to repeat it.”
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And continues to do so, as the world is witnessing, today. Excerpted from How Islam Set Back Western Civilization. By Matthew Hanley
The Belgian historian Henri Pirenne asked a related question: what, in fact, caused the Dark Ages? In his posthumous Mohammed and Charlemagne (1939), Pirenne contested the conventionally accepted explanation for the fall of classical civilization: the formal dissolution of the Western Roman Empire in 476, following its descent into decadence, paved the way for a barbarism that led inexorably to the subsequent Dark Ages of the 7th to 10th centuries.
Pirenne observed that the governing barbarians did not obliterate the Roman infrastructure, and that the overall modus vivendi carried on much like it had, prior to its fall, because the “barbarians” adopted the prevailing Roman ethos. They did not foist their own language, laws, or customs on Rome.
Pirenne stressed that the source of the Roman Empire’s vitality cannot be disassociated from its essentially Mediterranean character and orientation; that clearly remained intact for quite a while. Western trade flourished as before, connected with the great cities of the East – where prosperity, population, and learning were concentrated. The overall features of life throughout the region in 600 were similar to what they had been in 400.
It was not until the advent of Islam in the 7th century, precisely then and only then, that destruction really arrived. Recurrent Islamic raids altered the very orientation of the littoral peoples; they fled the Mediterranean and for the first time looked to the north. East was severed from West, and the previously unified Mediterranean, “having become a Musalman lake, was no longer a thoroughfare of commerce and of thought which it always had been.”
Unlike the German invaders, wherever the Arabs went they ruled. This was a dimension of their religious claims. They sought not conversion per se, but demanded subjection, creating an insuperable barrier between the conquered and the Muslims: “What a contrast between them [the Arabs] and Theodoric, who placed himself at the service of those he had conquered, and sought to assimilate himself to them!” The whole region was thereby transformed, as the Arabs ushered in “a complete break with the past.”
Egyptian papyri, which had been widespread in the West (and a solid indicator of literacy), disappeared, as did distinctive coins that were in use right up until the Arab conquest – leading to the barter system.Despite the literary and archaeological sources, however, Pirenne’s arguments were dismissed in favor of the view that Islam had been (unlike “repressive” Christianity) an enlightening force.
In Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited (2012),Emmet Scott has taken up Pirenne’s thesis. Though he is primarily interested in the controversy it generated, he does not shy away from rendering a verdict: “scholarship has now arrived at several conclusions which are really beyond dispute, and which tend to offer definitive support for Pirenne.”
In the late sixth and early seventh centuries, classical civilization was intact and humming along, even expanding. In fact, some regions were “flourishing as never before”; Spain in particular, as well as Gaul, was enjoying a resurgent late classical culture.
Scott points to the hundreds of known Visigothic-era structures, even noting that by the early 7th century architects had brought back meticulously cut stone; these structures, Scott observes, were “far superior, technically and artistically, to their successors of the tenth century Romanesque.” In fact, the rich Visigothic architectural legacy stands in conspicuous contradistinction to the “virtually complete absence of all archaeology from the first two centuries of the Islamic epoch.” Only in the mid-tenth century do artifacts reemerge.
The great cities of the East – in Syria and Asia Minor – suffered violent destruction at the hand of the Arabs in the early seventh century. Sudden ruin during war, it might be objected, is one thing; these cities, however, were never rebuilt. In fact, significant archaeological remains in the entire Mediterranean as well as Middle Eastern regions (beyond Roman influence) seem to have entirely vanished for the next three centuries.
Construction – to say nothing of preservation – was not nurtured by Islam. Indeed, “almost all knowledge of these countries’ histories disappears, and does so almost overnight.” Of Egypt, Scott writes that the change imposed upon them in the early 7th century “can only be described as catastrophic.”
Islamic lands, as Naipaul recounts with personalized detail, have tended to experience a measure of what Egypt did so acutely: the effective loss of her own history. Moreover, another highly significant feature is now part of the archaeological record: a layer of sediment found throughout the Mediterranean known as the “Younger Fill.” This stratum of subsoil, which is not confined to the Mediterranean but is found in all the shores occupied by Muslims, represents the “geographical signature of the end of Graeco-Roman civilization.”
This subsoil was deposited between the mid-seventh and mid-tenth centuries, precisely coinciding with the deafening archaeological silence. It can be explained by the wholesale abandonment of irrigational and agricultural systems when the littoral peoples abandoned coastal settlements for hilltop fortifications in response to unremitting Muslim raids.
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Misconceptions about the Crusades are all too common. The Crusades are generally portrayed as a series of holy wars against Islam led by power-mad popes and fought by religious fanatics. They are supposed to have been the epitome of self-righteousness and intolerance, a black stain on the history of the Catholic Church in particular and Western civilization in general. A breed of proto-imperialists, the Crusaders introduced Western aggression to the peaceful Middle East and then deformed the enlightened Muslim culture, leaving it in ruins. For variations on this theme, one need not look far. See, for example, Steven Runciman’s famous three-volume epic, History of the Crusades, or the BBC/A&E documentary, The Crusades, hosted by Terry Jones. Both are terrible history yet wonderfully entertaining.
So what is the truth about the Crusades? Scholars are still working some of that out. But much can already be said with certainty. For starters, the Crusades to the East were in every way defensive wars. They were a direct response to Muslim aggression—an attempt to turn back or defend against Muslim conquests of Christian lands.
Christians in the eleventh century were not paranoid fanatics. Muslims really were gunning for them. While Muslims can be peaceful, Islam was born in war and grew the same way. From the time of Mohammed, the means of Muslim expansion was always the sword. Muslim thought divides the world into two spheres, the Abode of Islam and the Abode of War. Christianity—and for that matter any other non-Muslim religion—has no abode. Christians and Jews can be tolerated within a Muslim state under Muslim rule. But, in traditional Islam, Christian and Jewish states must be destroyed and their lands conquered. When Mohammed was waging war against Mecca in the seventh century, Christianity was the dominant religion of power and wealth. As the faith of the Roman Empire, it spanned the entire Mediterranean, including the Middle East, where it was born. The Christian world, therefore, was a prime target for the earliest caliphs, and it would remain so for Muslim leaders for the next thousand years.
With enormous energy, the warriors of Islam struck out against the Christians shortly after Mohammed’s death. They were extremely successful. Palestine, Syria, and Egypt—once the most heavily Christian areas in the world—quickly succumbed. By the eighth century, Muslim armies had conquered all of Christian North Africa and Spain. In the eleventh century, the Seljuk Turks conquered Asia Minor (modern Turkey), which had been Christian since the time of St. Paul. The old Roman Empire, known to modern historians as the Byzantine Empire, was reduced to little more than Greece. In desperation, the emperor in Constantinople sent word to the Christians of western Europe asking them to aid their brothers and sisters in the East.
Understand the crusaders
That is what gave birth to the Crusades. They were not the brainchild of an ambitious pope or rapacious knights but a response to more than four centuries of conquests in which Muslims had already captured two-thirds of the old Christian world. At some point, Christianity as a faith and a culture had to defend itself or be subsumed by Islam. The Crusades were that defense.
Pope Urban II called upon the knights of Christendom to push back the conquests of Islam at the Council of Clermont in 1095. The response was tremendous. Many thousands of warriors took the vow of the cross and prepared for war. Why did they do it? The answer to that question has been badly misunderstood. In the wake of the Enlightenment, it was usually asserted that Crusaders were merely lacklands and ne’er-do-wells who took advantage of an opportunity to rob and pillage in a faraway land. The Crusaders’ expressed sentiments of piety, self-sacrifice, and love for God were obviously not to be taken seriously. They were only a front for darker designs.
During the past two decades, computer-assisted charter studies have demolished that contrivance. Scholars have discovered that crusading knights were generally wealthy men with plenty of their own land in Europe. Nevertheless, they willingly gave up everything to undertake the holy mission. Crusading was not cheap. Even wealthy lords could easily impoverish themselves and their families by joining a Crusade. They did so not because they expected material wealth (which many of them had already) but because they hoped to store up treasure where rust and moth could not corrupt. They were keenly aware of their sinfulness and eager to undertake the hardships of the Crusade as a penitential act of charity and love. Europe is littered with thousands of medieval charters attesting to these sentiments, charters in which these men still speak to us today if we will listen. Of course, they were not opposed to capturing booty if it could be had. But the truth is that the Crusades were notoriously bad for plunder. A few people got rich, but the vast majority returned with nothing.
What really happened?
Urban II gave the Crusaders two goals, both of which would remain central to the eastern Crusades for centuries. The first was to rescue the Christians of the East. As his successor, Pope Innocent III, later wrote:
How does a man love according to divine precept his neighbor as himself when, knowing that his Christian brothers in faith and in name are held by the perfidious Muslims in strict confinement and weighed down by the yoke of heaviest servitude, he does not devote himself to the task of freeing them? … Is it by chance that you do not know that many thousands of Christians are bound in slavery and imprisoned by the Muslims, tortured with innumerable torments?
“Crusading,” Professor Jonathan Riley-Smith has rightly argued, was understood as an “an act of love”—in this case, the love of one’s neighbor. The Crusade was seen as an errand of mercy to right a terrible wrong. As Pope Innocent III wrote to the Knights Templar, “You carry out in deeds the words of the Gospel, ‘Greater love than this hath no man, that he lay down his life for his friends.’” Continue reading
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In case you didn’t hear this in your church, temple, synagogue, mosque or other religious institution this weekend. via “And You Did Not Speak Out” – YouTube.
Also (re)read this post: “They Thought They Were Free” (they now being “we”).
Related videos here.
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A brief history to help you in discussions with leftists and Muslims via Political Islam
More to come later today.
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Today, August 15, marks the anniversary of Constantinople’s victory over Muslim invaders in what historians commonly call the “Second Siege of Byzantium,” 717–18. Prior to this massive onslaught, the Muslims had been hacking away at the domains of the Byzantine empire for nearly a century. The Muslims’ ultimate goal was the conquest of Constantinople — for both political and religious reasons.
Politically, Islam had no rival but the “hated Christians” of Byzantium, known by various appellations — including al-Rum (the Romans), al-Nassara (the Nazarenes), and, most notoriously, al-Kilab (the “dogs”). The eastern Sasanian Empire had already been vanquished, and Persia subsumed into the caliphate. Only the “worshippers of the cross” — as they were, and still are, disparagingly known — were left as contenders over the eastern Mediterranean basin.
More important, Constantinople — from a theological perspective — simply had to fall. From the start, Islam and jihad were inextricably linked. The jihad, or “holy war,” which took over Arabia and Persia, followed by Syria, Egypt, and all of North Africa — all formerly Byzantine territory — was considered a religious obligation, or, as later codified in sharia law, a fard kifaya: a communal obligation on the body of believers, to be adhered to and fulfilled no less than the Five Pillars of Islam. As the famous 14th-century Muslim historian Ibn Khaldun put it: “In the Muslim community, the jihad is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the Muslim mission and the obligation to convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force. . . . Islam is under obligation to gain power over other nations.”
This concept of jihad as institutionalized holy war was first articulated and codified into Islam’s worldview by “warrior-theologians” (mujahidin-fuqaha) living and fighting along the Byzantine-Arab frontier (such as the mujahid Abdallah bin Mubarak, author of the seminal work Kitab al-Jihad or “Book of Jihad”).
The prevalent view was that, so long as Constantinople stood, the Cross would defy the Crescent. This is a literal point: Symbols played a great role in these wars. Less than a century earlier, at the pivotal battle of Yarmuk (636), where the Muslims crushed the Byzantines, leading to the conquest of Syria, one Muslim complained to the caliph, saying, “The dog of the Romans [Emperor Heraclius] has greatly frustrated us with the ubiquitous presence of the cross!”
Indeed, one cannot overemphasize the religious nature of these wars — which, if still codified in Islam’s sharia, has become all but alien to a Western epistemology that tends to cynically dismiss the role of faith. That the primary way of identifying oneself in the old world was based on religious affiliation — not race, ethnicity, or nationality, all modern concepts — is indicative of the central role of faith. Even useful terms such as “Byzantines” are ultimately anachronistic; “Byzantines” identified themselves first and foremost as “Christians.”
For these reasons, the conquest of Constantinople would take on increasingly apocalyptic proportions in Islamic literature. Ever since the Muslim prophet Mohammed sent a message in 628 to the Byzantine emperor Heraclius, summoning him to Islam, with the famous assertion, aslam taslam — that is, “submit [become Muslim], and you will have peace” — and the summons was refused, Constantinople became Islam’s arch-enemy. Mohammed even prophesied that the Christian capital would — indeed, must — fall to Islam, with blessings and rewards to the Muslim(s) fulfilling this prophecy. Fall the great city would — but not for some 800 years, in 1453, giving an inchoate Europe the needed time to mature, strengthen, and unify.
Beginning with Mohammed’s participation at the Battle of Tabuk (630), recorded in the Koran, Muslims had been harrying the Byzantines for decades, closing in on Constantinople. With the coming of the Umayyad dynasty (660) — which also saw the end of the first fitna (Muslim “civil war”), resulting in the Sunni-Shia split — Islam’s seat of power moved from Medina to recently conquered Damascus, mere miles from the prize of Constantinople.
By the early 700s, the Muslim conquests were slowing down. There were several “disaffected” parties in the Muslim camp — particularly the losers of the first fitna, the Kharijites and Shia, the former a particularly ruthless sect. To prevent another civil war from erupting, a major campaign against the common infidel enemy was in order.
All these factors — Umayyad consolidation of Muslim power in Damascus, a slowing down of the conquests in general, and the need to direct the bellicosity of the various idle or disgruntled warlike Muslim sects, not to mention an undying enmity for the obstinate infidels across the way — encouraged the caliphate to apply its full might against its arch-foe. Constantinople had been unsuccessfully besieged several times before, most notably during the First Siege, which lasted four years (674–78) and was ultimately turned back by the cyclopean walls of the city.
So it was that, upon his ascension to the caliphate in 715, the new supreme leader of the Islamic empire, Suleiman, decided that the time was ripe for a massive, all-out offensive against Constantinople. The Byzantines would go on to offer a hefty tribute, but nothing less than total capitulation to Islam would do. Mustering a mammoth army of some 200,000 fighters, with Suleiman’s own brother, Maslama, leading, the former commanded the latter: “Stay there [Constantinople] until you conquer it or I recall you.” (That a caliph sent his own brother is further indicative of the importance of this campaign.)
A single anecdote supports the chroniclers’ claims that a gargantuan army was being mustered. Two years prior to the siege, in 715, a report reached the Christians that the Muslims were felling countless trees in Lebanon, land of the cedar, in order to construct tens of thousands of warships for an “upcoming expedition.” This fact alone caused a mini-war to erupt on the island of Rhodes, where the Byzantines sent an army to intercept the Muslim expeditionary force. One Byzantine ambassador returning from Damascus reported that the “Saracens were preparing an armament by sea and land, such as would transcend the experience of the past, or the belief of the present.” In short, 120,000 infantry and cavalry, and a naval force composed of 80,000, were making their way to Constantinople.
Maslama, leading the land force through Anatolia, crushed and put to the sword all in his way. Women and children were enslaved; tens of thousands of men crucified. While making their way through that great desolate no-man’s land between the Byzantine and Umayyad empires, frequented by nomadic tribes, the Muslims attacked, slew, and burned all in their path.
According to renowned Muslim chronicler al-Tabari, “The [Christian] inhabitants of eastern Anatolia were filled with terror the likes of which they had never experienced before. All they saw were Muslims in their midst shouting ‘Allahu Akbar!’ Allah planted terror in their hearts. . . . The men were crucified over the course of 24 km.” Al-Tabari later goes on to explain that the Muslim forces were successful owing to their adherence to Koranic verses such as 8:60: “Muster against them [infidels] all the men and cavalry at your command, that you may strike terror into the hearts of the enemies of Allah, and your enemies.” (See also 3:151.) (Nearly a millennium and a half after the Koran’s compilation, modern-day mujahidin — “holy warriors” who are fond of exhorting their followers by referring to these otherwise arcane battles — continue relying on such verses and their exegeses to “terrorize” the “enemies of Allah.”)
To make matters worse, as Maslama was marching toward Constantinople, subjugating everything in his path, the Christian empire itself was internally divided — as evinced by the fact that, between 713 and 717, two emperors had come and gone.
Enter Leo III — also known as Leo the Isaurian, Leo the Arab, and, most notoriously, Leo the Heretic. There is little doubt that the Byzantine victory over the Muslims owes a great debt to Leo, who makes his appearance early in the pages of the chronicles as a general and strategist — living up to the Greek word for “general,” strategos.
Of the original 200,000 Muslims who set out to conquer the Christian capital and additional spring reinforcements, only some 30,000 ever made it back alive. By way of retribution and before dying, a bitter and vindictive Omar, failing to subdue the Christians across the way, was quick to project his wrath on those Christians, the dhimmis, living under Islamic authority: He forced many of them to convert to Islam, killing those who refused.
It is difficult to exaggerate the significance of this battle. That Constantinople was able to repulse the caliphate’s hordes is one of Western history’s most decisive moments: Had it fallen, “Dark Age” Europe — chaotic and leaderless — would have been exposed to the Muslim invaders. And, if history is any indicator, the last time a large expanse of territory was left open before the sword of Islam, thousands of miles were conquered and consolidated in mere decades, resulting in what is known today as Dar al-Islam, or the “Islamic world.”
Indeed, this victory is far more significant than its more famous Western counterpart, the Frankish victory over the Muslims at the Battle of Tours, led by Charles Martel (the “Hammer”) in 732. Unlike the latter, which, from a Muslim point of view, was first and foremost a campaign dedicated to rapine and plunder, not conquest — evinced by the fact that, after the initial battle, the Muslims fled — the siege of Constantinople was devoted to a longtime goal, had the full backing of the caliphate, and consisted of far greater manpower. Had the Muslims won, and since Constantinople was the bulwark of Europe’s eastern flank, there would have been nothing to prevent them from turning the whole of Europe into the northwestern appendage of Dar al-Islam.
Nor should the architect of this great victory be forgotten. The Byzantine historian Vasiliev concludes that “by his successful resistance Leo saved not only the Byzantine Empire and the Eastern Christian world, but also all of Western civilization.”
Read it all at raymondibrahim.com
Happy Ramadan! Destroying the interior of the tomb was simply not enough. This is Islam. via Truth Revolt.
Video uploaded yesterday by EuroNews shows ISIS destroying the Tomb of Jonah in the city of Mosul.
The description reads:
“Militants from Islamic State (formerly ISIS) destroyed the Shrine of Yunus (Tomb of Jonah) Mosque in Mosul on Thursday, July 24, residents of the Iraqi city said. News reports quoting residents said that they were first barred from entering the mosque to pray and that militants laid out explosives around the structure and detonated them. This video shows the explosion.”
ISIS has vowed to destroy anything which they deem un-Islamic.
No different than what the Taliban did to the amazing Buddha statues.
Should the dhimmis allow Muslims to conquer Rome, this will be next: Jonah, as depicted by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel:
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