Alright, so I’m naïve. When I first heard of the group Muslims Against Crusades I was glad. “At last,” I thought, “a group of Muslims taking a stand against holy wars.” Silly me.
Of course this group belonging to the religion of peace are only opposed to other people’s holy wars, they are all for Muslim crusades, or jihad as they term it.
A crusade was a holy war, just as jihad is, in part, a holy war. But which came first, jihad or crusade?
Apologists for Islam continually tell us of all the good which came from the Muslim military invasion, conquest and subjugation of the Iberian peninsula. We have algebra, alchemy, astronomy and Aristotle before we even get to the rest of the alphabet. It would seem that without Islam western civilisation would only now be emerging from the dark ages. Whilst progressives assure us that every empire has influenced their subjugated peoples in ways which have destroyed indigenous culture and are truly reprehensible, with Islamic imperialism it’s the opposite, only the positive influences are ever mentioned.
The truth is Islam always has been and still is an imperialistic religion. Even today many Muslim clerics, scholars, and activists, not a few of them in the UK, would like to impose Islamic law around the world. However, historical truth shows that Islam launched its own Crusades against Christianity long before the concept of a holy war entered European thought.
It is easy to dislike the Crusades. Contrasted with the mission and ministry of Jesus and the first generations of Christians the Crusades are a distortion of Christianity. But we should ask why Christianity changed from a pacifist, power and violence rejecting faith into the propagator of mindless, bloodthirsty and irrational war? We learned it.
During the last ten years of his life Mohammed went on or initiated about 74 military actions, expeditions or wars, ranging from small assassination hit squads to the Tabuk Crusade in 630. Sometimes the expeditions did not result in violence, but a Muslim army always lurked in the background. Muhammad could exact a terrible vengeance on an individual or tribe that resisted him.
Only toward the end of his life did Mohammed lead his first major campaign against Christians. In 630, two years before his death, Mohammed led an army of 30,000 against Byzantine Christians.
After that the aggression came thick and fast.
634 At the Battle of Yarmuk in Syria the Muslim Crusaders defeat the Byzantines.
635 Muslims besiege and conquer of Damascus.
636 Muslims defeat Byzantines decisively at Battle of Yarmuk.
637 Muslims conquer Iraq at the Battle of al—Qadisiyyah.
638 Muslims conquer and annex Jerusalem, taking it from the Byzantines.
638—650 Muslims conquer Iran, except along Caspian Sea.
639—642 Muslims conquer Egypt.
641 Muslims control Syria and Palestine.
643—707 Muslims conquer North Africa.
Muslims spread into India and then in 711-713 conquered the Iberian peninsula. In 732 further advance into Europe was stopped in France at the battle of Poitiers.
And so it goes on, year after year, century after century, of violent invasion, slaughter and subjugation, the repression of any non-Muslim faith and the destruction of the culture of the conquered.
Finally in 1094 Byzantine emperor Alexius Comnenus I asked western Christendom for help against Seljuk invasions of his by now shrunken territory. In 1095 Pope Urban II preached the first Crusade.
Prior to 1095 Islamic imperialistic aggression had been met with defensive war. It was only after 465 years of Islamic violence and holy war that Christens actually invaded Islamic territory on a crusade.
Many, influenced by Islamic apologists regard Islam as a meek, peace loving religion whose adherents were brutally invaded and slaughtered by blood thirsty crusaders. This can only be held if we ignore the facts of history.
The big difference on these wars of 1,000 years ago is that practically every Christian is repelled by them and many Muslims want to re-enact them.
The Crusaders may have been sincere, but we acknowledge that they wandered far from the origins of Christianity when they slashed and burned and forced conversions. Jesus never used violence; nor did He call his disciples to use it. The New Testament never endorses violence to spread the word of the true God. The Crusaders wandered far from the origins and teachings of Christianity.
When Al Qaida, the Taliban and their sympathisers bomb and murder they are not an aberration, they are following the crusading impulse of Islamic history and theology. Imperialism is integral to Islam.