Skip to comments.When and Why the West Began to ‘Demonize’ Muhammad-Did Christendom really trigger the conflict?
Posted on 12/29/2017 3:40:53 AM PST by SJackson
Reprinted from PJ Media.
Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
To understand any phenomenon, its roots must first be understood. Unfortunately, not only do all discussions on the conflict between Islam and the West tend to be limited to the modern era, but when the past, the origins, are alluded to, the antithesis of reality is proffered: we hear that the Westitself an anachronism for Europe, or better yet, Christendombegan the conflict by intentionally demonizing otherwise peaceful and tolerant Muslims and their prophet in order to justify their colonial aspirations in the East, which supposedly began with the Crusades.
Bestselling author on Islam and Christianity Karen Armstrong summarizes the standard view:
Ever since the Crusades, people in the west have seen the prophet Muhammad as a sinister figure . The scholar monks of Europe stigmatised Muhammad as a cruel warlord who established the false religion of Islam by the sword. They also, with ill-concealed envy, berated him as a lecher and sexual pervert at a time when the popes were attempting to impose celibacy on the reluctant clergy.
That nothing could be further from the truth is an understatement. From the very first Christian references to Muslims in the seventh century, to Pope Urbans call to the First Crusade more than four centuries later, the Saracens and their prophet were consistently abhorred.
Thus, writing around 650, John of Nikiu, Egypt, said that Muslimsthe Copt is apparently the first non-Muslim to note that wordwere not just enemies of God but adherents of the detestable doctrine of the beast, that is, Mohammed. The oldest parchment that alludes to a warlike prophet was written in 634a mere two years after Muhammads death. It has a man asking a learned Jewish scribe what he knows about the prophet who has appeared among the Saracens. The elderly man, with much groaning, responded: He is deceiving. For do prophets come with swords and chariot? Verily, these events of today are works of confusion . you will discover nothing true from the said prophet except human bloodshed. Others confirmed that there was no truth to be found in the so-called prophet, only the shedding of mens blood. He says also that he has the keys of paradise, which is incredible.
Muhammad is first mentioned by name in a Syriac fragment, also written around 634; although only scattered phrases are intelligible, they all revolve around bloodshed: many villages [in Homs] were ravaged by the killing [of the followers] of Muhammad and many people were slain and [taken] prisoner from Galilee to Beth [S]ome ten thousand people were slaughtered in the vicinity of Damascus  Writing around 640, Thomas the Presbyter mentions Muhammad: there was a battle [Adjnadyn?] between the Romans and the Arabs of Muhammad in Palestine twelve miles east of Gaza. The Romans fled Some 4,000 poor villagers of Palestine were killed there The Arabs ravaged the whole region; they even climbed the mountain of Mardin and killed many monks there in the monasteries of Qedar and Bnata. A Coptic homily, also written around the 640s, is apparently the earliest account to associate the invaders with (an albeit hypocritical) piety. It counsels Christians to fast, but not like the Saracens who are oppressors, who give themselves up to prostitution, massacre and lead into captivity the sons of men, saying, we both fast and pray.
Towards the end of the seventh and beginning of the eighth centuries, learned Christians began to scrutinize the theological claims of Islam. The image of Muslims went from bad to worse. The Koranthat most pitiful and most inept little book of the Arab Muhammadwas believed to be full of blasphemies against the Most High, with all its ugly and vulgar filth, particularly its claim that heaven amounted to a sexual brothel, to quote eighth century Nicetas Byzantinos, who had and closely studied a copy of it. Allah was denounced as an impostor deity, namely Satan: I anathematize the God of Muhammad, read one Byzantine canonical rite.
But it was Muhammad himselfthe fount of Islamwho especially scandalized Christians: The character and the history of the Prophet were such as genuinely shocked them; they were outraged that he should be accepted as a venerated figure. Then and now, nothing so damned Muhammad in Christian eyes as much as his own biography, written and venerated by Muslims. For instance, after proclaiming that Allah had permitted Muslims four wives and unlimited concubines (Koran 4:3), he later declared that Allah had delivered a new revelation (Koran 33:50-52) offering him, the prophet alone, a dispensation to sleep with and marry as many women as he wanted. In response, none other than his favorite wife, Aisha, the Mother of Believers, quipped: I feel that your Lord hastens in fulfilling your wishes and desires.
Based, then, on Muslim sources, early Christian writers of Semitic origins foremost among them St. John of Damascus (b. 676) articulated a number of arguments against Muhammad that remain at the heart of all Christian polemics against Islam today. The only miracle Muhammad performed, they argued, was to invade, slaughter, and enslave those who refused to submit to hima miracle that even common robbers and highway bandits can perform. The prophet clearly put whatever words best served him in Gods mouth, thus simulating revelation in order to justify his own sexual indulgence; he made his religion appealing and justified his own behavior by easing the sexual and moral codes of the Arabs and fusing the notion of obedience to God with war to aggrandize oneself with booty and slaves.
Perhaps most importantly, Muhammads denial of and war on all things distinctly Christianthe Trinity, the resurrection, and the cross, which they abominateproved for Christians that he was Satans agent. In short, the false prophet, the hypocrite, the liar, the adulterer, the forerunner of Antichrist, and the Beast, became mainstream epithets for Muhammad among Christians for over a thousand years, beginning in the late seventh century. Indeed, for politically correct or overly sensitive peoples who find any criticism of Islam Islamophobic, the sheer amount and vitriolic content of more than a millennium of Western writings on Muhammad may beggar belief.
Even charitable modern historians such as Oxfords Norman Danielwho rather gentlemanly leaves the most severe words against Muhammad in their original Latin in his survey of early Christian attitudes to Islammakes this clear: The two most important aspects of Muhammads life, Christians believed, were his sexual license and his use of force to establish his religion; for Christians fraud was the sum of Muhammads life . Muhammad was the great blasphemer, because he made religion justify sin and weakness; due to all this, There can be no doubt of the extent of Christian hatred and suspicion of Muslims.
Even the theological claims behind the jihad were examined and ridiculed. In his entry for the years 629/630, Theophanes the Confessor wrote: He [Muhammad] taught his subjects that he who kills an enemy or is killed by an enemy goes to Paradise [Koran 9:111]; and he said that this paradise was one of carnal eating and drinking and intercourse with women, and had a river of wine, honey and milk, and that the women were not like the ones down here, but different ones, and that the intercourse was long-lasting and the pleasure continuous; and other things full of profligacy stupidity.
Similarly, in a correspondence to a Muslim associate, Bishop Theodore Abu Qurra (b.750), an Arab Christian, quipped: [S]ince you say that all those who die in the holy war [jihad] against the infidels go to heaven, you must thank the Romans for killing so many of your brethren.
In short, the widespread narrative that European views of Muhammad as a sinister figure, a cruel warlord, and a lecher and sexual pervert began as a pretext to justify the late eleventh century Crusadewhich itself is the source of all woes between Islam and the Westis an unmitigated lie. The sooner more people in the West understand thisunderstand the roots of the animositythe sooner the true nature of the current (or rather ongoing) conflict will become clear.
Muhammed demonized himself. He didnt need any help from Christians.
So all those early writers and observers of Islamic slaughter of Christians are racist? Therefore the need for self-defense and military defense against an invading violent pseudo-religion was 'wrong?'
Sorry Mr. Ibrahim, me thinks you have succumbed to lies and deceit. To 'believe' those early texts do not accurately describe the conquests of islam is naive at best and dangerous denial at worst. And the effort you put forth in this piece today is even worse as it twists the truth of the time leading up to the Crusades.
‘In short, the widespread narrative that European views of Muhammad as a sinister figure, a cruel warlord, and a lecher and sexual pervert began as a pretext to justify the late eleventh century Crusade....’
In great part the Crusades can be attributed to the 11th century depredations carried out by Moslems who continually attacked Christians on pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
When I run into people that claim the Crusades are responsible for the conflict between east and west I like asking if that is true why did Charles Martel stop the Islamic advance into France and Spain 100 years before the Crusades started?. Usually I get a blank look and silence.
There is also this to remember, that the rise of Islam did not occur in a vacuum, and that Muhammed (570-632), whilst being a reformer against local sects of idol worship, still embodied much of polygamy and tribal culture of Arabia within his message. Also, within the area of Syria, Arabia and Egypt, many of the Christian communities were heretical Monophysites who rejected the arguments that led to the Chalcedon Creed of 451.
This Monophysite belief held that the Christ was either entirely of God or had a mixed ‘nature’ whereas the Chalcedon Creed held that Christ was both Human and the Eternal Son of God at the same time. Those passages in the Koran that grant Jesus a prophet’s standing and the contemporary (600-800s) ‘good’ treatment of Christians as fellow ‘people of the book’, made the conquest of Syria to North Africa an easier task.
As for the outside world, the Byzantine Empire and the Persian Sasanian Empire had been fighting for centuries and had basically exhausted themselves. Then there was also a very bad outbreak of the Plague (Justinian’s Plague) that further weakened the communities. Thus when Islam’s Armies erupted, there was little to poor resistance against them. In the West, Syria fell first in 641 and the rest of North Africa fell all of the way to Spain, stopping, as an unbroken conquest, at the Battle of Tours in 732.
In the East, the Persian Sasanian Empire had even less luck, and was fully conquered by 651 with the Islamic Armies pushing on to India and into Central Asia by the 750s. Other Islamic forces also went north into Armenia and the Caucuses area with equal success. Nothing in known history equals this lightning-like string of military successes over such a large territory. By the Umayyad Caliphate of 750, with the capital in Damascus, their empire stretched from Spain to the edge of India and well into Central Asia.
The vicious lying piece of shit has no redeeming qualities. Any questions?
No, I think you described it appropriately!
It is a battle between good and evil
Ever since the Crusades, people in the west have seen the prophet Muhammad as a sinister figure ...
The reason that is such a prevalent view today, is simply a matter of education - How many schools even teach world history over how many grades? If they even teach the periods from Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, they gloss over them in a few chapters.
The periods after that? Mostly blank other than mentions of the Crusades until the 15th century. All the time between is just mostly nothing beyond a few sentences. But the period from 600 AD to 800 AD is zilch; any historical events in North Africa, the Middle East, India, southern Europe purely fantasy since they are never mentioned.
Worse when muslims are mentioned, they are referred to as Saracens, Mussulmen and the like, confusing every one into thinking Islam did not really exist then and these evil doers are some other people. Is it any wonder most people and especially Christians think of mussulmen as worshiping a prophet who is messiah-like in a somewhat mystical and beautiful religion. Any mention that it just is not and was not so to these non-muslims brings derision and defense.
Your misinterpretation is invalid.
Their interpretation and action are what is actually valid
Given the the First Crusade was from 1095 to 1099 and the Battle of Tours was 732, you need to say 'more than 350 years' before the First Crusade! Not arguing with you, just saying the time frame is even more emphatic! You can also toss in Islamic slave raids on the Mediterranean and South Atlantic European coasts all of the way into the 1400s and raids against Rome from conquered Sicily in the mid 800s. North Africa-based Islamic Pirates menaced commerce in the English Channel well into the 1600s under the support of the Ottoman Empire.
“Sorry Mr. Ibrahim, me thinks you have succumbed to lies and deceit. To ‘believe’ those early texts do not accurately describe the conquests of islam is naive at best and dangerous denial at worst. And the effort you put forth in this piece today is even worse as it twists the truth of the time leading up to the Crusades.”
Did you actually read the article?
Ibrahim is agreeing with you.
islam is a totalitarian death cult founded by a child rapist
I think you and several other posters have misread the article.
He’s not saying the early texts don’t accurately describe things. What he’s saying is those who claim that Islam was this peaceful group that was just sitting around and the “lies” made up by Christians to demonize big Mo were the justification of the attacks of the crusades were deluding themselves. He then goes on to describe in great detail the descriptions and explain that the hatred of Islam was justified by the following quotes, and then laid out a clear cut case as to why the hatred was valid.
He’s being pretty well attacked by a lot of folks here because he’s going about it rather circumspect in stating that it was justified and roundly misunderstood.
The writings of the saints of that time declared islam to be a heresy, and so it is to this day.
Muhammed, whatever his fate, died and has been judged, as has allah. islam is a religion of death, not life.
It was that point I stopped reading this drivel.
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