Islam is a religion of peace. Strangely enough, that is a political article of faith that no one has been allowed to question publicly since Islamic terrorists killed thousands in attacks on New York and Washington two years ago. Despite having this idea constantly pounded into their heads by network anchormen, U.S. government officials and even Pope John Paul II, millions of Americans are not so sure that Islam is peaceful at all. Certainly if one surveys the Islamic world, from the Middle East to South and Southeast Asia, it is obvious that pro-Western Muslim countries such as Malaysia, Qatar and Turkey have been more secular, and thus less religious. Wellsprings of terror—such as Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan—are more fundamentalist. But which interpreters of the faith hold the right to claim they are living by the true spirit of the Koran? In his new book, Onward Muslim Soldiers: How Jihad Still Threatens America and the West (published by Regnery, a sister company of HUMAN EVENTS), Robert Spencer makes a compelling argument that the jihadists are the true successors to the religion founded by Muhammad 14 centuries ago. Mr. Spencer quotes extensively from the prophet himself to undermine the notion that he peddled pacifism like some ancient Arabic Gandhi. “Paradise,” said Muhammad, “is under the shades of swords.” One of Osama bin Laden’s favorite verses from the Koran explicitly lays out the raison d’etre of jihad: “Slay the idolaters [unbelievers] wherever you find them.” This call to arms allows little room for modern-day apologists who argue that terrorists misinterpret the Koran for their own purposes. Countless other myths are demolished in Onward Muslim Soldiers. For example, Islam was never a religion of tolerance. Muhammad himself called Jews “you brothers of monkeys” to their faces. The traditional three options that Muslim armies gave their opponents before battle were to convert to Islam, agree to accept Islamic law and dominion, or be killed. It was accepted practice that Muslims had a right to the property of non-Muslims, and that Muslims could kidnap the wives of unbelievers and make them concubines. Enslaving Jews and Christians was considered a merciful alternative to execution. Through murder and coercion, Islam was successful in extinguishing all other religions from Arabia in a short period of time. Islam was never peaceful, but rather was based on conquest from the beginning. During his life, Muhammad commanded 27 battles, and his troops were ruthless. After one victory over the hated infidel, Muhammad had the defeated massacred and ordered that their 600 to 900 heads be delivered to him. Atrocities of this sort were common at the hands of Muhammad’s forces. According to the author, none of these were defensive wars necessary to protect a fledgling religion. Rather, the goal was to plunder foreign lands for economic gain and to acquire lebensraum, or living space. The marauders were astonishingly successful. As Mr. Spencer writes: “Before the prophet had been dead ten years, Muslim armies had taken Syria, Egypt and Persia. Muslim armies conquered Damascus in 635…; substantial portions of Iraq in 636; Jerusalem in 638; Caesarea in 641; and Armenia in 643 . . . By 709, they had complete control of North Africa; by 711 they had subdued Spain and were moving into France . . . Muslim forces first besieged… Constantinople for a full year starting in August 716; Sicily fell in 827. By 846 Rome was in danger of being captured by Muslim invaders.” Could this invasion be happening again? Muslims are emigrating into Western countries by the millions, and it is taught even in moderate mosques that no non-Muslim has the right to rule over Muslims. Mr. Spencer writes that many contemporary Muslims “see their goal as nothing less than the establishment of Islamic states in Europe.” Archbishop Giuseppe Bernardini reports being told by a Muslim leader that, “Thanks to your democratic laws, we will invade you. Thanks to our religious laws, we will dominate you.” The demographic trends are not promising. Europeans are not having enough babies to sustain the population, while Muslim immigrants are having large families. Meanwhile, the Saudis have spent billions to fund the worldwide construction of mosques and schools with radical jihadist affiliations. The author quotes young British Muslims who look at suicide bombers as heroes and role models, with one enthusiastic lad warning that, “To be a martyr in our religion is a great honor. It’s only a matter of time before someone blows themselves up in this country.” Suicide bombers and the targeting of innocents by terrorists are traditional means of Islamic warfare. Said Muhammad: “Soon shall we cast terror into the hearts of the unbelievers… their abode will be the fire.” This tradition is alive and well, and gradually spreading across the globe. Without a doubt, the jihadist onslaught must be fought. But can a passive, neo-pagan West come together and be strong enough to successfully take on an invigorated, radicalized Islam? The case is easily made that the rich, industrialized countries of the world are too corrupt, too rotten and—dare we say—too liberal to take a stand for the values that built a successful society. The scandalous fact that Westerners won’t even admit what or who the enemy is serves as a bad omen for defeat. It is not possible to fight what political correctness prohibits anyone from defining. Like it or not, the threat comes from orthodox Islam. Jihadists are the enemy. Those who claim that jihad is misunderstood are making excuses for terror. Expansionist Muslims view the struggle between Islam and the West as a religious war. We deny this reality at our own peril. Robert Spencer has written a radical book about a radical religion. The most useful information in Onward Muslim Soldiers is the insight into the blood-soaked history of Islamic fundamentalism. Until it is confronted seriously, the tradition will continue—and it is coming to a town square or shopping mall near you.
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