ESSAY IN PROGRESS
Islam Wants To Conquer The World

"FOR WE WANT THE FLAG OF Islam to fly over those lands again, who were lucky enough, to be ruled by Islam for a time, and hear the call of the muezzin praise God. Then the light of Islam died out and they returned to disbelief. Andalusia, Sicily, the Balkans, Southern Italy and the Greek islands are all Islamic colonies which have to return to Islam's lap. The Mediterranean and the Red Sea have to become internal seas of Islam, as they used to be".

These are not the words of Al Qaeda, they were taken from the programme formulated by the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hassan Al Banna, in a speech. The Brotherhood today has millions of adherents and spread out far beyond Egypt. Its intellectuals are working in Europe and the United States; they count as "moderates" and are treated accordingly by the media. Re-conquest of "lost" territory according to plan is part of the agenda of states, that is political communities, fighting about territorial power. How can it be part of a religion's programme? Is Islam a religion like any other?

Since the beginning of the classical period between the ninth and the eleventh century Islamic jurists have divided the world into two parts, namely the "House of Islam" and the "House of War". This dichotomy is independent of where Muslims live in large numbers, or even form the majority, but depends on where Islam rules supreme - by applying Shariah - or where it does not rule. So, this dichotomy is not religious in nature, but political. Between these two parts of the world naturally exists a state of war, until the House of War is no more and Islam rules the world (Sura 8, 39 and 9, 41). Thus, according to classical teaching, for the Muslim community there is a duty to wage war against the disbelievers, until those either convert, or submit. This war is called jihad.

While Jesus' missionary call meant to convert all peoples, but to leave their political order untouched, Islam's aim is to submit all non-muslims politically, but to leave their religion untouched, if it is a religion of the book. God's general call to jihad is based on surah 9, 29. It is true though, that minute factions of Islam did not accept this interpretation. The Shiites accept it, but demand that a true imam must be leading the Muslim community (and has been waiting for such a one for more than 13 centuries), so that for the time being they only feel bound to defensive jihad, in the case of attacks on the Muslim community.

On the other hand, the other factions, e.g. the so-called Kharijites, have radicalised the content of Sura 9.29: for them, jihad is an individual duty of each able-bodied muslim, which counts as a sixth pillar next to the other five cardinal duties. In the consequence of such teachings: when everyone has to either take part in the collective war against the unbelievers, or, should the Muslim community be too weak for the time being, has to wage war alone or in small groups, then assassinations and terror attacks are right. What the Kharijites demand for offensive jihad, most proponents of orthodox Sunnah-teachings demand for defensive jihad: when Islam is being attacked, or Islamic territory is being invaded by infidels, jihad becomes an individual duty, e.g. a fatwa of the Grand Mufti of Cairo's Al-Azhar university - against Israel - leaves no doubt about that. Any enemy power that acts according to the Hague rules of warfare and strictly distinguishes combatants and non-combatants will be in great difficulty. The state of war lasts so long, until the House of War is destroyed, and the world is conquered. This is why Majid Khadduri calls Islam a "divine nomocracy on imperialist foundations". Peace treaties, which Islamic rulers closed with non-Islamic rulers, were only considered as cease-fires; this is why as a rule, they were only closed for no more than ten years. Two schools of jurisprudence permit no more than three to four years of peace. The short deadlines made it possible for the militarily superior Muslims to constantly blackmail their adversaries; this way throughout the centuries huge amounts of money and humans went to the Muslim side. When the paradigm of power shifted, Muslim rulers had to change their practice.

Thus in 1535 Suleiman the Magnificent made a peace with the French king which was to last for the lifetime of the Sultan - a break with tradition. Christian theologians tried to define, in the face of a plurality of states, what could be deemed a "just war" and what could not be deemed such. To wage war just in the interest of faith for the most part was not considered just. For Muslim scholars on the other hand, the "house of Islam" is a political unit, which does not permit internal war, therefore only war for the sugjugation of infidels was considered legitimate and even a duty, as the famous fourtheenth-century scholare Ibn Chaldun categorically states: "In Islam the jihad is prescribed by law, because it has a universal calling and is supposed to convert all of humanity to Islam, be it of their own free will, or by force".

The rules of engagement for jihad are flexible. According to Khadduri, anything is possible, from mercy to mass enslavement to mass killing, just like with Greeks and Romans. This is a fundamental difference between the holy war of Islam and of Old Testament Judaism, which prescribed the killing of all males outside of Israel, and the killing of every living thing within Israel (Deuteronomy 20, 10-20). We usually are outraged at what the Crusaders did in Jerusalem in 1099. Yet, the Crusaders acted in accordance with the ius bellum of the times, Muslim conquerors did the same all the time and everywhere: 698 they hit Carthage, in 838 Syracuse; the notorious vesir of the Cordoban Caliphate, Al Mansur, led 25 wars in 27 years against the Christian realms of northern Spain, enslaving, destroying, laying waste. They hit Zamora (981), Coimbra (987), Leon, Barcelona twice (985 and 1008), then Santiago de Compostela (997).

The worst destruction was wreaked by the jihadis on Byzantine Anatolia, which was then still full of cities; the massacre of Amorium (838) has remained a symbol for a long time; the urban culture of Anatolia never recovered from it.

The Seljuk Alp Arslan had entire Armenian cities massacred, the worst being the capital Ani in 1064. Bat Ye'or's evaluation therefore is more than justified: "Its lack of measure, its regularity and the systematic character of the destructions, which Islamic theologians had decreed to be law, make the difference between jihad and other wars of conquest".Certainly, mass enslavement remained the favourite aim of the wars. That was the way in which, as early as the eight century, the biggest slave-holder society developed that world history has ever known; it demanded a permanent influx of new slaves, transformed the African continent into the biggest supplier of slaves, a destiny which Europe narrowly avoided.

The incredible speed, in which in 90 years an Arabian empire spanning from the south of France to India developed, with no single conqueror guiding the expansion, is unique. The world's most succesful imperialism was admired by no less than Hegel: "Never has enthusiasm as such done bigger deeds". If "enthusiasm" could do such a thing - what was its source? The answer is simple: martyrdom. Something happening in 963 in Constantinople may illustrate this: the emperor Nikephoros Phokas had just swept the Muslim invaders from Crete; now, he was planning a big war, to liberate eastern Anatolia and northern Syria from muslim rule. A council should help him: he pleaded with the bishops, to elevate soldiers dying in the war to the status of martyrs. Paradise would then have been assured for those soldiers. The patriarch stood up against the emperor: no church council could be empowered to anticipate God's decision, only God could decide on eternal salvation.

A scene of historical significance. The emperor knew what was at stake. Again and again, the Byzantians had to witness the Muslim troops fighting with a ferocious courage that the Christians could not emulate. Fallen Muslims were considered martyrs of the faith and marched straight to paradise. The concept of a martyr is fundamentally different in the two religions. Christian martyrs imitate the passion of Jesus, passively submit to torture and death; Muslim martyrs are active fighters.

Decisive for the warriors' acceptance of death was the firm promise of eternal salvation for those who die for the faith (surah 4, 74-76). Muslims should withstand a tenfold force (surah 8, 66-67); retreat was judged to be acceptable by later scholars if the enemy was at least double as strong, as Khadduri describes. As the decisive factor in any war is the fighting human being and his readiness to sacrifice himself, being on a par technically with the Arabs and Seljuks - in the long run, they had to succumb, if their morale was not of the same kind. Higher readiness to die is an enormous advantage in a fight- foolhardy operations can be waged and dashing manoeuvers to surprise and confuse the enemy; in that way, victory can be forced, that is technically and materially almost impossible, and battles are won, that would be lost under the usual circumstances.

Nikephoros knew about the military consequences of surah 4, 74-76; he was the first who tried to correct the conceptual military disadvantage of the Christian religion. But the bishops of the Eastern Church found themselves incapable of manipulating their theology in a way to create warlike martyrdom. This was it. The Byzantine emperors had to wage their heavy defensive wars against the permanent Saracen and Seljuk aggression without the help of religion, where they needed that help most.

Only the Western Church changed the theological-political situation: when Pope Urban II called the first crusade in 1095, he promised the Christian warriors forgiveness for their sins: fallen crusaders avoided divine judgement and were put on a par with martyrs in that respect, although they were denied that name.

Islam will rule the world. There is nothing you can do. Even if the per capita GDP of the world drops to half of its present level as a consequence of Islamic laws in place all over the world but still Islam will rule the word. From your point of view we bring to the world to the dark ages, so be it. But still Islam wins, West loses. Are you sure you want to play this game?

The Pope as head of a monarchic church did just that, what the Council of Eastern bishops had not been able to do: he dispensed salvation. The papal church now could have the kind of "holy war" Islam had been waging for centuries. What is the difference between Crusade and jihad? A Crusade could only be called by the Pope, and thus remained a rare occurence - compared to the countless, neverending and ubiquitarian jihads of the Islamic world.

And the goals of the Crusades remain precisely defined; in November 1095, Urban II defined reason and aim of the crusade: "it is obvious, we must give help to our brothers in the east as soon as possible. The Turks and Arabs have attacked them and have invaded the realm of Romania (Constantinople) and by invading the lands of these Christians ever more deeply, they won seven battles, killed or captured a huge number of the Christians. If you don't oppose them now, the faithful servants of God in the Orient will not withstand this storm much longer". The first Crusades were meant to either help Christians in need, or to liberate the holy places in Palestine or to liberate Christians that had been subjugated by Muslims. On the other hand, the Muslim scholars always kept firm to their final goal, to conquer the "house of war" and subjugate all infidels.

Urban II was right. Had Constantinople fallen in 1100, the enormous military power of the Turk armies would have plagued Europe four hundred years earlier. Then the manifold European culture probably would never have been: no free urban constitutions, no constitutional debates, no cathedrals, no renaissance, no scientific boom, because in the Islamic world, free - Greek! - thinking was dying just at this time. Jacob Burckhardt's evaluation - "A stroke of luck, that Europe as a whole could ward off Islam" - means, we owe about as much to the Crusades, as to the Greeks' victory against the Persians.

But, have the Crusades not been abused? Certainly. Crusades "derailed" and were "abused", like the one that led to the conquest of Christian Constantinople in 1204. But that happened much more often with jihads. When slaves became scarce, emirs did not merely wage wars against non-Muslim peoples, who had to be enslaved anyway, but more and more often against Islamized peoples, under the pretext, that they were no true Muslims. That happened mainly in Africa and against black Africans, e.g. when first in 1468 Songhay and then the Moroccans in 1552 invaded Mali, or when in the 18th century religious reformers waged their jihad against Muslimized Hausa cities, which led to the creation of the Sokoto-caliphate - containing the third largest number of slaves after Brazil and the American south. Africa to this day suffers from the consequences of this permanent jihad with its genocides and mass-enslavements.

Well, and what was the political order that the Muslims waged their holy wars for with such vehemence and success? For Shariah. A political order, which for one strictly separates masters from the subjugated and secondly takes political and social order away from human influence for the most part. Let's talk about the first aspect: According to the Shariah, the Muslims are masters, the followers of other "book religions" - Christians, Jews, Parsees, Buddhists, are subjugated, Dhimmi. These were not religious minorities, but huge majorities, especially in Syria, Anatolia or the Christians of North-Africa.

The subjugated were not allowed to carry weapons, they were unarmed, thus not 'real men'. Christians and Jews had to wear special colours or pieces of clothing (this discrimination was the origin of the "Judenstern") so as to be visibly "dhimmi"; they were not allowed to ride on horseback, only on mules, to remind them of their subjugation; they paid a special tribute (jizyah), that they had to pay personally, while being given a slap on the head. They had to let themselves be beaten by any Muslim, without being allowed to defend themselves; if a dhimmi retaliated, his hand would be cut off, or he would be executed. A dhimmi's witness did not count against a Muslim, who only had to pay half the fine for any crime committed against a dhimmi, and could never ever get executed for any such crime. On the other side, the most cruel methods of execution were reserved for the dhimmi.

Even the discrimination against the Jews, installed by the Western Church in the 4th Lateran Council in 1215, four hundred years after Islam, and which seems so barbarian to us, did not intend and did not lead to such a degree of humiliation and demeaning of people. A special horror was brought by the Turkish rule: from 1360 up to a fifth of Christian children were abducted into slavery. They were forcefully converted. The number of slaves through four centuries must have been millions; hundreds of thousands of choice boys among those were raised to be fanatical Muslims and elite fighters, the notorious Janissaries: a politic meant to systematically increase the Muslim population and slowly exterminate Christians. It was successful. "Dhimmitude" put non-muslims in a state of radical "otherness". To call people in this state "second class citizens" is a euphemism.

In the same way national socialism divided humans into master-race and subhumans on racial grounds, so Shariah did it on religious grounds. As the first world-religion, Islam created an apartheid, where Christian or Parsee majorities were colonised and slowly Islamized. Islamic tolerance meant: tolerate the subjugated as humiliated and demeaned. All this is well known via studies about "dhimmitude". But who wants to hear about the millions of victims?

Islam religiously "cleansed" huge territories: the second Caliph made the Hijaz, Arabia except Yemen "judenrein" and "christenrein"; the alternative was either to convert, or to be forced into emigration. Except for some Old Testament cases no religion ever before had done that. In the same way the Almohadis and Almoravids "cleansed" Spain after the breakdown of the Caliphate in 1031: tens of thousands of Jews and Christians had to either convert or flee to the Christian north of Spain, or the Levant. Certainly, English and French kings and the kings of Spain later on did the same - they applied the Muslim recipe in doing it. And the pogroms? Since the Caliph Al-Mutawakkil (847-861) waves of persecution again and again hit the Orient and North Africa, where Jews and Christians were forcibly converted, kicked out or massacred. The destruction of churches went on and on right until the century before last. Slowly, the rosy picture of Muslim Spain created by European anti-imperialism in the 19th century loses its fake colours. A scrupulous study of documents shows a different picture below that. In 889 in Elvira and in 891 in Seville, there were massive pogroms against Christians. In Moroccan Fez in 1033, 6000 Jews were massacred. 1058 Christian Antioch was forcefully Muslimized with torture and threats of death.

The first large pogrom against Jews on European soil happened in 1066 in Muslim Granada, 1500 Jewish families were killed. In 1135 the Jewish quarter of Cordoba was burnt down, it might be good, not to know the number of people massacred then. In 1159 all the Christians in Tunis had to chose between conversion or death. At this time, the vital Christianity of North Africa was completely wiped out. The pogroms in Christian lands are nothing to be proud of in European history, but their scope lags behind the ones in the Muslim world. We urgently need a comparative study of religious oppression.

Let's talk about integration of the Jews? Nowhere under the rule of Islam, not even in the Spanish Caliphate, were Jews citizens of their own cities, they always remained subjugated. In some German cities - Worms, Augsburg and others - during the high Middle Ages the Jews were citizens, albeit of special legal satus. They had the right to carry arms and were better off than poorer Christian people. Right until the 14th century, when their situation got worse, they were far better integrated than Jews in Muslim Spain could ever hope to be. Who thinks highly of political integration cannot but prefer Augsburg to Cordoba. All this has been well known in academic circles for fifteen years. But who wants to hear it?

To ignore the past means to re-live it. He who keeps on spreading the fairytale of muslim tolerance, stands in the way of those Muslim intellectuals, who seriously work towards a reformation of islam, which started out so promisingly in the 19th century. He steals away their chance to overcome a past, which threatens to become a horrible presence. If the reformers could achieve a radical de-politicization of islam, the muslims could become real citizens of their states. That would leave the highly spiritual religion, which fascinated not only Goethe. Hegel called Islam the "religion of sublime". It could become that.

Professor EgonFlaig
September 29, 2006

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