Stopping the Conquerers

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Part 1 USA's Ongoing War, No More Appeasement
Part 2 The Truth about Islamic Crusades and Imperialism
Part 3 Why Is Sharia Bad?
Part 4 The Colonial War Against Islam
Part 5 Legal jihad in the Quran and early Islam

 The Centuries Old, Ongoing War With Islam...No More Appeasement

Most Americans probably think the Islamic terrorists declared war on the United States Sept. 11, 2001.

Actually, it started a long time before – right from the birth of the nation.

In 1784, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin were commissioned by the first Congress to assemble in Paris to see about marketing U.S. products in Europe.

Jefferson quickly surmised that the biggest challenge facing U.S. merchant ships were those referred to euphemistically as "Barbary pirates."

They weren't "pirates" at all, in the traditional sense, Jefferson noticed. They didn't drink and chase women and they really weren't out to strike it rich. Instead, their motivation was strictly religious. They bought and sold slaves, to be sure. They looted ships. But they used their booty to buy guns, ships, cannon and ammunition.

Like those we call "terrorists" today, they saw themselves engaged in jihad and called themselves "mujahiddin."

Why did these 18th-century terrorists represent such a grave threat to U.S. merchant ships? With independence from Great Britain, the former colonists lost the protection of the greatest navy in the world. The U.S. had no navy – not a single warship.

Jefferson inquired of his European hosts how they dealt with the problem. He was stunned to find out that France and England both paid tribute to the fiends – who would, in turn, use the money to expand their own armada, buy more weaponry, hijack more commercial ships, enslave more innocent civilians and demand greater ransom.

This didn't make sense to Jefferson. He recognized the purchase of peace from the Muslims only worked temporarily. They would always find an excuse to break an agreement, blame the Europeans and demand higher tribute.

After three months researching the history of militant Islam, he came up with a very different policy to deal with the terrorists. But he didn't get to implement until years later.

As the first secretary of state, Jefferson urged the building of a navy to rescue American hostages held in North Africa and to deter future attacks on U.S. ships. In 1792, he commissioned John Paul Jones to go to Algiers under the guise of diplomatic negotiations, but with the real intent of sizing up a future target of a naval attack.

Jefferson was ready to retire a year later when what could only be described as "America's first Sept. 11" happened.

America was struck with its first mega-terror attack by jihadists. In the fall of 1793, the Algerians seized 11 U.S. merchant ships and enslaved more than 100 Americans.

When word of the attack reached New York, the stock market crashed. Voyages were canceled in every major port. Seamen were thrown out of work. Ship suppliers went out of business. What Sept. 11 did to the U.S. economy in 2001, the mass shipjacking of 1793 did to the fledgling U.S. economy in that year.

Accordingly, it took the U.S. Congress only four months to decide to build a fleet of warships.

But even then, Congress didn't choose war, as Jefferson prescribed. Instead, while building what would become the U.S. Navy, Congress sent diplomats to reason with the Algerians. The U.S. ended up paying close to $1 million and giving the pasha of Algiers a new warship, "The Crescent," to win release of 85 surviving American hostages.

It wasn't until 1801, under the presidency of Jefferson, that the U.S. engaged in what became a four-year war against Tripoli. And it wasn't until 1830, when France occupied Algiers, and later Tunisia and Morocco, that the terrorism on the high seas finally ended.

France didn't leave North Africa until 1962 – and it quickly became a major base of terrorism once again.

What's the moral of the story? Appeasement never works. Jefferson saw it. Sept. 11 was hardly the beginning. The war in which we fight today is the longest conflict in human history. It's time to learn from history, not repeat its mistakes.

Truth about Islamic Crusades 
Historical facts say that Islam has been imperialistic—and would still like to be, if only for religious reasons. Many Muslim clerics, scholars, and activists, for example, would like to impose Islamic law  around the world. Historical facts say that Islam, including Muhammad, launched their own Crusades against Christianity long before the European Crusades.

Today, Muslim polemicists and missionaries, who believe that Islam is the best religion in the world, claim that the West has stolen Islamic lands and that the West (alone) is imperialistic.One hardline Muslim emailer to me said about the developed West and the undeveloped  Islamic countries: 'You stole our lands' and then he held his finger on the exclamation key to produce a long string of them.

Thus imperialism, a word that has reached metaphysical levels and that is supposed to stop all debates and answer all questions, explains why Islamic countries have not kept up with the West. The emailer did not look inwardly, as if his own culture and religion may play a role. Instead, it is always the West's fault.

Westerners—even academics—accept the notion that the West alone was aggressive. It seems that Islam is always innocent and passive. It is difficult to uncover the source of this Western self—loathing. It is, however, a pathology that seems to strike Westerners more than other people around the globe.  This anti—West pathology shows up in Westerners' hatred for the European Crusades in the Medieval Age.

It must be admitted that there is much to dislike about the European Crusades. If they are contrasted with the mission and ministry of Jesus and the first generations of Christians, then the Crusades do not look so good. But did the Europeans launch the first Crusade in a mindless, bloodthirsty and irrational way, or were there more pressing reasons? Were they the only ones to be militant?

The purpose of this article is not to justify or defend European Crusades, but to explain them, in part—though scholarship can go a long way to defend and justify them

In this article, the word 'crusade' (derived from the Latin word for 'cross') in an Islamic context means a holy war or jihad. It is used as a counterweight to the Muslim accusation that only the Europeans launched crusades. Muslims seem to forget that they had their own, for several centuries before the Europeans launched theirs as a defense against the Islamic expansion.

We will employ a partial timeline spanning up to the first European response to Islamic imperialism, when Pope Urban II launched his own Crusade in 1095. The timeline mostly stays within the parameters of the Greater Middle East. The data in bold print are of special interest for revealing early Islamic atrocities, their belief in heroism in warfare, or politics today.

The Islamic Crusades were very successful. The Byzantines and Persian Empires had worn themselves out with fighting, so a power vacuum existed. Into this vacuum stormed Islam.

After the timeline, two questions are posed, which are answered at length

The Timeline

630 Two years before Muhammad's death of a fever, he launches the Tabuk Crusades, in which he led 30,000 jihadists against the Byzantine Christians. He had heard a report that a huge army had amassed to attack Arabia, but the report turned out to be a false rumor. The Byzantine army never materialized. He turned around and went home, but not before extracting 'agreements' from northern tribes. They could enjoy the 'privilege' of living under Islamic 'protection' (read: not be attacked by Islam), if they paid a tax (jizya).

This tax sets the stage for Muhammad's and the later Caliphs' policies. If the attacked city or region did not want to convert to Islam, then they paid a jizya tax. If they converted, then they paid a zakat tax. Either way, money flowed back to the Islamic treasury in Arabia or to the local Muslim governor.

632—634 Under the Caliphate of Abu Bakr the Muslim Crusaders reconquer and sometimes conquer for the first time the polytheists of Arabia. These Arab polytheists had to convert to Islam or die. They did not have the choice of remaining in their faith and paying a tax. Islam does not allow for religious freedom.

633 The Muslim Crusaders, led by Khalid al—Walid, a superior but bloodthirsty military commander, whom Muhammad nicknamed the Sword of Allah for his ferocity in battle (Tabari, 8:158 / 1616—17), conquer the city of Ullays along the Euphrates River (in today's Iraq). Khalid captures and beheads so many that a nearby canal, into which the blood flowed, was called Blood Canal (Tabari 11:24 / 2034—35).

634 At the Battle of Yarmuk in Syria the Muslim Crusaders defeat the Byzantines. Today Osama bin Laden draws inspiration from the defeat, and especially from an anecdote about Khalid al—Walid. An unnamed Muslim remarks: 'The Romans are so numerous and the Muslims so few.'  To this Khalid retorts: 'How few are the Romans, and how many the Muslims! Armies become numerous only with victory and few only with defeat, not by the number of men. By God, I would love it . . . if the enemy were twice as many' (Tabari, 11:94 / 2095). Osama bin Ladin quotes Khalid and says that his fighters love death more than we in the West love life. This philosophy of death probably comes from a verse like Sura 2:96. Muhammad assesses the Jews: '[Prophet], you are sure to find them [the Jews] clinging to life more eagerly than any other people, even polytheists' (MAS Abdel Haleem, The Qur'an, Oxford UP, 2004; first insertion in brackets is Haleem's; the second mine).

634—644 The Caliphate of Umar ibn al—Khattab, who is regarded as particularly brutal.

635 Muslim Crusaders besiege and conquer of Damascus

636 Muslim Crusaders defeat Byzantines decisively at Battle of Yarmuk.

637 Muslim Crusaders conquer Iraq at the Battle of al—Qadisiyyah (some date it in 635 or 636)

638 Muslim Crusaders conquer and annex Jerusalem, taking it from the Byzantines.

638—650 Muslim Crusaders conquer Iran, except along Caspian Sea.

639—642 Muslim Crusaders conquer Egypt.

641 Muslim Crusaders control Syria and Palestine.

643—707 Muslim Crusaders conquer North Africa.

644 Caliph Umar is assassinated by a Persian prisoner of war; Uthman ibn Affan is elected third Caliph, who is regarded by many Muslims as gentler than Umar.

644—650 Muslim Crusaders conquer Cyprus, Tripoli in North Africa, and establish Islamic rule in Iran, Afghanistan, and Sind.

656 Caliph Uthman is assassinated by disgruntled Muslim soldiers; Ali ibn Abi Talib, son—in—law and cousin to Muhammad, who married the prophet's daughter Fatima through his first wife Khadija, is set up as Caliph.

656 Battle of the Camel, in which Aisha, Muhammad's wife, leads a rebellion against Ali for not avenging Uthman's assassination. Ali's partisans win.

657 Battle of Siffin between Ali and Muslim governor of Jerusalem, arbitration goes against Ali

661 Murder of Ali by an extremist; Ali's supporters acclaim his son Hasan as next Caliph, but he comes to an agreement with Muawiyyah I and retires to Medina.

661—680 the Caliphate of Muawiyyah I. He founds Umayyid dynasty and moves capital from Medina to Damascus

673—678 Arabs besiege Constantinople, capital of Byzantine Empire

680 Massacre of Hussein (Muhammad's grandson), his family, and his supporters in Karbala, Iraq.

691 Dome of the Rock is completed in Jerusalem, only six decades after Muhammad's death.

705 Abd al—Malik restores Umayyad rule.

710—713 Muslim Crusaders conquer the lower Indus Valley.

711—713 Muslim Crusaders conquer Spain and impose the kingdom of Andalus. This article recounts how Muslims today still grieve over their expulsion 700 years later. They seem to believe that the land belonged to them in the first place.

719 Cordova, Spain, becomes seat of Arab governor

732 The Muslim Crusaders stopped at the Battle of Poitiers; that is, Franks (France) halt Arab advance

749 The Abbasids conquer Kufah and overthrow Umayyids

756 Foundation of Umayyid amirate in Cordova, Spain, setting up an independent kingdom from Abbasids

762 Foundation of Baghdad

785 Foundation of the Great Mosque of Cordova

789 Rise of Idrisid amirs (Muslim Crusaders) in Morocco; foundation of Fez; Christoforos, a Muslim who converted to Christianity, is executed.

800 Autonomous Aghlabid dynasty (Muslim Crusaders) in Tunisia

807 Caliph Harun al—Rashid orders the destruction of non—Muslim prayer houses and of the church of Mary Magdalene in Jerusalem

809 Aghlabids (Muslim Crusaders) conquer Sardinia, Italy

813 Christians in Palestine are attacked; many flee the country

831 Muslim Crusaders capture Palermo, Italy; raids in Southern Italy

850 Caliph al—Matawakkil orders the destruction of non—Muslim houses of prayer

855 Revolt of the Christians of Hims (Syria)

837—901 Aghlabids (Muslim Crusaders) conquer Sicily, raid Corsica, Italy, France

869—883 Revolt of black slaves in Iraq

909 Rise of the Fatimid Caliphate in Tunisia; these Muslim Crusaders occupy Sicily, Sardinia

928—969 Byzantine military revival, they retake old territories, such as Cyprus (964) and Tarsus (969)

937 The Ikhshid, a particularly harsh Muslim ruler, writes to Emperor Romanus, boasting of his control over the holy places

937 The Church of the Resurrection (known as Church of Holy Sepulcher in Latin West) is burned down by Muslims; more churches in Jerusalem are attacked

960 Conversion of Qarakhanid Turks to Islam

966 Anti—Christian riots in Jerusalem

969 Fatimids (Muslim Crusaders) conquer Egypt and found Cairo

c. 970 Seljuks enter conquered Islamic territories from the East

973 Israel and southern Syria are again conquered by the Fatimids

1003 First persecutions by al—Hakim; the Church of St. Mark in Fustat, Egypt, is destroyed

1009 Destruction of the Church of the Resurrection by al—Hakim (see 937)

1012 Beginning of al—Hakim's oppressive decrees against Jews and Christians

1015 Earthquake in Palestine; the dome of the Dome of the Rock collapses

1031 Collapse of Umayyid Caliphate and establishment of 15 minor independent dynasties throughout Muslim Andalus

1048 Reconstruction of the Church of the Resurrection completed

1050 Creation of Almoravid (Muslim Crusaders) movement in Mauretania; Almoravids (aka Murabitun) are coalition of western Saharan Berbers; followers of Islam, focusing on the Quran, the hadith, and Maliki law.

1055 Seljuk Prince Tughrul enters Baghdad, consolidation of the Seljuk Sultanate

1055 Confiscation of property of Church of the Resurrection

1071 Battle of Manzikert, Seljuk Turks (Muslim Crusaders) defeat Byzantines and occupy much of Anatolia

1071 Turks (Muslim Crusaders) invade Palestine

1073 Conquest of Jerusalem by Turks (Muslim Crusaders)

1075 Seljuks (Muslim Crusaders) capture Nicea (Iznik) and make it their capital in Anatolia

1076 Almoravids (Muslim Crusaders) (see 1050) conquer western Ghana

1085 Toledo is taken back by Christian armies

1086 Almoravids (Muslim Crusaders) (see 1050) send help to Andalus, Battle of Zallaca

1090—1091 Almoravids (Muslim Crusaders) occupy all of Andalus except Saragossa and Balearic Islands

1094 Byzantine emperor Alexius Comnenus I asks western Christendom for help against Seljuk invasions of his territory; Seljuks are Muslim Turkish family of eastern origins; see 970

1095 Pope Urban II preaches first Crusade; they capture Jerusalem in 1099

So it is only after all of the Islamic aggressive invasions that Western Christendom launches its first Crusades.

It could be argued that sometimes the Byzantine and Western European leaders did not behave exemplarily, so a timeline on that subject could be developed. And sometimes the Muslims behaved exemplarily. Both are true. However, the goal of this timeline is to balance out the picture more clearly. Many people regard Islam as an innocent victim, and the Byzantines and Europeans as bullies. This was not always the case.

Moreover, we should take a step back and look at the big picture. If Islam had stayed in Arabia and had not waged wars of conquest, then no troubles would have erupted. But the truth is this: Islam moved aggressively during the Caliphates of Abu Bakr and Umar in the seventh century, with other Caliphs continuing well beyond that; only then did the Western Europeans react (see 1094).

It must be noted that Islamic expansion continues until well into the seventeenth century. For example, the Muslims Crusaders conquer Constantinople in 1453 and unsuccessfully besiege Vienna for the second time in 1683 (earlier in 1529). By the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Islamic Crusades receded, due to Western resistance. Since that time until the present, Islamic civilization has not advanced very far.

Two questions are posed and then answered at length.

Besides following Muhammad, why else did the Muslims launch their Crusades out of Arabia in the first place?

It is only natural to ask why Islam launched its own Crusades long before Christendom did.

In the complicated Muslim Crusades that lasted several centuries before the European Crusades, it is difficult to come up with a grand single theory as to what launched these Crusades. Because of this difficulty, we let three scholars and two eyewitness participants analyze the motives of the early Islamic Crusades.

1. World religious conquest

Muslim polemicists like Sayyid Qutb assert that Islam's mission is to correct the injustices of the world. What he has in mind is that if Islam does not control a society, then injustice dominates it, ipso facto. But if Islam dominates it, then justice rules it (In the Shade of the Qur'an, vol. 7, pp. 8—15). Islam is expansionist and must conquer the whole world to express Allah's perfect will on this planet, so Qutb and other Muslims believe.

2. 'Unruly' energies in Arabia?

Karen Armstrong, a former nun and well—spoken, prolific author and apologist for Islam, comes up short of a satisfactory justification for the Muslim Crusades:

Once [Abu Bakr] crushed the rebellion [against Islamic rule within Arabia], Abu Bakr may well have decided to alleviate internal tensions by employing the unruly energies within the ummah [Muslim community] against external foes. Whatever the case, in 633 Muslim armies began a new series of campaigns in Persia, Syria and Iraq. (Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths, New York: Ballantine, 1997, p. 226).

Armstrong also notes that the 'external foes' to Islam in Arabia in 633 are the Persians and the Byzantines, but they are too exhausted after years of fighting each other to pose a serious threat to Islam. Therefore, it moved into a 'power vacuum,' unprovoked (Armstrong p. 227). She simply does not know with certainty why Muslims marched northward out of Arabia.

3. Religion, economy, and political control

Fred M. Donner, the dean of historians specializing in the early Islamic conquests, cites three large factors for the Islamic Crusades. First, the ideological message of Islam itself triggered the Muslim ruling elite simply to follow Muhammad and his conquests; Islam had a divinely ordained mission to conquer in the name of Allah. (The Early Islamic Conquests, Princeton UP, 1981, p. 270). The second factor is economic. The ruling elite 'wanted to expand the political boundaries of the new state in order to secure even more fully than before the trans—Arab commerce they had plied for a century or more' (p. 270). The final factor is political control. The rulers wanted to maintain their top place in the new political hierarchy by having aggressive Arab tribes migrate into newly conquered territories (p. 271).

Thus, these reasons they have nothing to do with just wars of self—defense. Early Islam was merely being aggressive without sufficient provocation from the surrounding Byzantine and Persian Empires.

4. Sheer thrill of conquest and martyrdom

Khalid al—Walid (d. 642), a bloodthirsty but superior commander of the Muslim armies at the time, also answers the question as to why the Muslims stormed out of Arabia, in his terms of surrender set down to the governor of al—Hirah, a city along the Euphrates River in Iraq. He is sent to call people to Islam or pay a 'protection' tax for the 'privilege' of living under Islamic rule (read: not to be attacked again) as dhimmis or second—class citizens. Says Khalid:

'I call you to God and to Islam. If you respond to the call, you are Muslims: You obtain the benefits they enjoy and take up the responsibilities they bear. If you refuse, then [you must pay] the jizyah. If you refuse the jizyah, I will bring against you tribes of people who are more eager for death than you are for life. We will fight you until God decides between us and you.' (Tabari, The Challenge to the Empires, trans. Khalid Yahya Blankinship, NY: SUNYP, 1993, vol. 11, p. 4; Arabic page 2017)

Thus, according to Khalid, religion is early Islam's primary motive (though not the only one) of conquering people.

In a short sermon, Abu Bakr says:

. . . Indeed, the reward in God's book for jihad in God's path is something for which a Muslim should love to be singled out, by which God saved [people] from humiliation, and through which He has bestowed nobility in this world and the next. (Tabari 11:80 / 2083—84)

Thus, the Caliph repeats the Quran's trade of this life for the next, in an economic bargain and in the context of jihad (cf. Suras 4:74; 9:111 and 61:10—13). This offer of martyrdom, agreeing with Donner's first factor, religious motivation, is enough to get young Muslims to sign up for and to launch their Crusades out of Arabia in the seventh century.

Khalid also says that if some do not convert or pay the tax, then they must fight an army that loves death as other people love life (see 634).

5. Improvement of life over that in Arabia

But improvement of life materially must be included in this not—so—holy call. When Khalid perceived that his Muslim Crusaders desired to return to Arabia, he pointed out how luscious the land of the Persians was:

'Do you not regard [your] food like a dusty gulch? By God, if struggle for God's sake and calling [people] to God were not required of us, and there were no consideration except our livelihood, the wise opinion would [still] have been to strike this countryside until we possess it'. . . . (Tabari 11:20 / 2031)

Khalid was from Mecca. At the time of this 'motivational' speech, the Empire of Persia included Iraq, and this is where Khalid is warring. Besides his religious goal of Islamizing its inhabitants by warfare, Khalid's goal is to 'possess' the land.

Like Pope Urban II in 1095 exhorting the Medieval Crusaders to war against the Muslim 'infidels' for the first time, in response to Muslim aggression that had been going on for centuries, Abu Bakr gives his own speech in 634, exhorting Muslims to war against the 'infidels,' though he is not as long—winded as the Pope.

Muslim polemicists believe that Islam spread militarily by a miracle from Allah. However, these five earth—bound reasons explain things more clearly.

Did the Islamic Crusades force conversions by the sword?

Historical facts demonstrate that most of the conquered cities and regions accepted the last of three options that were enforced by the later Muslim Crusaders: (1) fight and die, (2) convert and pay the zakat tax; (3) keep their Biblical faith and pay the jizya tax. Most preferred to remain in their own religion.

However, people eventually converted. After all, Islamic lands are called such for a reason—or many reasons. Why? Four Muslim polemicists whitewash the reasons people converted, so their scholarship is suspect.

1. The polemical answer

First, Malise Ruthven and Azim Nanji use the Quran to explain later historical facts:

'Islam expanded by conquest and conversion. Although it was sometimes said that the faith of Islam was spread by the sword, the two are not the same. The Koran states unequivocally, 'There is no compulsion in religion' (Sura 2:256).' (Historical Atlas of Islam, Cambridge, Mass: Harvard, 2004, 30).

According to them, the Quran says there should be no compulsion, so the historical facts conform to a sacred text. This shaky reasoning is analyzed, below.

Next, David Dakake also references Sura 2:256, and defines compulsion very narrowly. Jihad has been misrepresented as forcing Jews, Christians, and other peoples of the Middle East, Asia and Africa to convert to Islam 'on pain of death.' ('The Myth of Militant Islam,' Islam, Fundamentalism, and the Betrayal of Tradition, ed. J.E.B. Lumbard, Bloomington: World Wisdom, 2004, p. 13). This is too narrow a definition of compulsion, as we shall see, below.

Finally, Qutb, also citing Sura 2:256, is even more categorical:

'Never in its history did Islam compel a single human being to change his faith' (In the Shade of the Qur'an, vol. 8, p. 307).

This is absurd on its face, and it only demonstrates the tendentiousness of Islamic scholarship, which must be challenged at every turn here in the West. For more information and thorough logic, see this article.

2. The historical facts

History does not always follow Scriptures because people do not. Did the vast majority of conquered peoples make such fine distinctions, even if a general amnesty were granted to People of the Book? Maybe a few diehards did, but the majority? Most people at this time did not know how to read or could barely read, so when they saw a Muslim army outside their gates, why would they not convert, even if they waited? To Ruthven's and Nanji's credit, they come up with other reasons to convert besides the sword, such as people's fatigue with church squabbles, a few doctrinal similarities, simplicity of the conversion process, a desire to enter the ranks of the new ruling elite, and so on. But using the Quran to interpret later facts paints the history of Islam into a corner of an unrealistically high standard.

This misguided connection between Scripture and later historical facts does not hold together. Revelations or ideals should not run roughshod over later historical facts, as if all followers obey their Scriptures perfectly.

To his credit, Ibn Khaldun (1332—1406), late Medieval statesman, jurist, historian, and scholar, has enough integrity and candor to balance out these four Muslim apologists, writing a history that is still admired by historians today. He states the obvious:

In the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the Muslim mission and (the obligation to) convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force. (The Muqaddimah: an Introduction to History (abridged), trans. Franz Rosenthal, Princeton UP, 1967, p.183)

When the Islamic Crusaders go out to conquer, carrying an Islamic banner inscribed in Arabic of the glory and the truth of their prophet, Ibn Khaldun would not deny that the army's mission, besides the material reasons of conquest, is to convert the inhabitants. Islam is a 'universalizing' religion, and if its converts enter its fold either by persuasion or force, then that is the nature of Islam.

Moreover, Ibn Khaldun explains why a dynasty rarely establishes itself firmly in lands of many different tribes and groups. But it can be done after a long time and employing the following tactics, as seen in the Maghrib (N and NW Africa) from the beginning of Islam to Ibn Khaldun's own time:

The first (Muslim) victory over them and the European Christians (in the Maghrib) was of no avail. They continued to rebel and apostatized time after time. The Muslims massacred many of them. After the Muslim religion had been established among them, they went on revolting and seceding, and they adopted dissident religious opinions many times. They remained disobedient and unmanageable . . . . Therefore, it has taken the Arabs a long time to establish their dynasty in the . . . Maghrib. (p. 131)


Though European Crusaders may have been sincere, they wandered off from the origins of Christianity when they slashed and burned and forced conversions. Jesus never used violence; neither did he call his disciples to use it. Given this historical fact, it is only natural that the New Testament would never endorse violence to spread the word of the true God. Textual reality matches historical reality in the time of Jesus.

In contrast, Muslims who slashed and burned and forced conversions did not wander off from the origins of Islam, but followed it closely. It is a plain and unpleasant historical fact that in the ten years that Muhammad lived in Medina (622—632), he either sent out or went out on seventy—four raids, expeditions, or full—scale wars, which range from small assassination hit squads to the Tabuk Crusade, described above (see 630). Sometimes the expeditions did not result in violence, but a Muslim army always lurked in the background. Muhammad could exact a terrible vengeance on an individual or tribe that double—crossed him. These ten years did not know long stretches of peace.

It is only natural that the Quran would be filled with references to jihad and qital, the latter word meaning only fighting, killing, warring, and slaughtering. Textual reality matches historical reality in the time of Muhammad. And after. 

But this means that the Church had to fight back or be swallowed up by an aggressive religion over the centuries. Thus, the Church did not go out and conquer in a mindless, bloodthirsty, and irrational way—though the Christian Crusades were far from perfect.

Islam was the aggressor in its own Crusades, long before the Europeans responded with their own.

James Arlandson can be reached at

Supplemental Material

Please see this two—part article (here and here) for the rules of Islamic warfare. Too often they do not follow simple justice, but were barbaric and cruel, such as permitting sex with newly captured female prisoners of war.

This article goes into more detail on the motives for Islamic expansion and a comparison with Christianity. The second major section discusses the weak Islamic claim on Jerusalem.

This book by Andrew Bostom is the antidote to the false belief that life under Islam was always a bed of roses. Bostom provides many source documents, sometimes translated for the first time. Here are some online samples. This two—part article (here and here) recounts Muslim atrocities in Palestine. This two—part article (here and here) demonstrates that jihad produced the European Crusades.


Gil, Moshe. A History of Palestine: 634—1099. Cambridge UP, 1983, 1997.

Nicolle, David. The Armies of Islam. Men—at—Arms. Osprey, 1982.

———. Saladin and the Saracens. Men—at Arms. Osprey, 1986.

———. Armies of the Muslim Conquests. Men—at—Arms. Osprey, 1993.

———. The Moors, the Islamic West. Men—at—Arms. Osprey, 2001.

Top ten reasons why

sharia is bad for all societies

Traditional Muslims who understand the Quran and the hadith believe that sharia (Islamic law) expresses the highest and best goals for all societies. It is the will of Allah. But is Islam just in its laws that Muhammad himself practiced and invented? This article says no for ten verifiable reasons. Here are four points you must read, before reading this article: First, sometimes these ten points quote the Quran or omit it; sometimes they quote the hadith (reports of Muhammad's words and actions outside of the Quran) or omit it. This is done only to keep down the length of the article. No one should be fooled into believing that these harsh and excessive laws were invented in the fevered imagination of extremists who came long after Muhammad. These harsh and excessive laws come directly from the founder of Islam in his Quran and in his example in the hadith. Second, each of these ten reasons has a back—up article (or more) that is long and well documented with quotations and references to the Quran, the hadith, and classical legal opinions. The supporting articles also examine the historical and literary context of each Quranic verse. If the readers, especially critics, wish to challenge one or all of these ten reasons, or if they simply doubt them, they should click on the supporting articles. They will see that Muhammad himself actually laid down these excessive punishments and policies. Third, it must be pointed out that these harsh laws are not (or should not be) imposed outside of an Islamic court of law. Careful legal hurdles must be passed before the punishments are carried out. However, even in that case, it will become clear to anyone who thinks clearly that these punishments and policies are excessive by their very nature, and excess is never just, as Aristotle taught us in his Nicomachean Ethics. Fourth, in each of the lengthy supporting article (or articles), a Biblical view on these infractions of moral law (or sometimes civil law or personal injuries) is presented. One of the reasons we all sense that these Islamic punishments are harsh and excessive is that Christianity has also filled the globe. Even if one is not a Christian or is only a nominal Christian, he or she has breathed deeply of Christianity by virtue of laws and customs or even driving by churches. New Testament Christianity, when properly understood and followed, offers humanity dignity. 'Islam' in this article stands for Muhammad, the earliest Muslims, and classical legal scholars. Here are the top ten reasons why sharia or Islamic law is bad for all societies. 10. Islam commands that drinkers and gamblers should be whipped. In 2001, Iranian officials sentenced three men to flogging not only for illicit sex (see reason no. nine), but also for drinking alcohol. In 2005, in Nigeria a sharia court ordered that a drinker should be caned eighty strokes. In 2005, in the Indonesian province of Aceh, fifteen men were caned in front of a mosque for gambling. This was done publicly so all could see and fear. Eleven others are scheduled to undergo the same penalty for gambling. After going through two previous confusing stages before coming down hard on drinkers and gamblers, the Quran finally prohibits alcohol and gambling in Sura 5:90—91; they do not prescribe the punishment of flogging, but the hadith does. A poor 'criminal' was brought to Muhammad who became angry: The Prophet felt it hard (was angry) and ordered all those who were present in the house, to beat him [the drinker dragged into Muhammad's presence]. (Bukhari, Punishments, nos. 6774—6775) Thus, we see no offer of help for the alcoholic when he is dragged before Muhammad and his followers. Why does Muhammad not offer rehabilitation? Why does he immediately go to corporal punishment? The later classical legal rulings follow the Quran and the hadith, so we do not need to examine them here. It is sometimes argued that Islamic countries are pure, whereas the West is decadent. No one can argue with this latter claim, but are Islamic countries pure? The Supplemental Material, below, demonstrates that Islamic countries still have drinking and gambling in them. Here is the article that supports this tenth point and that analyzes the confusing Quranic verses on drinking and gambling. It analyzes the hadith and later legal rulings. 9. Islam allows husbands to hit their wives even if the husbands merely fear highhandedness in their wives. In 2004, Rania al—Baz, who had been beaten by her husband, made her ordeal public to raise awareness about violence suffered by women in the home in Saudi Arabia. Saudi television aired a talk show that discussed this issue. Scrolling three—fourths of the way down the link, the readers can see an Islamic scholar holding up sample rods that husbands may use to hit their wives. The Quran says: 4:34 . . . If you fear highhandedness from your wives, remind them [of the teaching of God], then ignore them when you go to bed, then hit them. If they obey you, you have no right to act against them. God is most high and great. (MAS Abdel Haleem, the Qur'an, Oxford UP, 2004) The hadith says that Muslim women in the time of Muhammad were suffering from domestic violence in the context of confusing marriage laws: Rifa'a divorced his wife whereupon 'AbdurRahman bin Az—Zubair Al—Qurazi married her. 'Aisha said that the lady (came), wearing a green veil (and complained to her (Aisha) of her husband and showed her a green spot on her skin caused by beating). It was the habit of ladies to support each other, so when Allah's Apostle came, 'Aisha said, "I have not seen any woman suffering as much as the believing women. Look! Her skin is greener than her clothes!" (Bukhari) This hadith shows Muhammad hitting his girl—bride, Aisha, daughter of Abu Bakr: Muslim no. 2127: 'He [Muhammad] struck me [Aisha] on the chest which caused me pain.' It is claimed that Islamic societies have fewer incidents of fornication and adultery because of strict laws or customs, for example, women wearing veils over their faces or keeping separate from men in social settings. But these results of fewer incidents of sexual 'crimes' may have unanticipated negative effects in other areas, such as the oppression of women. Generally, sharia restricts women's social mobility and rights, the more closely sharia is followed. For example, in conservative Saudi Arabia women are not allowed to drive cars. In Iran, the law oppresses women. For example, women's testimony counts half that of men, and far more women than men are stoned to death for adultery. Here is the supporting article for the ninth point. It has a long list of different translations of Sura 4:34, in order to resolve confusion over this verse, circulating around the web. This longer article has many links that demonstrate the oppression of women under Islamic law (scroll down to 'Further discussion'). 8. Islam allows an injured plaintiff to exact legal revenge—physical eye for physical eye. In 2003, in Saudi Arabia a man had two teeth extracted under the law of retaliation. In 2003, a court in Pakistan sentenced a man to be blinded by acid after he carried out a similar attack on his fianc饮 In 2005, an Iranian court orders a man's eye to be removed for throwing acid on another man and blinding him in both eyes. The Quran says: 5:45 And We ordained therein for them: Life for life, eye for eye, nose for nose, ear for ear, tooth for tooth and wounds equal for equal. But if anyone remits the retaliation by way of charity, it shall be for him an expiation. And whosoever does not judge by that which Allah has revealed, such are the Zalimun (polytheists and wrongdoers . . .). (Hilali and Khan, The Noble Qur'an, Riyadh: Darussalam, 1996) This passage allows for an indemnity or compensation instead of imposing the literal punishment of eye for an eye. No one should have a quarrel with this option. According to the hadith, the plaintiff also has the option to forgive, and this is legitimate, provided a judge oversees the process. The problem is the literal law of retaliation. The hadith and later legal rulings demonstrate that this excessive option was actually carried out, as do the three modern examples linked above. Please go here for the supporting article that cites the hadith and later legal rulings. Islamic law calls all of humanity to march backwards 1,400 years BC and to re—impose the old law of retaliation—literally, and the evidence suggest that the Torah never intended the law to be carried out literally, as the supporting article demonstrates. 7. Islam commands that a male and female thief must have a hand cut off. Warning! This short article has photos of severed hands. The reader should never lose sight of the fact that this punishment is prescribed in the Quran, the eternal word of Allah. It does not exist only in the fevered imagination of a violent and sick radical regime like the Taliban, which once ruled in Afghanistan. A Saudi cleric justifies chopping off hands here. The Quran says: 5:38 Cut off the hands of thieves, whether they are male or female, as punishment for what they have done—a deterrent from God: God is almighty and wise. 39 But if anyone repents after his wrongdoing and makes amends, God will accept his repentance: God is most forgiving and merciful. (Haleem) At first glance, verse 39 seems to accept repentance before the thief's hand is cut off. But the hadith states emphatically that repentance is acceptable only after mutilation. Muhammad himself says that even if his own daughter, Fatima, were to steal and then intercede that her hand should not be cut off, he would still have to cut it off (Bukhari, Punishments, no. 6788) If the reader would like to see more hadith passages, modern defenses of this indefensible punishment (and a refutation of them), and the Biblical solution to theft, they should click on this long supporting article or this shorter one. 6. Islam commands that highway robbers should be crucified or mutilated. In September 2003, Scotsman Sandy Mitchell faced crucifixion in Saudi Arabia. He was beaten and tortured until he confessed to a crime he did not commit: a bomb plot masterminded by the British embassy. The article says of this punishment that it is the worst kind of execution and that two have been carried out in the last twenty years. In 2002 Amnesty International reports that even though Saudi Arabia ratified the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Convention against Torture) in October 1997, amputation is prescribed under both Hudud (punishments) and Qisas (law of retaliation). AI has recorded thirty—three amputations and nine cross—amputations where the alternate hand or foot is mutilated. The Quran says: 5:33 Those who wage war against God and His Messenger and strive to spread corruption in the land should be punished by death, crucifixion, the amputation of an alternate hand and foot or banishment from the land: a disgrace for them in this world, and then a terrible punishment in the Hereafter, 34 unless they repent before you overpower them: in that case bear in mind that God is forgiving and merciful. (Haleem) It may be difficult to accept, but the hadith says that Muhammad tortured these next people before he executed them. This scenario provides the historical context of Sura 5:33—34. The explanations in parentheses have been added by the translator: Narrated Anas: Some people . . . came to the Prophet and embraced Islam . . . [T]hey turned renegades (reverted from Islam) and killed the shepherd of the camels and took the camels away . . . The Prophet ordered that their hands and legs should be cut off and their eyes should be branded with heated pieces of iron, and that their cut hands and legs should not be cauterized, till they died. (Bukhari, Punishments, no. 6802) The next hadith reports that the renegades died from bleeding to death because Muhammad refused to cauterize their amputated limbs. Then the hadith after that one reports that the renegades were not given water, so they died of thirst. They probably died of both causes: thirst and loss of blood. See this short article for details on another example of Muhammad's use of torture. Islamic law says that these punishments are imposed for highway robbery, and in some cases crucifixion does not need a murder before it is imposed. For more information on Muhammad's brutality and the barbaric laws that flow out of it, go to the back—up article. 5. Islam commands that homosexuals must be executed. In February 1998, the Taliban, who once ruled in Afghanistan, ordered a stone wall to be pushed over three men convicted of sodomy. Their lives were to be spared if they survived for 30 minutes and were still alive when the stones were removed. In its 1991 Constitution, in Articles 108—113, Iran adopted the punishment of execution for sodomy. In April 2005, a Kuwaiti cleric says homosexuals should be thrown off a mountain or stoned to death. On April 7, 2005, it was reported that Saudi Arabia sentenced more than 100 men to prison or flogging for 'gay conduct.' These homosexuals were lucky. Early Islam would have executed them, as these hadith demonstrate. Ibn Abbas, Muhammad's cousin and highly reliable transmitter of hadith, reports the following about early Islam and Muhammad's punishment of homosexuals: . . . 'If you find anyone doing as Lot's people did, kill the one who does it, and the one to whom it is done' (Abu Dawud no. 4447). This hadith passage says that homosexuals should be burned alive or have wall pushed on them: Ibn Abbas and Abu Huraira reported God's messenger as saying, 'Accursed is he who does what Lot's people did.' In a version . . . on the authority of Ibn Abbas it says that Ali [Muhammad's cousin and son—in—law] had two people burned and that Abu Bakr [Muhammad's chief companion] had a wall thrown down on them. (Mishkat, vol. 1, p. 765, Prescribed Punishments) Though this punishment of a wall being toppled on them is extreme, the Taliban were merely following the origins of their religion. If the reader would like to see the confusion in the Quran on the matter of homosexuality, the severity in the hadith, and excessive rulings of classical fiqh, they should see the supporting article. This longer one has links to many discussions on Islamic punishments of homosexuals (scroll down to 'Supplemental material'). 4. Islam orders unmarried fornicators to be whipped and adulterers to be stoned to death. Fornication: In 2001, Iranian officials sentenced three men to flogging for illicit sex. The Quran says: 24:2 The fornicatress and the fornicator, flog each of them with a hundred stripes. Let not pity withhold you in their case, in a punishment prescribed by Allah, if you believe in Allah and the Last Day. And let a party of the believers witness their punishment. [This punishment is for unmarried persons guilty of the above crime (illegal sex), but if married persons commit it (illegal sex), the punishment is to stone them to death, according to Allah's law]. (Hilali and Khan). The additions in the brackets, though not original to the Arabic, have the support of the hadith. These command flogging only of unmarried fornicators: Bukhari, Punishments, nos. 6831 and 6833. The classical legal rulings follow the Quran and the hadith closely, so we do not need to analyze them here. According to this report, in Iran a teenage boy broke his Ramadan fast, so a judge sentenced him to be lashed with eighty—five stripes. He died from the punishment. Though his sad case does not deal with fornication, it is cited here because it shows that lashing can be fatal. Adultery: In December 2004, Amnesty International reports: An Iranian woman charged with adultery faces death by stoning in the next five days after her death sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court last month. Her unnamed co—defendant is at risk of imminent execution by hanging. Amnesty International members are now writing urgent appeals to the Iranian authorities, calling for the execution to be stopped. She is to be buried up to her chest and stoned to death. This gruesome hadith passage reports that a woman was buried up to her chest and stoned to death: And when he had given command over her and she was put in a hole up to her breast, he ordered the people to stone her. Khalid b. al—Walid came forward with a stone which he threw at her head, and when the blood spurted on his face he cursed her . . . (Muslim no. 4206) The Prophet prayed over her dead body and then buried her. Truthfully, though, how effective was the prayer when Muhammad and his community murdered her in cold blood? The rest of the hadith says that Muhammad told Khalid not to be too harsh, but the Prophet's words drip with irony. Perhaps Muhammad meant that Khalid should not have cursed her. However, if they really did not want to be harsh, they should have forgiven her and let her go to raise her child. Later Islamic legal rulings follow the Quran and the hadith closely, so we do not need to analyze them here. Here is the back—up article that supports this fourth reason. 3. Islam orders death for Muslim and possible death for non—Muslim critics of Muhammad and the Quran and even sharia itself. In 1989, Iran's Supreme Leader issued a fatwa (legal decree) to assassinate Salman Rushdie, a novelist, who wrote Satanic Verses, which includes questions about the angel Gabriel's role in inspiring the Quran. Now the extremists in the highest levels in Iran have recently renewed the fatwa. In 2005, The Muslim Council of Victoria, Australia, brought a lawsuit against two pastors for holding a conference and posting articles critiquing Islam. Three Muslims attended the conference and felt offended. The two pastors have been convicted based on Australia's vilification law. While on trial, one of them wanted to read from the Quran on domestic violence (see 9, above), but the lawyer representing the Council would not allow it. The pastors are appealing their conviction. In 2005, British Muslims have been campaigning to pass a religious hate speech law in England's parliament. They have succeeded. Their ability to propagandize has not been curtailed. Opponents of the law say that it stifles free speech that may criticize Muhammad, the Quran, and Islam. Here are the classical legal rulings. First, the Muslim deserves death for doing any of the following (Reliance of the Traveler pp. 597—98, o8.7): (1) Reviling Allah or his Messenger; (2) being sarcastic about 'Allah's name, His command, His interdiction, His promise, or His threat'; (3) denying any verse of the Quran or 'anything which by scholarly consensus belongs to it, or to add a verse that does not belong to it'; (4) holding that 'any of Allah's messengers or prophets are liars, or to deny their being sent'; (5) reviling the religion of Islam; (6) being sarcastic about any ruling of the Sacred Law; (7) denying that Allah intended 'the Prophet's message . . . to be the religion followed by the entire world.' It is no wonder that critical investigation of the truth claims of Islam can never prevail in Islamic lands when the sword of Muhammad hangs over the scholars' head. The non—Muslims living under Islamic rule are not allowed to do the following (p. 609, o11.10(1)—(5)): (1) Commit adultery with a Muslim woman or marry her; (2) conceal spies of hostile forces; (3) lead a Muslim away from Islam; (4) mention something impermissible about Allah, the Prophet . . . or Islam. According to the discretion of the caliph or his representative, the punishments for violating these rules are as follows: (1) death, (2) enslavement, (3) release without paying anything, and (4) ransoming in exchange for money. These punishments also execute free speech—even repulsive speech—and freedom of religion or conscience. Ultimately, censorship testifies to a lack of confidence in one's position and message. If the message of Islam were truly superior, one could trust in the power of truth. As it stands, sharia with its prescribed punishments for questioning Muhammad, the Quran, and sharia itself testifies to their weakness since sharia threatens those who dare to differ. How confident was Muhammad (and today's Muslims) in his message that he had to rely on violence and force to protect his message, besides reason and persuasive argumentation? For the supporting article that analyzes the Quran and the hadith, both of which orders death to critics, click here. 2. Islam orders apostates to be killed. In Iran an academic was condemned to death for criticizing clerical rule in Iran. The rulers assert that he was insulting Muhammad and Shi'ite laws. He was charged with apostasy. This analysis tracks the application of apostasy laws around the world, citing many examples. Apostates are those who leave Islam, like Salman Rushdie (see the linked article in no. three, above), whether they become atheists or convert to another religion. They are supposed to be killed according to the Quran, the hadith, and later legal rulings. See the previous point no. three for acts that entail leaving Islam according to Islamic law. Here are the articles that support reason no. two. This is a short, but full article on apostasy, citing Quranic verses and hadith passages. Sayyid Maududi, a respected Islamic scholar, in this booklet argues that Sura 9:11—12 refers to apostates and that they should be put to death (scroll down to 'The Proof in the Quran for the Commandment to Execute Apostates'). This Muslim website has an overview of Islam on apostates. They should be given time to repent, but if they refuse, they must be killed. And the number one reason why sharia is bad for all societies . . . 1. Islam commands offensive and aggressive and unjust jihad. Muhammad is foundational to Islam, and he set the genetic code for Islam, waging war. In the ten years that he lived in Medina from his Hijrah (Emigration) from Mecca in AD 622 to his death of a fever in AD 632, he either sent out or went out on seventy—four raids, expeditions, or full—scale wars. They range from small assassination hit squads to kill anyone who insulted him, to the Tabuk Crusades in late AD 630 against the Byzantine Christians. He had heard a rumor that an army was mobilizing to invade Arabia, but the rumor was false, so his 30,000 jihadists returned home, but not before imposing a jizya tax on northern Christians and Jews. Money flowed into the Islamic treasury. So why would Muhammad get a revelation to dry up this money flow? What are some of the legalized rules of jihad found in the Quran, hadith, and classical legal opinions? (1) Women and children are enslaved. They can either be sold, or the Muslims may 'marry' the women, since their marriages are automatically annulled upon their capture. (2) Jihadists may have sex with slave women. Ali, Muhammad's cousin and son—in—law, did this. (3) Women and children must not be killed during war, unless this happens in a nighttime raid when visibility was low. (4) Old men and monks could be killed. (5) A captured enemy of war could be killed, enslaved, ransomed for money or an exchange, freely released, or beaten. One time Muhammad even tortured a citizen of the city of Khaybar in order to extract information about where the wealth of the city was hidden. (6) Enemy men who converted could keep their property and small children. This law is so excessive that it amounts to forced conversion. Only the strongest of the strong could resist this coercion and remain a non—Muslim. (7) Civilian property may be confiscated. (8) Civilian homes may be destroyed. (9) Civilian fruit trees may be destroyed. (10) Pagan Arabs had to convert or die. This does not allow for the freedom of religion or conscience. (11) People of the Book (Jews and Christians) had three options (Sura 9:29): fight and die; convert and pay a forced 'charity' or zakat tax; or keep their Biblical faith and pay a jizya or poll tax. The last two options mean that money flows into the Islamic treasury, so why would Muhammad receive a revelation to dry up this money flow? Thus, jihad is aggressive, coercive, and excessive, and Allah never revealed to Muhammad to stop these practices. For an analysis of the Christian Crusades and the Islamic Crusades, click here. For the supporting article of reason no. one, please go here. It also has a segment on the differences between jihad in Islam and the wars in the Old Testament. Another article on that topic can be read here. There are vast differences between Islam and Judaism on this topic. Therefore, Islam is violent—unjustly and aggressively. Conclusion The nightmare must end. Sharia oppresses the citizens of Islamic countries. Islam must reform, but the legal hierarchy in Islamic nations will not do this because the judges and legal scholars understand the cost: many passages in the Quran and the hadith must be rejected, and this they cannot do. After all, the Quran came down directly from Allah through Gabriel, so says traditional theology. So how can Islam reform? But reform it must. It can start by rewriting classical fiqh (interpretations of law). Again, though, that would mean leaving behind the Quran and Muhammad's example. How can the legal hierarchy in Islamic nations do this? In contrast, the West has undergone the Enlightenment or the Age of Reason (c. 1600—1800+), so western law has been injected with a heavy dose of reason. Also, the New Testament tempers excessive punishments. At least when Christianity reformed (c. 1400—1600), the reformers went back to the New Testament, which preaches peace and love. So religion and reason in the West permit justice to be found more readily—the Medieval Church is not foundational to Christianity; only Jesus and the New Testament are. Can Islamic countries benefit from an Enlightenment that may deny the Quran and the hadith? This seems impossible. Islamic law threatens Muslims with death if they criticize Muhammad and the Quran, not to mention denying them. Since Islamic law cannot be reformed without doing serious damage to original and authentic Islam—the one taught by Muhammad—then a second plan must be played out. Sharia must never spread around the world. At least that much is clear and achievable. The hard evidence in this article demonstrates beyond doubt that sharia does not benefit any society, for it contains too many harsh rules and punishments. One of the most tragic and under—reported occurrences in the West in recent years is the existence of a sharia court in Canada. Muslims are pushing for a sharia divorce courting Australia as well. Having a court of arbitration if it is based on western law and legal theory is legitimate, but sharia does not hold to this standard. Whether sharia is imposed gradually or rapidly, Canada should promptly shut down any sharia court, and Australia should never allow one. Such a court should never be permitted in the US, the rest of the West, or anywhere else in the world that is battling Islam. It is true that the Enlightenment teaches tolerance, but it also teaches critical thinking and reasoning. Sharia cannot stand up under scrutiny. It is intolerant and excessive, and Aristotle in his Nicomachean Ethics teaches the West that excess is never just. Thankfully, the province of Quebec, Canada, has forbidden sharia. This is the right initiative. Sharia ultimately degrades society and diminishes freedom. James M. Arlandson may be reached at Supplemental material: In private emails to me or on websites, Muslim apologists (defenders) claim that the Islamic way of dealing with vices is superior to the western way, even in Islam's punishments like flogging and stoning. It is true that the West is filled with decadence, but are Islamic countries pure and pristine through and through, as these Muslim apologists imply? To anyone whose mind has not been clouded by a lifetime of devotion to Islam, the answer to this rhetorical question is obvious. Alcohol and other intoxicants and gambling serve as test cases. This article says that Bahrain, an island and independent sate that is connected to Saudi Arabia by a causeway, provides a 'breathing lung' for Saudis because this Islamic island allows the free flow of alcohol and a night life. The words 'breathing lung' in Bahrain mean that Saudi Arabia suffocates people. On the weekends an average of 40,000 cars line up to cross the bridge. This article discusses the smuggling of alcohol in Saudi Arabia and says: "Western analysts note that alcohol smuggling of the magnitude underway in Saudi Arabia —— perhaps tens of millions of dollars' worth of illegal merchandise annually —— would likely involve the complicity of Saudi customs agents and perhaps a higher—level patron." This article reveals how Iranians get around the official ban on alcohol, like beer and vodka and other intoxicants, like opium. A black market has sprung up—just like the one in America during Prohibition. This article says that even though the Taliban, the tyrants who formerly ruled Afghanistan, outlawed the growth of poppies, which are the source of opium, the leaders of the Taliban may have profited from the drug trade. The new and democratic government has a hard time keeping this drug under control. This article says that authorities in Turkey threaten to imprison online gamblers, and this page links to a report (scroll to the second one) that discusses how Turkey must deal with the problem of monetary interest, alcohol, and gambling. It is revealing to see how Muslim religious leaders try to squirm out of Quranic laws against interest, in order to help Islamic financial institutions make money. The purpose of these links is not to condemn Islamic countries or to assert that the West is better than they are. Facts say that the West has many problems. Rather, the purpose is to demonstrate that Islamic countries have their share of problems as well. This means that Islamic countries are also decadent. This means that Islamic punishments do not work entirely (except by scare tactics), but they can drive the sin or crime underground.

What is the purpose or goal of jihad?

Al—Misri says that jihad establishes the religion of Islam.

. . . Jihad means to war against non—Muslims and is etymologically derived from the mujahada, signifying warfare to establish religion. (p. 599, o9.0)

The Caliph fights those who are not People of the Book or Zoroastrians (a Persian religion), in order to force them to become Muslims, according to the Shafi school.

The caliph fights all other people until they become Muslim . . . because they are not a people of the Book, nor honored as such, and are not permitted to settle with paying the poll tax (jizya) (though according to the Hanafi school, peoples of all other religions, even idol worshippers, are permitted to live under the protection of the Islamic state if they either become Muslim or agree to pay the poll tax, the sole exceptions to which are apostates from Islam and idol—worshippers who are Arabs, neither of whom has any choice but becoming Muslim (p. 603, o9.9).

Thus, the goal is to force people to become Muslim or to get them to pay a tax for the 'privilege' of living under Islamic 'protection,' that is, so they will not get attacked again. They have three choices: convert, fight and die, or pay the tax. Though technically this is not a forced conversion, it comes close when a Muslim army sits outside the city gate. As we will see shortly, non—Muslims have more incentives to convert to Islam.

These purposes do not reveal a defensive war, when the goal is to establish Islam in a region that was blessed to live outside of this excessively controlling religion.

What are some rules of jihad?

1. Women and children are not targets of jihad, except under one condition.

It is not permissible to kill women and children . . . unless they are fighting against the Muslims. (p. 603, o9.10)

Islam may (or may not) do this out of a sense of justice, but as we will see, below, women and children are kept as slaves or sold into slavery. So an economic motive must be factored in for letting them live. Nothing is purely peaceful and just in Islam, without a sting at the end of a law or Quranic verse.

This rule is more just than the practice in the hadith that permits nighttime attacks that puts women and children at risk. It seems this later jurist is more just than Muhammad and the first generation of Muslims. Muslims should follow this jurist, instead of the founder of Islam.

2. Women and children are sold into slavery.

When a child or a woman is taken captive, they become slaves by the fact of capture, and the woman's previous marriage is immediately annulled. (p. 604, o9.13)

This means that the 'generosity' in not killing them is mitigated by their being enslaved. Islam could have been judged more positively if it did not have this hard rule in it (and many others). True, slavery was a world—wide occurrence, but Islam codifies it in unchanging religious law, based on the Quran and the example of Muhammad.

What happened to the rule that hero—jihadists could rape female prisoners, either going all the way with them or practicing coitus interruptus? Is al—Misri, the jurist who wrote this Shafi manual, embarrassed by these hadith (see previous section, no. 2)? Is the practice too entrenched in jihad? Whatever the case, one thing is certain: the legal manual does not prohibit this horrible immorality.

3. When an enemy is taken captive, the caliph has four options:

When the adult male is taken captive, the caliph . . . considers the interests . . . of  Islam and Muslims and decides between the prisoner's death, slavery, release without paying anything, or ransoming himself in exchange for money or for a Muslim captive held by the enemy. (p. 604, o9.14)

In the hadith, jihadists could beat prisoners, and according to the earliest biography of Muhammad, he tortured a man to extract information. Apparently, this law improves on original Islam and the founder.

4. But if the captive converts to Islam while captured, then one option is removed:

If the prisoner becomes a Muslim . . . before the caliph chooses any of the four alternatives, then he may not be killed, and one of the other three alternatives is chosen. (ibid)

Avoiding death, even before the captive knows which alternative will be imposed on him, is a powerful incentive to 'freely' convert to Islam.

5. To preserve a conquered man's property and small children from military theft is also a powerful motive to 'freely' convert to Islam:

Whoever enters Islam being captured may not be killed or his property confiscated, or his young children taken captive. (p. 604, o9.13)

Everyone has often heard that Islam does not force conversions. Evidently, forced conversions by this definition take place only when a sword hangs directly over the necks of the conquered. This definition is wrong. People actually were forced to convert, unless they were willing to forgo their entire livelihoods and their 'young children.' Only the strongest of the strong would resist this coercion, having this option hung over them like a sword of Muhammad—who owned several and even nicknamed them.

6. Old men and monks may be killed:

It is permissible to kill old men (old man (shaykh) meaning someone more than forty years of age) and monks. (ibid.)

In Late Antiquity and the Medieval Age, life expectancy was much lower than it is today, so a forty—year old man was should not be seen as young. Also, killing monks is wrong. This belies the law that says People of the Book may live.

7. Fruit trees and homes may be destroyed.

This law is not very peaceful for a religion that claims that the Quran came down directly from Allah and that Muhammad's life was guided directly by his deity:

It is permissible to cut down the enemy's trees and destroy their dwellings (p. 604, o9.15).

We should not be surprised at this ruling, since Muhammad started cutting down the trees and destroying the homes of the Jewish Nadir tribe before he exiled them (Sura 59:5).

8. The three options are imposed on the People of the Book. In this excerpt, the parentheses are added:

The caliph (1) makes war upon Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians . . . provided he has (2) . . . invited them to enter Islam, and (3) if they will not, then invited them to enter the social order of Islam by paying the non—Muslim poll tax (jizya . . .) . . . and (1) the war continues until (2) they become Muslim or (3) else pay the non—Muslim poll tax . . . (p. 602, o9.8).

The passage in the manual quotes the Quran in Sura 9:29, the foundation of the three options.

9. As noted in the section 'The purpose of goal of jihad,' everyone who does not belong to the People of the Book is fought until they become Muslims.

The caliph fights all other peoples until they become Muslims. (p. 603, o9.10).

The passage goes on to say that some schools of law allow for non—Arab idol worshippers to pay the tax without converting to Islam, but the Shafi school, the one analyzed here, says that they must convert or die. Why would not terrorists today use the most severe school of law, especially when it dominates their geographical area in Iraq (Sunnis), Saudi Arabia, and Palestine?

What happens to the spoils in jihad?

The spoils are divided into five parts.

. . . The first fifth is set aside [for the state] . . . and the remaining four are distributed, one share to each infantryman and three shares to each cavalrymen. From these latter four fifths, a token payment is given at the leader's discretion to women, children, and non—Muslim participants on the Muslim side. (p. 606, o10.1)

As noted in the hadith section, Islam verbally claims to break down class structure, but in reality these rules keep it alive. Only the rich or upper classes could own a horse to spare for battle, and the cavalrymen were usually far fewer than the infantrymen. However, the horsemen were to get much more than the lowly infantrymen. How is this justice?

The first—fifth of the spoils goes to the state, and it gets distributed according to the needs in a welfare state, such as to the poor or orphans. It may also go to building up 'Islamic interests as fortifying defenses on the frontiers, salaries for Islamic judges, muezzins, and the like' (p. 606, o10.3).

Spoils of war are a powerful incentive for the poor and disaffected to join a religion that conquers new areas in order to gain wealth, even though they did not initiate warfare against Islam. If anyone is looking for a reason for the growth of Islam, he or she does not need to look beyond this point—though other factors, such as weakening Byzantine and Persian Empires, play a role.

Islam was not spread by simple preaching, without an army lurking in the background or standing in the foreground.

What happens to martyrs in jihad?

The Shafi manual quotes a hadith:

A man said, 'O Messenger of Allah, will my mistakes be forgiven me if I am killed, in steadfastness and anticipating Allah's reward, advancing and not retreating?' He replied: 'Yes, except for debts.' (p. 667, p20.3(3))

It is unclear how Allah extracts the debts from a jihadist, but maybe it involves some degree of punishment for him in the afterlife or a financial burden on his family in their earthly life. Ruling o9.5(1) (p. 602) says that a creditor may give his debtor permission to fight, so the hadith passage is not followed that closely.

More importantly, this passage guarantees jihadists the forgiveness of sins and an escalator to heaven. This is reason enough for dazed and confused young Muslim men to wage violent jihad against unbelievers.

Before moving on to the Christian response to these atrocities, we should take stock of the last three sections, Parts One and Two.

The hadith and the Shafi school follow the Quran closely. All three sources permit injustices in jihad. Muslim soldiers are allowed to rape and enslave captured women. Male enemies may be executed. In nighttime raids women and children are permitted to leave this life, provided it is not deliberate. However, what does this say about Muhammad's capacity to be rightly guided in life—and—death policies in jihad?

Jihadists were allowed to destroy homes and fruit trees of an entire tribe, the Nadir, so this means that they are allowed do to this to the homes and fruit trees of other enemies today. The Quran, a pure revelation from Allah, says so. By analogy, the Muslim soldiers may do this to other kinds of civilian property if this helps them win the conflict. Muhammad should have received a revelation that contradicts this excess.

One powerful motive for waging jihad is the material benefits. The conquered territories fall under the control of the jihadists, and they are permitted to keep it. If anyone is looking for the reason for the spread of Islam, then this is a solid one, (though other reasons come into play, like following the will of Allah. The newly conquered have the option to convert, in which case they pay a forced 'charity' or zakat tax. Or they are allowed to remain in the Biblical faith and pay a jizya or poll tax. Granted, it is often asserted that the jizya is less than the forced 'charity' or zakat tax, but either way, money flows into the Islamic treasury.

Why would Muhammad receive a revelation that dries up this money flow, when it was connected to military jihad?


Jesus and the earliest church never waged even a small holy war on people in Israel or the Greco—Roman world who refused to convert or submit to his new religion, and neither he nor his church imposed a 'non—conversion' tax on them.

So the three questions have been taken out or modified, and others have been posed instead.

What are and what happens to Christians martyrs?

Matthew 5:10; 10:39; 19:29 speak of laying down one's life and giving up one's possessions. These verses call Jesus' disciples to be willing to give up all material possessions for the kingdom of God and to lay down their life mainly in a spiritual way, and possibly in a physical death under severe and fatal persecution. But the verses are not found in the context of a bloody religious war.

Rather, Jesus calls his disciples to pick up their cross and follow him (Matthew 10:38, 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23, 14:27), but he also says that they should do this daily (Luke 9:23). The image of the cross means that they must follow Jesus no matter what, on a daily basis, which precludes an earthly martyrdom, which is done only once; per contra, a 'daily martyrdom' is continuous. A twisted love of physical death is not in view in those New Testament passages in the context of qital or jihad.

It is also true that some of the early Christians suffered martyrdom, but, again, never in the cause of warfare; rather, they were persecuted and put to death because the listeners and local authorities were offended at their message, not because the Christians 'fight in God's way: they kill and are killed' (Sura 9:111). Stephen is the prime example and the first martyr in Christianity (Acts 6:8—8:1). He was stoned to death because he preached the truth, not because he was chopping off heads in a battle, only to have his head chopped off in turn by an enemy who had sneaked up behind him. His place in heaven was already secure before he preached or died, because Christ had saved him in his 'Martyr's' death on the cross.

The following cannot be repeated too often because it diametrically opposes the Islam: only Christ's 'Martyrdom' guarantees a believer's place in heaven; only his ultimate good work on the cross paves the way to God. Thus, the Christian does not (or should not) have a psychological inducement to kill himself or to be killed in battle to achieve heaven. He needs only trust in Christ.

Hence, the Quranic bargain of martyrdom is completely foreign to devout Christians and even to nominal Christians world over, who no longer take their faith seriously. Christians want heaven, and they are assured of it by the atoning death of Christ, once they receive the life—giving Spirit, who is not Gabriel, as claimed in Islamic theology.

Is Christianity a warrior religion?

Jesus and his disciples through the first three centuries turned the world upside down by simple proclamation, not by butchering with swords (or by threatening to butcher with swords) people who opposed their ministry. The subsequent warpath of Emperor Constantine in the fourth century and the Medieval Crusaders do not set the genetic code in the very origins of Christianity in the New Testament.

On the other hand, Muhammad is foundational to Islam, and he says that a martyr's death in the cause of Allah (cause = war) guarantees heaven. The contrast between the two religions is stark.

For more information on the Christian Crusades and the Islamic Crusades see this article.

Christ's original way leads to life and the light; Muhammad's original way leads to death and darkness.

What about the wars in the Old Testament?

This question has been answered more thoroughly in this article, but the short answer may be discussed here.

Allah and the true God at war are worlds apart.

(1) The historical span of Quranic and Biblical history must be considered. In Islam, Muhammad lived in Medina for only ten years (AD 622—632). In this brief time, he either sent out or went out on seventy—four raids, expeditions, or full—scale wars. They range from small assassination hit squads to eliminate anyone who insulted him, to an Islamic Crusade during which Muhammad led 30,000 jihadists against Byzantine Christians.

In contrast, the Old Testament books covers around 1,400 hundred years before Christ, and God did not send out leaders to wage war in most of these years. For example, the Book of Judges alone says that people enjoyed many decades of peace between each judge who was raised up in order to fight off aggression.

Allah compelled Muhammad to fight often in his ten years according to the evidence in the Quran and Islamic history, but the true God for over 1,400 years did not wage nearly as many wars per year in Israel's existence according to the Bible and Biblical history.

(2) Clarity characterizes divine commands about war in Hebrew history, but not in Islamic history. In the Old Testament, the true God issued commands to wipe out specific inhabitants, for example, Sodom and Gomorrah (punishments that the Quran also endorses) or the cities in Canaan—severe commands to be sure, but if such commands are given, they must be clear.

On the other hand, Muhammad goes from one treaty or command to the next in regards to the polytheists in Arabia. Finally, in Sura 9:1—5, he unilaterally breaks these treaties, but in some cases he keeps them until their expiration dates.

Thus, the true God is clear and stable in his severe, divine commands, whereas Allah is unclear and fluctuating in his severe commands. This is significant because Allah gives the impression of feeling his way, but God is decisive.

(3) Who is attacked? In the Bible, the true God orders warfare only against Canaanites who were too far gone in their decadence. Let us assume, contrary to fact, that a nation neighboring Israel was made up of ethical monotheists. Would the true God decree that a war should be waged against them? To reason deductively, the answer is found in the Book of Jonah. He preached to Nineveh hundreds of miles away, and the inhabitants of this city were neither degraded Canaanites nor monotheists. God did not wage war on distant Nineveh despite its being polytheistic. Jonah preached good news. So how much more would God not attack a nation if it were made up of monotheists?

The bottom line is this: the only reason that God ordered these wars after the Exodus was to purge a small and specific land (see no. 4, below). He did not ordain wars of conquest outside of Israel to spread Judaism around the known world. If Judaism was spread, it was done by proclamation, as seen in the calling of Jonah.

On the other hand, Muhammad waged war on polytheists, and Muslims believe that these polytheists also were too far gone morally. But Muhammad also attacked Jews and Christians, who are monotheists. For example, he embarked on an Islamic Crusade against the Byzantines in AD 630. The Byzantines never showed up, so Muhammad believed a false rumor that said the Byzantines were mustering a large army to invade Arabia. But along the way he extracted agreements from Arab Christians and Jews so that they would not be attacked again. Allah ordained wars of conquest outside of Arabia in order to spread Islam by military force. Muhammad and his deity wanted either conversion (the converted paid a 'charity' or zakat tax) or money in a jizya tax on the unconverted. Either way, money flowed into the Islamic treasury back in Arabia.

Muhammad's attacks on monotheists, besides polytheists, in and outside of Arabia demonstrate beyond all doubt that Allah and God at war are worlds apart.
(4) Geography is a factor. God told the ancient Hebrews to cleanse the land of Canaan, but not to do this to surrounding nations. God did not ordain the conquest of large regions far beyond Israel, in order to spread Judaism. It is true that King David and King Solomon expanded the borders of Israel, but this tiny nation is the size of New Jersey, one of the smallest states in the US. How does this temporary expansion compare to the Assyrian, Babylonian, or Egyptian Empires? How does this compare to the Islamic Empire within only a few decades after the death of Muhammad in AD 632?

In contrast, Muslims could claim that Allah told Muhammad to cleanse Arabia of polytheists, but Allah also tell his prophet and his successors to expand beyond this region to conquer other territories, like the Persian and Byzantine Empires and a city like Jerusalem. Thus, ancient Israel had a completely different calling that is related specifically to their land, which is small geographically, whereas Islam waged war on peoples of distant lands, far beyond Arabia.

It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of 'the land' in Biblical history. God wanted only a specific land to be purified, not worldwide conquest. But Allah waged war on the entire known world.

However, for Christians, this debate over the differences between Allah and God at war is academic, anyway. They believe that the first coming of Jesus Christ, 600 years before Muhammad, ushered in a new era of salvation, a way to the true God that excels the one offered in the Old Testament, and much better than the one offered in the Quran; thus, Muhammad's wars on polytheists were misguided from the start, coming so late in history after Jesus showed us a better way.

Christians honor the Old Testament and regard it as inspired, but at the same time they acknowledge that it was written for its own times; they also believe that Christ fulfilled it, and hence they must rise above such commands as animal sacrifices, diet restrictions, and wars over geopolitical 'holy' sites like Jerusalem—what the Emperor Constantine and the Medieval Crusaders did is not foundational to Christianity; only Christ is.

Jesus raised his vision much higher than Jerusalem or any other holy site. He loves the whole world and wants to win it to his cause and spiritual kingdom one soul at a time and by proclamation alone, not by waging war on the unconverted or the religiously deceived, like the pagans whom Muhammad slaughtered. True monotheism does not need a black stone just because pagans walked around it for centuries before Muhammad conquered it. True monotheism does not need a city or any earthly holy site. Christianity looks towards the heavenly Jerusalem (Book of Revelation) or the City of God (Augustine).

Isn't the US a Christian nation, so why does it wage war?

I got at least two emails from Muslims who point out that America, a 'Christian' nation, uses the sword, so who am I to talk about it? First, we should set aside the complications of defining the US as 'Christian.' Rather, we should note that this comparison leaps over 1,400 and 2,000 years of history. It is always better to compare the founder of a religion and his sacred texts with the founder of another religion and his sacred texts. Jesus and Muhammad should be contrasted, not Muhammad and the US government. Muhammad claims direct inspiration from God; the US government does not.

When the proper contrast is made, then the similarities break down completely. The two religious founders differ from each other as much as bright daylight and dark night.

Also, since the Enlightenment (c. 1600—1800), reason has influenced the West. Original Christianity teaches the dignity of humans. Human reason agrees. For example, here is what the Geneva Convention says about the treatment of women prisoners of war, to choose only this one topic:

Women must be protected against any attack on their honor, including rape, enforced prostitution, or any form of indecent assault. Women must also not be adversely discriminated against because of their sex.

This is an improvement on the Quran and the hadith. The Quran 'annuls' marriages so jihadists can have sex with captured women or enslave them, and the hadith simply allows jihadists to have sex with them, as their human property.


For the first three centuries or more after the Resurrection of Jesus, the church turned the known world upside down by proclamation alone. The early Christians did not raise armies to attack polytheists, tear down pagan temples, or force Jews to convert. They did not wage a Christian jihad. Was the church perfect, though? No one is. But Jesus set the genetic code for his worldwide movement, and he chose the path of divine peace and love. And it caught on and spread like God—breathed wildfire.

Jesus never raised even a small army to conquer the unconverted. In the passage about Satan tempting Jesus (Matthew 4:1—11 and Luke 4:1—13), Satan shows Jesus the whole world and all of its kingdoms. Satan promises to give the whole thing to him. No doubt this included military conquest and riches beyond anyone's wildest dreams. Jesus turned it down, rebuking the devil. Therefore, if original Christianity is followed closely, then women will not be raped during military conquests. People will be able to keep their property. Forced taxes after a military conquest, even a religious tax that makes it into a pillar of the faith, will not be imposed. On the positive side, Jesus and all of his disciples will spread the message of the kingdom by preaching alone—Constantine and the Medieval Crusaders are not foundational to Christianity, so they do not set the genetic code.

But Jesus and his early church turned the world upside down with their message and peaceful method of spreading it.

This demonstrates that the true God was backing this divine Messiah and his message. This demonstrates that the message of Christ was attractive and winsome.

In contrast, for the first three centuries and many more after Muhammad's death of a fever in AD 632, Islam spread only with an army lurking in the background or standing in the foreground. Muhammad set the genetic code for Islam, and he either sent out or went out on seventy—four raids, expeditions or full—scale wars. Military armies stormed out of Arabia and conquered cities along the Tigris and Euphrates, as well as cities towards the Mediterranean Sea, like Jerusalem in AD 638. Then Islam spread militarily beyond those regions.

No one can accurately predict how far Islam would have spread if it had used only proclamation without armies. But the implication is that it would not have spread very far. After all, as soon as Arab tribes had heard that Muhammad had died, many of them revolted against Islam and wanted nothing more to do with it. The world could have judged Islam more positively if it had not used military jihad as the means of spreading Allah's religion around the known world. But it did use military jihad.

This implies that the true God did not back this merely human and mortal messenger (Sura 3:144) and his message. This demonstrates that the message of Muhammad was unattractive and too restrictive, like forced prayers five times a day or a forced pilgrimage to a black stone that true monotheism does not need.

On the other hand, Muhammad is foundational to Islam, and he wants the whole world, even by conquest, if necessary. This conquest allows for injustices. They have seeped into the Quran and in his words and policies in the hadith.

Dying as a Muslim martyr in a holy war catapults the martyr into a hundred layers of paradise.

Martyrs in the early church of Jesus Christ suffered because of their holiness and because their proclamation offended ungodly authorities. They did not die in a military holy war.  They entered heaven only because of Christ's once—and—for—all and unique 'Martyrdom' on the cross.

This is right.

Muhammad's martyrs were called into dying in a military holy war that they often initiated in order to expand Islam.

This is wrong.

Which religious path leads to true peace?

The way of Jesus leads to life. The way of Muhammad led to death.

James M. Arlandson may be reached at

Supplemental Material

This article  at an Islamic website quotes mostly from the Meccan suras (chapters) in the Quran, in which Muhammad was not strong enough to wage a military holy war, so he is forced to take a more peaceful path. And the few Medinan suras the author cites, in which Muhammad became violent, are Muhammad's claims that he and his fellow Muslim were being persecuted by Meccans early on, though he lived in Medina, about two hundred—plus miles from Mecca. But this is exaggerated or self—induced, as seen here

This short article at a website produced under the auspices of the University of Southern California says that jihad is defensive or offensive, but the offensive jihad is waged only to suppress tyranny. This is a whitewash. Jihad may be also used to spread Islam around the world, even if this entails a physical war. History demonstrates this. It also says inaccurately that women and children are not targets, but the hadith says they may become targets in a nighttime raid when visibility is low. Women may also be raped or sold into slavery as sexual property.

The article also says that only the Medieval Crusaders waged a wrongheaded jihad. However, the facts say that the offensive and wrongheaded Islamic Crusades happened centuries before the European ones. If Islam had spread itsr message by preaching alone, then its military conquests would have never happened, and the Europeans would have had no reason to launch all their Crusades. See this article  for a contrast between the two Crusades.

This Muslim online booklet is directed at young Muslims.   It analyzes jihad in the Quran, hadith, and legal rulings, and concludes that it includes a physical fight. However, the article is not always available, so here is a key quotation:

People have for some time now ridiculed this but today these same people acknowledge that preparation for war is the surest way to peace! Allah did not ordain jihad for the Muslims so that it may be used as a tool of oppression or tyranny or so that it may be used by some to further their personal gains. Rather jihad s used to safeguard the mission of spreading Islam. This would guarantee peace and the means of implementing the Supreme Message. This is a responsibility which the Muslims bear, this Message guiding mankind to truth and justice. For Islam, even as it ordains jihad, it extols peace . . . .

Thus, jihad is used to spread Islam around the world. Here  is the whitewashed article.

The Colonial War Against Islam
By Andrew Walden | January 5, 2007

America has been
fighting Islamists for longer than many realize. Even before independence was declared, American ships were pirated and their Christian crews enslaved by Muslim pirates operating under the control of the “Dey of Algiers”—an Ottoman Islamist warlord ruling Algeria. When the colonists rebelled against British rule in 1776, American ships lost Royal Navy protection. A Revolutionary War-era alliance with France offered French protection to US ships, but it expired in 1783. Immediately, U.S. ships came under attack and in October 1784 the American trader “Betsey” was taken by Moroccan forces. This was followed with Algerians and Libyans (Tripolitans) capturing two more U.S. ships in 1785.

Lacking the ability to project U.S. naval force in the Mediterranean, America tried appeasement. In 1784, Congress agreed to fund tributes and ransoms in order to rescue U.S. ships and buy the freedom of enslaved American sailors.


In 1786, Thomas Jefferson, then U.S. ambassador to France, and John Adams, then American Ambassador to Britain, met in London with Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja, the Dey’s ambassador to Britain, in an attempt to negotiate a peace treaty based on Congress’ vote of funding. To Congress, these two future presidents later reported the reasons for the Muslims’ hostility towards America, a nation with which they had no previous contacts.


…that it was founded on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as Prisoners, and that every Musselman (Muslim) who should be slain in Battle was sure to go to Paradise.


Sound familiar?


In this 1790 satirical piece, his last published letter, Ben Franklin, in the midst of a Congressional debate on slavery, compares the arguments of pro-slavery Southerners (“Mr. Jackson”, a South Carolina delegate) to the arguments of a hypothetical Algerian Muslim “Mussulmen” pirate, Sidi Mehemet Ibrahim. The rationalizations, justifications and excuses of Franklin’s “Sidi” are almost word-for-word those of the Georgia and South Carolina Congressional delegates. The Algerian Islamic “Erika” sect was an allegory to members of the American Christian “Quaker” sect who in 1790 unsuccessfully petitioned Congress, with Franklin’s support, for an end to the importation of slaves from Africa. (Text and link below.)


Ben Franklin died on April 17, 1790, just 25 days after his letter was published.


Congress in 1790 did not come up with a means to end the slave trade, much less slavery itself. This is largely because representatives of South Carolina and Georgia threatened secession, which could have led to war or complete or partial dissolution of the Union. As with any appeasement of evil, the problem continued and festered, growing worse until finally a much larger war--the Civil War-- broke out 71 years later causing 600,000 American casualties. Also killed by appeasement were untold numbers of African slaves during the Atlantic crossing or during enslavement.


And the Muslims? By 1800, the annual tribute and ransom payments first agreed in the mid-1780s amounted to about $1 million--20% of the federal budget. (For fiscal year 2007, 20 percent of U.S. revenues would equal $560 billion.) In May, 1801 Yussif Karamanli, the Pasha of Tripoli, declared war on America by chopping down the flagpole in front of the U.S. Consulate. Seventeen years after appeasement and tribute payments had begun, President Thomas Jefferson led America into the First Barbary War.


From May of 1801 to June 10, 1805, sailors and Marines of the young American nation fought battles immortalized in a line of the Marine Hymn: “to the shores of Tripoli.” As American forces approached Tripoli on land threatening to capture it, Karamanli suddenly became interested in negotiations. The war ended with a treaty exchanging prisoners, Americans giving Karamanli another $60,000 in ransom and an agreement from the Muslims to cease attacks on U.S. ships.


But for a Muslim to keep his word to an infidel at the expense of opportunities to expand Islamic power is the Islamic equivalent of a mortal sin. In 1807, Muslim pirate attacks on American ships began anew. As a result Americans led by President James Madison fought Algerians in the Second Barbary War in 1815, leading to another treaty under which the Muslims paid American $10,000 for damages. The Algerian ruler almost immediately repudiated the new treaty after the U.S. departure and again began piracy and the enslavement of captured Christian sailors necessitating an 1816 Anglo-Dutch shelling of Algiers and ultimately the colonization of Algeria in 1830 and Tunisia in 1881 by France and Libya in 1911 by Italy. By then most of the Islamic world was under Christian domination. With the Ottoman Empire defeated in WW1, secularist Turkish rebels in 1923 overthrew the last Islamic Caliphate, destroying the pinnacle of Islamist power and ending a line of succession allegedly reaching back to Mohammed.


The trend of Muslim defeat began to reverse after the Second World War even though many Muslim leaders had backed Hitler’s Third Reich. Most Islamic countries became independent of Christian colonial rule between 1946 when Jordan achieved independence and 1971 when Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, and the UAE finally became independent of Britain. The next year, Muslim terrorists killed 11 Israeli athletes and one German police officer at the Olympic Games in what became known as the Munich massacre, an attack which some see as opening the current war between Islam and the West. In an echo of the Barbary Pirates, an airliner was hijacked in October 1972 causing Germany to release to Libya the two terrorists being held for trial in the attack.


And the Quakers? Today the Quaker “American Friends Service Committee” no longer demands resolute action against slavery. They are on the other side – serving the modern equivalents of Franklin’s allegorical Sidi Mehemet Ibrahim by demanding that America once again appease the Islamists. Their demand for withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan in the face of Islamist attacks aimed to re-enslave the populations of those countries will get America into a much larger war a lot sooner than the 17 years to took for appeasement to lead to war at the end of the 18th Century.


Ben Franklin’s use of an imaginary Algerian pirate to satirize a pro-slavery Congressman shows his clear understanding of the danger posed by Islamism. Modern day Americans would do well to consider the lessons of the War with Islamism fought by Thomas Jefferson and again by James Madison and this alternate meaning in Franklin’s final words of warning.




Full Text of Ben Franklin’s last letter:


On the Slave-Trade
To the Editor of the Federal Gazette
March 23d, 1790




Reading last night in your excellent Paper the speech of Mr. Jackson in Congress against their meddling with the Affair of Slavery, or attempting to mend the Condition of the Slaves, it put me in mind of a similar One made about 100 Years since by Sidi Mehemet Ibrahim, a member of the Divan of Algiers, which may be seen in Martin's Account of his Consulship, anno 1687. It was against granting the Petition of the Sect called Erika, or Purists who pray'd for the Abolition of Piracy and Slavery as being unjust. Mr. Jackson does not quote it; perhaps he has not seen it. If, therefore, some of its Reasonings are to be found in his eloquent Speech, it may only show that men's Interests and Intellects operate and are operated on with surprising similarity in all Countries and Climates, when under similar Circumstances. The African's Speech, as translated, is as follows.


"Allah Bismillah,&c. God is great, and Mahomet is his Prophet."


"Have these Erika considered the Consequences of granting their Petition? If we cease our Cruises against the Christians, how shall we be furnished with the Commodities their Countries produce, and which are so necessary for us? If we forbear to make Slaves of their People, who in this hot Climate are to cultivate our Lands? Who are to perform the common Labours of our City, and in our Families? Must we not then be our own Slaves? And is there not more Compassion and more Favour due to us as Mussulmen, than to these Christian Dogs? We have now about 50,000 Slaves in and near Algiers. This Number, if not kept up by fresh Supplies, will soon diminish, and be gradually annihilated. If we then cease taking and plundering the Infidel Ships, and making Slaves of the Seamen and Passengers, our Lands will become of no Value for want of Cultivation; the Rents of Houses in the City will sink one half; and the Revenues of Government arising from its Share of Prizes be totally destroy'd! And for what? To gratify the whims of a whimsical Sect, who would have us, not only forbear making more Slaves, but even to manumit those we have.


"But who is to indemnify their Masters for the Loss? Will the State do it? Is our Treasury sufficient? Will the Erika do it? Can they do it? Or would they, to do what they think Justice to the Slaves, do a greater Injustice to the Owners? And it we set our Slaves free, what is to be done with them? Few of them will return to their Countries; they know too well the great Hardships they must there be subject to; they will not embrace our holy Religion; they will not adopt our Manners; our People will not pollute themselves by intermarrying with them. Must we maintain them as Beggars in our Streets, or suffer our Properties to be the Prey of their Pillage? For men long accustom'd to Slavery will not work for a Livelihood when not compell'd. And what is there so pitiable in their present Condition? Were they not Slaves in their own Countries?


"Are not Spain, Portugal, France, and the Italian states govern'd by Despots, who hold all their Subjects in Slavery, without Exception? Even England treats its Sailors as Slaves; for they are, whenever the Government pleases, seiz'd, and confin'd in Ships of War, condemn'd not only to work, but to fight, for small Wages, or a mere Subsistence, not better than our Slaves are allow'd by us. Is their Condition then made worse by their falling into our Hands? No; they have only exchanged one Slavery for another, and I may say a better; for here they are brought into a land where the Sun of Islamism gives forth its Light, and shines in full Splendor, and they have an Opportunity of making themselves acquainted with the true Doctrine, and thereby saving their immortal Souls. Those who remain at home have not that Happiness. Sending the Slaves home then would be sending them out of Light into Darkness.


"I repeat the Question, What is to be done with them? I have heard it suggested, that they may be planted in the Wilderness, where there is plenty of Land for them to subsist on, and where they may flourish as a free State; but they are, I doubt, to little dispos'd to labour without Compulsion, as well as too ignorant to establish a good government, and the wild Arabs would soon molest and destroy or again enslave them. While serving us, we take care to provide them with every thing, and they are treated with Humanity. The Labourers in their own Country are, as I am well informed, worse fed, lodged, and cloathed. The Condition of most of them is therefore already mended, and requires no further Improvement. Here their Lives are in Safety. They are not liable to be impress'd for Soldiers, and forc'd to cut one another's Christian throats, as in the Wars of their own Countries. If some of the religious mad Bigots, who now teaze us with their silly Petitions, have in a Fit of blind Zeal freed their Slaves, it was not Generosity, it was not Humanity, that mov'd them to the Action; it was from the conscious Burthen of a Load of Sins, and Hope, from the supposed Merits of so good a Work, to be excus'd Damnation.


"How grossly are they mistaken in imagining Slavery to be disallow'd by the Alcoran? Are not the two Precepts, to quote no more, 'Masters, treat your Slaves with kindness; Slaves, serve your Masters with Cheerfulness and Fidelity,' clear Proofs to the contrary? Nor can the Plundering of Infidels be in that sacred Book forbidden, since it is well known from it, that God has given the World, and all that it contains, to his faithful Mussulmen, who are to enjoy it of Right as fast as they conquer it. Let us then hear no more of this detestable Proposition, the Manumission of Christian Slaves, the Adoption of which would, by depreciating our Lands and Houses, and thereby depriving so many good Citizens of their Properties, create universal Discontent, and provoke Insurrections, to the endangering of Government and producing general Confusion. I have therefore no doubt, but this wise Council will prefer the Comfort and Happiness of a whole Nation of true Believers to the Whim of a few Erika, and dismiss their Petition."


The Result was, as Martin tells us, that the Divan came to this Resolution; "The Doctrine, that Plundering and Enslaving the Christians is unjust, is at best problematical; but that it is the Interest of this State to continue the Practice, is clear; therefore let the Petition be rejected."


And it was rejected accordingly.


And since like Motives are apt to produce in the Minds of Men like Opinions and Resolutions, may we not, Mr. Brown, venture to predict, from this Account, that the Petitions to the Parliament of England for abolishing the Slave-Trade, to say nothing of other Legislatures, and the Debates upon them, will have a similar Conclusion? I am, Sir, your constant Reader and humble Servant,




(Pseudonym of Ben Franklin)

Compendium of Muslim Texts