has also been recognized that, ultimately, the Church and the state are two separate entities.
If Islam is true, and if Mohammad has truly brought to the world a perfect legal code, then we should gladly convert and submit to Islamic law. If, on the other hand, the Christian faith of our forefathers is true, then we should resist Islam and share with Muslims the Good News of the Gospel proclaimed by Jesus Christ. Christianity and Islam posit competing truth claims. Unlike Mohammad, Christ adjured his followers to love their enemies—not kill them. For decades now, many in the West have preferred to think that truth does not matter. Many have also deluded themselves into thinking that salvation comes through wealth and education, or democracy and freedom. Therefore, even as our government confronts the military threat posed by Islamic fundamentalism, the Church—the Body of Christ—must confront Islam's violent ideas with the peace of the Gospel. The Church would do well to reclaim and proclaim the true treasure of the Western world, the Christian faith. Neither wealth nor democracy will be enough to change the hearts of radical Muslims. The Gospel of Christ, however, is more than sufficient.