Myth #8 - Islam is a Tolerant Religion

Myth #8

Islam is a Tolerant Religion

“Yes, I am a Jew, and when the ancestors of the Right Honourable gentleman were brutal savages in an unknown island, mine were priests in the temple of Solomon.”
-Benjamin Disraeli, on the floor of Parliament in reply to Irish MP Daniel O'Connell

When we use the word "tolerance", what do we mean? There are many different ideas out there, but for the purposes of this work, I shall simply use the standard definition given in the dictionary. "Tolerate", as defined by the Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary is, "To suffer to be, or to be done, without prohibition or hindrance; to allow or permit by not preventing." Thus, tolerance essentially means that while you may not agree with something, you do not hinder this "something" from being practiced, said, taught, etc. Tolerance certainly does not mean that one agrees with everything he or she hears, or that they must promote every viewpoint. From the perspective of the topic at hand, "tolerance" merely means not hindering another person from practicing a different religious faith than your own or saying something with which you disagree.

Freedom of Conscience - The American Example

The United States of America has a long (though certainly not perfect) history of religious toleration and freedom. This nation has been a haven for those who have sought to escape religious persecution, specifically because we practice tolerance. America does not hinder a person from following their religious conscience. If someone wants to be a Quaker, Baptist, Mormon, Catholic, Jew, Hindu, Muslim, or anything else under the sun, they are free to do so. Further, America was built upon this foundation of religious toleration because of its Christian heritage. Separation of church and state, rightly understood as being a barrier to the intermingling of ecclesiastical and secular authority (i.e. no state church), was pioneered by American Baptists and their European antecedents such as the Waldensians and Anabaptists. The colonial Baptist John Leland was instrumental in securing American religious freedom by persuading James Madison to include the language that became the 1st amendment of the Bill of Rights into the Constitution. Indeed, Leland and other colonial Baptist thinkers were practically the first to be willing to go beyond mere toleration, as it was understood in their day, and adopt a view of complete religious freedom which would accord with our understanding of "toleration" today,

"Government should protect every man in thinking and speaking freely, and see that one does not abuse another. The liberty I contend for, is more than toleration. The very idea of toleration, is despicable; it supposes that some have a pre-eminence above the rest, to grant indulgence; whereas, all should be equally free, Jews, Turks, Pagans, and Christians." 1

The builders of this nation, both Christian and not, rightly understood (as the Bible teaches) that there cannot be force used in religious conversion and religious practice,

"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.)" (II Corinthians 10:3-4)

Matters of eternity, of the salvation of souls, are to be dealt with through spiritual means (prayer, witnessing, a good testimony), not by carnal and governmental means.

Likewise, though America has had a checkered history of tolerance toward racial differences, this nation is now more colorblind than it has been at anytime before. Race means less to fewer people than it ever has. In fact, racism is a problem that is perpetuated more by those claiming to fight it, such as the NAACP and the Southern Poverty Law Center, than it is from the traditional (and dying) racist groups like the Ku Klux Klan and it allies. Ethnic minorities today can get a job, buy a house, go to school, and live in peace and safety almost anywhere they choose, with a very few (though highly publicized) exceptions to this new order. In short, America is demonstrating tolerance towards this sort of difference, that of race and culture, as well.

At this point, I would like to address some misconceptions held by those who have imbibed too much doctrinaire "political correctness". Tolerance does not mean that one never disagrees with a religion or a viewpoint, never argues against or challenges what another believes. My reason for including this proviso is that many people who read this book will see my criticisms of Islam, and automatically come to the seemingly pre-programmed conclusion that I am being "intolerant". However, I am not. I am not seeking to prevent or hinder Muslims from practicing their religion, or believing what they want, or acting as they see fit (provided they remain within the bounds of the law and human decency). I am merely engaging in that most American of activities: challenging and criticizing that with which I disagree.

Islamic Intolerance of Opposing Views

So then, the question to be asked is this: Is Islam a tolerant religion? And, of course, the answer must be an emphatic no! In fact, Islam is characterized by a high degree of intolerance both to internal dissent and external challenge. As I said above, challenging and criticizing what we disagree with is as American as apple pie and Little League ball games. It is what this country was built upon. Islam takes a diametrically opposite stance. In most countries with a Muslim majority, even "moderate" nations like Egypt, Malaysia, or Indonesia, freedom of thought and expression are severely curtailed.

Saudi Arabia, with its absolute ban on any religion besides Islam and its rigorous suppression of critics of the House of Sa'ud, is a typical example of the sort of intolerance towards free thought and religious expression found in most Muslim nations. In Pakistan, protestors get bludgeoned over the head....when they're not doing the bludgeoning themselves. In Iran, dissenters from the Shi'ite Muslim theocracy are usually jailed, whipped, or executed. One need only to remember the death warrant placed on the head of Salman Rushdie for writing a book critical of Islam, The Satanic Verses. The very title of that book offended Muslim sensibilities by reminding them that Mohammed penned what are called "the Satanic verses". These were verses that he supposedly wrote while under the influence of Satan, condoning that greatest of sins in Islam, shirk - associating other gods with Allah (these verses were later retracted).

There seems to be an inherent tendency in Islam that influences its followers away from the toleration of opposition that is required for the respect of political and social freedoms and consensual government. In fact, only one nation with a Muslim majority in the Middle East qualifies as having a truly indigenous democratically-elected government with freedoms protected by the rule of law, this being Turkey. Turkey's democratic system originated through the efforts of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and the Young Turks movement, who set Turkey on a purposeful (though only partly successful) secular path which sought to consciously imitate the West after the fall of the Sultanate in 1922. Turkey's democracy is potentially very unstable, however, due to the constant tension between the secular military establishment and the increasing influence of fundamentalist Islamic parties in the government. Further, Turkey is something of an anomaly within the Muslim world. Iraq and Afghanistan have, at least for now, democratic systems that were introduced through American invasion and ouster of the previous governments, but it is difficult to imagine that their democracies would remain stable for very long, without constant American and Western buttressing. Outside of the Middle East, only Indonesia would have a governmental system even close to encompassing Western standards of political freedom and the respect for the rule of law, and Indonesia's government is also becoming increasingly Islamized. Despotism as seen in Libya, Syria, Sudan, and formerly in Iraq, and monarchy as seen in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Kuwait, are the norms for the Muslim world.

The explanations for Muslim intolerance can stem simply from the more medieval aspect of Middle Eastern culture. Islamic tradition and culture, as we will see a little later, are basically the grafting of 7th century Arabian cultural norms onto the civilizations that fell into its grasp. Viewed in this light, there should be little surprise to us that many Islamic practices and aspects of shari'a law would appear, in the very least, barbaric to Western eyes. After all, Europe did away with many of the same practices centuries ago. Likewise, no authoritarian system is likely to endorse the acceptance or toleration of opposition. One could hardly expect dictatorships like those found in Syria or Libya to act differently than modern despots like Stalin or Hitler, or medieval despots of all nationalities.

But this type of intolerance does not just hold true for Middle Eastern nations. After all, even Muslims in the United States and the West who have lived here for years and have (supposedly) imbibed Western values and ideas, often still seem opposed to tolerating those with whom they disagree. Muslim apologists, for instance, will attempt to make the Qur'an "hands-off" as far as being a topic of criticism or debate, while at the same time attempting to subject the Bible to critical scrutiny. This sort of one-sidedness, this unwillingness to engage in a free and open discussion, is inimical to Western notions of criticism and debate, but fits right into the Muslim world's intolerance of opposition, a world in which criticizing the Qur'an most often leads to death or disfigurement. The actions of Muslims are considered off-limits for criticism, even the most heinous of behavior. This holds true even for "moderate and Westernized" Muslims. Columnist Don Feder reported that when the imam of the Hazrat-I-Abubakr Sadiq mosque in New York City denounced the World Trade Center terror attack, half of the congregation got up and walked out 2. Thus, it would seem that half of this Americanized congregation approved of the murder of over 3,000 civilian non-combatants, enough so to refuse to listen to the criticism of that murderous act from their own religious leader. It is not unusual for the authors of publications and websites critical of Islam to receive death threats and hateful ad hominem messages, even in the United States. Joseph Farah and others associated with the online news source WorldNetDaily and its associated printed magazine Whistleblower have received numerous death threats because of links and articles they have ran exposing the darker side of Islam. WorldNetDaily's advertisers have also been the targets of a campaign of intimidation from self-identified Muslims. Likewise, Dr. Robert Morey, an evangelical Christian apologist who has written several books about Islam, has found himself to be the target of both verbal harassment and attempted physical attacks on his person, as a result of some of the ideas that he has put forth in his books that were critical of Islam. These attacks have been reported in both Canada and the United States.

Islamic Intolerance Towards Other Religions

It should not be surprising then that a system of thought which discourages and suppresses dissent will also suppress and persecute other religions. As anyone who has been paying attention to the history of the Middle East both modern and medieval can see, Islam is a prime persecutor of other religions, especially Christianity and Judaism. In many Muslim countries, even so-called "moderate" nations like Saudi Arabia, renouncing Islam is a capital crime, and other religions besides Islam are forced underground, unable to worship or practice their faiths openly for fear of persecution by the government. Religions other than Islam are formally suppressed by the governments of most Muslim nations. For instance, in Sudan, Christians and animists in the southern Darfur region are enslaved and sold north by Muslim (mostly Arab) radicals, and this goes on with the knowledge and promotion of the Sudanese government. Iran routinely harasses, jails, and even executes Christian pastors and those who convert from Islam. In Arab areas of the West Bank, Palestinian Muslims have not only carried out attacks on Israeli Jews, but have also been systematically driving out indigenous Arab Christians and have desecrated sites held sacred by both Christians and Jews. It is little wonder that Muslim nations routinely top all the lists of international human rights abusers.

Even without official government sanction, Islamic persecution of Christians is widespread all across the Middle East. Christians are routinely the target of terror campaigns in nations such as Pakistan, Indonesia, Algeria, and Iran. Often the violence results in outright murder, one example being the gunning down of 17 people in a Protestant congregation in Pakistan by three Islamic fanatics on 28 October, 20013. Many other examples can be shown, such as the murder of the Gospel missionary Martin Burnham in Mindanao, in the Philippines, by the Muslim terrorist organization Abu Sayyaf. The past prosecution of several Pakistani Christians under anti-blasphemy laws (which carry the death sentence) also serve to illustrate Islamic intolerance and fear of religious competition. Likewise, the Copts of Egypt have undergone (and continue to undergo) systematic abuse, not only at the hands of radical Islamist groups in Egypt, but also by their own government. Islam has an endemic problem with violence, as was demonstrated in the previous chapter, which stems in large part from that religion's intolerance of competition. Islam, it would seem, fears any sort of dissent or challenge.

Islam's intolerance is highlighted even more when one considers that nations with a Protestant or Baptist Christian heritage demonstrate a diametrically opposite attitude towards religious freedom. In the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, and other nations with Christian heritages, people are free to choose their religion (or lack thereof) without government retribution or popular violence. Muslims in America, even in the wake of the September 11 attacks, have little to fear in the way of persecution or violence. Despite the intense provocation that radical Islam made against America with the terror attacks, there was little more than a handful of scattered reprisals against Muslims in America, mostly from individuals who were less than mentally stable to begin with. The American government has gone to great lengths to prevent and discourage attacks upon Arabs and Muslims. One can easily imagine how this would NOT be the case if the roles were reversed and Americans had hijacked and crashed airplanes into a few buildings in, say, Islamabad or Cairo, and killed thousands of civilians.

What must be understood is that this Islamic intolerance for other religions and ways of life is not a recent aberration, as even a cursory study of history would show. We must understand that the militant and violent intolerance demonstrated by orthodox Islam is not a product of Islam's exclusivist claims per se. Indeed, Bible-believing Christianity makes exactly the same sort of claims for itself as the way to salvation,

"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me." (John 14:6)

Yet, we do not see Bible-believing Christians gunning down members of other religions or bombing the houses of worship of other faiths. Instead of being merely a matter of exclusivity, Islam's often violent intolerance stems from its ingrained attitude of superiority over those who are not Muslim. Traditional Islamic teaching on the subject of "infidels" depicts those who refuse to accept Islam as deficient, unintelligent, and morally bankrupt because of their refusal to acknowledge the "obvious" superiority of the Islamic deen (way of religion) and convert. This attitude of superiority, however, is confronted by the obvious inferiority of Muslim power and prestige in the world today. Huntington sums up the matter quite succinctly when he writes,

“The underlying problem for the West is not Islamic fundamentalism. It is Islam, a different civilization whose people are convinced of the superiority of their culture and are obsessed with the inferiority of their power.”4

This position is inimical to the ideal conditions that orthodox Muslims believe should exist. Islam, as the final revelation of Allah to mankind, should naturally be superior to all other systems, and should rightly exercise mastery over them all (so the fundamentalist Muslim believes), until these can be extirpated and Islam rules as the sole deen on earth. Because Islam is a combined religio-political system, its claims for exclusivity will naturally cross over into the exercise of state power to enforce religious dictates, much as the popes used secular princes to enforce papal decrees during the Middle Ages. However, Muslims for the past few centuries have suffered the heartbreak of seeing their once dominant position removed by "Christian" Europeans who advanced far beyond the Islamic world in the sciences, the arts, and military power. This inferior position, coupled with the ingrained belief in their own natural and rightful superiority, has served to radicalize many Muslims towards a very violent form of Islamic traditionalism. It is intolerable to the orthodox Muslim mind that any non-Muslims should exercise any sort of superior position over them, and yet, this is exactly what has happened. It began when the various European powers started to push Islam back out of Europe and reclaim their former territories. It continued when the Europeans took advantage of the relative backwardness of Muslim lands to end the scourge of Muslim piracy in the Mediterranean and gained ascendancy over these former pirate powers. It reached its apex with the piecemeal subjugation and partition of the former Ottoman Empire among the various colonial powers. It is still felt today through the economically and militarily dominant position of the United States and other Western powers in the world today. In short, the Muslim ego, his sense of self-worth as it is exists through his domination over the infidels, has been disappointed and confuted by the present position in which Muslim lands exist. In the space of a few centuries, the Islamic world went from being poised to literally conquer the known world, to being an ummah whose combined gross domestic production is only roughly 40% that of the United States alone.

For many Muslims, perhaps for most, the way to alter the inferior status in which they find themselves vis-á-vis the Christian West is to return to an idealized past when the Qur'an was followed perfectly and Islam ruled. For some Muslims, this is attained by purging the Muslim world of all foreign influences interjected by the infidels, and by returning to the military advancement of Islam, the jihad, believed to be the will of Allah. For most Muslims, it simply means to try to advance Islam by any means, whether through propaganda, subterfuge, or even the military if absolutely necessary. Indeed, most Muslims are "fundamentalist" in the sense that they hold to a strict interpretation of the Qur'an. The difference between the militant and the peaceable Muslim is similar to that between the revolutionary and the democratic socialist: one is willing to use even violence to achieve the ultimate end, while the other contents him or herself with "working within the system" to realize the goal of Islamization and bringing the world into Dar es-Salaam.

This terrible sense of inferiority before the unbelievers is coupled with the innate fundamentalism of Islamic life and theology which has gripped the religion since the 13th century, when the movement to return to the idealized 7th century setting of the Qur'an and the ahadith began. In its early centuries, Islam was characterized, if not by religious toleration, than at least by an openness to innovative discovery and science which generally causes a civilization to advance ahead of its rivals. Thus, the Islamic nations advanced far ahead of the petty Catholic European states, being justly renowned for their advances in fields such as optics, mathematics, medicine, chemistry, astronomy, and political philosophy5. Indeed, in its golden age, roughly extending from 750-1200 AD, the world of Islam was probably the leading scientific and intellectual power on earth. Literature, science, medicine, and other fields of intellectual endeavor flowered in centers of learning like Baghdad, Merv, Bukhara, Cairo, and Grenada6. Despite the stereotypes about Islam held by many today, there was a time when the Islamic world was the leader in science and scholarship.

However, beginning in the 13th century, this attitude of inquiry was gradually replaced by the present attitude of anti-innovation and societal regression, in large part due to the influence of the Damascene theologian Ibn Taymiyya (1263-1328 AD). The son of a theologian of the Hanbalite school (the strictest of the four major schools of Islamic law), Ibn Taymiyya proved even more reactionary, and his hatred of all heretics (even Muslims who disagreed with strict orthodoxy, such as Ismailis and Shi'ites) caused him to advance an extreme position against innovation of any kind, coupled with an advocacy of a return to the strict interpretation of the Qur'an. The problem for the Islamic intellectual scene, however, was that practically all of the Muslim intelligentsia who contributed to the prestige and leading position of Islamic arts and letters were exactly the sort of people who Ibn Taymiyya sought to suppress - "heretics" and philosophers whose innovations and speculations often ran counter to the orthodox traditions. This sort of return to the 7th century has been, for all practical purposes, the position taught uniformly throughout fundamentalist Islam since Ibn Taymiyya. Various revival movements, such as the Wahhabi movement and the Sudanese Mahdism, have served to retain this strict and unyielding interpretation of the Qur'an, with its concomitant intolerance and hatred for all non-Muslims7. This theological crystallization, coupled with the destruction by the Mongols of many important Islamic cultural centers in Central Asia, Persia, and even in Iraq, contributed to the decay of Islamic learning. Hence, while the arts and sciences may have advanced in the early Islamic Empire (just as they have in practically every other civilization, even Europe during the “Dark” Ages), this spirit of inquiry and investigation was cut off by the rise of strictly-applied Islam, causing the Muslim world to gradually fall further and further behind the more fractured but also more vigorous and inquiring Europeans. As Hitti has put it,

"The Islamic creative spark had faded away centuries before the advent of the Turks. The complete victory of scholastic theology beginning with the thirteenth century, the ascendancy of the orthodox and the mystics in the spiritual realm, the decay of the scientific spirit and the prevalence of uncritical reverence for the past and adherence to tradition militated against scholarly investigation and productivity. The fetters which bound Arab intellect did not begin to loosen until the early nineteenth century under the impact of the West."8.

Of course, even before Ibn Hanbal, there were elements within the Islamic realm who were hostile to any “infidel” learning. Muslims have at various times sought to destroy any knowledge or learning that did not conform to Islam's way of thinking. While the destruction of the Great Library of Alexandria cannot properly be laid at the feet of Islam (actually, it was dealt the decisive blow, accidentally, by Julius Caesar’s invading army six centuries earlier), this does not exonerate Islam from culpability with regards to the destruction of “infidel” knowledge. The classical Muslim historian Ibn Khaldun (1332-1395 AD), mentions the destruction of the Persian state library that occurred with the capture of the capital, Ctesiphon, in 637 AD,

"Umar wrote [to the local Muslim commander who had requested permission to distribute these books to his troops as booty] : ‘Throw them into the water. If what they contain is right guidance, God has given us better guidance. If it is error, God has protected us against it.’"9

Harris notes the decline of libraries as a general institution in the Muslim world starting around 1100 AD, and when Saladin conquered Egypt from the Shi'ite Fatimid dynasty in 1169, he ordered entire libraries destroyed or distributed among the troops as booty10. Similar atrocities against learning were committed by Muslim invaders who destroyed the Sanskrit college at Vishaldev, Gujarat, India in 1196 AD, and by those who leveled the Buddhist center of education at Nalanda in 1200 AD, destroying great repositories of learning at both sites. Upon the fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453, a large number of books were destroyed, some only being saved once the Turks realized that they were valuable and could be sold11.

Does the West Owe Islam for its Scientific Heritage?

Muslim apologists, of course, argue that Islam has always been friendly to science and learning, and will maintain that it was Muslim preservation of ancient knowledge, and the advances added to it by Muslim scholarship, which enabled Europe to escape from the “Dark Ages” and come to the forefront in science and technology. Without the Muslim preservation and transmission of the ancient learning of the Greeks, there would have been no Renaissance, no Enlightenment, no modernity. While Christian Europe was wallowing in ignorance and superstition, the Muslim world was reaching astounding new heights in building upon the foundation of ancient knowledge and wisdom. At least one commentator has gone so far as to claim that "All modern discoveries were by Muslim scientists"12. Then, by some astoundingly bad turn of fate, evil Europeans stole all of this knowledge and science when their Crusaders and reconqistadores drove the Moors out of Spain and destroyed the great Muslim centers of learning in Granada.

Of course, the truth of the matter is different from the story told by the apologists. While it is true that the Arabs inherited much of the ancient literature and learning when they came into possession of the East (which they preserved mainly in Arabic translations and commentaries on these works), nevertheless, the fundamental assumptions made in the suggestion that Islam was Europe’s last, best hope for civilization are unfounded. It is, in fact, not true that learning disappeared from Europe between the fall of the western part of the Roman Empire and the Renaissance. All across western Europe, but especially in Ireland and the Scottish coast, monasteries full of monks, each with a scriptorium, feverishly copied manuscripts of everything that they could lay their hands on13. The Latin writers, both ecclesiastic and secular, were widely known throughout the period - Cicero, Horace, Pliny, and Virgil as well as Augustine, Tertullian, Isidore, and Jerome. Boethius, the last classical philosopher in the West, was well known and widely read. Even Greek works were transmitted and studied by educated Europeans in the Middle Ages. In the East, the Byzantine Empire, which managed to survive its western counterpart by a millennium, never lost the works of the Greek philosophers, rhetoricians, and scientists14. These works exerted more influence upon the Muslim East than the Muslim transmission of texts exerted on Europe. These writings, such as those of Plato, Aristotle, and Ptolemy, filtered into Italy through the Greek contacts in Sicily and Calabria, as well as filtering into France through the Spanish Muslim states. The 12th century saw an influx of Greek texts into Italy that were translated into Latin and from there spread to the rest of the continent15. When Byzantium fell to the Turks in 1453, among the refugees escaping to the West were numerous Greek scholars who set up shop in Italy and brought their knowledge of Greek and their manuscripts (many of the works being new to the West) in that language with them16. This would serve as leaven for propagating the Renaissance in Italy. Harris informs us that of the Greek classics known to us today, roughly 75% of them are known through Byzantine copies17. Thus, it should be seen that the Islamic world, while preserving many of the Greek works in Arabic (some of which did come into Europe through Moorish Spain), was not as responsible for the conservation and advancement of civilization in Medieval Europe as Muslim apologists would have us to believe. Europe had other sources for re-obtaining the learning of the ancients, and avidly pursued them.

Likewise, the picture of Medieval Europe as a place devoid of science and thought is also misleading. The myth of the so-called “Dark Ages” in Europe was largely invented by skeptics in the 18th and 19th centuries to try to cast a negative light on Christianity; to contrast the religion-addled, superstitious Dark Ages with the freethinking rationalism of the Renaissance and Enlightenment periods - a sort of "secular mythology" invented to provide a foundation on which to build an humanistic view of history. However, Europe in the Medieval period had its share of philosophers, and its quota of scientific investigation. Let us remember that the era between Boethius and Leonardo da Vinci gave us philosophers like Erigena, William of Ockham, and Roger Bacon. This was the era of scholars such as Petrarch, authors like Dante, and logicians such as Abailard. While the Arab Empire was advancing in the studies of astronomy and optics, medieval Europe was progressing in the study of architecture, engineering, and physics - particularly ballistics and mechanics - to which they owed the Muslims no debt. Europeans produced works of mechanical intricacy and industrial utility that far outstripped anything the Islamic world could or would produce during the Middle Ages18. They were Europeans, not Muslims, who developed the techniques for navigation, and the methods of shipbuilding and sailing that enabled true voyages of oceanic discovery. During this period, the groundwork of the scientific method and empirical naturalism were being laid in Europe that blossomed in the scientific revolution that swept the entire world - with Europe, not the Muslim world, as its well-spring.

And what of the learning and scholarship in the Arab world that they inherited from the Greek East which they had conquered? Even in this, we see that it was not so much the Muslims themselves who preserved the ancient learning as it was their Christian and pagan subjects. Heretical scholars and teachers fleeing the Byzantine Empire, especially during the rule of the cruel (and some would say insane) Emperor Phocas, made their homes in the East - some staying in traditionally tolerant centers such as the city of Harran (in Upper Mesopotamia) and some going on to the court of the Sassanids in Persia. When the Arabs came into possession of the entire Near East, these scholars became subjects of the Arab Empire. It was they - these Nestorians and Monophysites and Neo-Platonists - who performed the bulk of the work of translating, transmitting, and preserving much of the corpus of the Greek philosophical and scientific writings19. It was because of them that Aristotle and Plato were available for Muslim commenters to analyze, and it was through them that the Greek geographers taught their Arab descendants. From the 7th to the 13th century, centers of scholarship such as Harran performed this task, until the progressive hardening that eventually crystallized in Ibn Taymiyya's rigid orthodoxy choked off the innovation and the spirit of discovery, ending both the science and the innovative thinking about the ancient works that led to the science.

The purpose of this is not to deny the contributions that Muslim thinkers and scholars made in the early part of the Middle Ages - though let us not forget that these scholars were often “Muslim” in name only, being suspected as heretics or infidels even in their own times. Nevertheless, the contributions of Avicenna and Averroes and their compatriots deserve their just recognition. Yet, Western civilization owes little debt to the Muslim world, despite what Muslim supremacists might claim. The Muslim world, in fact, was choked off from continuing in its own advancement by the rigid application of the Qur’an to all areas of life, by the Islamic fundamentalism of Ibn Taymiyya and his ideological descendants. Regardless of any arguments one might wish to make about who transmitted what manuscript where, this Western mode of thinking was wholly foreign to the fundamentalist Islamic world as it existed after the 13th century. Islam’s intolerance of innovation and non-quranic learning stifled their civilization, bringing about the very conditions that so many Muslims lament today.

To contrast, the return to the primacy of the Christian scriptures in the West (through the Reformation and the Baptist movements) went hand-in-hand with a sense of wonder about the world around us, leading to a concomitant acceleration of scientific and technological advancement. Men in Europe, and later every place where Western civilization spread, wanted to “think God’s thoughts after Him”, so that their religious and scientific impulses worked together to achieve spectacular results in a relatively short time frame. As ironic as it may seem to those steeped in the erroneous views about religion propounded by the secular mythology mentioned above, Christendom, both before and especially after the Reformation, has been imbued with a drive to logic and rational investigation of the subjects to which it has been applied. Even Christian fundamentalism, supposedly obscurantist and "anti-science", has been consistently tinged with a drive for logical order and the concern for factuality in its approach to the Bible, theology, and secular subjects, a drive which sometimes borders on becoming scientism20.


Many apologists will defend Islam against the charge of intolerance by pointing to the “tolerance” exhibited by the Muslims during the Middle Ages. When Islamic civilization was at its height, so the myth is spun, Islam was wonderfully tolerant and open-minded towards other religions. While it is true that during this period Islam more often than not refrained from massacring dissenters and rivals (which is often more than can be said for the European state religionism of the day), to say that Muslims were either tolerant or open-minded is an untidy falsehood. During this era, Jews and Christians living in Muslim lands were reduced to the position of dhimmis. Dhimmitude entailed allowing non-Muslims to remain non-Muslim, so long as certain stringent rules were adhered to, rules that were designed to humiliate the dhimmis and to "demonstrate" the superiority of Islam over the religions of the conquered peoples. Dhimmis were not allowed to engage in any outward show of their religion, such as ringing church bells, praying or reading their Scriptures in public, nor were they allowed to dispute religious matters with a Muslim. They were also not allowed to build any religious buildings such as churches or synagogues, nor could they repair those already existing that wore down with age. They were most often reduced to a position of economic privation and near-slavery. Dhimmis had to wear distinctive clothing that marked them as clearly non-Muslim. Further, the distinctive clothing was often meant to humiliate the wearers. At various times, Jews and Christians would be compelled to wear badges in the shapes of apes and pigs, drawn from the quranic description of unbelievers as these animals (Suwar 2:65, 5:60, 7:166).

Coupled with this position of dhimmitude was the requirement for non-Muslims to pay the jizyah, the religion tax. This was a tax levied specifically upon non-Muslims, usually Christians and Jews, which was the only life-preserving alternative to outright conversion to Islam. The jizyah was designed to "encourage" subject populations to convert to Islam, since conversion meant being relieved of a heavy financial burden. Further, the jizyah, as well as other financial burdens upon dhimmi populations (such as the kharaj, or land tax) were traditionally supported by Muslim theologians through appeal to various passages of the Qur'an, such as Surah 9:29, one of the most obvious passages in the Qur'an commanding Muslims to make war against non-Muslims and to force them into submission21 (and one which apologists for Islam today will routinely say is "being taken out of context" by those who point to it as evidence of Muslim intolerance, though the Islamic theologians in centuries past would disagree). Between the burdens of dhimmitude and jizyah, it is little wonder that Islam, which has remarkably little success making converts without coercion, came to hold the almost complete monopoly on Middle Eastern religion that we see it having today. Indeed, Hitti notes that until the time of the Abbasid caliphate (starting in 750 AD) the bulk of the Near Eastern population remained unconverted, and it was especially due to the intolerant policies of the caliphs Harun al-Rashid, al-Muwatakkil and others, which included forced conversions, inquisitions, and the execution of some who maintained their religions, that Islam gained a significant portion of the population in the conquered regions22. Hitti notes that the conditions of dhimmitude certainly contributed to the Islamization of the subject populations as well. To say that these conditions, the religion tax and enforced second-class citizenry, are "tolerant" would be a gross misuse of that term for propagandistic purposes. Those who make the claim of Muslim tolerance would seem to either be ignorant of these details, or else they are trying to sweep them under the rug.

In her excellent work on this subject, The Dhimmi: Jews and Christians Under Islam, Bat Ye'or reproduces dozens of primary reference documents that detail the dhimmitude phenomenon firsthand. From these documents, it can easily be seen that the mythological toleration extended by the Muslims during the period of their ascendancy, except perhaps for rare isolated occasions, is almost complete fiction invented by modern apologists for Islam. Let us now look at a few of these firsthand accounts of Islamic "toleration".

Ibn an-Naqqash, a 14th century Egyptian religious teacher, recounted some of the opinions of early Muslim theologians,

"CHURCHES - It is related, according to the tradition, that the Prophet made this declaration: 'No churches are to be built in Muslim lands, and those that will have fallen into ruin shall not be repaired.' Another hadit is also quoted in his name: 'No churches under Islam.'
Umar b. al-Khattab (may Allah bless him!) commanded that every church that did not exist before the rise of Islam was to be demolished and he forbade the building of new ones. He also commanded that no cross was to be visible outside a church, otherwise it could be broken over the head of him who carried it.
Urwat b. Naj gave orders to destroy all the churches of San'a (Yemen). This is the law of the ulama of Islam.
Umar b. Abd al-Aziz went even further than this and gave orders to leave neither churches nor chapels standing anywhere, be they ancient or recent. It is customary, says Hasan al-Basri, to destroy the old and the new churches in any country.
Umar b. Abd al-Aziz also issued decrees prohibiting Christians to raise their voices while chanting in their churches, for these are the most distasteful hymns to the Most High. Moreover, he prohibited them from repairing those parts of their places of worship which fell into ruin. Concerning the latter point there are two opinions. If they resurface them on the outside, says al-Istakhari, then they must be prevented from doing so, but if they merely restore the inside, the portion that is on their side, then this can be tolerated. However, Allah is all-knowing."23

Al-Marrakushi, a Muslim historian of the Almohad reign in North Africa, recounts the following in his history,

"Toward the end of his reign, Abu Yusuf ordered the Jewish inhabitants of the Maghreb to make themselves conspicuous among the rest of the population by assuming a special attire consisting of dark blue garments, the sleeves of which were so wide as to reach to their feet and - instead of a turban - to hang over the ears a cap whose form was so ill-conceived as to be easily mistaken for a pack-saddle. This apparel became the costume of all the Jews of the Maghreb and remained obligatory until the end of the prince's reign and the beginning of that of his son Abu Abd Allah [Abu Muhammed Abd Allah al-Adil, the Just, 1224-1227]. The latter made a concession only after appeals of all kinds had been made by the Jews, who had entreated all those whom they thought might be helpful to intercede on their behalf. Abu Abd Allah obliged them to wear yellow garments and turbans, the very costume they still wear in the present year 612 [1224]. Abu Yusuf's misgivings as to the sincerity of their conversion to Islam prompted him to take this measure and impose upon them a specific dress. 'If I were sure,' said he, 'that they had really become Muslims, I would let them assimilate through marriage and other means; on the other hand, had I evidence that they had remained infidels I would have them massacred, reduce their children to slavery and confiscate their belongings for the benefit of the believers.'"24

A particularly sad example of the treatment of the Jews in Morocco during the 19th century is found in Halevy's archives, detailing in particular the Muslim contempt for Jewish womanhood,

"Needless to say it is primarily the working classes and the petty shopkeepers who are the most exposed to the arbitrary measures of the authorities. The Jewish craftsman who brings his work to the Moroccan official is paid with blows of a staff if he is not satisfied with half the price originally agreed upon. The heaviest tasks are continuously imposed upon the working population, women and children not excepted. While roaming through the bazaar in the Arab quarter, I saw long lines of young Jewish girls, bareheaded and barefooted, working in the manufacture of military uniforms, earning but 10 or 15 centimes per day. But the bodily sufferings are nothing compared to the moral vexations to which these sensitive and modest creatures are constantly exposed. In a country where no decent woman should be seen in the street without a veil, these Jewish women and girls are obliged to work unveiled in the middle of the bazaar and thereby exhibit themselves to the impudent stares of the Arab crowds.

"A Muslim himself admitted to me that this humiliating exposure has no other purpose than to force these Jewish women to convert as the only means of escaping from such intolerable treatment. Indeed, must not their spirit be exceptionally noble in order to withstand such a life of misery and untold suffering, when conversion can offer them the most precious advantages, freedom, wealth, and honors?

"The petty shopkeepers in the Mellah are not treated any better, for retail transactions are often the cause of arguments between Arabs and Jews, from which the former are certain in advance to triumph. A Muslim who buys some commodity from a Jewish shop comes back some hours later accusing the vendor of having cheated him on the weight or quantity. Since, on the one hand, the testimony of a Jew is worthless and, on the other hand, it is impossible to find Arab witnesses in the Mellah, the Muslim's word is taken and the ghetto overseer (muhtasib) sees no harm in punishing the presumed offender with a round of thrashes from his staff, which leaves him unconscious on the ground or maimed for the rest of his life. With my own eyes I saw a great number of these victims, mostly butchers, woefully dragging themselves along the ground, unable to walk upright, their backs horribly hacked to pieces and looking like one gaping wound. Black decayed flesh hung at their ankles and their feet, crooked and swollen by the violent blows, ended in a hideous blue blister which hid the atrocious remains of toenails that had been smashed by the staff. It was hideous and heartbreaking to see, and yet these wounds were already ten or fifteen days old. What had the state of these wretched people been on the day when this treatment had been inflicted upon them?

"Sometimes the cruelest punishments are meted out on these poor Jews without the slightest pretext, if only to remind them that they have masters who can do what they want with them. The main idea of the Moroccan authorities is that the Jew must not undertake nor initiate a commercial transaction without their mediation, the aim of which obviously is to receive a handsome commission. Consequently, their anger knows no bounds when such an opportunity escapes their greediness."25

Many, many more examples, and worse, could be recounted. Indeed, from first-hand accounts of the treatment of Jews and Christians in Muslim lands throughout most of the history of Islam, a picture is painted that is far different from our understanding of toleration. The history of Muslim dealings with the dhimmis is one of oppression, random massacres, avaricious greed and plunder, extortion under the threat of persecution, rape, systematic degradation, and slavery.

Far from being aberrations from "true" Islam, this sort of treatment of subject populations has been theologically sustained since the very beginning of Islam. The reason for this is found in the peculiar Muslim triumphalism inherent in Islamic theology. Islam teaches that it is the final revelation of Allah to mankind, which in and of itself is not superficially atypical from other religions. However, Islam also teaches that, since Islam is the final revelation, those who refuse to accept Islam are obviously morally and intellectually inferior, and thus should be subject to the Islamic ummah. This subjection is achieved through the dhimma treaty, whereby conquered peoples who refuse to convert to Islam are coerced into agreeing to the dhimmi conditions detailed above. For a dhimmi to attempt to rise above these conditions, even centuries after they were originally imposed, is considered a violation of the "treaty", and thus grounds for punishment. Further, this treaty of dhimma is considered to be conditional, subject to the disposition of Muslim rulers. Hence, the dhimmi populations could not and cannot feel secure even in the supposed toleration extended by Muslim rulers, as this toleration may be revoked at any time. As well, the dhimma treaty provided no practical protection against the Muslim masses in various countries who would periodically engage in popular massacres of Jews and Christians, if it were perceived by them that the dhimmis were in any way being less than absolutely submissive to the ummah.

Much is said today of the "humiliation" and the "anger" which are felt by the "Arab street". What we must understand, however, is that this particular brand of humiliation felt by the Muslims today results from their inability to exert humiliation upon others. It was noted above that orthodox Islam demands the ascendancy of Islam over all other systems and religions. This includes retaining indefinitely the mastery over the dhimmis who live in lands that have, at some point or another, been conquered by Islam. Essentially, Islam demands the right to continue to exercise what it considers to be its natural mastery over these subject populations. Further, Islam must (it is felt) be above the non-Muslim religions of the world, whether Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, or other. For non-Muslims to exercise dominion over Muslims, and for them to be able to successfully resist Islamization, is intolerable to the fundamentalist Muslim mind. Hence, this is the cause of the "humiliation" and "anger" which the Muslims feel when presented with a "Great Satan" who will not bend to the Muslim will, but instead acts in ways that are often inconsistent with the desires of Muslims.

The focal point of this perceived Muslim humiliation is the nation of Israel. As has been and will be shown elsewhere, anti-Semitism has been historically endemic in Islam, an early hadith records that, in the day of judgment, even the stones will cry out to the Muslims to tattle on Jews who hide behind them so that they may be exterminated by the Muslims26. Further, the Jews have been, since the conquests of the Arab Empire, a subject dhimmi people, thus by "treaty" destined for subordinate status in perpetuity. The nation of Israel, as a free Jewish state on soil once owned by the ummah, is a grave affront to the sensibilities of nearly all Muslims. Israel represents a reversal for Islam which cannot be tolerated, hence the five wars that Israel's Muslim Arab neighbors have fought to try and annihilate her, and the seemingly perpetual intifada waged against her. The dhimma, which existed for the purpose of securing the dominance of the invading Muslims over a conquered region, has been broken, and thus the Jews of Israel, as rebels against the dhimma, are considered by orthodox Islamic law to be fair game for any and all retaliations. Hence, the Muslim obsession with the tiny nation of Israel, which mystifies so many Westerners, lies in the fact that Israel represents, psychologically, one of the worst incursions of dhimmi freedom to ever intrude itself into the ummah.

Racism in Islam

Islam is also a religion which is at least conducive to racism. As seen above, Muslim anti-Semitism is well known. Islam has essentially fought five wars seeking to annihilate the nation of Israel, and failed five times. Muslim leaders, both in the Middle East and in the West, routinely denounce Jews and "Zionists", and are quite well known for making fantastical claims against Jews. For instance, in an interview given to an Arab newspaper just days after the September 11 attacks, the Egyptian imam Sheik Muhammad Gemeaha made claims that Jewish doctors in New York were poisoning Muslim babies, and that the Jews and Israel were responsible for the World Trade Center terrorism 27. What is even more amazing than the claims that are made is that millions of Muslims all across the world believe these, without evidence and without thinking, simply because they are made against Jews and Israel. The view that the Jews blew up the World Trade Center is even the official position of the Syrian government. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a fraudulent document forged by the Russian Czar's secret police in the 19th century and purporting to be a transcript of a secret meeting of Jewish world leaders in which they lay out their plans for world conquest through subterfuge, remains an ideological force in the Muslim world, giving many a pretended justification for Jew-hatred. Indeed, Egyptian state television ran a multi-part series promoting the Protocols in 2003. When the Israelis captured, tried, and executed the Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in 1962, the Saudi Arabian press hailed Eichmann as a "martyr who bestowed a true blessing on humanity", and who had "the honor of killing six million Jews".

Yet, while celebrating the extermination of Jews during World War II, Holocaust denial at the same time remains in vogue in Arab and Muslim circles, both in the Middle East and in the West. Take, for example, the recent conference of Islamic radicals hosted in Iran in which the “scientific evidences about the Holocaust were examined,”

“Iran, whose president has denied the Holocaust, said Sunday it would hold a conference to examine the scientific evidence concerning Nazi Germany's extermination of 6 million Jews.

Hard-line Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has recently provoked global condemnation for saying the Holocaust is a "myth" and calling for Israel to be wiped from the face of the earth.”28

As if the first-hand account of the liberations of the camps and the pictures taken by Allied soldiers, as well as the confessions of many Germans who were themselves involved in that industrialized murder, is not "scientific" enough proof! This sort of historical revisionism is not limited to crazed psychopaths in "Islamic Republics" overseas, however. The spiritual leader of one of the largest Shiite mosques in New York City has openly questioned29 the extent of the Holocaust, calling it "exaggerated", which generally serves as a polite Muslim euphemism for "didn’t really happen". These Muslims leaders, at home and abroad, are merely taking their plays from the book that the Neo-Nazis have been peddling for decades. Because of this affinity, it is therefore not surprising that the only groups in America giving appreciable support to Osama bin Laden and Muslim terrorists in the wake of the September 11 attacks (aside from the various reflexively anti-American leftists and American Muslims themselves) are the racist hate groups such as Aryan Nations and others like it. This makes sense as these groups share with much of Islam a rabid hatred for the Jewish people.

Indeed, radical Islam has a sordid history of consorting with the Nazis. In the two decades preceding the war, the Muslim Brotherhood, a jihad organization founded in Egypt by Hassan al-Banna, forged the anti-Semitic ideological underpinnings that eventually led this organization to alliance with the Nazis. Going beyond the traditional disdain for Jews (which was applied also to the local Christians as well), the Brotherhood made an active point of opposing the sometime Zionist-supportive policies of the British government, and violently opposed the immigration of Jews back to the Holy Land. This particular form of anti-Semitism was coupled with the idealization of the death of martyrdom by al-Banna 30.

Closely allied with the Brotherhood was the grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al-Husseini, the highest Muslim religious authority in Palestine. The Mufti was almost single-handedly responsible for the radical turn that Palestinian Arabs took towards militant Islam and towards the vociferous anti-Semitism expounded by the Brotherhood. He instigated the "Arab Revolt" of 1936, in which his supporters ruthlessly put down rival (and more moderate) Arab factions as well as the minority Christian populations, instituting strict shari'a among the Palestinian Muslims on pain of death. This anti-Semitism, though, was not wholly native. As early as 1933, the Mufti had sought out the support of the Nazi regime in Germany. However, the only support he received was ideological, until 1937, when the Islamist movement began to receive generous gifts of funding and weapons from the Nazis, support which the Mufti himself acknowledged to be a determinative factor in his later "success"31. The Mufti openly collaborated with the Nazis throughout the war, met with high Nazi officials on several occasions during the war, and was known to be a close friend of Heinrich Himmler. After the destruction of the Nazi state, he fled to Egypt, where he was given shelter within the Brotherhood, and even made al-Banna's personal representative and the supervisor over the Brotherhood's activities in Palestine. This pro-Nazi attitude remains as vociferous in some parts of the Muslim world today as it did in those dark decades. As Bernard Lewis has noted, in many places, a pro-Nazi past was a mark of recognition, not shame32. Even today, Mein Kampf remains one of the best-selling works in many Muslim countries.

Anti-Semitism is not the only aspect of Arab/Muslim racism. Islam contains a grain of racism against blacks as well. Although the traditions supposedly state that Mohammed, in his last sermon, proclaimed a surprisingly progressive message of racial toleration, the history of Islam since then has contradicted this. Surah 3:106-107 indicates that on the day of judgment before Allah, those with white faces will receive Allah's mercy, while those with black faces will receive damnation.

"On the day when (some) faces shall turn white and (some) faces shall turn black; then as to those whose faces turn black: Did you disbelieve after your believing? Taste therefore the chastisement because you disbelieved. And as to those whose faces turn white, they shall be in Allah's mercy; in it they shall-abide." (Shakir translation)

Muslim apologists will claim that these color references are to those whose faces will be "lit up with" white and "in the gloom of" black, but the literal reading of the Arabic does not support this revision. Indeed, given the historic treatment that the Arab Muslims have meted out to darker-skinned peoples, especially black Africans, the racial interpretation of these ayat is quite understandable. Further, al-Qayrawani (d. 966 AD), a noted early Muslim jurist of the Malikite school, stated that it is permissible (though not mandated) to kill a white non-Arab enemy who is taken prisoner33. This pointed statement at least implies that this was probably expected, or at least was not viewed as improper, in the cases of non-white non-Arab prisoners. Further, in the work of Abu Yusuf (d. 798 AD), a gradation is given of the treatment to be meted out to conquered peoples not only on the basis of the status of their religion, but also of their race34. He makes the point of saying that there were certain races with whom the Arabs would not mingle or marry, even where this separation is not enforced on religious grounds (i.e. the populations had converted to Islam).

This attitude comes from the Islamic traditions. In the biography of Mohammed, those who are black are pictured as being hypocrites, having hearts slow to accept the truth, and as even being enemies of Islam.

"I have heard that it was of him that the apostle said, 'Whoever wants to see Satan let him take a look at Nabtal b. al-Harith!' He was a sturdy black man with long flowing hair, inflamed eyes, and dark ruddy cheeks. He used to come and talk to the apostle and listen to him and then carry what he had said to the hypocrites. It was he who said: 'Muhammad is all ears: if anyone tells him anything he believes it.' God sent down concerning him; 'And of them are those who annoy the prophet and say he is all ears. Say: Good ears for you. He believes in God and trusts the believers and is a mercy for those of you who believe; and those who annoy the apostle of God for them there is a painful punishment [9:61].

"A man of B. al-'Ajlan told me that he was told that Gabriel came to the apostle and said, 'There comes to sit with you a black man with long flowing hair, ruddy cheeks, and inflamed eyes like two copper pots. His heart is more gross than a donkey's; he carries your words to the hypocrites, so beware of him.' This, so they say, was the description of Nabtal."35


"It is your folly to fight the Apostle, for Allah's army is bound to disgrace you. We brought them to the pit. Hell was their meeting place. We collected them there, black slaves, men of no descent."36

The traditional material also justifies this racism towards blacks using the story of Noah's curse of Ham in a way nearly identical to how later so-called Christians would twist the Genesis account to justify the enslavement of blacks.

"....Shem b. Noah was the father of the Arabs, the Persians, and the Greeks; Ham was the father of the Blacks, and Japheth was the father of the Turks and of Gog and Magog who are cousins of the Turks....When he awoke from his sleep he knew what Ham had done as well as what Shem and Japheth had done. He said, 'Cursed is Canaan b. Ham. Slaves will they be to his brothers!' Then he said, 'May God my Lord bless Shem, and may Ham be a slave to his two brothers. May God requite Japheth and let him alight at the dwelling places of Shem, and May Ham be a slave to them.'"37

"....Ham begat all those who are black and curly-haired, while Japheth begat all those who are full-faced with small eyes, and Shem begat everyone who is handsome of face with beautiful hair. Noah prayed that the hair of Ham's descendants would not grow beyond their ears, and that wherever his descendants met the children of Shem, the latter would enslave them."38

In many ways, Islam itself is viewed as a mark of Arab superiority over the other peoples of the world, even other Islamic groups. Al-Tabari notes the special and superior place that the Arabs held in Islamic tradition,

"Arabs are the most noble people in lineage, the most prominent, and the best in deeds. We were the first to respond to the call of the Prophet. We are Allah's helpers and the viziers of His Messenger. We fight people until they believe in Allah. He who believes in Allah and His Messenger has protected his life and possessions from us. As for one who disbelieves, we will fight him forever in Allah's Cause. Killing him is a small matter to us."39

This prejudice and triumphalism has been prevalent even in the modern world, and found much currency in the Arab nationalist movement beginning in the last century. Islamic scholar al-Bazzaz stated,

"Islam, although it is a universal religion suitable for all peoples and has in fact been disseminated among many nations and races, is undoubtedly a religion revealed first to the Arabs themselves, In this sense, it is their own special religion. The Prophet is from them, the Koran is in their language; Islam retained many of their previous customs, adopting and polishing the best of them....These gracious verses and many others, both Meccan and Medinese, confirm that Islam is the religion of the Arabs before being a universal religion. This does not contradict other verses, such as verse 107 of surat al-Anbiya (XXI): 'We have sent thee only in mercy to mankind,' because it is proved historically that the sending of the Prophet to the Arabs revived the Arab nation in its entirety and resurrected it. This resurrection was, at the time, beneficial to all the inhabited universe. The Arabs were the propagators of Islam and the saviors of the world from the reigning oppression and from the absolute ignorance which was then supreme; they were, as Gustave Lebon said, the most merciful conquerors that the world has known."40

Hence, the Arabs were the ones chosen to bring the "benefit" of Islam to the ignorant masses of the world, much the same as the 19th century European man may have felt it his imperative to bring civilization to the "savages". Islam yet remained, however, first and foremost an institution of Arab superiority even despite the brotherhood of non-Arab Muslims, the Arabs being a sort of "first among equals". The primacy of the Arabs in Islamic matters has been reiterated by al-Kawakibi, who also injects a certain amount of racial overtone into his exaltation of the Arab people,

"The peninsula is the place where the light of Islam originated. It contains the exalted Kaaba. In it is found the Prophet's Mosque and the holy ground of his house, pulpit, and grave.....Of all countries it is most free of racial, religious, or sectarian intermixture.....The habit of religion has become ingrained in them because religion is more compatible with their social customs than with those of others....Of all Muslims, the peninsula Arabs are the best able to bear hardships in order to attain their aims, and to undertake travel and residence abroad because they have not succumbed to the servile habits of luxury. The peninsula Arabs preserve better than all other peoples their race and customs; for though they mingle with others they do not mix with them...The language of the Arabs is the language common to all the Muslims, who number 300 million souls...The Arabs are of all nations the most suitable to be an authority in religion and an example to the Muslims; the other nations have followed their guidance at the start and will not refuse to follow them now."41

The Arabs, in their resurgent nationalism just as in the days when they first attained to empire, are the vanguard of the Islamic movement, the elite cadre about whom Islam rightly revolves, who have kept themselves most pure and are most fit to guide the other Muslim peoples in the right way. Unfortunately, as with any attitude like this, no matter how benevolent it purports its headship to be, the principle can easily cross over into more malevolent arenas of racial and cultural superiority. These attitudes are often demonstrated in a practical way in Arab Muslim attitudes towards non-Arabic Muslims, especially those of South Asia. Muslims in India, whose skins are generally darker than those of Arabs from the Middle East, are considered to be "second-class" Muslims, as I have been told by several Indians with whom I have been acquainted over the years. Muslims of the Middle East often still regard black people as slaves 42. Notice that phrase, "still regard". Muslim Arabs were the reason the black African slave trade ever began in the first place, because they provided a market for African tribes to sell captured prisoners of war as slaves. This began centuries before Europeans became involved in the trade. It is estimated that 9.3 million black Africans were taken across the Sahara desert to serve as slaves in the Muslim Empire43. Of these many died from exhaustion and thirst in the long trek to Mediterranean coast, those who could not make the trip on their two feet often were simply beheaded on the spot so that they would not hold up the caravan. This equals in volume, both living and dead, the Trans-Atlantic slave trade for which Europeans and Americans were so rightly criticized. The slaves being taken today in Sudan by Arab Muslims are black Africans as well, mostly from the Christian and animist Nilotic tribes of the South, such as the Dinka peoples. Mohammed himself kept black people as slaves 44, referred to black Africans as "raisin-heads" 45, and one black man was even singled out by Mohammed and his companions and described as "the most hateful man among the creation of Allah", and as having a hand like the teat of a goat(?)46. Even today, a common term used in Saudi Arabia for "black" is the term abd, the word for a servant or slave. This sort of racism has an impact on the geopolitical scene today. As Adam LeBor notes, while the Muslim world, through the organ of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), routinely pushes for all kinds of "human rights abuse" resolutions against Israel in the UN, any attempt to bring Sudan to justice for its maltreatment of its black African population - which includes a sizeable Sunni Muslim population that also suffers enslavement, rape, and having its villages burned down by Arab raiders who call them abid "slave" and zurka "dirty black" - are stifled47.

Of course, blacks were not the only ones who have suffered from enslavement by Muslims. Non-Arab whites from Europe were also the target of extensive - though now largely forgotten - slave-taking by Muslim corsairs operating out of the Barbary States in North Africa. Davis describes in great detail the situation which existed all along the coastlands of Europe during the 16th - 18th centuries48. During this time period, groups of Muslim corsairs operating with the tacit authorization of the Turkish government would conduct pillaging and enslavement raids all around Christian Europe, even as far north as England and Ireland. In large raids, thousands of Europeans were taken as slaves at one time, resulting in hundreds of thousands of Christian European slaves laboring for Muslim masters across North Africa in any particular year. In all likelihood, millions of Europeans were lost to the Muslim slave system during these three centuries.

Islamic Imperialism

One of the most common complaints made in the Muslim world is that of American or Western "imperialism". The pervasiveness of American culture, attitudes, and ideas has allowed our way of life to penetrate even behind the Iron Crescent. Cell phones, McDonalds, and a host of other Western innovations are now commonplace in cities all across the Middle East, and it is even reported that the most popular American television show in many Muslim countries is Baywatch. But with this technology and culture have come other influences alien to traditional Muslim civilization, influences such as women's rights, religious and political freedom, and Western-style secularism. These influences often lead to charges of "imperialism" from traditionalist Muslim religious leaders, because they threaten to alter the way of life in many nations. This phenomenon, coupled with the disparity of wealth between the West and the Muslim world, makes it very easy and tempting for leaders in Muslim nations to incite and play upon envy, fear, and anger among their populations. As a result, "imperialism" has grown to become the primary lens through which the Muslim world views its relationship with the West. Every woe is to be blamed on the infidel Westerners (especially the Americans) because they are richer, and they support Israel, and they are Christian (supposedly), etc. etc. ad nauseum.

But what about Muslim imperialism? While Western imperialism in the Middle East is now pretty much a figment of the imaginations of mullahs living a hundred years in the past, Muslim imperialism still thrives today, just as it has since Islam's inception. As was seen earlier, Islam was and is a religion spread primarily by the sword. The world according to Islam is divided into two regions: Dar es-Salaam and Dar al-Harb, the house of peace and submission to Islam, and the house of war, respectively. Islam is a religion and a culture built upon imperialism and expansionism.

Islamic culture is basically the imposition of 7th century Arabian culture onto a whole host of conquered peoples all across the Middle East and elsewhere. Looking across the Muslim world, one finds nations and ethnicities that did NOT adopt Islam of their own volition, but instead did so because of conquest and force. The Persians were not originally a Muslim people, but were conquered by Islam. Neither were the Berbers, Kurds, Azerbaijanis, Syrians, or black West Africans who were forcibly converted. In fact, the Arabs were not originally Muslims, of course, until the first Arab conquerors and their successors spread Islam throughout the Arabian peninsula by the sword. Hence, the religion of over a billion people in the world was brought to their ancestors largely by the force of arms. Further, as was noted earlier, the laws of the shari'a are little more than the transplantation of various Arabian customs and traditions dating from the time of the Arab takeovers of Syria-Palestine and Persia, coupled with the indigenous (and still barbaric by modern standards) laws present in the Byzantine East at the time of the Arab Empire's rise, such as the Justinian Code. The veil, the burkha, and other facial coverings for women stem from this Arabian society. So do the Islamic attitudes toward women that virtually require women to be accompanied by male relatives when in public (common in many Middle Eastern countries), prevent them from driving (Saudi Arabia and others), and keep them from receiving an equal share of inheritance (quranic law, but comes from Arab culture in the 7th century). The execution of laws and punishment of criminals is also distinctly Arabian in methodology. The cutting off of hands for theft, execution for many seemingly minor crimes, etc. stem from the harsh life of desert nomads where force had to prevail to keep the rowdier elements in line and to preserve individual property.

Naipaul, whose expertise was garnered by extensive travel and interaction with Muslims in their home countries, sums up the position of Islam as Arab imperialism quite succinctly,

"Islam is in its origins an Arab religion. Everyone not an Arab who is a Muslim is a convert. Islam is not simply a matter of conscience or private belief. It makes imperial demands. A convert's worldview alters. His holy places are in Arab lands; his sacred language is Arabic. His idea of history alters. He rejects his own; he becomes, whether he likes it or not, a part of the Arab story. The convert has to turn away from everything that is his. The disturbance for societies is immense, and even after a thousand years can remain unresolved; the turning away has to be done again and again. People develop fantasies about who and what they are; and in the Islam of the converted countries there is an element of neurosis and nihilism. These countries can be easily set on the boil."49

Reverence for the Arabs in particular as a special people endowed with the right to lead the Islamic ummah comes part and parcel with the return to the old-fashioned Islam sought by the latter-day revival movements. Zaman notes the drive among Indian Muslims (including what would now be Pakistan), during the revivalist movements of the 19th and early 20th centuries, towards adopting the use of the Arabic language, Arabic dress, Arabic customs, and so forth50. The Arabic language was viewed as the source of “authentic” religious authority, and the Arabs were studied and idealized as the people specially ordained to lead Islam. Arab nationalism was frowned upon because it was viewed as a renunciation of the special spiritual leadership given to the Arabs in the face of Western-style nationalistic thought - in other words, not because it was Arab, but because it was a mimicry of a Western philosophy of nationalism. Hitti has noted that in its early years, there was an extensive process of "Arabization" in Islam in which non-Arab converts from among the conquered nations were encouraged to imitate the Arabs51. Non-Arab converts were relegated early on to a secondary social status as mawlani, "clients", who had to be fitted into the social system through association with Arab tribes or individuals52. These clients ranked above slaves and dhimmis, but were still inferior to the true Arabs, a situation which existed until the mass of converts reached a critical point at which they were able to force a change to this system. Even after this, as the modern re-assertions of Arab superiority and purity show, the hold of Arabic imperialism upon the conquered peoples remains strong.

The advancement of Islamic imperialism led to the invasions of Europe by the Moors, and later the Turks. India also suffered the brunt of Muslim invasions from the west, and was controlled by Muslim Moghuls for several centuries, a fact which still excites resentment to this day. Islam reached to the Russian steppes at the height of its expansion before being driven back by the Slavs. The Muslim enclaves in Bosnia and Albania are reminders to this day of Muslim Turkish imperialism in the Balkans, these being Slavic Europeans who converted to Islam because of persecution, force, and the persuasion of being free from paying the religion tax imposed on non-Muslims. In terms of brutality and outright violence, Islamic imperialism ranks right up there with the Spanish conquest of the Americas and the Japanese conquest of China and Korea in the 20th century.

This imperialism is still going on today. Islam is still trying to conquer new territory and bring it into Dar es-Salaam, whether by sword or by money. Muslim radicals regularly terror bomb targets in Indian Kashmir in an effort to force the Indians out and unite that region with Pakistan. Muslims in Nigeria are imposing shari'a law in many northern states in that country, in violation of Nigerian law, and impose this on the many non-Muslims in those states. Muslim fanatics are operating a guerilla war in the Philippines, with the stated aim of setting up a Muslim state in Mindanao. In southern Thailand, Islamic radicals are perpetuating a terror campaign of bombs and beheadings against the Buddhist majority in an effort to carve out an Islamic state. Monetary bounties are offered to people in South Africa for conversions to Islam. Even in the West, Muslim leaders at various times have stated their goal of bringing Europe and America into the fold of Dar es-Salaam, and much Muslim literature emphasizes the eventual conquest of the West (and the rest of the world) for Islam. An example is the prediction by Maududi,

"The powers that are today aligned with the anti-Islam camp will break away one by one and merge in the camp of Islam. And the time will come when communism will be under stress for its survival in Moscow itself; and capitalist democracy will be in a desperate plight to defend itself in Washington and New York even. Materialistic atheism will find its position untenable even in the universities of London and Paris. Racialism and Nationalism will find no devotees even among the Brahmins and the Germans. And the present epoch will be commemorated in history as an eye-wash that the adherents of such a universal and world-conquering power as Islam had been reduced to the folly of trembling in the face of sticks and ropes when they held the staff of Moses (the Divine Wand) under their arm." 53

Daniel Pipes, a noted expert in the areas of Middle Eastern politics, culture, and the Islamic religion, has written recently on this topic, giving numerous examples of how even "moderate" Islamic groups in America, such as the various Muslim Student Associations and the American Muslim Council, identify with the ultimate goal of "Islamizing" the United States of America54. He discusses the various ways that Muslims in America are often expected to follow in reaching this goal, non-violently due to the extremely small percentage of the American population currently made up of Muslims. These include encouraging immigration to the United States from Muslim nations, encouraging acceptance of and the spreading of information about Islamic practices and religion, and silencing dissenters against Islam through legal action. All are becoming, disturbingly, more commonplace in America.

This last effort, especially, is becoming quite prevalent, as Muslims learn to "work" the American legal system to their advantage. The "legal jihad", as it is know, involves the threat, and even the filing, of lawsuits against individuals or groups who hinder the efforts of Muslim groups to carry out their plans. The purpose, of course, is to silence critics, especially those who point out the inconvenient facts about the ties that leaders in several American Islamic organizations have to terrorist groups55. City Journal's Judith Miller details the efforts that Muslim organizations in the United States make to silence critics through the use of bogus libel lawsuits56. Fortunately, this tactic is proving less effective in the United States, where anti-SLAPP laws ("Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation" - lawsuits whose only purpose is to prevent someone from publicly using their rights) are being used to secure the freedom of speech of those who criticize Islam and Muslim organizations. Unfortunately for critics of Islam elsewhere in the West, the freedom-restrictive laws of the more socialistic and politically-correct nations allows Muslims to prosecute those who criticize Islam. For example, Maclean's magazine, a Canadian journal, faces a charge of "human rights abuse" lodged against it by the Canadian Islamic Congress as a result of an editorial by Mark Steyn which was opposed to Islam57. Unlike in the United States where "human rights commissions" are (for the time being, at least) largely toothless, very real sanctions could possibly be imposed upon Maclean's and Steyn - all for the crime of exercizing their freedom of speech in a manner disapproved by Muslims.

Islam Uber Alles by Any Means Necessary

Part and parcel with all of these are the many inflated claims made concerning the number of Muslims residing in Western nations. For years, it has been an article of faith among American Muslim leaders that Islam has over 7 million followers in the United States. This large number is designed to give Muslims additional clout with American political and cultural leaders. However, this number is vastly over-inflated. An article in the New York Post reported that two prominent scientific polling groups, using data from recent polls, each reported numbers around 1.8 million 58. The same article also reveals that the American Muslim Council put pressure on researcher Fareed Nu'man to grossly inflate the figure for the Muslim population in a poll he was taking for them, and that Nu'man was fired when he refused to do so.

Related to these inflated population figures are the claims that Muslims will make about ever-accelerating numbers of Westerners who supposedly convert to Islam. However, these numbers are also exaggerated, and carry little real validity. Many Western converts become disenchanted with Islam because of the cool reception they receive from "born Muslims", the lack of true piety they observe in Muslim immigrants to the West, and family pressure against Islam; and revert back to their birth religions 59. Also, it is often typical in Muslim apologetic circles to promote the "bandwagon" argument that Westerners are converting to Islam in large numbers by manufacturing "conversion stories" designed to influence people towards Islam. I have seen this personally. At one time, I was a member of an Islamic e-mail message board based in Egypt which regularly sent out stories of this type. Invariably, the individual who had "converted" would have a stereotypically Anglo-Saxon name, claim to be an American (or, less commonly, a Canadian, Englishman, or Australian), yet would appear to have almost no skills in the English language. The letters gave all the appearance of having been written by someone with no command of English whatsoever; grammar, punctuation, verb conjugations, adverbs - all used wrongly. One can easily surmise that either all the illiterates of the Western world were converting to Islam, or else the letters were being faked by zealous (but careless) Middle Easterners.

Also falling under this practice of lying for the sake of Islam are the false claims of persecution against Muslims, and the invention of stories about crimes against Muslims that have the two-fold purpose of rallying the faithful and of generating sympathy for Islam and for Muslims. For instance, many Muslims in America perpetuate the myth that Muslims have faced terrible persecution in the United States after the terrorist attacks of 9-11. The actual facts show that, instead of being a pandemic, the incidence of true hate crimes against Muslims in the United States has actually dropped by 68% since 9-1160. Further, most of the so-called "hate crimes" used by Muslim organizations to trumpet their yearly complaints about how "Islamophobic" American society is are victimless, and only become "hate crimes" by great stretches of the imagination. Indeed, as Robert Spencer has pointed out61, in 2006 Jews suffered roughly five times as many acts of religiously motivated violence as did Muslims.

The same sort of trumped-up claims are found internationally, as well, especially when Israel is involved. It is commonplace for Muslims to play the victim card by claiming "oppression" when the Israelis respond to Muslim violence directed against the Jewish state. One of the most well known cases of this involved little Mohammed al-Durah. Al-Durah, a 12-year old Palestinian boy, was videotaped on 30 September 2000 by journalists from France 2 during the Palestinian intifada, screaming and crying as he hid behind his father during a gun battle between the Israeli Defense Forces and Palestinian terrorists. The boy was shot and killed, and the French press, followed by Muslim commentators around the world, quickly spread the story that it was the Israeli army that had killed him. Al-Dura instantly became an iconic symbol of the Israeli "occupation" and "oppression" of the peace-loving Palestinian people. After a series of appeals, a French court saw evidence that suggested that the al-Durah tape had been doctored by France-262. Further evidence from an independent ballistics expert demonstrated that al-Durah could not have been killed by Israeli gunfire63. The whole affair was a setup designed to play to people's sympathy for the Palestinians in the face of "murderous Israeli aggression".

These are examples of a practice known as taqiyya, which essentially means to lie for the sake of Islam. The intention is to deceive unbelievers about Islam, for the explicit purpose of assuaging doubts and concerns about Islam, and encouraging conversion. Taqiyya underlies the whole gamut of Muslim propaganda that is disseminated in the West, from the claim that Islam promotes equal rights for women, to the attempts to inflate the perceived number of Muslims. All are designed to draw people to Islam, by hook or by crook. The example given in Chapter 7 of the Durham imam who went so far as to claim that he would be compelled by his religion to prevent a vandal from destroying the property of a church or synagogue is a typical example of taqiyya. It was said in a public forum for the express purpose of giving an appearance to the Islamic religion which does not reflect reality. Certainly, as has been seen, the historical attitude of Muslims toward churches and synagogues has not been to protect them from vandalism, just the opposite is in fact the case. But, the lie was told in a public forum so as to present Islam in a positive and tolerant light which will appeal to Westerners, which will cause them to believe that the image of Islam as an intolerant and violent religion are just myths created by Islam's enemies to defame the True Faith.

This sort of sanctified dishonesty is also justified in the minds of many Muslims on the basis of the belief that anyone who opposes Islam is lying. For many Muslims, it is absolutely inconceivable that anyone could ever reject Islam on logical or rational grounds, therefore to claim to do so indicates a failing in intelligence or morality on the part of the infidel. Schuon quite insightfully illuminates us to the attitude of the Muslim mind,

"The intellectual - and thereby the rational - foundation of Islam results in the average Muslim having a curious tendency to believe that non-Muslims either know that Islam is the truth and reject it out of pure obstinacy, or else are simply ignorant of it and can be converted by elementary explanations; that anyone should be able to oppose Islam with a good conscience quite exceeds the Muslim's imagination, precisely because Islam coincides in his mind with the irresistible logic of things."64

This insight elucidates many things that those who deal with Muslim apologists on a regular basis can readily observe. It explains why Muslim apologetic defense of Islam is so often very elementary, even childish, in its presentation, and often quickly breaks down into name-calling or threats against the infidel who has refuted Islamic arguments. It shows us why Muslims will loudly trumpet the "logic" and "rationality" of Islam while simultaneously defending their faith with circular reasoning and other simple errors of logic. This is why Muslims can, without any apparent irony, claim that Islam is a "religion of peace", even when the testimony of both history and current events bellows the opposite. For most Muslims, the idea that an infidel could reject Islam because of a sincere concern for knowing the truth is absolutely inconceivable. Hence, the infidel must be lying when he or she present facts and arguments against Islam, and the infidel must be an especially tricky liar when the facts and arguments cannot be answered by the Muslim. Hence, they resort to taqiyya to turn aside infidel lies so that the logic of truth, a priori defined as anything Islamic, will stand firm.

Taqiyya goes beyond merely lying for propaganda purposes, however. The word comes from a root meaning "to guard against, to keep (oneself)". Thus, it also includes dissimulation by the Muslim to give the appearance of not being religious, so as not to arouse suspicion. In this vein, a Muslim, if necessary, may eat pork, drink alcohol, and even verbally deny the Islamic faith, as long as he does not "mean it in his heart". If the end result of the lie is perceived by the Muslim to be good for Islam or useful to bringing someone to "submission" to Allah, then the lie can be sanctioned through taqiyya. As al-Tabbarah writes,

"Falsehood is not always bad, to be sure; there are times when telling a lie is more profitable and better for the general welfare, and for the settlement of conciliation among people, than telling the truth. To this effect, the Prophet says: 'He is not a false person who settles conciliation among people, supports good or says what is good."65

It should go without saying that promoting the Islamic religion would be classified under the heading of “supports good” by most Muslims.

The taqiyya concept is also found in the Qur'an,

"Let not the believers Take for friends or helpers Unbelievers rather than believers: if any do that, in nothing will there be help from Allah: except by way of precaution, that ye may Guard yourselves from them. But Allah cautions you (To remember) Himself; for the final goal is to Allah." (Surah 3:28)

Here, the Muslims are warned against taking unbelievers as friends, except if it will be beneficial to the Muslims as a way of defending Islam against its perceived enemies or preventing loss or danger from coming upon the Muslim because of his faith. In other words, the end justifies the means. If a Muslim must give the outward appearance of not being a Muslim, or must go against the general principle of not befriending infidels, then this is acceptable under the taqiyya doctrine. Keep in mind also that what is defined as "good" by the serious Muslim will be anything that aids the spread and eventual triumph of Islam over competing religions and ideologies. As such, this would tend to encourage infiltration of non-Muslim countries and institutions by Muslims who might pretend to support the organizations they join, but who are really working to undermine these for the greater goal of establishing Islam as supreme. Obvious recent examples of this sort of activity would be the misuse of their positions and access to information by Muslim members of America's armed forces, several of whom have been caught and arrested while attempting to pass information along to al-Qaeda and other militant Islamic terrorist organizations.

The Qur’an and the ahadith present numerous examples in which lying, the breaking of oaths, and other sorts of “sanctified” dishonesty are demonstrated in a positive light,

“The Prophet said, ‘If I take an oath and later find something else better than that, then I do what is better and expiate my oath.’”66

“And an announcement from Allah and His Messenger, to the people (assembled) on the day of the Great Pilgrimage,- that Allah and His Messenger dissolve (treaty) obligations with the Pagans....” (Surah 9:3)

“Allah hath made lawful for you (Muslims) absolution from your oaths (of such a kind), and Allah is your Protector. He is the Knower, the Wise.” (Surah 66:2, Pickthal translation)

"According to Ibn Humayd- Salamah- Muhammad b. Ishaq- 'Abd Allah b. Al-Mughith b. Abi Burdah: The Prophet said, "Who will rid me of Ibn al-Ashraf?" Muhammad b. Maslamah, the brother of the Banu 'Abd al-Ashshal said, "I will rid you of him, O Messenger of God. I will kill him." "Do it then," he said, "if you can." Muhammad b. Maslamah went back and remained for three days, neither eating nor drinking more than would keep him alive. The Messenger of God got to hear of this, so he summoned him and said to him, "Why have you left off food and drink?" "O Messenger of God," he said, "I said something, and I do not know whether or not I can fulfill it." "All that you are obliged to do is try," he replied. "O Messenger of God," he said, "we shall have to tell lies." "Say what you like," he replied, "You are absolved in the matter."67

“Allah’s Messenger said, ‘Who is ready to kill Ashraf? He has said injurious things about Allah and His Apostle.’ Maslama got up saying, ‘Would you like me to kill him? The Prophet proclaimed, ‘Yes’ Maslama said, ‘Then allow me to lie so that I will be able to deceive him.’ Muhammad said, ‘You may do so.’”68

“Prophet Muhammad said, "Lying is wrong, except in three things: the lie of a man to his wife to make her content with him; a lie to an enemy, for war is deception; or a lie to settle trouble between people.”69

Thus, Islamic tradition has more or less rendered permissible any sort of untruth that would render one better able to “get one over on” an enemy. This should be instructive to us when considering the fact of radical Islam’s belief that it is grappling with Dar al-Harb in a war to the death. Indeed, related to taqiyya is the concept of hudna, or the temporary truce designed to allow Muslim fighters to consolidate and improve their position so as to be able to better be able to continue with their aggression. Such truces of convenience are considered expendable by Muslim jihadi warriors, and are of no value to bringing about any lasting peaceful coexistence, though this is often how the Muslims will present their calls for truce with their enemies. The validation of such truces made under false pretenses was provided by the mytho-historiography about Mohammed, who himself is said to have established a ten year peace treaty with the then-pagan Meccans, a treaty which he broke before its terms had expired as soon as he had sufficient strength to take the city. Certainly, one need only see the continual violation of the “truces” made between the Israelis and Palestinians by Muslim terrorists to gain an idea of how this tradition of hudna works in practice. Unlike the West, which for millennia has been nurtured in the Ciceronian ideals of goodwill and just dealings even between enemies, Islam never incorporated notions of honesty and justice toward other nations, and hence, the use of dishonesty, subterfuge, hudna, etc. is perfectly legitimate and considered good strategy in Islam.

Islam as a Control Cult

Perhaps related to its false presentation of itself is the Islamic tendency towards discouraging open inquiry about itself, by which is meant inquiry that is not shepherded by some sort of Muslim religious authority or a Muslim already well-versed in Islamic dogma. This is most plainly seen in the Islamic teaching that the Qur'an cannot be translated out of Arabic. Per strict Islamic traditional teaching, when the Qur'an is translated into some other language, it instantly ceases to be the true Qur'an, becoming instead a document which has had the admixture of man's thoughts and words interjected into it (presumably as a result of the translation process). Only the Qur'an in Arabic, according to Islam, is the true word of Allah. As a result, there are millions of Muslims all over the world who do not know Arabic, and who, when they respond to the muezzin call and hear the Qur'an chanted in Arabic, have not the slightest idea what is really being said. These people have to rely upon an imam or other religious leader to tell them what the Qur'an says, and what it means. Through this means, Islam maintains and enforces the submission of millions of non-Arab Muslims who have to rely upon the Arabic-speakers for knowledge of what their religion teaches and what their holy book says. Because of this teaching, Islam can be said to take on the role of a knowledge control cult much like the Jehovah's Witnesses (who are "encouraged" to read only what the Watchtower Society publishes) or other cults where independent examination of the religion's doctrines are discouraged or prohibited.

This sort of attitude is exactly what is presented in the Muslim traditions, too. In the Qur'an, we find that Muslims are encouraged not to ask hard questions about their own religion, and the reason is because they might lose their faith in Islam if they do,

"O ye who believe! Ask not questions about things which, if made plain to you, may cause you trouble. But if ye ask about things when the Qur'an is being revealed, they will be made plain to you, Allah will forgive those: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Forbearing. Some people before you did ask such questions, and on that account lost their faith. " (Surah 5:101-102)

This discouragement from open questioning is also seen in the ahadith, one of which records that Mohammed was asked about some matters that he did not want to have to answer, and got so angry when the questioners persisted that he grew enraged, red in the face70. Other statements in the ahadith also record Mohammed's adverse reaction to being challenged on the things he taught71. Maududi, one of the more prominent theologians of Islam in the modern age, likewise encourages Muslims to leave off asking the difficult to answer questions about their faith72. The pressure against open questioning and willingness to examine the beliefs of Islam suggests to us that Islam is not really interested in people investigating Islam for the truth's sake (despite what many a Muslim making dawah might say). Rather, it tells us that Islam seeks to suppress its internal inconsistencies and embarrassing teachings, things that might cause the Muslim to doubt his faith and even apostatize if he were to dwell on them.

In his discussion about early Muslim claims to corruption of the Scriptures by Jews and Christians, Watt notes the understanding of at least one early Muslim scholar that allowing the views of Christians and Jews to have free course among Muslims would eventually lead to the destruction of the Muslim belief system,

“The material thus conveniently collected by Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr emphasizes the importance for Muslims of avoiding discussions with Jews and Christians. The people of the Book held views which were contrary to certain fundamental Islamic conceptions and which, if given free play, would in course of time have so eaten away these conceptions that the whole structure raised upon them would have collapsed. These traditions and anecdotes probably did not so much help to form a new attitude as give expression to the attitude already formed.”73

Thus, Muslims even from the early years of Islam were advised not to delve too deeply into the beliefs of non-Muslims, as these would destroy the faith of the Muslims. This is somewhat ironic, in light of the oft-used exhortation by Muslims making dawah (the invitation to come to Islam) for non-Muslims to "examine their beliefs". The religion that doesn't want its own adherents to ask hard questions about their faith because it might turn them away from it, nevertheless wants other people to question their own so that they will "revert" to Islam. Muslims making dawah will say what they can to get convince others to convert. New converts to Islam, especially in the West where coerced conversion is usually not an option, are typically the victims of a con-job. They have been told one thing by Muslims attempting to convince them to convert, when in reality the truths about Islam are quite different. A stirring example of this is the testimony given by the British feminist Phyllis Chesler74. The charming, charismatic and thoroughly Westernized Afghan man she met in Britain became a man who treated her like property, just as the other women in his Islamic family were treated. The façade of respect for women vanished when it was no longer needed, as Ms. Chesler found out.

In the same vein, Muslims who convert from Islam (i.e. apostates), are considered by orthodox and radical Islam to be fair game for persecution, even as far as the death penalty, whether it is applied officially or by means of vigilantism. For instance, British ex-Muslims who have converted to Christianity are the target of persecution from their own families, as well as death threats75. Also in Britain, the daughter of an imam who converted to Christianity has faced threats from her own family to hunt her down and kill her76. These are just two examples of this sort of behavior in a Western country. In the Muslim world, conversion from Islam also carries official sanctions, even in "secular, moderate" countries like Malaysia and Indonesia. In stricter nations like Saudi Arabia, apostasy means death.

The conclusion which all the evidence leads us to is that Islam cannot be considered a religion or way of life which is in any wise tolerant of dissent or disagreement. Thus, Islam cannot rightly be called "tolerant". Instead, we see an aggressive, imperialistic power bent on supplanting all competitors, and which gives all appearance of being uninterested in peaceful coexistence.

End Notes

(1) - Leland, J., The Writings of the Late Elder John Leland, ed. L.F. Greene, p. 118
(2) - Insight Magazine, 5 November 2001, p. 43
(3) - S. Guthrie and Y. Khushi, Radical Muslims Massacre 16 Protestants, Christianity Today, 28 October 2001
(4) - S.P. Huntington, Clash of Civilizations, p. 217
(5) - Indeed, a number of common terms in English beginning with the prefix al- belie their Islamic origin, such as algebra, alkaline, and (ironically) alcohol, as well as the names of numerous stars such as Aldebaran, Algeiba, Alnasl, and Alnair, this not including the many other stars with Arabic names which do not contain this prefix.
(6) - For an in-depth and quite laudatory overview of Muslim contributions to learning and intellectual life, see P.K. Hitti, History of the Arabs, Chs. 21, 27, 40, and 48
(7) - For a most incisive discussion on this turn of events in the 13th century, and what its ramifications are for Islam in the present day, see chapters 6 and 7 of F. Hoveyda, The Broken Crescent: The Threat of Militant Islamic Fundamentalism
(8) - Hitti, op. cit., p. 742
(9) - Ibn Khaldun, Al-Muqaddimah, trans. F. Rosenthal, abrg. and ed. N.J. Dawood, Bk. 1, Ch. 6.18, p. 373
(10) - M.H. Harris, History of Libraries in the Western World, p. 84
(11) - Ibid., p. 76
(12) - "All Modern Discoveries are by Muslim Scientists", Daily Times of Pakistan, 6 November 2007
(13) - See the discussions in C.H. Haskins, The Renaissance of the 12th Century, Chs. 2-3
(14) - See S. Runciman, Byzantine Civilization, Ch. 9 for a discussion of the continuation of Greek learning in the Byzantine Empire
(15) - E.g., see Haskins, op. cit., pp. 291-296
(16) - J. Burckhardt, The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, pp. 159-160
(17) - See Harris, op. cit., pp. 76-77
(18) - For a good overview of industry and engineering in medieval Europe, see J. Gimpel, The Medieval Machine: The Industrial Revolution of the Middle Ages
(19) - See Harris, op. cit., p.78; also G. Troupeau, "Le Role Des Syriaques Dans la Transmission Et l'Exploitation Du Patromoine Philosophique et Scientifique Grec", Arabica, Vol. 38 (1991), No. 1, pp. 1-10 for a concise summary of the role which these Syrian Christians and others played in this work of preservation.
(20) - See G.M. Marsden, Fundamentalism and American Culture: The Shaping of Twentieth Century Evangelicalism, pp. 55-61
(21) - See, e.g. al-Mawardi, Al-ahkam as-sultaniyya, trans. E. Fagnan, Les Statuts Gouvernementaux, pp. 299-300; in B. Ye'or, The Dhimmi: Jews and Christians Under Islam, p. 175.; also Ibn an-Naqqash, Fatwa concerning the condition of the dhimmis and particularly of the Christians in Muslim lands, since the establishment of Islam, until the middle of the 8th century after the Hegira, Vol. 18, pp. 513, trans. Belin, Journal Asiatique, Vol. 18 (1851) and Vol. 19 (1852); in Ye'or, op. cit., p. 185.
(22) - Hitti, op. cit., pp. 359-360
(23) - Ibn an-Naqqash, op. cit., pp. 513-514; in Ye'or, op. cit., pp. 184-185
(24) - al-Marrakushi, Al-mu'jib fi talkhis akhbar al-maghrib, trans. E. Fagnan Histoire des Almohades, pp. 264-265; in Ye'or, op. cit., p. 189
(25) - J. Halévy in Bulletin Alliance Israelite Universelle, (1877), 1st Sem., pp. 52-54; in Ye'or, op. cit., pp. 313-315
(26) - Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 4, Bk. 52, No. 177
(27) - L. Goodstein, "A Nation Challenged: The Imam; New York Cleric's Departure From Mosque Leaves Mystery", New York Times, 23 October 2001
(28) - "Iran Plans Holocaust Conference", CNN World News, 15 January 2006
(29) - R. Berman, "New York Muslim Leader Backs Iranian In Saying Holocaust Is 'Exaggerated'", New York Sun, 13 January 2006
(30) - See A.A.M. el-Awaisi, The Muslim Brothers and the Palestine Question, 1928-1947, p. 125
(31) - K. Gensicke, Der Mufti von Jerusalem und die Nationalsozialisten: eine Politische Biographie Amin el-Husseinis, p. 234
(32) - B. Lewis, Semites and Anti-Semites, p. 160
(33) - al-Qayrawani, La Risala: Epitre sur les elements du dogme et de la loi de l'Islam selon le rite malakite, trans. and ed. L. Bercher, p. 163
(34) - Ya'qub Abu Yusuf, Kitab al-Kharaj, trans. E. Fagnan as Le Livre de L'Impôt Foncier, pp. 103-104
(35) - The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah, trans. A. Guillaume, p. 243
(36) - Ibid., p. 450
(37) - Ta'rikh al-rusul wa'l-muluk: The History of al-Tabari, trans. W.M. Brinner, Vol. 2, pp. 11-12
(38) - Ibid., p. 21
(39) - Ta'rikh al-rusul wa'l-muluk: The History of al-Tabari, trans. I.K. Poonawalla, Vol. 9, p. 69
(40) - Abd al-Rahman al-Bazzaz, "Islam and Arab Nationalism", Arab Nationalism: An Anthology, ed. S.G. Haim, pp. 176-177
(41) - Abd al-Rahman al-Kawakibi, "The Excellences of the Arabs", Arab Nationalism: An Anthology, ed. S.G. Haim, pp. 78-80
(42) - V. Khalil and D. Khalil, "When Christians Meet Muslims", Christian Herald, July/August 1988, p.44
(43) - K.P. Moseley, “Caravel and Caravan: West Africa and the World-Economies, ca. 900–1900 AD”, Review: A Journal of the Fernand Braudel Center for the Study of Economies, Historical Systems and Civilizations, Vol. 15 (1992), No. 3, p. 534
(44) - Sahih al-Bukhari Vol. 6, Bk. 60, No. 435; Sahih Muslim, Bk. 10, No. 3901
(45) - Sahih al-Bukhari Vol. 1, Bk. 11, No. 662; Vol. 9, Bk. 89, No. 256
(46) - Sahih Muslim, Bk. 5, No. 2334
(47) - A. LeBor, "When Muslims ignore the Prophet", The Times (UK), 17 March 2007
(48) - See R.C. Davis, Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters, Chap. 1, pp. 3-26; see also S. Clissold, The Barbary Slaves, for an in-depth studies of the lives of Christians slaves in North Africa during this time period
(49) - V.S. Naipaul, Beyond Belief: Islamic Excursions Among the Converted Peoples, p. 1
(50) - M.Q. Zaman, “Arabic, the Arab Middle East, and the Definition of Muslim Identity in Twentieth Century India“, Journal Of the Royal Asiatic Society, Third Series, Part 1, Vol. 8 (April 1998), pp. 64-66
(51) - Hitti, op. cit., pp. 217-218
(52) - Ibid., pp. 232-233
(53) - S.A.A. Maududi, The Evidence of Truth, p. 23
(54) - D. Pipes, The Danger Within: Militant Islam in America, Commentary, November 2001, reprinted on
(55) - E.g., S. Emerson, "When Islamists Get Caught: MAS Edition", The Investigative Project on Terrorism, 2 October 2007
(56) - J. Miller, "A SLAPP Against Freedom", City Journal, August 2007
(57) - K. Lunau, "Canadian Islamic Congress launches human rights complaints against Maclean's", Maclean's, 30 November 2007
(58) - D. Pipes, "How Many U.S. Muslims?", New York Post, 29 October 2001, reprinted on
(59) - D. Pipes, book review of "The Sun is Rising in the West", by M. Haleem and B. Bowman, in Middle East Quarterly, December 2000, reprinted at
(60) - "Hyping Hate Crime Vs. Muslims", Investor's Business Daily, 3 December 2007
(61) - R. Spencer, FBI hate crimes report for 2006: Jews suffer over 5 times more attacks than Muslims, Jihad Watch, 19 November 2007
(62) - A. Benjamin, Dura Discredited, Media Backspin, 14 November 2007
(63) - A. Schwartz, "Independent expert: IDF bullets didn't kill Mohammed al-Dura", Haaretz, 3 February 2008
(64) - F. Schoun, Stations of Wisdom, p. 56, n. 12
(65) - A. al-Tabbarah, The Spirit of Islam, p. 255
(66) - Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 7, Bk. 67, no. 427
(67) - Ta'rikh al-rusul wa'l-muluk: The History of al-Tabari, trans. M.V. McDonald, Vol. 7, p. 95
(68) - Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 5, Bk. 59, No. 369; see also Vol. 4, Bk. 52, No. 271
(69) - Ibn Hanbal, Musnad, Vol. 6, no. 459; see also Sahih Muslim, Bk. 32, No. 6303
(70) - Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 1, Bk. 3, No. 92
(71) - Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 2, Bk. 24, No. 555; Vol. 3, Bk. 41, No. 591
(72) - See S.A.A. Maududi, The Meaning of the Qur'an, Vol. 3, pp. 76-77
(73) - W.M. Watt, “Development of the Muslim Attitude to the Bible”, Early Islam: Collected Essays, p. 85
(74) - P. Chesler, "How my eyes were opened to the barbarity of Islam", London Times Online, 7 March 2007
(75) - "Muslim apostates threatened over Christianity", London Telegraph Online, 12 December 2007
(76) - L. Hull and D. Bates, "Imam's daughter in hiding after her conversion to Christianity sparked death threats", Daily Mail, 7 December 2007

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