Occasionally, I go through the stats in WordPress to see who is backlinking The Declination. Doing so can be pretty eye opening. I’ve found more than a few detractors this way, and some very amusing social justice warriors. But I’ve also discovered fascinating intellectual material this way.
In the course of perusing my backlinks, I discovered a little-known blog call the House of David. This one is fascinating because the author delves deeply into a topic which has bothered me for most my life: just how was it that Islam conquered Sassanian Persia and most of Byzantium more or less simultaneously? Normally this question is answered in the West, at least, by primarily Greek sources. Those are useful, yes, but only paint part of the picture. The proprietor of House of David seeks to answer the question from Persian and Arabic sources, also.
The strangeness of this event cannot be overstated. As successors to the Romans (or as Romans themselves, depending on how you account them), the Byzantines were masters of siege craft. Certainly the Theodosian walls impress well enough. Being consummate engineers of fortifications, Roman forts and walled cities dotted the empire, and for the most part, the Romans were excellent at defending them. The Byzantines continued the tradition of effective defense throughout most of their history, as they were under near-constant assault from all sides.
Hannibal himself found the Romans impossible to conquer, even when winning most of the important field battles. And when much of the Western Empire fell apart, it was due not to siege warfare, but to what might be called a refugee migration situation gone to pot. Modern Europe, it should be noted, ought to be paying very close attention to that portion of their history.
Now, one might say the Persians were able to do it, at least temporarily during the Sassanian war of the early 7th century. And that is true enough, though the Romans still emerged triumphant even then. But the Persians had long experience fighting Romans. They were no strangers to dealing with Roman fortifications and siege craft. Despite the feudal nature of their army (think of dehgans like predecessors to medieval feudal nobility), it was powerful and well organized.
The Arabs, on the other hand, had little organization along those lines. Neither, it should be noted, did they have experience storming Roman forts and cities.
In some cases, of course, there was treachery from some of the Byzantines themselves, most notably in Egypt. But in other cases, such as the Exarchate of Africa, local Byzantine resistance was absolutely fierce. The wars in North Africa absolutely devastated the place. It never recovered after this. So complete was this devastation and desolation that Carthage, which bounced back even after the Romans razed it, never recovered from it. Even conquest by the Vandals had not been so terrible.
And still, after the Byzantines themselves lost much of North Africa, the native Christian Berbers continued to resist for some time under a supposed witch-queen named Kahina. And Byzantine resistance remained for a time around Cueta even after Carthage was destroyed, where the possibly-apocryphal Count Julian was said to have finally thrown in with the Muslims in order to avenge himself upon the Visigoths.
Yet the Arab steamroller moved on.
The final triumph of Byzantine siege craft could be seen in the twin Arab sieges of Constantinople, both beaten back effectively by the Byzantines. So why did they lose so completely everywhere else?
It’s a mystery that has defied satisfactory explanation. Some would say that the Persian war exhausted both countries, and that is true to some extent. Persia spiraled into internecine warfare, and was ruined by Heraclius. But Persia never had the defensive depth that Rome did. Persia was more reliant upon the land-holding nobility, and they were a better offensive force than a defensive one. The Byzantines, meanwhile, had won the war, and Heraclius was (at least according to Greek sources on the matter) still able to field massive armies who, ostensibly, had great experience in the Persian war.
Byzantium was weakened economically by the war, at least to some extent. But militarily, it may have actually been stronger.
So how did a bunch of relatively disorganized Arabs, with little experience, overrun Byzantium and Persia in a way that even Alexander the Great would have gawked at?
The purveyor of House of David has more then a few theories and ideas about how this could have been done, and what may have been going on. And there’s a ring of truth to a lot of it. It ties in well with what is going on today in the West, namely that the bureaucracy and the nobility may have, in effect, sold out their own country for personal profit. That in Byzantium, at least, the bureaucracy may have deliberately sacrificed Rome’s old empire for the sake of what we might call proto-globalization of trade.
The idea of globalists selling out nations for profit, of course, has a long tradition. To them, nations are collections of people, they are arbitrary social constructs (like gender is an arbitrary social construct to them, also). So for them, selling out a country is more or less the same thing as selling your pizza shop. It’s just a pizza shop. Who cares? If you can make more money closing your business and selling off the assets, no big deal, right?
Except countries are not pizza shops. And the things you wind up selling off are people. Sometimes very literally, in the case of Islam.
I don’t want to go on a long lecture on that topic, though. I’ll save that for another day. As to whether or not I believe this theory, I don’t know. It has a ring of plausibility to it, but I’m not familiar enough with the primary sources to say. However, it is interesting, at the very least.
Suffice it to say I have been reading more of this man’s musings on Islamic and Persian history, and they are fascinating. It’s a very different perspective than reading all this from the translated Greek sources. There are a great many posts worth reading on there. Here are a few more.
Perusing Twitter last night, I came across an interesting observation made by Mr. X, a gentleman whom I have followed for some time:
The fascinating part about this argument is that it is true, and the founders themselves would be absolutely horrified by the level of restriction we have placed on arms. A common Progressive argument is that the right to bear arms only applied to an “organized militia.” This is made without the understanding that every able-bodied man of military age was considered, de facto, a part of the militia. Another common argument is that the right only applied to “muskets” or other period firearms. Semi-automatics, revolvers, repeaters, etc… were not envisioned, they say.
Except that repeating firearms were well known during the period. Multiple barrels were the solution of choice in that time period, although there were other techniques. One particularly interesting idea used compressed air with lead pellets, fired at high velocity. Another was to revolve the entire barrel, a predecessor to the revolvers of the 1800s. Point is, the concept was well known to the founders, and they saw no reason to write them out of the Second Amendment.
One solution to the problem.
But what about, as Mr. X’s opponent postulates, surface-to-air missiles? Tanks? Naval vessels? Note that the Second Amendment doesn’t restrict their use either. And, as Mr. X points out, merchant vessels of the day were often loaded with cannons that could have easily been used in a shore bombardment capacity. In those days, piracy was still a major problem, and an unarmed, unescorted merchant ship was a tempting target.
Some “merchant ships” were barely-disguised frigates or fourth-rate line ships. East Indiamen were often commandeered for military use during time of war, and participated in many smaller naval battles. This was a type of vessel within the means of many wealthy merchant houses.
See those open doors? Gunports.
The tea trading industry being somewhat well known to the founders (the understatement of the day), you know they were well aware of armed merchant freighters, carrying cannons often as large and powerful as those found on naval frigates. Yet, again, they did not write anything about them in the Second Amendment either.
In simple terms, you could own any weapon you wanted to. A musket, a proto-revolver, a cannon, and even a frigate loaded with cannons. It would be the modern equivalent of owning, say, a somewhat cut down version of an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer. Given the recent rise in Somali piracy, it might not be bad idea to begin rearming merchant ships accordingly.
But, the point is, the founders didn’t seem worried that some lunatic with an American East Indiaman vessel loaded for bear was going to randomly, and for no particular reason, bombard the crap out of New York, even though they were theoretically capable of this action. For one, the government was not helpless against them. Early American frigates were noted as some of the most powerful vessels of their class, and secondly, important harbors were usually fortified.
Perhaps most importantly, the kind of man who would spend the modern equivalent of millions, perhaps billions, on a vessel capable of such an attack would hardly risk it in some half-baked domestic terror attack. This is borne out by the fact that in American history, this never happened. Not even once.
So let’s circle back. If you can own something like an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, at least according to the original intent of the Second Amendment, why not a surface-to-air missile? Or a tank? Like the frigates of old, these are expensive toys. Allowing their purchase will not result in a sudden flood down to Wal Mart to buy them. Few could afford them. Those who could afford them may have a need for them, as geopolitical tensions rise. Installing a missile launcher on your supertanker could wind up saving the crew and cargo from pirates.
But even if they don’t have a need, the Second Amendment is not qualified by any specific limitations. If you really want to buy a missile launcher, and you have the cash for it, the Constitution isn’t standing in your way. The Federal Government is, of course, but as we know, it is hardly Constitutional.
Now, here’s where a typical Progressive will say “well you want anybody to just be able to buy nuclear bombs or something!” Well, no. Most weapons we have today are developments of much older technologies. Repeating firearms were known, for instance. So were cannons, grenades, even armored vehicles. Airplanes are relatively new as a delivery vehicle but what they deliver would be well understood by most 18th century military men. When reading the book Victoria, I was reminded of the fact that aircraft are, essentially, the ultimate long-range artillery. Napoleon would have loved them.
To the point, though, nuclear weapons, chemical weapons and biological weapons are different. Now, the Second Amendment doesn’t say anything about them, but perhaps it should. This is what Constitutional Amendments are for, incidentally. Own whatever you like so long as it isn’t a weapon of mass destruction, which has a very specific definition. That sounds like a reasonable amendment to me.
Progressives are afraid of weapons, which is really quite stupid, because the weapon itself is an inanimate object. It is the wielder that you have to worry about. Since Progressive logic is precisely backwards, they desire to restrict the inanimate object, but allow in people who are demonstrably a threat. The fighter will find himself a weapon, or fashion one himself, which is something that Leftists can’t wrap their minds around.
Either way, however, the Second Amendment prohibits the government from regulating any of this. If we take the original amendment, as understood by the people writing it, it would mean that any adult male capable of fighting has a right to own any weapon they want, and can afford.
Indeed, it was expected that they would do so. It was, after all, the duty of the people to keep a close eye on their government. Today, the reverse is far more common, with the government keeping a close eye on the people.
Something that has irritated me somewhat in the last few years is precisely how many people crawl out of the woodwork whenever Islam is criticized or spoken of unfavorably. Excuses are made for the happenings in the Muslim world. Blame is heaped upon “Christian Crusaders” as if the failed attempts at reconquest centuries ago have any real relevance to what Islam does today. America, naturally, is criticized because it desires oil (what’s wrong with that, I wonder?), or because it interferes with the actions of Muslims dictators and theocrats, neither of which are particularly good or nice people.
Leftists decry “White Privilege” and suggest that the deficiencies of the Muslim world are because of White racism. That Islam is not is a race, and disliking it has nothing to do with racism, is lost upon them. I have, myself, been accused of racism against those of Middle Eastern descent. Naturally, such people are often surprised to learn that I am, myself, of Middle Eastern ancestry. The homeland of my grandfather has been a constant site of warfare against Islam for nearly 1,400 years. No, Leftists, this is not a racial issue. Rather, it’s much greater. It is a clash of civilizations, or more appropriately, a clash of civilization against semi-civilized barbarism. Or, are the things ISIS does in the service of restoring the Caliphate describable as anything but barbarism?
John C. Wright recently mused on the nature of the conflict, and reading the comments section was enlightening, for so many individuals were convinced that Mr. Wright was wrong, or perhaps even prejudiced, for daring to suggest that Islam is a backward belief system, and has been a force against civilization and enlightenment since the beginning. Whether he knows it or not, he actually quotes a lot of material from Emmet Scott’s book Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited, namely that the Islamic Golden Age was a myth, and that it consumed preexisting Western and Zoroastrian Persian cultures. That process, of course, would later be repeated with the Ottoman consumption of Byzantium. For all of Western history since the rise of Islam, it has been at the forefront of a global war against us, with only a brief respite, as John C. Wright explains:
“So history teaches that the Mohammedans are relentless, and merciless, and that they have tortured, enslaved, defeated and humiliated Christians again and again and again, with only a brief respite between Lepanto and the Cold War. With the Fall of the Soviet Union, they emerge again.”
There is a reason, after all, that the Industrial revolution, high technology, and economic dominance did not come from the Muslim world, even though the Ottoman Empire was, for a time, far stronger than most of Europe. Islam contains, at its core, a philosophy that can be summed up in a catchphrase used by many Muslims: “Insha’Allah.” This means “God Wills” or, rather “as Allah Wills.” The intellectual curiosity necessary for a civilization to pull itself out of the Medieval Age is missing in Islam. Things happen because God Wills them. Essentially, Islam denies the fundamental notion of Free Will. The religion is very Fatalist.
When infidels suffer great losses to Islam, when the Twin Towers fell, when the Boston Bombing happened, or when the Charlie Hebdo massacre occurred, many Muslims cheered, feeling that the unbelievers were getting their just desserts from a vengeful Allah, at the hands of warriors for God. Muslim apologists are wont to discuss the Crusades are any available opportunity, while ignoring the Jihad going on today, right in front of their very eyes. It is a curious form of doublethink.
How soon this was forgotten. Christians endure the “art” of crucifixes in jars of piss, and the criticisms of Atheists all day. Muslims can’t take a cartoon joke.
Naturally, I would expect Muslims to take issue with this notion. Their self-interest compels them to defend their ideology. But what is fascinating is how many non-Muslims are to be found in the ranks of its defenders. In fact, when Richard Dawkins, a prominent Atheist with Leftist sympathies, declared that Islam needed a Feminist revolution (presumably to help with their atrocious human rights record where women are concerned), he was shouted down by his own Leftist compatriots. Certainly, Richard Dawkins, no Conservative Christian, wouldn’t be bringing up this problem of women’s rights in Muslim countries if they were paragons of proper behavior.
Sally Kohn wants everybody to know that Conservative Christians are just as terrible as Islam where women are concerned. Right. Because Conservative Christians are committing honor killings, throwing acid in the faces of rape victims, and don’t allow women to drive automobiles. Got it. If she is representative of a typical Muslim apologist, then they must be terminally stupid.
In any event, the radicalization of Muslims living in the West appears to be on the rise. Islam as a religion is a strong wall against cultural assimilation. Indeed, some Leftists demand that the West ought to assimilate to Islamic cultural norms! Ben Carson was not wrong when he suggested that it would be difficult for a Muslim to be President, because Sharia Law and American Law are not compatible. The media trashed him for this, but in my opinion, it was one of the most intelligent things he’s said during his political campaign.
Even here are The Declination, we have merkur, our resident Muslim apologist, who in previous threads has repeatedly attempted to deflect the possibility that Muslim migrants commit more rapes than the native populations in their host countries. I don’t know if he’s a Muslim, or just another Leftist enamored with them, but the phenomenon is nonetheless fascinating. Indeed, the United Nations itself has dedicated itself to the Islamic cause, ensuring that as many Muslims as possible move into Europe. The fact that Muslims have their own countries, and have made a mess of many of them, doesn’t seem to cross the minds of the Muslim apologists.
Merkur pointed out that I had misidentified the Muslim countries that had taken in zero refugees. Yet, it remains that Saudi Arabia, Kuwait (who owes us big time, right?), Qatar and the UAE have done nothing. They expect that we should fix the problem for them and foot the bill.
Why are they not going to Saudi Arabia, or Iran? Why is it the responsibility of the West to replace its own population with Muslims? We know that Muslims themselves say that, but why do Leftists support this? How many Muslims are enough? 25%? 50%? The whole population? Muslim apologists, this is a serious question. Tell me how many is enough, at what percentage you would cease Muslim immigration to a country, if any at all.
They have their own wealth, in the form of oil revenues, their own lands, their own support systems, populations, religious leaders and otherwise. They have Muslim organizations like CAIR dedicated to their cause. Why then do we need an army of Leftist apologists? Indeed, what do the apologists get out of it?
Muslim apologists, this guy has said enough for both of you. And Ben Carson gets called stupid because he suggests that folks like this might not be good candidates for running a non-Muslim country?
It fascinates me that Progressives would give so much to proponents of an ideology who would kill them if they thought they could get away with it. Indeed, in Muslim lands, lobbing gays off of buildings is no big deal. Blaming women for their own rape is par for the course. Their religious tolerance is a joke even in the best of times, and justification for genocide and mass-murder in the worst times.
A Muslim apologist might claim that is merely a symptom of my own religious hatred and intolerance, but my readers will note how I do not rant on the doings of Hindus, or the philosophical inclinations of Buddhists. There is one major religion on this planet that simply cannot abide the others. Nor is this a matter of race, for my own ancestors are of similar genetic stock as the Iranians, and I have suggested on multiple occasions that the West should consider taking in the Christian refugees from Syria, the few that haven’t yet been butchered, anyway.
John C. Wright has one last piece of wisdom to provide us:
And history teaches that we cooperated and collaborated with them. Small wonder our history is not taught: we are ashamed of it.
This cooperation and collaboration continues to this day. There are those Christians who profited from Islam, by selling to them slaves, by selling out their own countries as the semi-legendary Count Julian is said to have done, opening the doors for the Islamic conquest of Visigothic Spain. There were even those Byzantines who foolishly claimed to have preferred the Sultan’s turban to the Pope’s hat. In the West, there is no shortage of Wormtongues to bend the ear of the people to their will.
And today, we call them Muslim Apologists.
I’m so tired of apologetics for Islam. No more. We all know the rational reasons for opposition to the ideology. The expression of terrorism is so much more common in that world. It has resisted the progression of technology and science. In a more visceral manner, it has thrown gays off of buildings and beheaded Christian children. The ideology is poison. But, for me, it is worse than that. Consider this rhetoric, if you wish, but it is also truth.
For me, my heritage and connection to the Middle East is strange. My brother and I come from the same gene pool. Yet for him, if he bothers to think of his Armenian ancestry, it is only for the briefest of moments. He doesn’t even look the part, whereas somehow I do. The lottery of genetics is funny that way. You can tell we are brothers, but somehow he looks straight-up Anglo-Saxon, and I could pass for fully Armenian if I really wanted to.
It is that way for remembrance of it, as well. My grandfather was very old when I was born, and he died when I was only 12. My brother was too young to know him at all, but I remembered. Through his stories, I felt like I had almost been there myself. They spawned a lifelong obsession with the old Byzantine world that, even in the twilight days of the Ottoman Empire, still lay underneath that world.
The Turks, you see, had borrowed the architecture and forms of that older civilization. In those days, Greeks, Armenians, Lebanese Christians, Copts and Syrian Christians were still common enough. They were, in their own way, the remains of that ancient Byzantine world. Everything from that era fascinates me. I wish I could walks the halls of the Hagia Sophia, as my own ancestors did.
A place my ancestors had seen, once. Christianity’s greatest monument, built 1500 years ago, has been in the hands of the Turks for over 500 years now.
But in its final death throes, the Ottoman Empire broke apart and cast out as many Christians as it could, some through murder, others through exile. It is a process that has continued to this day, with ISIS cleansing the remaining Syrian Christians. It’s a thing that has continued for over a thousand years, and will not end until, for all of those people who survive, it is nothing more than a dim cultural memory. It will be chaff in the wind.
Islam erases people, religion, culture, and history wherever it goes. Everything is replaced with the Muslim faith, governance, and law. And unlike the assimilation once practiced in America, it does not borrow from those it takes in, it does not stir them into a pot and say “from this, we will make something better.” It annihilates them, erasing even their memory. The monuments are destroyed or plastered over, the people slaughtered, the great works lost.
The world my grandfather told me of no longer exists. It hasn’t existed for nearly a century, now. And the tiniest fragments of it, the last bastions of its descendants, are being annihilated as I write this. Children, decapitated for daring to live on in the land of their ancestors, without converting to Islam and forgetting everything that makes them who they are.
What does the West do, now? Do we fight them? Do we plan battle with the enemy who wants to erase us from history? Apparently not, for today the paladins of Social Justice are far more worried about Britishers wearing sombreros. That is the thing they view as culturally damaging. The erasure of entire peoples, cultures, and civilizations is irrelevant to them.
Worse, they invite the perpetrators into their own countries in mass numbers, to eventually erase them, also. They subsize their own conquest and erasure.
When the West falls, it won’t be like when the Byzantine East disappeared. There will be no place to run to, no place to hide. There will be no children learning of their heritage on their grandfather’s knee and thinking wistfully that he might like to see Justinian’s great church someday. There will only be Islam, everywhere.
At least some of us in the West remember what was destroyed. There will be no one to remember us if we fall. It will be as if we never existed.
Am I exaggerating? Not in the slightest. This is the character of Islam. This is what it does, who it is. It a giant eraser poised over the books of history.
The ongoing discussion of the origins of Holy War have prompted to insightful replies from Col. Bunny. So I have decided to continue the series on this issue. Col. Bunny tells us this:
I still have some skepticism about how Christian countries might have been transformed in ways by their experience with the Muslims. I recall Bruce Catton making in the point that the Civil War started out with informal, relaxed, democratic discipline but as the horror of the war sunk in it came to tying offenders to wagon wheels and administering the lash. Harsh methods can be seized on according to logic entirely on one side. This practice wasn’t necessarily copied from the Confederates.
The key point is the innovation of Holy War. Please be patient with me, as we must go through High Paganism, the origins of Islam and the spread of Christianity through the old Roman world in order to delve into this properly.
Prior to Christianity, the West subscribed to High Paganism. Contrary to the belief of some Christians, High Paganism was actually a pretty decent affair. There’s a reason, after all, that the Divine Comedy doesn’t actually torment the historical High Pagans, as it does the other sinners. They are in the first level of Hell, to be sure, but it is an earthly paradise. It was Elysium, a reflection of Heaven.
In any event, High Pagans were syncretic and preferred either co-opting the gods of other peoples, something Rome did frequently, or equivocating one god with another. I.e. your god of rivers was probably the same as this other god of rivers, here. Even when religions were “stamped out” this was usually a voluntary affair. A conquered people might think that their god had been defeated, and there was no point in worshiping him anymore. Better to worship the “superior” gods of the conquerors.
Historical Low Pagans, of course, were not so peaceful (see: Aztecs). But the less said of them, the better.
Anyway, the point is that Rome, prior to Christianity, had no notion of Holy War, because High Paganism did not require it. If war had any religious overtone at all, it was simply that you asked the god’s favor before you marched off. Barbarian Low Pagans, when encountered, were wiped out or civilized. Fellow High Pagans tended to merge into the Roman religious framework without issue. Indeed, the Romans had a fetish for Eastern superstitions and frequently pilfered religious ideas from the conquered East.
Now, Christianity came along, and coopted the Roman Empire, but did so peacefully. The Roman State was initially hostile to Christianity (and, it should be noted, Judaism as well) because it was seen as a danger to the state. Christians refused to deify the Caesars and followed their own laws, even when they conflicted with those of the state.
But then Christians took over the state, and that stopped. The reverse didn’t happen. You didn’t see Christians rounding up High Pagans and throwing them to the lions. Indeed, by the time of Honorius, they had outlawed that sort of thing entirely.
Point is, High Pagans didn’t have Holy Wars. Christians didn’t introduce the practice. Even the Jewish precedent of Canaan was restricted to one small geographic region only. They were not instructed to conquer the world and convert it.
Now, the exigencies of war often force a harshness onto a people. Things that would not be considered in peacetime are resorted to in war, as Col. Bunny tells us. Yet, we do have just such a desperate war to compare to: the Byzantine-Persian war of the early 7th century. This war brought both the Roman/Byzantine Empire and the Sassanid Persian Empire to their knees, respectively.
In it, we see the Roman Empire initially losing ground. Egypt, Syria, Palestine and much of Anatolia is lost to the Persians. Jerusalem is sacked, the True Cross is taken as part of the war booty (whether or not it was actually the True Cross is a matter for historical debate, I suspect it was a 4th century forgery). Emperor Heraclius, however, manages to reverse the misfortunes of Rome in a campaign reaching into the heart of Mesopotamia, defeating each army sent against him, in as epic a story as Xenophon’s Anabasis. There, he compels the Persians to withdraw from their conquests and return the relics, or face destruction. This war lasted nearly 20 years, and was more devastating than anything the Germans ever achieved.
Yet even here, the war did not take on the characteristics of a Holy War. This was not Christian against Zoroastrian, it was Roman against Persian. This, even though the holiest of Christian artifacts had been taken by Persia. There was no sense of trying to convert the Persians by the sword, or of spreading Christian faith. Neither, it must be said, were the Persians interested in doing these things. In Persia, there were even Christians who fought against Rome. The Nestorian Christians tended to prefer Persian rule to that of Rome.
Of course, not long after, the Arabs show up. Sassanid Persia disappears, and Byzantium survives as a vestigial state. 300 years of archaeological and literary darkness happens. And when the historical record reappears, we see that Christianity is now practicing theocracy, Holy War, the church-sponsored persecution of heretics and infidels, etc…
Col. Bunny tells us the following:
If secular authority was broken in the frightful 300-year period it reinforces the debt that the West owes to the Church. If it was guilty of secular excess it should surprise no one who studies how political power is exercised and by whom. The Church was a pretty corrupt and un-spiritual entity at times with its own armies, even, at least, one female pope, and the split papacy of the Avignon popes.
He is, of course, entirely correct here. For whatever evils the Church may have absorbed (and whatever their origin), it is clear that without the church taking the helm, Christianity may have been entirely subsumed by Islam, and the remains of Classical civilization would have gone with it. The West owes a debt to the Church for saving it from destruction.
Nonetheless, the Church definitely absorbed these notions from somewhere. I postulate that they were passed on to it from Islam. But that begs the question, where did Islam get it? For this, let us travel to the origins of Islam.
There is a theory that much of the Quran parallels an ancient Syriac Christian lectionary. Furthermore, it is clear that Islam shares something with Judaism and Christianity (it is commonly thought of as an Abrahamic religion). Islam even considers Isa (Jesus Christ) as a great prophet, yet still a man, a sentiment shared with early Arian Christians. Yet Islam also shares a number of peculiar affinities with Judaism, specifically regarding dietary laws and the like, which Christians more or less abandoned.
Pre-Islamic Arabia was a religious stew. There were many Jews, many Christians, pagans and even some who were hybrids of these. The Ebionites, for instance, were Jews who recognized Christ, but did not fall into the usual Christian framework. One of Mohammed’s companions was said to be of Ebionite extraction.
So Mohammed, raised as a pagan, would have had knowledge of Jews and Christians, for they were often neighboring tribes. Now, Mohammed was first and foremost a politician. It is not surprising, then, that he would try to form some kind of syncretic religion (remember, the Ancient world did this a lot!) out of the pieces of Judaism, Christianity and Arabic paganism.
The only problem was, the Jewish Arabs thought Mohammed was a fraud. At first, Mohammed seems to have tried to pass as more or less Jewish himself, but he was not raised in the tradition. There were holes in his knowledge, holes that a proper prophet, as he claimed to be, should NOT have. Arab Christians, mostly of Arian extraction, seem to have cared somewhat less. Anyway, the Jews rejected him completely.
Either way, however, Mohammed was furious. He slaughtered Jewish tribes with reckless abandon. Up until this point, he seemed pretty tolerant. He wished to unite the Arabs under a common banner (his own). From this point on, it seems to be a case of “become a Muslim or die.” With Pagan Arabs and Christian Arabs more or less becoming Muslim under his banner, he had the manpower to eliminate his Jewish rivals.
For Arabs, prophethood was one of the few ways in which a warlord like Mohammed might gain lordship over ALL tribes, instead of just one or a few, as was the norm. Arab society today is still very tribal, and it is rare to see individuals who can lord over them all effectively. Such men are inevitably either warlord dictators or religious theocrats.
Mohammed was both. But he could not have the Jewish Arabs undermining his authority. So, the concept of Holy War comes to the forefront. Convert or die (or prostrate yourself and pay tribute — the origin of the Jizya). He reserves several passages for his hatred of Jews.
Oddly enough, however, Mohammed seemed somewhat more tolerant of the Christians. In the Suras, he mentioned the Romans favorably, and essentially supported them in their war against Persia, whom he regarded as polytheist. His successors, however, were not. Mohammed’s body wasn’t even cold before the first waves of Arab raiders entered the Roman Empire.
Holy War was now preached against every non-Muslim. The Quran was not fully written down and codified until this invasion was in full-swing. Even today, the Quran and the Hadith are like split personalities, preaching both peace and war, tolerance and hate, and this has become a convenient cover for Islam when it is gathering strength and wishes to appear peaceful, but also a justification for war when it is strong enough to wage it. This is the split nature of Mohammed’s quest: to unite the Arabs under his banner, through whatever means possible, peace or war. Say what you will of him, but he was a driven man.
So Islam was as much a political ideology as it was a religious one. Christianity was not, it concerned itself with matters of faith, and let one render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. Secularism got its start in the High Pagan world, and was inherited by the Christian world.
Then, 300 years of contact and conflict with Islam pass, and when we see history pick back up, Christians are practicing things that look an awful lot like a dim reflection of Islamic practices. Theocracy, warlordism, Holy War, etc…
Col. Bunny may still be correct. We don’t have a time machine, and what I propose is a mere hypothesis. But either Islam inspired similar behavior on the part of Christianity, or the survival of Christianity rested on it inventing the practices independently. It may even be possible that both theories are not mutually exclusive, and that some practices came from Islam and some were invented independently. We are not likely to ever know for certain.
What is known, however, is that these things only entered the Christian world AFTER Islam, and so whether by inspiration or by forcing the hands of Christians, we do have strong evidence that Islam is responsible for the cultural and economic damage suffered by Western Europe, and by extension, the cultural damage that continues today, now in the hands of Atheist Socialists.
I was going to post this as a reply to Friar Bob, but the reply became as long as the original post. Again, this is a subject which I could write a book on, and it defies quick and simple analysis.
Friar Bob explains the nature of Christ and peace:
Christians ARE enjoined to be “wise as serpents, yet harmless as doves”. Yet calling Him “pacifistic” isn’t really accurate by many contemporary uses of the word. Because today that often implies supine surrender regardless of the cost. It means go along with anything just to avoid a fight. It means Chamberlain-style negotiations with “Mr. Hitler” promising “peace in our time”. And none of that is an accurate description of Him.
He is, of course, entirely correct. Notions of the Just War entered into Christian thinking right around the time Constantine. Constantine was, of course, engaged in that perennial feature of Roman political life: the Civil War. Hardly a succession went by without intrigue, assassination and outright open war, the exception of the Five Good Emperors non-withstanding. Just War tells us that there are certain things for which Christians must fight, certain things that they cannot countenance.
Self Defense is, of course, paramount among these. But there are other things. Going to war to, say, stop the doings of Hitler is justified whether defensive or not. War purely for the sake of power, money, or love of killing is prohibited. But war to save innocents, defend your own territory and protect your loved ones is justifiable. Naturally, slippery Weasels will rationalize their wars thusly, claiming that the war they are fighting for money is really for the oppressed people of… wherever. But, nonetheless, the Just War theory requires a casus belli. World War I was, ostensibly, started by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. This was the official casus belli even if the “unofficial” reasons were somewhat less pure.
The issue here is that in Christianity war must be justified. War for its own sake is not a feature of the religion.
Islam, on the other hand, requires the exact opposite. Against the denizens of the House of War, war is required unless there is some justification NOT to do it. Islamic nations do not require a casus belli. You not being a Muslim, or even being insufficiently Muslim is cause enough.
The reason is that Christ loved peace. It is true, he turned over the tables and cracked whips at the moneylenders. It is true he fought a culture war against the Pharisees. At the same time, Friar Bob’s assertion is on point: there are things Christ would not tolerate. Indeed, there are things that God has repeatedly declined to tolerate.
Nonetheless, the foundation of Christianity is peace and the foundation of Islam is war.
But Islam has been a good teacher for Western civilization. From Islam, the concepts of Jihad (Crusade), the ferreting out of the insufficiently pious, the heretic, the infidel were learned. Islam also brought back slavery into the Christian world.
It is difficult to overstate the damage Islam has done. Slavery continues to exist today in the Islamic world. Roman Christians BANNED the practice and freed their slaves. Rome, the great consummate slave regime of ancient history was forced to abolish the practice without even so much as a fight, because Christianity’s distaste for it was THAT great. Then Muslim slave traders, pirates and traffickers reintroduced the practice in places like Spain, and the borders of Byzantium, the Holy Land, etc… it is no coincidence that the Spanish & Portuguese were the first to reintroduce slavery, or that they formed, for a great while, the bulk of the slave traders. Even when the English picked up the practice, it was only after they had observed the other colonial powers doing it. This was around the time that increased contact with the Ottoman world was changing the perceptions of the West.
Even still, the Europeans knew the Good Book did not justify such activity, and made sure to practice these things only outside of their core territories. It was almost as if they felt guilt for what they were doing.
Islam feels no guilt for it.
Interestingly enough, as Europe finally achieved military supremacy over Islam in the 19th century, suddenly slavery begins to vanish. Imperialism has one last great flare in Africa and India, and then is gone forever. Religious Holy Wars become a thing of the past. Intolerance of heretics vanishes. Secular government, as in the 7th century Classical world, reasserts itself. The Divine Right of Kings is expunged. The Church loses power all over Europe, becoming ancillary to government, and finally cut off from it entirely.
Without the threat of militant Islam, Christianity dispensed with the foul tools they had copied from the Muslim world. They had no need of them any longer.
And yet history absolves the Muslims of guilt for these things, and blames Christianity instead. Christianity, which only used these tools when pressed for survival, and eliminated them soon after. While Islam has always practiced Holy War, and continues to do so today. They continue to ferret out Jews and Christians, exterminating them, exiling them or oppressing them. They continue to practice slavery and oppress women. And yet the WEST is decried as the Imperialist scum, the slavers, the oppressors, the killers. Furthermore, Christianity gets blamed for it, even though the Bible condemns these things.
It is disingenuous in the extreme, and proof of the Anti-Christian sentiment common in the West today. And, as Christians put down the tools of Tyranny, so did the Atheist Socialists pick them up and improve upon them.