A number of misconceptions regarding Muslim history prevail in the West. Probably the most important of these myths concerns the alleged toleration Muslim society had for practitioners of other faiths. Since it is undeniable that Islam, like other monotheistic religions, is less tolerant than the faiths practiced in India and East Asia, the proponents of this view usually fall back on the idea that, at the very least, Islam is more tolerant than Christianity. This notion of a superior Muslim tolerance as compared to Christianity feeds the legend of peace-loving Muslims victimized by barbaric Christian crusaders. And this idea, in turn, is related to the assertion that at a time that western Europeans led a squalid and brutish existence, Muslims were cultured lovers of learning whose cities were the “ornaments of the world.” The myth of Muslim achievement was exposed in a previous chapter, therefore, the relative primitiveness of Dark Ages Europe warrants a closer examination. One additional assertion, which is that of Muslim society being free of racism, has also been effectively refuted in a preceding chapter.
The Myth of Muslim Tolerance
There are a number of excellent works questioning the prevailing myth of a tolerant Islam, so that the issue will be only briefly dealt with here. Ibn Warraq, for one, gives many examples of persecution of religious dissenters and heretics throughout the Islamic world. Bat Yeor also discusses in depth the intolerant treatment of minority religions at all times in Muslim history. Robert Spencer also examines the question of Muslim tolerance and concludes with the following:
Did Muslims treat Christians and Jews better than Christians treated Muslims and Jews? …both sides have a lot to answer for. But this much is clear: the conventional wisdom that religious minorities had a better quality of life in the House of Islam than in Christendom is at least open to question.
The favorable treatment meted out to Jews in Islamic society is one example of tolerance that is often cited. This is, however, contradicted by the documented persecution undergone by such prominent figures as Maimonides. Bostom describes the experience of a less renowned Jewish philosopher:
Moreover, we cannot ignore the testimony of Isaac b. Samuel of Acre (1270-1350 C.E.), one of the most outstanding Kabbalists of his time. Conversant with Islamic theology and often using Arabic in his exegesis, Isaac nevertheless believed that it was preferable to live under the yoke of Christendom rather than that of Islamdom.
Thus, Isaac b. Samuel fled from the Holy Land to Italy and ultimately to Christian Spain. There he wrote as follows:
The word ziz in Arabic is derogatory, for when they wish to say in that tongue, ‘Strike him upon the head,’ ‘Give him a blow upon the neck,’ they say zazzhu (‘hit him’)…Indeed, on account of our sins they strike upon the head the children of Israel who dwell in their lands and they thus extort money from them by force. For they say in their tongue, mal al-yahudi mubah, ‘it is lawful to take money of the Jews.’ For, in the eyes of the Muslims, the children of Israel are as open to abuse as an unprotected field. Even in their law and statutes they rule that the testimony of a Muslim is always to be believed against that of a Jew.
All religious minorities were subject to humiliation and extortion. Far worse were the sporadic pogroms and massacres:
The myth of Islamic tolerance is defied by the massacre and extermination of the Zoroastrians in Iran; the million Armenians in Turkey; the Buddhists and Hindus in India; the more than six thousand Jews in Fez, Morocco, in 1033; hundreds of Jews killed in Cordoba between 1010 and 1013; the entire Jewish community of Granada in 1066; the Jews in Marrakesh in 1232; the Jews of Tetuan, Morocco in 1790; the Jews of Baghdad in 1828; and so on ad nauseum.
Even into modern times, Western ambassadors frequently remarked on the persecution suffered by religious minorities in the Ottoman Empire. In the 18th century “Turkey was no interfaith utopia.” In 1758, the British ambassador observed the Sultan executing Christians and Jews for violating the Dhimmi dress code. Twelve years later “another ambassador reported that Greeks, Armenians and Jews seen outside their homes after dark were hanged. In 1785, a third noted that Muslim mobs had dismantled churches after Christians had secretly repaired them.” Bernard Lewis notes that the so-called “golden age of equal rights was a myth, and belief in it was a result, more than a cause” of Jewish sympathy for Islamic societies. Furthermore, the “myth was invented in 19th century Europe as a reproach to Christians—and taken up by Muslims in our own time as a reproach to Jews.”
Furthermore, the primary reason for whatever Muslim tolerance may have existed is that it was realized by pragmatic Islamic leaders, following the initial conquests that persecuting the large conquered population would have had a number of unfortunate results. Any attempt by Muslims to forcibly convert or drive out all infidels would have led to mass rebellion and a stiffened military resistance on the part of the yet unconquered population. It would have also destroyed the economic base of the conquered territories which provided Muslim warriors with the resources for further expansion. And, in fact, once enough of the population became Muslim, the possibility of rebellion receded and the economic dependence on non-Muslims lessened. Under these circumstances, Muslim authorities became less accommodating and put increased pressure on the remaining non-Muslims to emigrate or convert.
In addition, the nature of Islamic expansion was quite unlike the history of Christian expansion in Europe. In their rapid conquests Muslims found many different sects of nonbelievers in the conquered population. Muslim leaders found it advantageous to play off one set of infidels against another. They also found it advantageous to cultivate alliances with persecuted sects against the governing authorities in the still unconquered dar-al-harb. This would, naturally, give the illusion that Muslims were more tolerant, when in fact those infidel groups presently favored were simply pawns in a greater political game.
Fabled Andalusia was supposedly the very model of Islamic tolerance. The prevailing view is that “Andalusia under Islamic rule was a proto-multiculturalist paradigm” which is “all the more appealing to modern post-Christian Westerners because this paradise of tolerance was not constructed under the auspices of Christianity, thereby seeming to vindicate their long insistence that all cultures are equal and that some – particularly non-Christian ones – are more equal than others.” This myth of “Andalusia” is summed up by Yeor.
Andalusia represents the paradisiacal life of Jews and Christians living under the shari’a in the Moorish caliphate of the early Middle Ages. … Jews and Christians were grateful to be protected and to learn from the achievements of Muslim scholars … This vision propagates and imposes the theory that only in Islamic lands did science, art and civilization flourish while Christendom was still immersed in barbarism and illiteracy.
Both Spencer and Yeor effectively demolish the myth of the “tolerant Andalusia.” Stillman, a specialist in the history of the Jews under Islam provides an additional perspective. In iconic Spain there was a “depth of anti-Jewish sentiment” as seen in “the rabble-rousing poetry of Abu Ishaq of Elvira.” Following the assassination of the Jewish vizier Joseph ha-Nagid “a mob went on a rampage in the Jewish quarter of Granada, slaughtering its inhabitants and razing the quarter to the ground.” The Almohad rulers ended whatever small degree of toleration of the Jews still remained in Spain. By 1172 the Almohads “tolerated neither Jews nor Christians within their empire. There were mass conversions of Jews to Islam. Many fled over the frontier into Christian Spain, while others made their way to the more tolerant Muslim East. … Jewish life in … Islamic Spain ceased to exist altogether.” Thus, Jews were expelled from Muslim Spain centuries before their more famous expulsion at the hands of the Christians.
Muslim Spain, therefore, was no paragon of religious toleration for the “peoples of the book”. However, the circumstances for Christians and Jews in the Maghreb were far worse. In fact Christianity in the land of St. Augustine ultimately became extinct under Muslim rule. Thus in “contemporary North Africa, however, there were no native Christians to absorb some of the Muslim hostility against nonbelievers.” For that reason, the persecution of the Jews of North Africa paralleled that occurring anywhere in medieval Christian Europe. In Almohad North Africa the “urban Jewish population from Tunisia to Morocco had outwardly professed Islam during the height of the Almohad terror. Those communities that resisted were put to the sword.” The Almohad regime also dealt the final blow to North African Christianity. “The Jews became the dhimmis par excellence in North African society, for no native Christian population seems to have survived the Almohad persecution.”
Muslim persecution of the Jews in the Maghreb, however, eased somewhat under the Merinids of 14th century Morocco who found the Jews to be useful allies and go-betweens with respect to the rising Portuguese power. The Merinids “employed Jews in their service because of the latter’s extreme vulnerability and, hence, according to Islamic political psychology, dependability.” Christians in conflict with Muslims, of course, were equally capable of playing that game. In 16th century Morocco “most of the Jewish newcomers seem to have preferred living in the Portuguese-held coastal towns rather than the Islamic interior. They joined in the defense of these enclaves against Muslim attacks.” The practical-minded Portuguese were “notably tolerant toward the Jews in their African possessions” long after Jews were expelled from Portugal proper in 1497.
Egypt differed from the rest of North Africa, in that a strong Christian minority survived; the consequence was a slight mitigation in the situation of the Jews. “In the Mamluk Empire, the Jews were not the only infidels. The Copts more frequently and more immediately took the brunt of anti-dhimmi persecution.”  Muslim rulers often found it useful to play one group of dhimmis off against another.
The Real Imperialism
A fantasy almost unique to modern western intellectuals of a “progressive” outlook is that Muslims are natural allies in the struggle against “imperialism”. This conceit ignores the fact that it is Islamic imperialism that was by far the most successful version. “It turns out that the Arabs were the most successful imperialists of all time, since to be conquered by them (and then to be like them) is still, in the minds of the faithful, to be saved.”
Muslim imperialism was much more durable and robust than any existing in the ancient world. The ancient Persians conquered a large territory but were content to leave the native cultures in place or even, as in the case of the return of the Jews from exile, to preserve them. The Macedonian Greek conquests were as rapid and extensive as that of the early Arabs. However, their effect on the conquered population was superficial and their empire ephemeral. The Romans also conquered a vast territory. But in contrast to the Arab conquests, the Roman Empire took three centuries to build. Moreover, while Roman culture penetrated all of Western Europe, modern Europeans, even those speaking Latin languages do not regard themselves as ‘Roman’. On the other hand, Muslim descendants of Egyptians, Babylonians and Berbers consider themselves Arab:
Arabic penetrated the conquered peoples to such an extent that at the beginning of the eighth century it had evolved into the official imperial language. … by adopting the Arabic language, the conquered peoples – Iranians, Syrians, Greeks, Copts, Berbers, Jews and Christians – placed their abundant talents and learning at the service of their conquerors …
The ultimate adoption of the Arabic language and Islamic religion by indigenous populations was accompanied by the neglect and erasure of ancient traditions. A similar process followed the later Turkish conquests. Even where native languages were preserved, the adoption of Islam by the conquered led to the extirpation of much of the pre-existing culture at the hands of the Muslim imperialists.
Five centuries later the Mongols conquered an empire as large as that of the Arabs in a similar short amount of time. However, their imperialism was a failure in comparison. The Mongols wrought much devastation, but the civilization of the vanquished survived; there was no mass adoption of Mongol language or culture.
The modern empires of Western Europe encircled the globe. However, with the exception of certain sparsely populated lands, mostly in North America and Australia, there was no irrevocable displacement of aboriginal cultures. Even in the superficially Christianized lands conquered by the Spaniards the native Aztec, Mayan and Incan outlooks remain strong and have even undergone something of a modern revival. European imperialism was, paradoxically, beneficial to certain native cultures which were under attack by Islam. The British and French put an end to the African slave trade. British rule in India protected many Hindus from further Muslim depredations. And, far from attempting to replace Hindu culture, many Britons became ardent students and popularizers of Indian culture and the Hindu classics.
Furthermore, according to the historian Paul Fregosi, even the recent colonial experience of Islamic lands under European rule was much milder than that of Christian lands conquered by Muslims. When he compares “the Muslim occupation of Christian lands in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa to European colonialism, he finds that the latter was much briefer and less culturally pervasive.”
“Civilized” Arabs and “Barbarian” Europeans
The apologists for Islam point to the high level of civilization in the Muslim world when compared to that of early medieval Europe. They would be rather more convincing in their assertion, if the Muslim raids and conquests themselves were not a major cause of decline in the civilization of an already beleaguered West.
The effect of the Arab conquests in the Mediterranean and their continued raids and incursions on Western Europe was severe. When the Roman Empire fell into the hands of the barbarians, there was a period of upheaval. Within a short time, however, civilization in the West began to recover. Then for a few centuries beginning with the seventh, new waves of barbarians descended on Europe. From the north seafaring Vikings began their destructive incursions and at the same time Europe was attacked from the east by nomadic horsemen from the steppes. In both of these cases the invaders were eventually contained and then absorbed into the Christian civilization of Europe. However there was a third wave of invaders from the east and south. These were, of course, the Arabs, whose religion of Islam, was a much more formidable threat and was to constitute a continuing disruptive force to western European civilization and to Byzantium. The almost permanent war, the disruption of trade and the sundering of the Mediterranean were a constant drain on the economy of Europe and retarded the full recovery of western civilization right up to the time of the Renaissance. The noted authority on medieval Europe, Christopher Dawson notes the following regarding the dark ages in Europe.
But the worst had not yet come. In the seventh century the Arabs conquered Byzantine Africa, the most civilized province of the West … Early in the eighth century the tide of Moslem invasion swept over Christian Spain and threatened Gaul itself. Christendom had become an island isolated between the Moslem south and the Barbarian north.
The Muslim invasion was, thus, a primary factor in the slow recovery of civilization in Europe after the shock resulting from the fall of Rome. Other distinguished historians also note the importance of continual warfare brought by Muslims in causing the decline of civilization in Europe. According to Henri Pirenne the Arab advance “changed the face of the world.” The rapid Arab advance destroyed the classical civilization of Europe and “put an end to the Mediterranean commonwealth in which it had gathered its strength.” Historian Walter Kircher asserts that “with the conquests of the Moslems and their domination of Mediterranean trade routes, large-scale commercial activity, and with it the coining and use of money almost ceased in Western Europe.”
The Arab assault upon the west continued into later centuries. The navy of the Aghlabids of North Africa (800-909), “harried the coasts of Italy, France, Corsica and Sardinia.” They conquered Sicily in 902. “Besides Sicily, Malta and Sardinia were seized mainly by pirates whose raids extended as far as Rome.” Moreover, as we have seen, there were continuing raids by Muslim corsairs seeking booty and slaves on the coasts and shipping of Western Europe. Despite this harassment, civilization in the West recovered and eventually far surpassed that of Islam.
Therefore, the temporary superiority of Muslim civilization in the seventh through the tenth century is irrelevant. Islam came into possession of the most advanced and civilized lands in the world. And, as was shown in Chapter 11, after a brief period of high culture, Muslims squandered this advantage. At the same time, Muslim predation helped to cause and then to prolong the European dark ages.
Western Europe was not the only region whose civilization was retarded by Islamic aggression. Byzantium was also under constant pressure from Muslims. This may, at least partly, explain the long stagnation of Byzantine civilization. This Byzantine stagnation continued until the later middle ages. The late Byzantine renaissance that then occurred, ironically, may have been due to a deep recognition on the part of cultured Byzantines that their end at the hands of the implacable Muslims was inevitable leading them to devote resources to one final amazing effort. Without the constant Islamic attacks one can only speculate what heights the Byzantine genius might have attained. As it turned out the last Byzantine renaissance was effectively displaced to safer soil in Italy and the West. The unfortunate fate of the ancient Hindu civilization is still another example of the destructive nature of the Islamic meme with respect to adjacent cultures.
In general, any non-Muslim population subject either to razzias or to direct Muslim rule suffered from cultural atrophy. Any intellectual resources arising in such cultures were appropriated, through conversion, slavery or dhimmitude, to serve the interests of the Islamic state. In Ottoman ruled Europe there was an absence of any great achievement at the very time that the neighboring European nations were experiencing rapid advancement. The historian A. H. Lybyer notes the disincentive to achievement experienced by populations subjected to Muslim warfare or conquest:
The Ottoman system took children forever from parents, discouraged family cares among its members through their most active years, allowed them no certain hold upon property, gave them no definite promise that their sons and daughters would profit by their success and sacrifice, raised and lowered them with no regard for ancestry or previous distinction, taught them a strange law, ethics and religion, and ever kept them conscious of a sword raised above their heads which might put an end at any moment to a brilliant career.
That the Balkans, once the site of the last brilliant Byzantine renaissance, “did not produce great art and science under the Ottomans is no mystery.”
The Myth of the Crusades
Few things are more certain to put Westerners on the defensive than the mention of the Crusades. “Virtually all Westerners have learned to apologize for the Crusades. Less noted is the fact that these campaigns have an Islamic counterpart for which no one is apologizing and of which few are even aware.”
The notion of hordes of violent barbaric Europeans descending on civilized Muslims who had, since time immemorial, lived in peace on their ancestral lands is a fabrication. In the late eleventh century, as we have seen, western Christendom finally imbibed the ideology of holy war from its longtime Muslim adversaries – the speech of Pope Urban at Clermont in 1095 initiating both the crusades and the gathering speed of the Spanish reconquista. Christians were certainly no slackers when it came to warfare and violence, but the condemnation of such actions in the New Testament presented Christian religious leaders with an almost insurmountable obstacle in finding scriptural sanction for unleashing war on distant lands. Trifkovic describes the dilemma:
What the Crusaders did to the Muslim inhabitants of Jerusalem in 1099 was as bad as what the Muslims had done to countless Christian cities before and after that time, but the carnage was less pardonable because, unlike the Muslims’, it was not justifiable by Christian religious tenets. From the distance of almost a millennium, however, it is time to see the phenomenon as Christendom’s reaction to Muslim aggression. It was a reconquest of something taken by force from its rightful owners …
This alleged Western aggression was, therefore, simply a retaking of lost Christian territory for if “Westerners had no right to invade these putative Muslim places, then Muslims had no right to conquer them to begin with.” It is, of course, true that
…these sins of the Muslims do not excuse the sins that the Christians committed against them in return. One massacre doesn’t cancel out another. But clearly what we now call ‘human rights abuses’ have not come only from the Western side, and the recent defensiveness of the West before the House of Islam and the world on this issue is hardly justified by the facts.
Furthermore, the Crusades were ineffective in ending Muslim aggression against Christian lands. Long after the Crusades “had become a distant memory in the West, the warriors of jihad continued to press into the heart of Europe.” The fall of the Crusader stronghold of Acre in 1291 put an end to crusading activity in the Muslim east. “Through the next four centuries, however, Muslim armies solidified their hold on southeastern Europe and kept advancing whenever and wherever it was possible to do so.”
Islam and Christianity
It is one of the delights of modern historians to unfavorably compare Christianity with Islam. Both religions, of course, are the offspring of Judaism. However, their early histories could not be more different. Christianity came to power after centuries as a marginal and often persecuted sect. Islam, after less than a decade of persecution, became a distinct religion at the same time that it assumed political power. Islam from its beginning was always more of a political than a religious movement.
The difference between the two faiths is exemplified by the activities of pious reformers. Pietistic and monastic movements arising within the framework of Christian society were invariably pacific and quietist, seeking a return to the basic New Testament principles. Similar movements within Islam, however, were usually warlike, aggressive and militant in conformity with basic Koranic doctrine. One need only compare and contrast the activities of St. Francis and his followers with those of the communal military sects of North Africa founded by pious Muslim scholars. Warlike, angry and violent Christians, while marking most of Christian history acted in direct contradiction to the teachings of the founder of the religion. Similar warlike and violent Muslims behaved according to the precepts of their Prophet.
Furthermore, the experience of the newly triumphant Christianity following the conversion of the emperor Constantine contrasts with that of conquering Islam. The early Muslim rulers had to deal with the existence of populations following other higher religions. Christians, on the other hand, were only confronted by an outmoded paganism and a small population of Jews. Muslim rulers, as a practical matter, had to tolerate large non-Muslim populations for many years. Similarly, as a practical matter, Christian rulers had to tolerate paganism for several centuries after assuming political power. Long afterward, paganism continued to exist in a subterranean manner sometimes surfacing as witchcraft, or as the Neo-Platonism which openly emerged during the Renaissance. Christianity also adopted many pagan practices, as Islam inevitably incorporated beliefs and practices of preceding religions.
While Muslims ruled over both Christian and Jewish dhimmis, Christian rulers only had to contend with the existence of Jews as a rival religion. The experience of dhimmis under Islam paralleled that of Jews under Christianity. Christian and Jewish dhimmis were sometimes persecuted and sometimes protected or even utilized by Muslim rulers. Similarly, Jews in Christian Europe were often persecuted but also often protected or even favored by tolerant or practical secular or religious leaders. Often their talents and international connections were utilized by Christian monarchs as they were by Muslim sultans. There were times that Christian reformers, e.g. Cromwell and the Puritans, showed friendship to Jews as a way of making theological points. Also in some instances, as in Byzantium and Venice, itinerant Muslims were granted some measure of tolerance. Similarly in Reconquista Spain up until the 16th century, various Muslim populations lived under the protection of Christian rulers in a sort of reverse dhimmitude. On the whole, therefore, the experience of other religious groups living under both Christianity and Islam were similar.
Although established Christian and Muslim societies share many common features, with respect to proselytism and conversion, the historical experience of the two religions were quite different. The initial spread of Christianity was peaceful, whereas that of Islam was the result of violence. Walter Brandmüller outlines the different ways that Christianity and Islam began:
For the Christians, conversion was something that must be voluntary and individual, obtained primarily through preaching and example, and this is how Christianity did in fact spread during its first centuries. Obviously, we must immediately note that this conception of early Christianity underwent changes in later eras, connected with the diffusion of a spirit of religious intolerance in Western culture. John Paul II himself acknowledged that in this regard the Church’s children ‘must return with a spirit of repentance [for] the acquiescence given, especially in certain centuries, to intolerance and even the use of violence in the service of truth.’ (Tertio Millennio Adveniente, 35).
But on the part of the Muslims, from the earliest times, even while Mohammed was still alive, conversion was imposed through the use of force. The expansion and extension of Islam’s sphere of influence came through war with the tribes that did not accept conversion peacefully, and this went hand in hand with submission to Islamic political authority. Islamism, unlike Christianity, expressed a comprehensive religious, cultural, social, and political strategy. While Christianity spread during its first three centuries in spite of persecution and martyrdom, and in many ways in opposition to Roman domination, introducing a clear separation between the spiritual and political spheres, Islam was imposed through the power of political domination.
Moreover, neither religion had a monopoly on either toleration or persecution of religious minorities. The continued existence of Jews in Europe could not have occurred if there were no philosemitic or at least pragmatic members of the ruling elite. Practical Christian rulers also tolerated Muslims in reconquered territory as was the case in Sicily and early Reconquista Spain and later in Russia and the Balkans. And, of course, mercantile minded Christian rulers as in Constantinople and Venice mandated freedom of worship for Muslim merchants.
Muslims were quite as capable of persecuting Jews as were Christians. The rabbi Isaac b. Samuel (cf. above) wrote the following:
For this reason our rabbis of blessed memory have said, ‘Rather beneath the yoke of Edom [Christendom] than that of Ishmael.’ They plead for mercy before the Holy One, Blessed be He, saying, ‘Master of the World, either let us live beneath Thy shadow or else beneath that of the children of Edom’ (a Talmudic verse)
Thus, Muslims were not always more tolerant of Jews than were Christians nor was the flow of Jewish refugees as between Christian and Muslim lands always one way, as the conventional wisdom would have us believe. Indeed, under the fanatical Almohads the position of both Christians and Jews in Spain became quite untenable.
The succeeding Almohads (1130-1232) wrought tremendous destruction upon both the Jewish and Christian populations in Spain and North Africa. This devastation—massacre, captivity, and forced conversion—was described by the Jewish chronicler Abraham Ibn Daud, and the poet Abraham Ibn Ezra. Suspicious of the sincerity of the Jewish converts to Islam, Muslim “inquisitors” (i.e., antedating their Christian Spanish counterparts by three centuries) removed the children from such families, placing them in the care of Muslim educators. …
These brutal, discriminatory practices resulted in a massive emigration of Jews and Jewish converts to Islam to the Christian kingdoms of the Iberian peninsula, from both Muslim-controlled Al-Andalus and the North African Maghreb. During the first half of the 13th century, Jaime I of Aragon, in particular, advanced policies of protecting Jews within his territories, granting safe-conduct and letters of naturalization to all Jews who made their way by land or sea, and established themselves in the states of Majorca, Catalonia, and Valencia. Jewish converts to Islam were permitted to return to Judaism if they wished so. Within 250 years, however, the descendants of these Jews who had escaped the Muslim Almohad depredations would be subjected to the fanatical rage of the Spanish Inquisition, and some of them would find refuge under the suzerainty of the Muslim Ottoman empire, especially in the region of Salonika, at the end of the 15th century. To complete this morose cycle of persecution, the vacuum filled by Jews fleeing the Spanish Inquisition was created when their co-religionist counterparts—the Jews living under Byzantine (and Venetian) rule in Thrace—were subjected to massacre, pillage, enslavement, and deportation by these same Ottoman conquerors, during their jihad campaigns of the early to mid-15th century.
Both religions zealously persecuted heretics and apostates. However, centuries before the inquisition was institutionalized, Muslim rulers were executing and often burning heretics. In 742 Dja’d Ibn Dirham was put to death for believing in free will and that the Koran was created. Ibn al-Muqaffa, well known for his rational and unorthodox religious views, was burned in 760. Furthermore under the caliph “Mansur’s successors, al-Mahdi (775-785 C.E.) and al-Hadi (785-786 C.E.) repression, persecution, and executions were applied with even greater ferocity. Special magistrates were appointed to pursue the heretics, and the whole inquisition was masterminded by the Grand Inquisitor, called the Sahih al-Zanadiqa. It was enough for a simple rumor to be aired for the Inquisitor to take immediate steps to incriminate the suspect.” It is noteworthy that the Catholic country where the Inquisition was practiced with the most zeal and greatest effect was Spain, which had been under Muslim rule for centuries. Even the family of the prophet, the Hashimites, was not safe from this early inquisition. “Several members of the family were executed or died in prison.” The scholar Al-Sarakhsi was executed in 899 after “he incurred the wrath of the caliph” for his public discussion of heretical doctrines.
As demonstrated by the Crusades, Christianity was also able to mount religious war. Warfare, in general, among Christians was frequent. However, neither “Christianity nor any other religion has ever had a doctrine like jihad. … Ibn Khaldun acknowledges this … ‘The other religious groups … did not have a universal mission, and the holy war was not a religious duty to them, save only for purposes of defense.’ … Islam is ‘under obligation to gain power over other nations.’” It is an undeniable fact that “the Crusaders who pillaged Jerusalem were transgressing the bounds of their religion in all sorts of ways.” However, the Muslim warriors who “murdered, raped, pillaged and enslaved”, were following Muhammad’s example.
Modern progressives are profuse in their condemnation of the treatment of women in Christian societies. However, the condition of women in Muslim ruled lands is incomparably worse. Bernard Lewis makes the following succinct, but apt, cultural comparison:
The women of Christian Europe were very far from achieving any kind of equality, but they were not subject to polygamy or legal concubinage. Even the limited measure of freedom and participation that they enjoyed never failed to shock a succession of Muslim visitors – all of them male – to Western lands. Western civilization was richer for women’s presence; Muslim civilization poorer by their absence.
The institution of Muslim slavery was discussed at length. The difference between Christian and Muslim attitudes toward this institution is also noted by Lewis:
Although it was known in medieval Europe, slavery was of minor importance there, far less significant in the social and economic life of Europe than in pre-Columbian America or in Muslim and non-Muslim Africa. … The inventiveness and cupidity of Europe, learning from and drawing on the plantation systems and the slave trade of Africa and the Islamic world, found this answer. Colonial slavery and the seaborne slave trade became a major factor in the crisscrossing interchanges between the four shores of the Atlantic – western Europe, western Africa, North America, and South America.
But it was Europe, too, that first decided to set the slaves free: at home, then in the colonies, and finally in all the world. Western technology made slavery unnecessary; Western ideas made it intolerable. There have been many slaveries, but there has been only one abolition, which eventually shattered even the rooted and ramified slave systems of the Old World.
Moreover, it is of interest to note that the Spanish and Portuguese, the Christians most influenced by Islamic culture, were the first to apply large scale colonial slavery and whose traders introduced it to other western colonial powers.
In the next chapter, the origins of these prevailing myths regarding Islam are considered. In addition, the reasons for the abrupt revival of the aggressive Islamic meme, after several centuries of somnolence are examined.
 Chapter 11: The Parasitic Civilization.
 Chapter 8: The Slave Society.
 Warraq, Why I Am Not a Muslim, pp. 278-81.
 Yeor, Islam and Dhimmitude.
 Spencer, Islam Unveiled, p. 155.
 Bostom, The Legacy of Jihad in Palestine.
 Alyssa A. Lappen, And Dhimmitude For All, FrontPageMagazine.com, April 11, 2005.
 Bernard Lewis, in the Encyclopedia of Islam, 1968 quoted in Lappen, And Dhimmitude For All.
 Spencer, Onward Muslim Soldiers, p. 186.
 Bat Yeor, Eurabia, USA, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2005, p. 191.
 Stillman, The Jews of Arab Lands, p. 59.
 Ibid, p. 61.
 Ibid, p. 75.
 Ibid, pp. 76-77.
 Ibid, p. 79.
 Ibid, p. 82.
 Ibid, p. 75.
 Naipaul, Among the Believers, p. 142.
 Karsh, Islamic Imperialism, pp. 26-7.
 Spencer, Islam Unveiled, p. 140.
 Christopher Dawson, The Making of Europe, Cleveland, Meridian, 1956, p. 171.
 Quoted in Vasiliev, History of the Byzantine Empire, p. 390.
 Walter Kircher, Western Civilization to 1500, New York, Harper Perennial, 1991, p. 157.
 Hitti, History of the Arabs, p. 451.
 Quoted in Murray, Human Accomplishment, p. 364.
 Spencer, Islam Unveiled, p. 132.
 Trifkovic, The Sword of the Prophet, p. 102.
 Spencer, Islam Unveiled, p. 139.
 Ibid, p. 137.
 Ibid, p. 140.
 Walter Brandmüller, Christianity and Islam in History, Frontpagemag.com, December 27, 2005.
 Bostom, The Legacy of Jihad in Palestine.
 Andrew Bostom, Jihad in Europe: Past as Prologue?, FrontPageMagazine.com, February 20, 2006.
 Warraq, Leaving Islam, p. 44.
 Ibid, p. 49.
 Spencer, Onward Muslim Soldiers, p. 174.
 Spencer, Islam Unveiled, p. 137.
 Lewis, Cultures in Conflict, p. 24.
 Chapter 8: The Slave Society.
 Lewis, Cultures in Conflict, p. 72.