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.
Do you know who started this *religion of peace* version of Islamic history?
Arab supremacists? Once conquered, muslim’s destroyed everthing that was considered jahiliyya (not conforming to Islam). Christian monks and Jewish scribes translated acceptable material into Arabic, giving credit to Arabs for saving ‘knowledge’. Academics, as stated above earlier, accepted at face value, this deceptively presented information (think myth of harmonious al-Andalus) without consideration for the inherently violent nature of Islamic hegemony.
And a belated reaction at that.
“No culture has the ever cornered the market on evil’’. Really? Nazi Germany did a good job and Islam has been hard at it for 14 centuries. Christianity has liberated millions. When did Islam ever fight a war to liberate anyone?
The promise under the Old Covenant and the New Covenant was a Saviour, for the Jew and the Gentiles.
“For God not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved throught His Son Jesus Christ.” (John 3:17)
Everything about His Son was good news to us sinners:
“All we like sheep have gone astray, and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6)
In 1 Corinthians 5:21 we read: “For He[God] hath made Him[Jesus] to be sin for us, who knew no sin that we might be made the righteous of God in Him.”
‘’...Islamic countries are such sh!tholes.’’< That’s why I call them ‘’worthless Saracen bastards’’.
It is hard to believe that Christian monks could produce benign histories of Islam since many of them lived during the times of the Muslim invasions of Europe and knew how brutal the Muslims could be. There were scholars and monks all through the middle ages, even the dark ages. It is not as if later scholars had to look up Muslim histories to know what went on in those days. My hunch is that probably the anti-Christian biases of the age of reason began to show the Christian world as evil and backward while the *other*—the Islamic world had to be portrayed as a paradise, comparable to the ‘noble savage myth. Anything that was not European had to be better than European culture. This anti-west attitude has grown with time and is now a huge part of western thinking on the left. I am just guessing but it wouldn’t suprise me if this glamorizing of Islam did not begin at about the time of the enlightenment.
Yes, but you know suffering for Christ and the truth is the real rightiousness, it will test our spirits medal...I too however do not look forward to the meltdown at our feet...but we have to realize one day we need God, much more than anything else, our ways are not His, and through all of our sins and limitations and dealings with fallen realities we become children of the most High in Christ..Teach us what we need to know Lord, give us strength in this walk..
The Christian and Jewish scribes were among the few educated, multi-lingual/literate survivors of Islamic conquest whose skills enabled their survival under intensely humiliating circumstances. Many societies disintegrated under such pressure.
You have overstated the obvious. I know all about the evils of Hitler, Stalin, Mao and all the historical evil ones you did NOT mention. There actually have been evil monsters all through history. Obviously you haven't read much of the history of humanity or you wouldn't point out only ONE monster. Also, there were cultures, not just individuals, who performed evil for a long time. But you wouldn't know much about them either, I guess, since you point out only ONE such person/culture.
I did not, additionally, say that Islam ever fought a war to liberate anyone. See if you can actually figure out what I wrote, not what you might have THOUGHT I wrote.
I also ended up saying: 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.
Thus, I elevated Christianity above the other two.
But, NOOOO, you decided to obssess and excoriate on only the FIRST line of my post.
Learn to read the entire post, THEN comment, or just shut up and leave me alone.
Since MOST of human history happened before there was recorded history, one can only imagine all the evil done by people who never recorded their history.
It started out with Cain killing Abel, brother killing brother. They were a template for the rest of our history, weren't they?
One can only imagine the horrors humanity will perform in the future. We won't change as a human race and can only save ourselves individually through Jesus Christ. Nothing will change...until the good Lord ends it all.
Both of you: discuss the issues all you want, but do not make it personal.
Fine. Got it. Point of fact is I’m not telling him how to pray.