The politically correct would have it that Islam is a religion of peace, but in this far-ranging collection of Muslim and non-Muslim eyewitness accounts, theological treatises by great Muslim scholars and jurists throughout history and historical surveys of superb historians, Islam has in fact practiced a grisly jihad campaign against non-Muslims from its earliest days, in the hope of satisfying the Prophet Mohammed's end goal---forcing the "one true faith" upon the entire world.
In 759 pages, divided into eight parts, Dr. Andrew Bostom has provided a fantastic compendium of historical surveys; jihad literature; classical Muslim scholarly treatises; historical overviews from important 20th century historians; foldout, color-coded maps; eyewitness accounts of jihad campaigns from the Near East, Asia Minor, Europe and the Indian subcontinent; historical and contemporary accounts of jihad slavery; and Muslim and non-Muslim chronicles and eyewitness accounts of jihad campaigns.
It is hard, after viewing these compelling accounts and histories, to continue to believe that radical Islamists are in fact all that radical. For Islam, at its core, seems to be a faith bent upon the conquest and subjugation of non-Muslims.
In part two, Bostom collects many jihadist teachings in the Qur'an, for example, Qur'an chapter 9, verse 29, "Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the last day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and his apostle, nor acknowledge the religion of truth even if they are the people of the book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and fell themselves subdued." These teachings fill all of two pages in the text.
But Bostom does not stop there. The third chapter is devoted to classical and modern teachings of Qur'anic commentators on Chapter 9, verse 29. Al-Suyuti (d. 1505 CE), for example, writes "Fight those who don't believe in God nor in the Last Day [Unless they believe in the Prophet God bless him and grant him peace] nor hold what is forbidden that which God and His emissary have forbidden [e.g. Wine] nor embrace the true faith [which is firm and abrogates other faiths, i.e., the Islamic religion] from among [for distinguishing] those who were given the Book [i.e., the Jews and Christians] until they give the head-tax [i.e., the annual taxes imposed on them] (l'an yadinl) humbly submissive, and obedient to Islam's rule."
Also commenting on the Qur'anic chapter 9, verse 29 are al-Zamakshari (d. 1144), al Tabari (d. 923), al-Beidawi (d. 1286), Ibn Kathir (d. 1373), Sayyid Qutb (d. 1966) and al-Azhar, al-Muntakhab Fii Tafsir al-Qur'aan al-Kariim, 1985. Let no one say that Bostom has taken these teachings out of context, for the classical and contemporary commentators interpret the passage in precisely the same way as it appears.
Chapter 4 is then devoted to jihad in the Hadith, with commentary from Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim.
Part 3 presents the classical writings of Muslim theologians and jurists on jihad. This 110-page section spans the entire history of Islam, beginning with commentators from the 8th century and continuing through the 20th century. Bostom has gleaned writings of Malik B. Anas (d. 795) from the Muwata, as well as a 1915 Ottoman Fatwa.
He also includes several works translated into English for the first time. For example, Ibn Qudama (d. 1223), writes, "Legal war (jihad) is an obligatory social duty (fard-kifaya); when one group of Muslims guarantees that it is being carried out in a satisfactory manner, the others are exempted." Almost everywhere in this text, the author is belligerent. "It is permitted to surprise the infidels under cover of night, to bombard them with mangonels [an engine that hurls missiles] and to attack them without declaring battle (du'a)."
Similarly, the renowned Sufi master al-Ghazali (d. 1111) writes (now in English for the first time), "One must go on jihad (i.e. Warlike razzias or raids) at least once a year... one may use a catapult against them [non-Muslims] when they are in a fortress, even if among them are women and children. One may set fire to them and drown them." The marriages of slaves, al-Ghazali continues, are automatically "revoked. One may cut down their trees.... One must destroy their useless books." This belies the notion that Sufism is peaceful.
Al-Hilli (d. 1277) appears for the first time in English on the traditions concerning the tax on certain infidels, who have not been enslaved or murdered. And the Persian scholar Muhammad al-Amili (d. 1621) has been translated from Farsi concerning Jihad holy war: "Islamic holy war against followers of other religions, such as Jews, is required unless they convert to Islam or pay the poll tax."
The 117-page Part 4 includes overviews of Jihad by important 20th century scholars, including Edmond Fagnan, on jihad according to the Malikite school, Roger Arnaldez on the holy war according to Ibn Hazm of Cordova, Clement Huart on the law of war, Nicolas P. Agnides, on the classification of persons under Islamic law and John Ralph Willis on the jihad ideology of enslavement.
As Ibn Warraq notes in the forward to this monumental study of Islamic jurisprudence and prosecution of war, Dr. Bostom (a non-specialist from the field of clinical medicine) is the first scholar to have had translated from Arabic into English the works of al-Bayadawi, al-Suyuti, al-Zamakhshari and al-Tabari, as well as works by Sufi master al-Ghazali, Shiites al-Hilli and al-Amili. He also includes representatives from the four schools of Sunni jurisprudence-Averroes and Ibn Khaldun (Maliki), Ibn Taymiya and Ibn Qudama (Hanbali), Shaybani (Hanafi), and al-Mawardi (Shaafi).
Ibn Warraq continues: Some contend that Dr. Bostom is right to expose history hitherto denied, but this was not the right historical moment to do so. But, as Isaiah Berlin once noted, from the ideologue's willingness to suppress what he suspects to be true has flowed much evil.
--Alyssa A. Lappen
When we speak of the expanse of the Roman empire, the Persian empire, Alexander, the Isralite nation or the formation of nation states in Europe we do not shy away from dwelling on and in fact reveling in the nature of these movements. Nations don't simply take over parts of the world by mistake or overnight. People in general do not convert en masse to religions other then their own. However when we address the history of Islam we have become conditioned to believe that Islam just existed, it sort of magically came into being and 1/3 of the world magically came under its sway overnight. Then we are told that barbarous Christian's intent only on greed and murder assaulted peaceful Islam through crusades from Spain to the Holy land. This evil crusading didn't stop until colonialism extended over almost all Muslims. This is the classic western and Islamic narrative. But its not the whole story. There was a time when Muslims too reveled in their accomplishments, their great campaigns against infidels and the great booty, then they realized that such stories didn't read well in the new anti-war tolerant secular west and they presented the rise of Islam differently. There was a time when accounts reveled in Mohammad of Ghaznis destruction of thousands of `idolatrous temples' in India and his `200,000 slaves' that he took back with him in the 11th century. Now we are told that Islam is basically indigenous to India, it never colonized India, it just mushroomed up suddenly. History books today wont tell any readers that the ottoman empire was a colonial empire that colonized Arabs in the middle east and Christians in Eastern Europe, instead we are told that the Ottoman empire sort of peacefully conquered of Europe and then it was the evil Europeans who had designs on carving up that `sick man of Europe' and forcing the ottomans to enact laws that protected minorities and ended slavery.
This book opens our eyes. This book dares to ask the questions "How did Islam expand?" and "what happened to non-Muslims in conquered areas?". In a sense what is being asked also is `how did north Africa and the middle east become Arabic and Anatolia Turkish?' Without war and genocide its not possible that any of these regions would look as they do today. In the 7th century when Islam conquered parts of Persia and Byzantium the region was 90% Zoroastrian and Christian. Today it is roughly 1% of those two faiths. What happened to them.
This book shows that the Islamic treatment of non-Muslims amounted to the fate of those conquered in the new world by Europeans. Non-Muslims were discriminated against, made slaves, raped and then became second class citizens. In an insatiable thirst for slaves and women for harems(places of sexual slavery) Islam declared Jihads deep into Africa and Europe, depopulating Eastern Europe and the coast of Africa. The experience of natives was the same as the fate of native in the Americas...genocide and eventually conversion, with a few hold outs. An excellent sobering account.
Seth J. Frantzman
Having recently read Paul Fregosi's excellent book on this subject entitled "Jihad in the West; Muslim Conquests from the 7th to the 21st Centuries", I resolved to investigate this subject further and this study did not disappoint me in it's depth and encyclopaedic content.
Spanning over 700 pages, the amount of detail provided here is breathtaking and the references are innumerable but the text is commendably readable.
As with Fregosi's work, the writer also strives to provide an objective analysis wherever possible without attacking the fundamental aspects of the Islamic religion - instead attempting to concentrate on the context of it's implications & relationship to the furtherance of Jihad itself.
However, this extensive study includes essays and commentary from many learned scholars of Jihad, and it's early claim to provide comprehensive and meticulously documented research soon becomes substantiated as the reader is confronted with realms of evidence and eyewitness accounts, amid an abundance of Muslim theological and judicial texts etc..
Among eight different parts, separate sections are also provided giving direct reference to Jihad in both the Koran and the Hadith, together with an appropriate exegesis by what are cited as the greatest classical and modern commentators, that dispel the argument that Jihad has only been justified by an alleged misinterpretation.
The book begins by providing the reader with the context surrounding the cover illustration which depicts events surrounding the surrender of the Jewish Qurayzah tribe to Muhammad and it's alleged treatment at the hands of the Islamic Prophet.
The text describes how the Jewish tribe were purported to have aided the forces of Muhammad's enemies and how they were subsequently isolated and besieged. The study proceeds to cite how all pleas for mercy, were rejected and how the Jewish tribe were henceforth delivered for judgment in Medina.
The ensuing judgment described as resulting in some six to nine hundred Jewish men purportedly being beheaded in front of Muhammad and their decapitated bodies buried in already excavated trenches.
Further context being provided as to how the young Jewish males, women and children were allegedly sold into slavery and their property and land confiscated. Muhammad himself is also cited as having taken a Jewish captive for his wife. Conversely the book illustrates how the Jewish tribe of the Qurayzah ceased to exist.
The book then proceeds to examine the worldwide impact of a multitude of named Jihad campaigns over 1300 years against non-Muslims which the book declares were characterised by massacre, enslavement and pillage, whereby the reader is confronted with how such military conquests have subdued millions of indigenous peoples and the expropriation of vast expanses of land.
One notable historical example described in the text is that of the massacre of the Armenians by the Ottoman Turks. The extent of the indiscriminate slaughter described in the text is disturbing with the perpetrators cited as allegedly respecting no surrender, bayoneting the men to death, raping the women and dashing their children against the rocks (page 667).
The exhaustive study also reveals how the teaching of Jihad ultimately determines the relations of Muslims & non-Muslims in the present day.
The reader is frequently confronted with a concern that many governments and religious bodies in the present day, are allegedly prepared to ignore what is cited as voluminous but inconvenient historical data in order to
whitewash the realities of Jihad wars, with a view to purportedly explaining away the warlike expeditions and conquests of Islam as "defensive wars" in order to interpret Jihad as merely a "bloodless striving to spread the Islamic religion".
The writer stressing the significance of how historians in free countries have a moral and professional obligation to provide the veracity underlying such issues, and pleading that these individuals should not submit to what is called any voluntary censorship in the face of those in authority who would expediently wish to falsify the record of the past and to re-write history as they would wish it to have been. (Page 22)
Fears being expressed in the text that by so doing, a distorted, revisionist history may arise which could be purportedly used as a tool of propaganda by many governments and religious bodies who would readily avail themselves of to suit their own agendas by suppressing the truth .
Political leaders and the media in general are described as being worried about the public's perception of Islam and subsequently are cited as usually only being prepared to invite the opinions of those who believe in what is cited as the `myth' of Islamic tolerance. Many such entities are described as, for various reasons, also wishing to play down the history of the dhimmi (non Muslims living under subjugation under Islamic rule).
The revelations provided in this book pertaining to Jihad and militant Islam are both eye-opening and disturbing at times and undoubtedly will be seen by many readers as controversial and contentious. Having said that I personally consider that the book definitely needs to be read and will be a welcome addition and essential reference to anyone with an interest in the Middle East conflict and how Islam is perceived at this time within the world's current landscape.
In fairness, it must be remembered that throughout the Middle Ages and well into the Modern Era, Christiandom offered the very same choices to Muslims and Jews:
Pay special taxes and suffer various legal And social disabilities.
Tolerace, throughout the above period, rose and fell like the tides; roughly corrosponding with (local) social peace,good order and economic prosperity.
The same appllied to Islam: When the Moorish civilization in Spain was at it's noontide, Christians and Jews had an easy time of it.
With the coming of the fanatical Berber Almohids in the 11th Century, that changed...very rapidly.