Islam and the West: A Brief History
“In this final phase, the world of the infidels was divided between two superpowers, the Soviet Union and the United Sates. We have now dealt successfully with the more deadly, the more dangerous of the two infidel powers. Dealing with the soft, pampered, and degenerate Americans will be easy.”
---Osama bin Laden
What does bin Laden mean by “this final phase”? He refers to history, the final phase of history before Islam rules the globe on behalf of Allah. He uses “we” to address not only his immediate followers but the entirety of the Islamic world. Further, he assumes they have an appreciation for Islamic history since Muslim raiders first erupted from the Arabian Peninsula to declare jihad on the rest of humanity. By 750 A.D. Islam ravaged much of the known world. Bin Laden’s followers know their history, its victories, its recent defeats and its desire for a final victory. They know their history.
Contents1. Palestine 70 A.D.
2. Rome Falls, Christian Europe is Born
3. Palestine and the Coming of Islam
4. Jihad and Sexual Tension
Note to new readers:
Comments have been made that this blog is "bigoted" because it observed that Islam is intrinsically evil--that is, that Islam teaches evil in the Qur'an and the Hadiths (See glossary) .
An important distinction: I have not said that Muslims are all evil. That is quite false. What is asserted here is that Islamic teaching is gravely flawed and is a breeding ground for all manner of evil. In some quarters there are Islamic teachers of moderation. But these are "modern" and according to some Islamic leaders such moderation is opposed to Mohamed's teaching.
These essays demonstrate that Islam is first a political and military system, and as such dominates its origin as a religion.
Palestine 70 A.D.
The water was gone. Vespasian’ engineers diverted the wells and inside the Temple Mount every throat was seared from thirst. Roman soldiers swarmed through breeches in the walls. The few who had escaped to the Temple during the siege of Jerusalem now faced a brutal slaughter.
Some years earlier violence erupted in Caesarea, Nero looking on from Rome, when Greeks invaded the seaside city. By 66 A.D faithful Jews managed to seize the traitor Herod’s fortress, Massada, overwhelming the Roman garrison. The Jewish band inspired other “rebels” to move on Jerusalem, to the Temple; there they forced the heretical priests to cease their blasphemous sacrifices to Emperor Nero. Rome answered their rebellion.
Now the horrors recounted in Josephus’ history, Jewish Wars, gripped the emaciated Jewish survivors of the three-year Roman siege as they huddled within the walls of the Temple. So few Jews were left in Jerusalem that cats outnumbered people.
A generation earlier, in 33 A.D., after Christ was crucified, resurrected and ascended to heaven, His followers were instructed to “Go ye into all the world….” The first Christians –mostly Jews—no longer considered the Temple in Jerusalem to be the center of their faith or identity, though it was revered. Their faith included Jewish history, the prophets and the books of the Old Testament, but was newly centered in God made Man in the Person of Jesus. Jesus, now understood as God, the Second Person of the Trinity, promised to be with them bodily, though supernaturally, in the Mass. Hence, worship did not depend on a location or a building.
Palestine—literally land of the Philistines, a Greek people who settled in Canaan about 12th cent, B.C.—was the Holy Land, but He who made it holy was with Christians wherever the Mass was celebrated.
These disciples established Christian communities all over the Hellenized world (Greek and Latin speaking cultures of the Mediterranean and the Middle East) as well as North Africa and parts of India. In Antioch, they were first called “Christians.” Some Christians remained in Jerusalem where Herod the Great persecuted them-- beheading the apostle James, first bishop of Jerusalem. Yet, the early Christian efforts at evangelization had moved far beyond the borders of hereditary Israel. Those who remained in Israel after the Christian expansion were Jews who lived in an uneasy division—those faithful to Jewish law, and those who, like Herod and the apostate priests of the Temple, maintained their power via collusion with detested Rome.
Now Jerusalem was on fire. Battering rams hurled boulders against the temple walls…when the city was finally subdued, the temple lay utterly destroyed.
The few survivors were taken slaves and Jews were forbidden to reenter the city. Jewish faith, deprived of its Temple, was forced to abandon its daily sacrifices as commanded in the Old Testament; the Jewish priesthood was obliterated along with the Temple and all that remained was the rabbinic authority.
The “Diaspora” or dispersed Jews formed communities in Rome, Carthage, and Iberia (Spain). Many traveled to what is today Eastern Europe and Russia. Some joined the ancient Jewish settlements in the Arabian Peninsula(See Essay I).
Jerusalem was then colonized by those Rome permitted to scavenge among the ruins of the once magnificent city. Pagan practices flourished. Sporadic rebellions by small Jewish armies flare up against the Romans until 135 A.D. However, the Romans resettle “Syria- Palestine” with Gentiles. Small Jewish settlements remain on the borders of Palestine.
Islam lay 500 years in the future.
Rome Falls, Christian Europe Is Born
Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity in 312. His predecessors, particularly Diocletian, persecuted Christians, burning their homes, churches and books. Christians were imprisoned and enslaved and even children were beheaded.
After his conversion, the Emperor issued the Edict of Milan, which made Christian worship lawful. Under Constantine a renewed interest in the Holy Land spurred rebuilding in the historic cities of Palestine. Under his patronage and that of his mother, Helena, hundreds of Catholic Churches were built—most notably the Church of the Nativity and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Thousands of Christians moved to Palestine (Israel) to be in the land where their Savior lived. More came on pilgrimage. At this time the Jewish population was a small minority. (picture?)
The Emperor also built an imperial city in Byzantium (Turkey), the famed Constantinople, modern day Istanbul. Byzantium is the Eastern Roman Empire—the Greek speaking half of the Empire. Greek culture predominated. Historians often date the birth of “Christendom” from the conversion of Constantine and the Edict of Milan. When the legal structure of the empire favored Christianity, it permitted Christians to assume office, seek education, build cities and establish a Christian culture. (Pagans however were not persecuted, nor prevented from continuing their “outmoded practices” in the emperor’s words.)
Meanwhile, in the heart of Persia (Modern day Iraq and Iran), Christians were tolerated. The Chaldean Church (Iraq) is one of the oldest in Christian history. After Constantine converted, some Persian rulers persecuted Christians because they were now allies of the detested Roman Emperor.
The key point to consider is that Christianity was well established both geographically as well as culturally throughout Roman Empire by 350A.D. including Palestine and much of the Middle East, and even as far as India and the British Isles. (The apostle Thomas established a Catholic community in India by 70 A.D., Bartholomew in Arabia, St. James to Spain.) Christians assimilated both Greek learning and the Roman Rule of Law. Missionaries were sent to Britain, France and beyond. Both England and France had a strong Christian culture by 400 A.D. In a few short centuries the peaceful spread of Christianity covered large areas of three continents. Christians needed no swords, no pillage, and no promises of eternal orgies in exchange for the massacre of unbelievers.
In contrast, three hundred years later, as Islamic jihad gouged out a new map of the Middle East, the method of "evangelization" was by the sword. While both Christianity and Islam would make claims for their faith as the final revelation from God, the method of spreading their respective messages stand in stark contradiction.
When Julian the Pagan became emperor (361-63) Christians again fled persecution, reminiscent of the early persecutions. Drawings and inscriptions on the walls of Roman catacombs detail the plight of the persecuted. (picture). Julian also turned his hatred on the Persians, fomenting a simmering war that continued for 200 years, depleting and weakening the entire region of east of Palestine.
(at left: Christ as Good Shepherd on wall of the Catacombs in Rome)
St. Augustine (4th cent.) thought that Providence had ordered history so that Christianity would take root very quickly throughout the known world. That famous Pax Romana --the general lawfulness and order and the efficient Roman governance, provisions (roads), insured that missionary travels could be readily achieved—to carry out the Savior’s command to “go ye into all the world”. Most citizens spoke Latin and Greek—a common language also makes evangelization easier.
The wealth and education of the Empire meant populated cities—in short, within a 150 years the Christian gospel had reached the outer bands of the Roman Empire, which ruled 60 million inhabitants.
The Roman Empire to the West fell in 475 to the barbarian hordes. The Huns, expelled a half-century earlier from China, gradually made heir way westward. They, drove out Goths, Franks, Vandals, Sueves, Lombards, Saxons—all of these found a bloated soft “empire” whose borders were ill governed, ill protected. (hmmm? Sound familiar?)
All of the area we call the “West” was suddenly comprised of new nations: Lombards in Italy, a Goths and Visigoths migrated to Spain, the Frankish kingdom in Gaul, and the Angles and Saxons in the British Isles. The Dark Ages began—essentially a brutish chaos, fighting between the barbarians and the citizens of the former Roman Empire. Much of the learning and culture of the Roman era were lost to the average citizen.
The lightening spread of Christendom had followed the implosion of an empire under a series of debauched and lazy emperors. Christians suffered persecution and tortuous deaths. This suffering witness needed no armies to “convert” others. It is reasonable to assume that at this hinge moment—wit the empire crumbling around them—people were open to hearing the Christian message.
When barbarians confronted the early Popes, they met a message, not an army. Attila the Hun turned back from Rome when the elderly Pope Leo met him at the outskirts of the city, asking Attila as “conqueror of peoples” to conquer his own wrath and in mercy to turn back his raiders for the city of Rome was unable to defend itself. (Edward Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, chapter 35).
Christians set about preserving the wealth of Greek, Jewish and Roman learning –great monasteries with scriptoriums salvaged enormously important human achievements in the arts, agriculture, history, math and science as well as languages and of course, the scriptures. And they evangelized the invading tribes, most of them converted. Missionaries were sent throughout Europe and into Russia. (St. Patrick converted Ireland around the year 432, St. Columba evangelized Northern Scotland 590s.) These were the forebears –in genetics and in faith of most of the European population today.
Though the Roman Empire fell, Christianity grew. Christian principles taught that every person has an equal and inherent dignity before God, the Father of all. One’s eternal worth did not depend on one’s financial or social worth. [Cato saw the slave is chattel, an economic instrument with no right to human dignity. In contrast, St. Paul sends the runaway slave Onesimus back to his master to be “received not now as a slave, but instead of a slave, a most dear brother, especially to me. But how much more to thee, both in the flesh and in the Lord”] One may be the squire, the other a groomsman, but both were brothers in Christ. Each has an obligation to the other as Christians first, as squire and groom second. This creed is the foundation of European law, a Europe that is the birthplace of “human rights’ ”law. Christianity saved Western Europe from both pagan barbarism and Eastern nihilism, in the form of esoteric and Gnostic—essentially anti-humanistic—values.
Most of what we value in our civilization — hospitals, museums, universities, and the idea of human rights — is by origin Christian. These civilizing institutions and ideals did not arrive with the Vikings or Germanic tribes, or from the Eastern Gnostics.
Despite intra familial fighting, Europe was forged as a people with the same worldview. That worldview was fused to the Greek and Roman traditions and learning that the monks preserved during the darkest reign of barbarians or despots. It is said that the Christian faith created Europe and Europe created the Modern World.
Palestine and the Coming of Islam
Meanwhile, back at the oasis— The Persians (Sassanid dynasty) continued their advances against the Byzantines (eastern Empire) They took Damascus and Jerusalem, yanked the True Cross from the Church in Jerusalem and off loaded it in Ctesiphon, a massive city on the banks of the Tigris River in what is now Iraq. It was the ultimate insult.
But this two hundred year seesaw war exhausts both the Byzantine and the Persian empires—providing a crucial opportunity for the Arab Muslims who have the urge to flex their new powers against something beyond the Arabia Peninsula. (Besides, there was great enmity between the Persians and the Arabs).
The Persians—thus depleted and lying around panting—had nothing left to fight off the Desert Terror—that is, the Muslin warriors took Ctesiphon in 637, when Umar was Caliph.
Over on the Mediterranean, in Palestine, Egypt, Turkey, Christians had their own internal wars—a lot of energy spent on disputes over heresies. (Palestine harbored partisans of the Monophysite heresy.) This made them ripe for a takeover by the Persians with the aid of the Jews who hoped the Persians would restore what the Romans took from them –Damascus fell in 613, Palestine in 614. Byzantines recovered the Holy Land for the Christians by 630. Soon thereafter Mohamed orders invasion of Palestine …a skirmish only since the he is dying.
By 632 --the year of Mohamed's death, the Muslims rule the Arabian peninsula. Next Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Egypt, and Persia --all belonging to the Persians or the Byzantines--succumb to jihad. After mourning, the Muslims renew their assault on the Holy Land and 634 Gaza goes Muslim and Christians flee ahead of the scimitars.
By 638, Jerusalem was controlled by Muslims. For 1300 years the Jews and Christians of Palestine have lived in dhimmitude.
[Mohammed once insisted that his followers must face Jerusalem when praying—thought to be a ploy to gain the support of the Jews of Mecca and Medina. The Koran does not mention Jerusalem. Yet it is supposed to be the site from which the prophet “ascended to Heaven” on his famous a night journey dream. Later caliphs decided this event took place in Jerusalem. They built the Dome of the Rock had been built in 687, and today the Al-Aqsa Mosque stands on the same site.]
After the Muslims conquered Syria (north of Palestine) they marched straight for Constantinople –first raid is in 675 or so…but it was repulsed. Not easily put off, the Muslims swarm over the island nations of Cyprus, Rhodes and Crete. Here brutality went unchecked—as though some demonic rage fueled its energy. With vast plunder to enrich its war coffers, Islamic warriors invaded, with no provocation, the first European “nation” —Cyprus, a Byzantine protectorate. The majority population was Greek. Two Muslim armies converged, 1700 warships strong (649). Those who escaped massacre were invited to pay vast sums in tribute to the governor of Muslim Syria.
The battles for Crete and Rhodes followed the first jihad raid on Cyprus. At Rhodes the famous Colossus of Rhodes (built in 290 BC) —one of the seven wonders of the ancient world—was disassembled and shipped back to Syria in 73 boats—there the Saracens (Muslims) sold it for scrap metal. Next jihad turned on Sicily and Sardinia, “sacking cities, carrying off booty and beautiful maidens.” (688 A.D.)
Islamic armies in the Mediterranean were led by an enormous personality, Muawiya, son of Abu Sufyan, who had once tried to kill Mohamed in battle. Abu was a businessman first, when Mohammed conquered Mecca, Abu converted. His son went on to become one of history’s greatest warriors.
Jihad and Sexual Tension
After the jihad on the islands of the Mediterranean, Islam swarmed over North Africa decimating Christian towns, burning and looting from churches and homes--then over the straights of Gibraltar into Spain (711) where they begin an eight-hundred year reign of wars, rape, slavery, pillage, and every manner of domination. Conquered populations were offered three “peaceful” choices: Convert to Islam, the sword, or pay yearly tributes and live as second-class citizens. Plunder and slaughter always preceded the persuasive offer.
How shall we assess the unparalleled military victories of the Muslims? In a scant hundred years after Mohamed’s death vast stretches of the former Byzantine and Roman Empires had fallen to the Saracen sword. Military scholars remain amazed at the ferocity of the Muslim warriors—an intensity never reached and sustained by other armies.
Two primary answers:
- Muslim warriors were taught that it was their religious duty to kill infidels—and by such duty save their own souls from damnation—either kill or suffer hell. As an added incentive the warrior who fell in battle against infidels received his multiple “houris” (maidens of pleasure) and orgasms that lasted “years”. Thus stimulated before battle, Muslim jihadists devoutly sought this eternity of sexual pleasure, not unlike the kamikaze pilots of WWII. This sexualized eternity stood in sharp contrast to the spiritual beneficence that Christianity promised. For the man who survived in battle the rewards were only slightly less appealing: plunder and spoils to fill his camel bags and the sex-slaves made of conquered women.
From the Hadiths of AL-Tirmidhi (892): “A houri is the most beautiful young woman, transparent in body. Her marrow is visible like the interior lines of pearls and rubies. She is as red wine in a white glass. Her body is of white color, and she is free from the physical weaknesses of an ordinary woman such as menstruation, menopause, urinal and offal discharge, and bodily pollution, she does not bear a child. A houri is a young girl showing large round breasts, firm and that do not dangle. Houris dwell in splendid palaces.”
Note that the Qur’an itself does not promise the number of houris a martyr enjoys…that number is found in the hadiths. It is in the Islamic Traditions that we find the 72 virgins in heaven specified: Al-Tirmidhi in the Book of Sunan (volume IV).
As detailed Al-Suyuti (died 1505), an Our’anic scholar: "Each time we sleep with a houri we find her virgin. Besides, the penis of the Elected never softens. The erection is eternal; the sensation that you feel each time you make love is utterly delicious and out of this world and were you to experience it in this world you would faint. Each chosen one [i.e. Muslim] will marry seventy [sic] houris, besides the women he married on earth, and all will have appetizing vaginas.”
Where on earth, literally, could a common man find such pleasures? A poor desert warrior is beguiled with promises that he is to become like Mohamed, a pitiless slayer of infidels, who surely took his fill of pleasure and yet was “holy”
At the risk of titillating readers of this blog, no more examples need be given –but imagine for a moment hordes of confined men at some forsaken desert garrison with too few earthly houris to go around…. how easily the man becomes a willing and ferocious martyr to his urgent imaginings of eternal sexual bliss—a type of bliss not found by any man on earth. Imagine too, death by scimitar from behind should you fail to fight the infidel in front of you.
- The second critical factor to the astonishing success of Islamic jihad in the early years of Islam is that their targets were weakened by years of war and lacked cohesive leadership. Worse, perhaps, was the religious disunity due to the rise in of heretical sects.
The Crusades: Liberation of Christians in the Holy Land
…. Coming next…