When attempting to address Islam in modern politics, there are two trends that have to be fought. The first is the secular reaction, which, while swallowing a certain discomfort over Islamic culture, they freely admit they should be able to do as they like so long as they don’t harm us, immigrate and do whatever, since Islam is a “religion of peace”, which is simply not true if we critically examine its history and doctrine. I will speak of this another time. Then there is a second view, expressed often by conservative and traditional Catholics, who support the current wars the US and its allies are engaged in throughout the Levant, which they use to harken back to the Crusades. One of the greatest errors of this view, is to treat Islam as though it is socially and intellectually the same as it was in the 13th century, or in 1683. The problem with this view, is it overlooks 350 years of cultural and philosophical development, as well as the influence (either positive or negative) of the modern secular west on Islam.
Now, in my article “Much ado about nothing,” one comment, which I preserved for this work, reacted to my criticism of the industrial military complex fighting ISIS in the Middle East, which I will address along its various points. I find agreement with the commenter in regards to Islam, but not on the modern means he advocates for fighting it. Hence we begin:
“What ISIS does is what all Islamic caliphates before this recent attempt have done; they test the weakness and resolve of civilization with unnerving brutality and acts of horrendously gratuitous violence.”
Every Caliphate? I beg to differ. We will below, talk about Muhammad and the original conquest of Islam. Let’s look at various Caliphates.
Ummayid caliphate: The Ummayid Caliphate was the original Caliphate after the conquest, stretching from Spain to India with its capital in Baghdad. Far from descending to outright brutality, beheadings, and the destruction of the past, the Ummayids built upon the classical tradition and attempted to form what exactly Islam was. Two things have to be kept in mind:
- Islam was not fully formed at Muhammad’s death, but went further to reform and establish its interpretive apparatus, exactly what were and not legitimate Surrah’s in the Qur’an, how authentic is the Al Haddith (which has been a lengthy discussion throughout the history of Islam), what should be brought into the Sunnah, what constitutes worship, etc. This changed frequently from the 7th to the 9th centuries.
- The lightening conquest of Islam breaking out of Arabia was really a great stroke of luck on their side, the Romans and Persians drained their resources fighting each other, the Roman army was pulled out of North Africa to fight in Persia, and the Goths in Spain had grown very weak. While they made great conquests all the way to India, at the same time, they had the difficulty that they were a minority in control of a much older civilization.
Thus the Ummayids found out what the Romans/Persians charged in the way of taxes, and charged less as the Jyzah so as to smooth over their rule. We could say many things about them, but they weren’t stupid. It was Christians mostly who trained the new educated class in Farsi, Greek and Latin, and those scholars went on to establish the principles of Classical Arabic. This is referred to in Islamic history (unless one is a Wahabbist) as the “Golden Age” of Islam, when culture and learning were preserved! This contrasts very sharply with the blatant destruction and hatred of culture displayed by Dayesh (ISIS), which represents more Communist principles than Islamic. For when we read about the rise of Communism in Cambodia, or China, what do we find: sites of traditional culture were destroyed, intellectuals were outright killed, even to the point that people with glasses were killed. If you were smart you were part of the bourgeois, not the proletariat, and other foolish things. Contrast this with the fact that medieval Islamic studies in optics led ultimately to the western european knowledge and expansion of that science, which allowed them to produce eye-glasses. This doesn’t mean that they could not have figured it out without Islamic agency, but the fact is they did.
In the 9th century, you have the Baghdad Caliphate, and the break up of the Ummayid into more regional rulers. The Baghdad caliphate was known world wide as an institution devoted to culture, science and learning.
In the 11th century you have the Fatimid Caliphate, a Shiite caliphate in Egypt which ruled until Saladin. You likewise had divided groups of Turkish Muslims, loosely connected to the Seljuk caliphate. In Persia you had the Ghasnavid caliphate, in India the Mauryan caliphate. All of which were highly literate, scientific societies.
Then the Ottoman Caliphate, which persisted until the 20th century, was again a beacon of science and learning until the 17th century, along with, well conquest which was both political and religious. We can’t reduce any one of the wars and conquests to a religious war, except perhaps the original conquest in the 7th century. The above “glowing” assessment of the contribution to culture, science and philosophy of the Islamic world should not give the reader the impression that I am an Islamophile, or think that Islam is great and wonderful. Islam had its legitimate contribution to Western and Eastern culture in the realm of science and philosophy, just as pagan Greece and Rome had. To act, however, as if Islamic culture is nothing more than a home of barbarism and violence is just as intellectually dishonest as maintaining it is a pure religion of peace.
They labored on the tradition, expounded on it and passed it on in difficult questions, which the Medievals likewise did until today. Arab philosophers and scientists were highly influential on western thinkers even through the Renaissance. Copernicus, for example, frequently cites 3 Islamic astronomers that are the basis of his cosmology in De Revolutionibus namely Al Battani, Emfil Hathan, Nusradel al-Tuhzi who are among several others that explored this problem Yet, it made its attainment of worldwide empire by violence. Within Islamic societies, you do have violence, and you do have persecution of Christians, along with tolerance for varying reasons. You do see brutal killings of Christians, particularly in the East [See Bat Yeor’s The Waning of Eastern Christianity under Islam], but also co-existence. Until recently, 20% of Syria was Christian, and there were communities where Christians and Muslims co-existed peacefully, recognizing the various boundaries. You do see Islamic incursions into Italy in the middle ages, but these are usually piracy, plunder, etc. Ottoman invasions were wars of conquest of nations, they differ extraordinarily from what is today called Islamic terrorism. That doesn’t make those incursions and wars good or Islam a nice friendly neighbor, but it is an important distinction. THE question of the day is what is “terrorism”, how Islamic is it, and is it the threat of renewed Islam predicted by figures like Chesterton, Belloc, Lewis, etc.? That is what we shall see.
“Mohammed, himself, tortured a man by tying him down and setting a wood fire on his chest (in the hadith). The only way Western foreign policy can affect their actions is its display of utter weakness and belief in Islam’s moral equivalence to Catholicism’s worldly expression – Christianity. We Catholics have fought these devils since 610 A.D. You quote Belloc. Have you read his book on Catholic heresies? Islam was in a down time when he wrote, but he warned that given an opening are bent on the destruction of civilization.”
There are a number of things to be addressed here. The Islamic tradition is replete with examples of Muhammad’s cruelty, and even more in the commentaries on it by Islamic jurists. There are plenty more examples. That is not the issue. Do these examples motivate and animate a largely illiterate society that can’t really read the Qur’an, let alone the Sunnah or the Al Haddith? No. What did Belloc warn of? He warned of the cultural unity that adherence to religion brings and the strength that it gives to a culture, necessarily will make that a stronger culture than the pluralistic and atheistic culture pervading the west in his day (coming to full flower in ours), which has no interior unity or strength in the culture.
“In a recent book by Dr. Tawfik Hammid this point concerning Salafists/Islamists/Wahabbists and their violent jihadi roots is crystalised. Salafists are 90% of practicing Muslims in the world, he says. He was a member of a terrorist group in Egypt and was recruited by Ayman al-Zawahiri, the current head of al-Qaeda. Avoiding these so-called people is not possible. Believing their purposefully deceptive propaganda about “religion of peace” will be the final foolishness of modernism. If Islam is not destroyed utterly, we will be destroyed, utterly – and sooner than you think. They worship death. They are of Satan. Make no mistake, the Catholic Religion is Islam’s mortal enemy.”
Again, there are a number of things being woven in together. Zawahiri is a western intelligence asset, recruited by Bin Laden and sent to Afghanistan through the Jeddah consulate. Where is Al Qaeda now? Where is al-Zawahiri now? Can’t find him. What attacks is he directing? None. Is he apart of Dayeish? If so we haven’t heard. The fact is, wherever we find Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri from 1978-2001, we generally find US or UK foreign policy goals. For example, there is obviously operation Cyclone, but that was the beginning. Where does Bin Laden go after 1988 and the end of the Afghan-Soviet war? We find him in Sudan. Why go from Afghanistan to Southern Sudan of all places, to fund and foment a civil war? Oil. We could say the same thing about the sudden Kony 2012 initiative which materializes when—after Uganda discovers a ton of oil. Trick was, no one in Uganda had seen or heard of Joseph Kony since 2008.
Next, where do we find Bin Laden? in 1994-1997 we find him in the Balkans. Why? in order to establish the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), in which one of his brothers was a general, and heavily supported by the US and NATO against Serbia. What happens then, when Milosevic is ousted from Serbia with Bin Laden’s help? The Heroin trade, which Milosevic had blocked, flourishes once again. Just as when we removed the Taliban, Poppy production in Afghanistan goes from its lowest ebb back up to historic levels. Follow the money.
“Cardinal Ottaviani, in your side-bar quote, has cause and effects confused. He seems to be a short-sighted pacifist, uneducated in history, and is unaware that he would not have been alive to make his statement were is not for courageous men who died so his ancestors could live and his religion could survive.”
Oh, so his ancestors dropped the atomic bomb on a civilian city with no air defense? Or his ancestors fire-bombed Dresden, a city taking in refugees fleeing the Soviets which did not even have a Luftwaffe? Ottaviani was the head of the Holy Office under Pius XII, and extremely learned theologian and someone who observed the horrors of World War II. He knew what he was talking about, and correctly applied Catholic moral principles.
“Indeed, our species could not have survived its own evil, if not for good, kind men temporarily becoming men of extreme violence with prejudice to ensure that survival. Believing that war is never necessary does not make it fact.”
This is a non sequitur. Ottaviani is not saying that no war, ever, anywhere is ever justified (which would be contrary to Catholic principles), but rather that war with modern weaponry is never justified, because of first principles. Just because someone is a Muslim does not mean that he must now be killed. This is why the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem had many Muslim inhabitants, who were even exempted from the Sepulcher tax, since they weren’t Christians they could not be made to pay it. And, Muslims happily lived in the Crusader kingdom and fought with it against the Turks, because they felt more free there. When the Crusader kingdom was doomed, some left, most remained neutral and accepted the new leaders.
“The world, at this moment, is in a leadership catastrophe.”
Absolutely right. Who is going to lead the world again? Obama? A president carrying the same torch as Obama? Or a renewed Catholic faith? America is not the solution. A renewed Catholic Church faithful to Jesus Christ will be.
“The quest for zero-suffering and the quasi-happiness of paganism has produced an irreversibly soft majority of adult toddlers whose dependence on lies leads them away from God’s desire for us to persevere in the face of adversity. It is only in facing up to the evil adversary that we know dignity. It is in battle where the love of God is never more real. Denial of that fact is to deny good vs. evil, that the battle for the immortal soul in each of us does not exist.”
Then let us battle with honour and not drop bombs on 7 year-olds and children in villages that haven’t the faintest idea of what is going on in the world.
This is where we have to draw serious distinctions. After 1683, Islam goes downward. Technological advance is happening in the West, not in the Islamic East. The truth is this trend happened earlier. In Venice there is a very rare book preserved. It is the first printed Qur’an, but the vowel points are in the wrong place, there are errors, the wrong letters (as in Arabic letters change according to the ligatures and vowels), etc. It was printed in 1537 by Paganino and was offered to Arab scholars by the Venetians for corrections. Yet, the Arabs did not accept it. There is a continuation of the medieval practice of importing Arab works and translating them into Latin, but the Islamic world refused to accept printing. This was too close to making an image for them. This rejection of printing continued for many centuries. What it represents is a turning away from the Islamic golden age in the sciences. The chief energy in Islam was then in the court of the Ottoman Sultans at Constantinople, in political and military conquest. When that was turned back at Vienna, political Islam became moribund and was dominated by the superior technology of the West, as what nearly happened to the West hundreds of years earlier. Most Islamic communities became secularized. Even today, many Islamic societies such as Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq and many others contain many people who want little more than to live their lives. That doesn’t mean they won’t cheer if they see a terrorist attack somewhere, but they also won’t do anything to contribute to it. Why? Because they are more interested in working, eating, and having carnal relations with their wives. They are not interested in dying in another country to fight “Jihad”.
So what is Islamic terrorism? There was only one, authentic (and by that I mean independent) terrorist group, and that was Yasser Arafat’s Fatah. To counter it, the Israeli’s created Hamas (which in Arabic means “violence”), which was originally controlled by them to counter Arafat, until it (presumably) got out of their control. Some people might want to add in Hezbullah (which means party of god), but that is a mere extension of the Iranian revolutionary state, and the Iranian revolution was a communist revolution on communistic principles largely, seeking to export a Shiite Islamic state based on Marxist principles. All terrorism is ultimately controlled by western intelligence. That is why they never attack Israel, that is why you don’t see attacks on carried out by Al Qaeda in Europe, that is why you don’t see any new attacks in the US. Seriously, everything focuses now on airports, it would be a simple operation for Arabs to pay their way through the Mexican cartels and slip across the southern border to carry out various terrorist attacks. That it hasn’t happened shows that Al Qaeda is not an independent group, but dependent upon western funding to carry out what it does. Who are the targets of Islamic terrorism? Secular Muslim governments, which is inline with Sayyed Qutb’s views (and if you don’t know who Qutb is, you don’t know modern Islamic history). It is based around purifying Islam. For Qutb, reform was about expelling western influence from Islamic society, and if the secular leader of his day (particularly Nasser) would not do so, then they had to be killed.
Now let’s look at some more facts. Where does Dayesh (ISIS) come from? Obama wanted Bush style regime change in Syria, a country that is completely united behind Assad, viewing the “freedom fighters” as terrorists and murderers. The populations in the US and UK were entirely opposed to it. So what happens? ISIS comes out of nowhere, with lots of funding, arms, being fed by endless convoys from Turkey, which is attacking Assad in Syria. Once again, Islamic terrorism is accomplishing the goals of Western intelligence agencies. I would direct you to pioneering journalistic research, one: Who is behind ISIS?, and even declassified documents showing that the rise of ISIS was desirable for Western intelligence. ISIS had destroyed “Muslim Mausoleums“, not something you expect form hard core doctrinaire muslims. Then again, Muhammad Attah, a pure Islamic fundamentalist, was drinking mixed drinks and living with a pink haired stripper before the 9/11 attacks. I know, many of my readers do not follow me on 9/11 skepticism. Fine. Let’s look at the cui bono, who benefits from 9/11? The US government, Saudi Arabia, the military industrial complex, oil companies, not us, and, surprisingly, not Muslims. Who is the biggest casualty of Islamic terrorism? Other muslims, generally.
In other words, what we are told is Islamic terrorism is a sham, it is nonsense. And this is where people are missing the boat on the Islamic invasion. Islam is indeed still a threat and will be a perennial challenge as long as it exists. Where is that threat? It is not in blue-eyed, blond haired “jihadis” and fake beheadings, or British special agents dressed up as terrorists, but it is rather in unchecked Islamic immigration and establishment of Ummah in our communities, most especially in Europe, where Muslims are quickly out breeding Europeans, so that those societies are being conquered by multiculturalism and demographics. Or, to put it another way, what Islam could not do in the middle ages or in the Ottoman period it will do thanks to the birth control pill and abortion.
That is nothing to sneer at. You can only fight a religion with a religion, and the religion to do that is the true religion. So let’s take our focus away form secular atheistic governments in bed with international finance bombing communities of innocent people (which magically aligns with their interest in the resources in those communities) and focus instead on renewing Catholic life and being faithful. Let us, as much as possible, oppose the erection of minarets on mosques (which is a legal sign of the establishment of Ummah and Sharia law) and oppose this in our countries. That is where the invasion is taking place. All the bombs and mechanisms of our military industrial complex will not uproot Islam. Virtue, faithfulness to what we’ve received, and protecting Catholic society and conversion will save the West. American bombs will hasten its destruction. What needs to happen is converting muslims, and there are good protestants carrying on that ministry. Where are Catholics? Generally, voting Republican and calling for more bombs in the middle east. Islam is a threat, and it needs to be met with faithfulness and truth.
Nice job. My reply was much less thought out, and now seems such a trifle to your original post. I am very impressed with your work. I do have a question for you that might clear away a few blind spots I have when considering someone’s foundation. Have you ever been a combat Vet?
I do not.
I should add I am not also anti-military, I have several friends still in the military, a few agree with me, and a few do not. I don’t like to gainsay the situation of someone in the military who does not have the luxury of second-guessing orders in a combat situation. I lay blame more at the politicians who send them abroad but get infinite exemptions for them and their children.
No offence, but you see the world too much through the eyes of a modern Westerner, and as a North-American you are removed from the day to day realities of a Europe which has to live with a Muslim invasion. There are horrifying things happening there, and it’s not allowed to talk about them because of political correctness (whatever that is). However there are still some videos available on youtube and they show the real behaviour of the followers of Islam towards the people who opened their doors to them. Including some about the new ‘refugees’ who are showing their true colours.
Also, regarding the past, the Ottoman caliphate behaved extremely cruelly with the Eastern Europe countries it conquered, and the Moslem conquest of India was a very bloody affair too.
And just look at the way they behave even with each other, the way they treat their women (all according to their holy book), or their children. In Saudi Arabia people are sentenced to death by beheading and thieves’ hands are cut off. In Iran adulterers are stoned. And nobody is bombing them. There is something extremely cruel and primitive in a religion which permits this kind of behaviour even in this day and age. They are extremist par excellence, that’s why they have been chosen to destroy Christianity. Why not Buddhists ? Because THAT is a religion of peace, and not Islam.
The Ottomans were a truly savage. It never ceases to shock me reading about all the evil they committed. The more I read about them the more I loath them. They had the civility of the Nazis and the brutality of ISIS. Sure, they were honorable at times, but as far as I can tell those times were few and far between.
So were the Romans, yet we still celebrate their achievements and their language is the universal language of the Church. The Ottomans considered themselves successors to the Romans (as the titles of Ottoman Sultans show) and they show it. The Romans brought more tyranny to more places in the world than the Ottomans did, and a high civic culture that elites in new areas got to enjoy. That the Ottomans did not surpass them, of course, largely due to the brave defense of heroes like the Knights of Malta in 1565, or the brave defenders in Vienna in both 1529 and 1683. We could look at say, the practice of taking Christian children to be Janissaries. Romans took many more children from their parents to make them eunuchs and sex slaves for the elite. Then the Armenian genocide, the Ottomans killed Muslim Armenians along with Christian ones, it was ethnic cleansing not different from what the Romans did in Carthage. It was a Turk vs. Armenian more than Islamic vs. Christian.
So again, this is not a defense of Islam or to say that it is not a threat—but—that doesn’t mean that the solution is bombing Islamic societies via the war on terror, particularly if we want to keep refugees from flooding the west.
Someone commented on what’s going on in Germany, that is multi-culturalism. That is the elite leaders that are so open-minded that their brains have fallen out, and they lack the will to live. The solution? Return and recover of the Christian faith, not new crusades of secular governments to remake the middle east for the oil interest.
The Romans maybe have done everything and more than the Ottomans but the Armenian genocide was arguably the first modern genocide. That picture of the Armenian girls raped and crucified with their hair blowing in the wind stays with you.
Only stupid morons bow down to a Demon from Hell who goes by the name of Allah.
Be that as it may, one has to know the enemy, and fighting a caricature of the enemy does not bring one closer to victory. The Islamic world needs conversion, not bombs, and the best way to accomplish that is know something about them, like Bl. Raymond Lull who devoted his life to converting Muslims and learned Arabic and their theology to do it.
Exactly Ryan…what a shame people know so little about Raymond Llull.
“Allah” is called “The Great Deceiver” in the Qur’an…that to me equates with Satan, The Father of Lies. Muhammad is described the perfect human being…Islam is a totalitarian murderous ideology with a veneer of religion. 1.2 billion people have the warlord, mass murderer, mass rapist and slave owner Muhammad as a role model. That is frightening!
Again, what is the actual connection of the average Muslim who can’t read well in many parts of the world, to these elements which we know through various media, but they do not because they are locked up in the tradition and in 8th century commentators, or traditions (Al Hadith, Sunnah, etc.)? Or do these things negate anything I said in the article? Or are you just shocked and offended that Arabs actually passed on science that influenced the middle ages and renaissance and brought about modern science? It is true that there is a lot bad in Islamic theology, but why does this mean we need to murderously bomb innocent Muslims who have done nothing to us?
rubens7 – honest question; are you a pacifist given that modern/total war is so destructive? I’m in complete agreement with you regarding the true nature of the Islamic threat. Is the solution to ban Muslim immigration? Does the defense take on a military component at all? Under what circumstances would a modern Crusade be justified?
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