Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Islamic Imperialism Over the Centuries – A Must Read for Americans

This is a fascinating historical summary that helps Americans better understand that the Islamofascist terrorism we face is like a recurring wave from a tidal river of history. It has reached our shore and touched us with its death and destruction, but it is nothing new, and, like the tides, it goes in and out. At the end of this piece I have placed a link to a site that illustrates in a video some of the major developments described below.

Primer on Islamic Imperialism
November 20th, 2006
The American Thinker

One of the alleged sins held against the West by Islamic radicalism – which has declared war on us through Osama bin Laden’s fatwa issued in 1998 in London – is imperialism: the imperialism of the Dutch, the British and the French from the 17th to the 20th centuries. (For some reason, Russian imperialism in Central Asia gets a pass – so far.) Israel is allegedly an outpost of European imperialism.

The original western imperial enterprise in the radical Islamic narrative was the Crusades. The First Crusade began in 1095. The Crusades were undertaken to reclaim the Holy Land for Christendom. Reclaim it from whom? From the Muslims.

But Mohammed died in Medina in 632 as ruler of the Hijaz, the northwest section of Arabia along the Red Sea which includes the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. But if they only controlled the Hijaz in 632, what were the Muslims doing in Jerusalem in 1100?

Of course, they were there by conquest! They were they by virtue of Islamic imperialism – the extension of the Land of Islam (Dar al-Islam) by holy war: jihad (notwithstanding the other meanings of this term).

Let’s review. Muhammad, the founder of Islam, was a warrior and ruler who conquered Mecca and the Hijaz from his base in Medina. Following The Prophet’s death in 632, Islam was spread by Arab and Muslim conquest. There are Muslims who are not Arabs, but the first phase of expansion was Arab expansion. The ruler of the Muslim world, the successor to Muhammad, was the Caliph – “the shadow of God on earth.”

The Caliph was both the religious and political head of the Muslim world which, unlike the Christian world, draws no distinction between the two. In North Africa and the Middle East, the lands that the Arab Muslim world expanded into were controlled by the Byzantine Empire, the successor to the Roman Empire, with its capital at Constantinople. These were Christian lands. To the East, between the Middle East and India, was the Persian Empire with a different religious tradition.

At the death of Muhammad in 632, the realm of Islam consisted of northwest Arabia. To the north and west is Christian Byzantium, to the east is Persia. Neither of these were Arab; neither of them were Muslim. But within 100 years, the territory from Persia to Spain was controlled by Muslim Arabs. How did this happen? Egypt, for instance, was not in 632 an Arab country. It was of a different ethnic stock and had been in existence for 3600 years.

What happened was conquest, one of the most impressive in history. Here is a very brief timeline:

1. 630 – Muhammad conquers Mecca from his base in Medina.

2. 632 – Muhammad dies in Medina. Islam controls the Hijaz.

3. 636 – conquest of Syria. Victory in battle over the Byzantines gives Syria and the surrounding lands, all Christian – including Palestine and Iraq – to the Caliph.

4. 636 – 642 Persia conquered by the Muslims.

5. 642 – conquest of Egypt. The Arab/Muslim conquest moves west along North Africa into hitherto non-Arab/non-Muslim lands.

First Muslim invasion of Europe: from the West

6. 711 – Tariq (after whom Gibraltar is named: the Rock of Tariq – Gib al-Tariq) invades Spain. The Muslim conquest moves into Europe.

7. 718 – conquest of Spain complete.

8. 732 – Muslim invasion of France is stopped at the Battle of Poitiers (also called the Battle of Tours). This is regarded as one of the turning points in world history. The Franks, under their leader Charles Martel (the grandfather of Charlemagne), defeat the Muslims and turn them back out of France.

Thus, in exactly 100 years, from the death of The Prophet in 632, to 732, the Arab/Muslim realm had extended from the Hijaz, a province in Arabia, to encompass Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Persia, Egypt, the North African littoral, Spain and, temporarily, part of France.

The first European interaction with Islam is with Islam in the role of a conquering army, and, in the case of Spain, one that comes to stay. Spain became a Muslim colony. Over several hundred years, Spain was reconquered – the reconquista – for Christendom. The last Moors are expelled in 1492 by Ferdinand and Isabella.

In the 1300’s, the Turks took over leadership of the Muslim world from the Arabs. They established the Ottoman Empire with its capital at Christian Constantinople after conquering it in 1453. The Muslim world under Ottoman leadership began incursions into Europe from the East.

Second Muslim invasion of Europe: from the East

9. 1453 – Muslim Turks conquer Christian Constantinople and make it the seat of the Caliphate

10. 1456 – Muslims conquer Athens

11. 1478 – Serbia, Bosnia, Crimea come under Ottoman control

12. 1480 – Otranto in Italy taken by the Ottomans

13. 1529 – Vienna besieged by the Ottomans

14. 1683 – Battle of Vienna. The Turks are defeated by the Polish king Jan Sobieski leading a combined Polish-Lithuanian army. This is the high-water-mark of Turkish/Muslim conquest of Europe from the East.

1683 is an important year, because after that the Muslim Empire had no further military successes over the West. Thus, while this date seems lost in the mists of time to most Westerners, it remains a vivid memory in Islamic history. It marks the beginning of a downward slide in military fortunes that ended with the defeat of the Ottoman Empire by the British and French in World War I, the occupation of Muslim lands by the European states, and finally the abolition of the Caliphate itself by Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk) in 1924.

But in the 1980’s, something important happened. When the Russians invaded Afghanistan in 1979, the U.S. decided that it would support the native Afghan resistance, the mujahedeen. This resulted in a massive arms support operation by the CIA, funneled through the Pakistani intelligence service the ISI.

Thus, the American hand was concealed from the mujahedeen. When, particularly with the help of the Stinger missile, the Russians were defeated by the mujahedeen, this represented in their own eyes a victory of Islamic forces over those of a modern state – indeed, a superpower – something not seen since the 17th century in the Muslim world. Here was a model to be built on.

15. 1979 – Soviet Union invades Afghanistan

16. 1988 – Soviet Union leaves Afghanistan, defeated by the Muslim mujahedeen. A victory for Islam over the “West.”

17. 1991 – Soviet Union disintegrates. Who can say that its defeat by the Muslims was not its mortal blow?

Third Muslim invasion of Europe: from the South

And now we find ourselves confronted by a third Muslim attack on the West – a third “invasion of Europe” (if “Europe” is expanded to mean culture as well as geography, and includes North America) by an expansionary Muslim philosophy – by Islamic radicalism. The first Muslim attack was from the West in the 700’s; the second was from the East in the 1400’s – 1600’s; the third began with the defeat of the Soviet Union in 1988 in Afghanistan and its subsequent collapse and is in the form of mass immigration.

The philosopher and economist Thomas Sowell instructs us to ask “as compared to what?” when evaluating and criticizing human enterprise. It is pointless to compare human enterprise to some abstract ideal that has never existed. As Sowell points out, if the standard is set high enough, anything will fail.

Was the British Empire – the archetype of Western imperialism – a bad thing?

As compared to what? As compared to the Muslim Empires? As compared to them, the British Empire was a model of enlightenment. The Muslims pride themselves on their tolerance of minorities. But that tolerance came at the cost of dhimmitude – second-class citizenship and payment of tributes. The British Empire was, yes, established by force, but it was not sustained only by force. It was also sustained by consent. And it left behind a number of the freest, richest, most liberal countries on earth. As compared to the Muslims, the British look pretty good.

But it is not the point of this article that Arab/Muslim imperialism was an evil, or at least was not a unique evil. It was a human enterprise with its strengths and weaknesses. Muslim culture at its highest was high indeed. The Muslims preserved and passed on the learning of the Greeks. The Arabs developed Arabic numerals, and invented the number zero (or the next best thing, recognized the significance of the Indians having done so), the basis of modern mathematics. Algebra is an Arabic word: al-gebera. Muslim letters, science, medicine and architecture were at the highest level of achievement.

But so are our own. Today. We can’t have a double standard here – being impressed by the achievements and conquests of Arab/Muslim civilization but at the same time embarrassed by the even more impressive achievements and conquests of the West. If conquest is something to be embarrassed by, if it is a moral disqualification, then the Arab/Muslims are at the head of the line; Europe is well back on the list! And whatever the achievements of medieval Muslim culture, and they were many, they are in the past. There are few achievements today, and none to compare with those of the West.

Yes, one can certainly ask about spiritual achievement. If the Muslims wish to live in the 8th century, nobody is stopping them. Just as nobody stops the Amish from living in the 18th century. But if the standard is living in the 21st century, then it is clear that the West is a superior culture in all respects – in comfort of living, in science, in medicine, in human rights, in the rights of women to name just a few.

We are in a fight for our lives against Islamic radicalism. We cannot unilaterally disarm ourselves morally because of some imagined slights offered to Muslim culture by the West. Yes, we are the stronger, but that was not always so. When Muslims were the stronger, they prided themselves on their conquests and their cultural and political dominance, which still shape the world in which we live.

Greg Richards is an occasional contributor to American Thinker.

To see history in action, go here.


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At 4:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was talking to a good friend of mine about what's going on in the Middle East and he told me that religion is the biggest cause of all the problems in the world today. I beg to differ with this flawed view of religions like the Christian Judeo philosophy. My religion doesn't advocate that we go out and slaughter innocent people or decapitate them. I told him, "I'm sorry, but I'm not going to give up my religion to appease some radical Islamist blood thirsty nuts over in the Middle East". "If they have a problem, they need to address it with the leaders of their religion, not mine." I find it hard to believe that these killers follow a religion of peace and mercy. They hide behind their so-called religion, whatever that is, and use it as an excuse to push their sick agenda of hate. Life means nothing to them, and they are willing to sacrifice their lives, and the lives of their own families for the sake of Allah! I just don't buy this flawed thinking and the Pope doesn't buy it either. He tried to point this out to them, but they twisted his words around and pretended to take offense. Then they start asking for apologies from him, and everyone has to bend over and kiss their butts because they are offended. It's just a political ploy that they use, like when they were offended by some cartoons. Of course, it's quite okay if they show cartoons that denigrate Christians and Jews, and it's quite okay to find some Catholic Nun and kill her in a church. So if it's understanding, or respect that these terrorists are looking for, they won't get any from me. They don't wear uniforms, they murder innocent men, women and children, and they need to be squashed like ants. That's the only way to deal with them. I offer you this link so that we can get started right now.
Click here:

Feel free to use it and send it out to your friends.

At 4:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really appreciate your information about muslims and their religion.I know you try to enlighten well-wishing,naive,helpful ,decent Americans,who came here to live in freedom and tolerance.They don't know how twisted muslims are,esp.uneducated/which the most are/.Accordingly to what this spiteful ,intolerant"religion" teaches them ,it is OK to lie , deceive others ,kill/just like "best friends" cut the throats of their French friends / treat women worse then animals.I have seen some of these women turned into depotic,ruthless "old witches 'with age,when they believed finally that being old gave them power over youger and helpless.We lived there for awhile.One of these women made a sign of cross to my mother and spit on it.Kids there.are roaming like little animals, begging or crowding to steal from you.One of their own people told me in whisper'this country would be beautiful if not for arabs" He told me that even his own family was cruel to him.It was a very beautiful country and I don't want to mention its name.Many people that were very.decent confided to me that they would love to leave it forever to live in Europe or America .They never would admit it if any other arab was present.From my personal observation,most of people were very poor,very few of them were rich and all of these were recognizable by being obese.I saw the terror of their faith making one of them to spy on another.I believe this "religion'is a horror that keeps them either terrified or conniving and most of all keeps them as uneducated mass resembling the worst of medieval ages ,being whipped into submission by ISLAM,which is bearing likeness to never ending 'Saint Inquisition'.How terrible way to live knowing that there are better places.


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