Skip to comments.The Historical Reality of the Muslim Conquests
Posted on 03/04/2012 2:05:37 PM PST by NYer
Because it is now almost axiomatic for American school textbooks to whitewash all things Islamic (see here for example), it may be useful to examine one of those aspects that are regularly distorted: the Muslim conquests.
Few events of history are so well documented and attested to as are these conquests, which commenced soon after the death of the Muslim prophet Muhammad (632) and tapered off circa 750. Large swathes of the Old Worldfrom the India in the east, to Spain in the westwere conquered and consolidated by the sword of Islam during this time.
By the standards of history, the reality of these conquests is unassailable, for history proper concerns itself with primary sources; and the Islamic conquests are thoroughly documented. More importantly, the overwhelming majority of primary source materials we rely on do not come from non-Muslims, who might be accused of bias. Rather, the foremost historians bequeathing to posterity thousands of pages of source materials documenting the Islamic conquests were not only Muslims themselves; they wereand still areregarded by today’s Muslims as pious and trustworthy scholars (generically, the ulema).
Among the most authoritative books devoted to recounting the conquests are: Ibn Ishaq’s (d. 767) Sira (“Life of Muhammad”), the oldest biography of Muhammad; Waqidi’s (d. circa. 820) Maghazi (“Military Campaigns [of the Prophet]“); Baladhuri’s (d. 892) Futuh al-Buldan (“Conquests of the Nations”); and Tabari’s (d.923) multi-volume Tarikh al-Rusul wa al-Muluk, (“History of Prophets and Kings”), which is 40 volumes in the English translation.
Taken together, these accounts (which are primarily based on older accountsoral and writtentracing back to Muhammad and his successors) provide what was once, and in the Muslim world still is, a famous story: that Allah had perfected religion (Islam) for all humanity; that he commanded his final prophet (Muhammad) and community (Muslims) to spread Islam to the world; and that the latter was/is to accept it either willingly or unwillingly (jihad).
It should be noted that contemporary non-Muslim accounts further validate the facts of the conquests. The writings of the Christian bishop of Jerusalem Sophronius (d.638), for instance, or the chronicles of the Byzantine historian Theophanes (d.758), to name a couple, make clear that Muslims conquered much of what is today called the “Muslim world.”
According to the Muslim historical tradition, the majority of non-Muslim peoples of the Old World, not desiring to submit to Islam or its laws (Sharia), fought back, though most were eventually defeated and subsumed.
The first major conquest, renowned for its brutality, occurred in Arabia itself, immediately after Muhammad’s death in 632. Many tribes which had only nominally accepted Islam’s authority, upon Muhammad’s death, figured they could break away; however, Muhammad’s successor and first caliph, or successor, Abu Bakr, would have none of that, and proclaimed a jihad against these apostates, known in Arabic as the “Ridda Wars” (or Apostasy Wars). According to the aforementioned historians, tens of thousands of Arabs were put to the sword until their tribes re-submitted to Islam.
The Ridda Wars ended around 634. To keep the Arab Muslims from quarreling, the next caliph, Omar, launched the Muslim conquests: Syria was conquered around 636, Egypt 641, Mesopotamia and the Persian Empire, 650. By the early 8th century, all of north Africa and Spain to the west, and the lands of central Asia and India to the east, were also brought under Islamic suzerainty.
The colorful accounts contained in the Muslim tradition are typified by constant warfare, which normally goes as follows: Muslims go to a new region and offer the inhabitants three choices: 1) submit (i.e., convert) to Islam; 2) live as second-class citizens, or “dhimmis,” paying special taxes and accepting several social debilitations; 3) fight to the death.
Centuries later, and partially due to trade, Islam came to be accepted by a few periphery peoples, mostly polytheists and animists, who followed no major religion (e.g., in Indonesia, Somalia), and who currently form the outer fringes of the Islamic world.
Ironically, these exceptions are now portrayed as the rule in America’s classrooms, as many textbooks suggest or at least imply that most people who converted to Islam did so under no duress, but rather through peaceful contacts with merchants and traders; that they eagerly opted to convert to Islam for the religion’s intrinsic appeal, without noting the many debilitations conquered non-Muslims avoidedextra taxes, second-rate social status, enforced humiliation, etc.by converting to Islam. In fact, in the first century, and due to these debilitations, many conquered peoples sought to convert to Islam only to be rebuffed by the caliphate, which preferred to keep them as subduedand heavily taxedsubjects, not as Muslim equals.
Meanwhile, as U.S. textbooks equivocate about the Muslim conquests, in the schoolrooms of the Muslim world, the conquests are not only taught as a matter of course, but are glorified: their rapidity and decisiveness are regularly portrayed as evidence that Allah was in fact on the side of the Muslims (and will be again, so long as Muslims uphold their communal duty of waging jihad).
The dissimulation of how Islam was spread in the early centuries contained in Western textbook’s mirrors the way the word jihad, once inextricable to the conquests, has also been recast. Whereas the word jihad has throughout the centuries simply meant armed warfare on behalf of Islam, in recent years, American students have been taught the Sufi interpretation of jihadSufis make up perhaps one percent of the Islamic world and are often seen as heretics with aberrant interpretationswhich portrays jihad as a “spiritual-struggle” against one’s vices.
Contrast this definition of jihad with that of an early edition of the venerable Encyclopaedia of Islam. Its opening sentence simply states, “The spread of Islam by arms is a religious duty upon Muslims in general. Jihad must continue to be done until the whole world is under the rule of Islam. Islam must completely be made over before the doctrine of jihad [warfare to spread Islam] can be eliminated.” Muslim legal manuals written in Arabic are even more explicit.
Likewise, the Islamic conquests narrated in the Muslim histories often mirror the doctrinal obligations laid out in Islam’s theological textsthe Koran and Hadith. Muslim historians often justify the actions of the early Islamic invaders by juxtaposing the jihad injunctions found in Islamic scriptures.
It should also be noted that, to Muslims, the Islamic conquests are seen as acts of altruism: they are referred to as futahat, which literally means “openings”that is, the countries conquered were “opened” for the light of Islam to enter and guide its infidel inhabitants. Thus to Muslims, there is nothing to regret or apologize for concerning the conquests; they are seen as for the good of those who were conquered (i.e., the ancestors of today’s Muslims).
In closing, the fact of the Muslim conquests, by all standards of history, is indisputable. Accordingly, just as less than impressive aspects of Western and Christian history, such as the Inquisition or conquest of the Americas, are regularly taught in U.S. textbooks, so too should the Muslim conquests be taught, without apology or fear of being politically incorrect. This is especially so because it concerns historywhich has a way of repeating itself when ignored, or worse, whitewashed.
Well, the Crusades were a reaction against 4 centuries of Muslim depredations. Around about 1099 the Christian World finally decided to fight back. We kept it up for over a century, but then decided that religious wars were not our thing. The Muslims felt differently. They've been fighting religious wars for 14 centuries. Haven't stopped yet.
But we're the bad guys.
It is ongoing. You are experiencing it now.
The HUGE difference with Islam, Christianity and Hinduism (the three largest faiths in our world) is that we Christians had/have/will always have Jesus. He elevated the status of women (still commodities in many places) and of all humans, even slaves.
Life is short; Jesus gave us His life for our sins. How blessed we are for His gift.
All the comparisons between faiths and cultures PALE compared to the gift from heaven we received 2000 years ago.
And what would that give us?
A quote from an 1899 book by Winston Churchill, "The River War", in which he describes Muslims he apparently observed during Kitchener's campaign in the Sudan
How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property - either as a child, a wife, or a concubine - must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men.
Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen; all know how to die; but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science - the science against which it had vainly struggled - the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome.
I have sometimes been watching a TV show or movie, which has absolutely nothing to do with Islam or Christianity, make some slur against Christians in regards to Islam.
They just don’t seem to be able to keep their hatred of Christianity from bubbling to the top.
Typically it is something like this: “That must be how God felt about the crusades”, referring to something immoral or cruel.
Bring back THE CRUSADES and wipe the earth’s butt of the murderous muslim/islamist scourge!
To me the real eye-opener is to look at the biographies of known middle-ages persons. The two I point to are Maimonides (RAMBAM) who lived in "Golden Age" Islamic Spain (until his family was forced to flee that is); and RASHI who lived in "savage" Christian France. Both of these guys were Jewish Torah scholars so both were dependent on good will of the majority populations in the places where lived.
I have yet to hear a single person tell me that I have unfairly cherrypicked among such biographies to denegrate the supposed greatness of Islam.
And then there is always The Moslem Conquest (of India) . (Such nice people!)
Right around 911, I read Daniel Boorstin's The Creators.
It cemented in my mind why Islam is incompatible with the very soul of America, why it should be shunned and despised, and why Islamic countries are such sh!tholes.
Here are a few bare quotes to points I am sure you are aware of, but most others are not:
"The Muslim counterpart to Jesus is not Mohammed.
The reverence and mystery that Christians feel toward Jesus the Christ is what Muslims feel toward their book.
The Koranic God did not by create by making the earth, he ordered it. He decreed it into being.
"Islam" is Arabic for submission.
For a believing Muslim, to create is a rash and dangerous act."
Our religious tradition of free will resulted in Constitutional self government. Because of their religion, Islamic Sharia countries are doomed to squalor, despair and misery. It does not deserve 1st Amendment protection.
Winged hussar ping!
Do the wings come with ALICE clips or are they MOLLE compliant?
We play nice, too. We couldn’t call it a “crusade” when we went into Iraq for fear of insulting someone we were about to kill. They laugh at us.
Conventional scholarly wisdom also held that German conquest ended Roman civilization and brought on the Dark Ages. Belgian historian Henri Pirenne [1862-1935] strongly disagreed.
Pirenne relied on written texts -- what was mentioned:
to build up a picture of the transition from the (Western) Roman Empire to the period of Carolingian rule.
Pirenne's contention was that the Germanic invasions were predominantly political changes at the top of society. That the Mediterannean-based Roman economy continued, that the successor states continued Roman administrative practices with educated secular officials and dominant royal authority based on tax-funded financial power, were culturally integrated into "Romania"
and it was only with the Arab-Islamic invasions and conquest of the C7th that the whole Mediterranean world is split into two,trade collapses and Latin Christendom acquires a much more Germanic and Northern nature.
Almost a hundred years ago, Pirenne argued that starting in the seventh century, Islam was a destructive, indeed a catastrophic, force that caused Europes Dark Ages.
Most European historians have disagreed, claiming that Islam was a tolerant, enlightened force that began to raise Europe out of its darkness. The myth of a so-called Islamic Golden Age in Spain is an expression of that view.
Enter 'Emmet Scott' author of "Mohammed & Charlemagne Revisited [the history of a controversy] -- in which he takes as his starting point the thesis of Henri Pirenne that the real destroyers of classical civilization were the Muslims.
Scott refines, corrects and augments Pirennes insight, and he does so by taking into account two essential disciplines often neglected in studies of this period - archaeology and Islamology.
Arguing that these historians have paid scant attention to the nature of Islam or its beliefs. Like much of our media and government officials today, they assume that Islam is a religion like any other. Scott argues that, with its doctrine of never-ending holy war against all non-believers, Islam was an unprecedentedly destabilizing influence.
God has that covered, the spoken word..Islam will perish in Hell.
The most effective lies are lies of omission.
For those ignorant of history, those two sentences sound "neutrally reasonable." They're not.
The first we can all agree on. The second is a total lie. No other evil group even comes close in terms of brutality, sustained length of time that brutality has lasted, continues to last, and sheer number of victims killed or enslaved.
They’re going to do a lot more damage, destruction & death, here on earth, before they all get to Hell. That’s the pity of it.
Do you know who started this *religion of peace* version of Islamic history?