Are the Islamic terrorist attacks of 9/11 the root cause of anti-Muslim sentiment in America and the rest of the world? Is it due to that one so-called “aberration,” when a small group of Muslim terrorists allegedly “hijacked Islam,” that the West has become overly suspicious of Islam?
PJ Media (h/t Marvin W) That is what the “Islamophobia” peddlers at the United Nations would have you believe, especially on this day, March 15, which is now known as the “International Day to Combat Islamophobia.” Speaking at a “high-level” event co-convened by the UN and Pakistan, that nation’s foreign minister, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, declared:
The notion that no one really ever had any problems with Muslims, until a few terrorist attacked the U.S. on September 11, 2001—at which point, racist Westerners were only too happy to jump the gun and paint all Muslims as terrorists—is, in fact, a mainstay. As an Al Jazeera article titled, “Decades after 9/11, Muslims battle Islamophobia in US,” claims: “The September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States ushered in a new era of hate crimes, racism, and xenophobia against Muslims.”
Reality is quite different. In fact, aversion to Islam is as old as Islam itself. In this sense, the claim that Islamophobia is an actual phenomenon is accurate: non-Muslims have always feared Islam; but there was, and is, nothing irrational about this fear, as the word “phobia” implies.
From the very start, Western peoples, including many of their luminaries, portrayed Islam as a hostile and violent force—often in terms that would make today’s “Islamophobe” blush. There’s a reason for that. In 628 AD, Muhammad summoned the Roman (or “Byzantine”) emperor, Heraclius—the symbolic head of “the West,” then known as “Christendom”—to submit to Islam. When the emperor refused, a virulent jihad was unleashed against the Western world. Less than 100 years later, Islam had conquered more than two-thirds of Christendom, and was raiding deep into France. Well over a millennium later, Muslims had conquered most of southeastern Europe. Even the United States’ first conflict with Islam—indeed, its very first war as a nation—came not after 9/11, but in response to jihadist raids on American ships for booty and slaves in the name of Allah in the late 1700s.
While these far-reaching conquests are often allotted a sanitized sentence, if that, in today’s textbooks, the chroniclers of the time make clear that these were cataclysmic events that had a traumatic impact on, and played no small part in forming, Europe proper, that is, the unconquered portion and final bastion of Christendom.
In the words of historian Franco Cardini:
A miniscule sampling of what Europeans thought of Islam throughout the centuries follows:
Theophanes, important Eastern Roman (“Byzantine”) chronicler (d.818):
Thomas Aquinas, one of Christendom’s most influential philosophers and scholastics (d.1274):
Marco Polo, merchant and world traveler (d.1324):
When the Mongol Khan later discovered the depraved criminality of Achmath (or Ahmed), one of his Muslim governors, Polo writes that the Khan’s
Alexis de Tocqueville, French political thinker and philosopher, best known for Democracy in America (d.1859):
Theodore (“Teddy”) Roosevelt, 26th president of the United States and an accomplished student of history (d. 1919):
At this point, one might argue that these and other historic charges against Islam are mere byproducts of Christian/Western xenophobia and intolerance for the “other.” But if so, how does one explain that many of Islam’s Western critics also praised other non-Western civilizations, as well as what is today called “moderate Muslims.”
Aside from speaking well of the Mongols, Marco Polo also hailed the Brahmins of India as being “most honorable,” possessing a “hatred for cheating or of taking the goods of other persons.” And despite his criticisms of the “sect of the Saracens,” that is, Islam, he referred to one Muslim leader as governing “with justice,” and another who “showed himself [to be] a very good lord, and made himself beloved by everybody.”
British statesman Winston Churchill (d. 1965)—who likened religiosity in Muslims to rabies in dogs—well summed up the matter as follows:
In short, fear of and aversion to Islam did not begin after and because of the strikes of 9/11; it has been the mainstream position among non-Muslims for nearly 1,400 years—ever since Muhammad started raiding, plundering, massacring, and enslaving non-Muslims (“infidels”) in the name of his god. And it is because his followers, Muslims, continue raiding, plundering, massacring, and enslaving “infidels” that fear of and aversion to Islam—what is called “Islamophobia”—exists to this day.
So, yes, Islamophobia is real: non-Muslims have always feared what Islam has in store for them, rightfully so. The lie is that such a fear is irrational.
‘Islamophobia’ started the very day Muhammad began his wars against Jewish and Christian population.
Even Voltaire would be accused of “Islamophobia” in France today and likely be censored:
“But that a camel-merchant should stir up insurrection in his village; that in league with some miserable followers he persuades them that he talks with the angel Gabriel; that he boasts of having been carried to heaven, where he received in part this unintelligible book, each page of which makes common sense shudder; that, to pay homage to this book, he delivers his country to iron and flame; that he cuts the throats of fathers and kidnaps daughters; that he gives to the defeated the choice of his religion or death: this is assuredly nothing any man can excuse, at least if he was not born a Turk, or if superstition has not extinguished all natural light in him.”
– Voltaire (1740 letter to Frederick II of Prussia).
“[Muhammad] is the founder of a false and barbarous sect [Islam]… a false prophet”
– Voltaire (Letter to Benedict XIV written in Paris on 17 August 1745)
I’m glad you’re back. How you’re doing now?
Pictorial depictions of our Prophet were actually pretty common until the 1st half of the 19th century – before photography was invented.
My own family had one such painting that had been passed down and preserved in our household for more than 200 years. When I was a kid in the late 70s, my uncle burned and destroyed it completely.
Islam’s iconoclasts are a recent phenomenon.
Thanks for asking. I’m glad your back. I’m doing great. How about you? How are you doing?
Byzantine and European Christians were the first to draw defamatory or derogatory images of Mohammad.
Defamatory images of Mohammad, derived from early 7th century depictions from the Byzantine Church, appear in the 14th-century poem Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri. In the poem Here, Muhammad and Ali appear. in Hell.
(G. Stone Dante’s Pluralism and the Islamic Philosophy of Religion Springer, 12 May 2006, p. 132).
Early criticism of Islam came from Christian authors, many of whom viewed Islam as a Christian heresy or a form of idolatry.
(Erwin Fahlbusch (1999). The Encyclopedia of Christianity, Volume 2. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 759.)
Some medieval European Christian writers portrayed Muhammad as possessed by Satan, or a precursor of the Antichrist.
The Tultusceptru de libro domni Metobii, an Andalusian manuscript with unknown dating, says Muhammad (called Ozim, from Hashim) was tricked by Satan into adulterating an originally pure divine revelation.
Various Western and Byzantine Christian thinkers considered Muhammad to be a perverted, deplorable man, a false prophet, an antichrist and possessed by devils.
In the Late Middle Ages, Christians typically grouped Islam with Paganism, and Muhammad was viewed as an idolater inspired by the Devil.
(“The Prophet as Antichrist and Arab Lucifer (Early Times to 1600)” The Sum of All Heresies: The Image of Islam in Western Thought. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 17–54).
(Goddard, Hugh (2000). “The First Age of Christian-Muslim Interaction (c. 830/215)”. A History of Christian-Muslim Relations. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. pp. 34–49).
(Michael Curtis, Orientalism and Islam: European Thinkers on Oriental Despotism in the Middle East and India (2009), p. 31, Cambridge University Press, New York).
(Hartmann, Heiko (2013). “Wolfram’s Islam: The Beliefs of the Muslim Pagans in Parzival and Willehalm”. In Classen, Albrecht (ed.). East Meets West in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Times: Transcultural Experiences in the Premodern World. Fundamentals of Medieval and Early Modern Culture. Vol. 14. Berlin and Boston: De Gruyter. pp. 427–442).
“There is also the superstition of the Ishmaelites which to this day prevails and keeps people in error, being a forerunner of the Antichrist. They are descended from Ishmael, [who] was born to Abraham of Agar, and for this reason they are called both Agarenes and Ishmaelites. They are also called Saracens, which is derived from Sarras kenoi, or destitute of Sara, because of what Agar said to the angel: ‘Sara hath sent me away destitute.’ These used to be idolaters and worshiped the morning star and Aphrodite, whom in their own language they called Khabár, which means great. And so down to the time of Heraclius they were very great idolaters. From that time to the present a false prophet named Mohammed has appeared in their midst.”
St. John of Damascus (Heresies in Epitome: How They Began and Whence They Drew Their Origin).
“They [Muslims] furthermore accuse us of being idolaters, because we venerate the cross, which they abominate. And we answer them: ‘How is it, then, that you rub yourselves against a stone in your Ka’ba and kiss and embrace it?’ . . . And they are embarrassed, but they still assert that the stone is Abraham’s. Then we say: ‘Let it be Abraham’s, as you so foolishly say. Then, just because Abraham had relations with a woman on it or tied a camel to it, you are not ashamed to kiss it, yet you blame us for venerating the cross of Christ by which the power of the demons and the deceit of the Devil was destroyed.’ This stone that they talk about is a head of that Aphrodite whom they used to worship and whom they called Khabár.”
St. John of Damascus (Heresies in Epitome: How They Began and Whence They Drew Their Origin, the Heresy of the Ishmaelites).
Az gal says
The Muslums are somewhat right (can’t believe I’m saying that). Most people don’t know history that pertains to Islam. 9/11 brought Islamic aggression front & center. 9/11 was a wake up call for me.
It is long time past to establish a Muslim Tax. Ten percent would be be a good start.
Since more than half of them don’t work, you wouldn’t get very much fro a tax.
Mary C says
“The militant Muslim is the person who beheads the infidel, while the moderate Muslim holds the feet of the victim.” Another quote by Marco Polo, if I remember correctly.
“His Mohammed, as has been said, commands that ruling is to be done by the sword, and in his Koran the sword is the commonest and noblest work. Thus the Turk is, in truth, nothing but a murderer or highwayman, as his deeds show before men’s eyes.”
– Martin Luther (On War against the Turk (1529)
“My whole heart and soul are stirred and incensed against the Turks and Mohammed, when I see this intolerable raging of the Devil. Therefore I shall pray and cry to God, nor rest until I know that my cry is heard in heaven.”
– Martin Luther (Statement while being confined to residence at Coburg)
“I am entirely of the opinion that the papacy is the Antichrist. But if anyone wants to add the Turk [Muslim], then the Pope is the spirit of the Antichrist, and the Turk is the flesh of the Antichrist. They help each other in their murderous work. The latter slaughters bodily and by the sword, the former spiritually and by doctrine.”
– Martin Luther (Table Talk 1569).
“Mohammedanism conquered the fairest portions of the earth by the sword and cursed them by polygamy, slavery, despotism and desolation. The moving power of Christian missions was love to God and man; the moving power of Islâm was fanaticism and brute force.”
– Protestant theologian Philip Schaff (Schaff, P., & Schaff, D. S. (1910). History of the Christian church. Third edition. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. Volume 4, Chapter III, section 40 “Position of Mohammedanism in Church History”)