The whitewash of Kingdom of Heaven Kingdom of Heaven is a classic cowboys-and-Indians story in which the Muslims are noble and heroic and the Christians are venal and violent. The script is heavy on modern-day PC clichés and fantasies of Islamic tolerance; brushing aside dhimmi laws and attitudes (of which Ridley Scott has most likely never heard), it invents a peace-and-tolerance group called the “Brotherhood of Muslims, Jews and Christians.” But of course, the Christians spoiled everything. A publicist for the film explained, “They were working together. It was a strong bond until the Knights Templar caused friction between them.” Ah yes, those nasty “Christian extremists.” Kingdom of Heaven was made for those who believe that all the trouble between the Islamic world and the West has been caused by Western imperialism, racism, and colonialism, and that the glorious paradigm of Islamic tolerance, which was once a beacon to the world, could be reestablished if only the wicked white men of America and Europe would be more tolerant. Ridley Scott and his team arranged advance screenings for groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations, making sure that sensitive Muslim feelings were not hurt. It is a dream movie for the PC establishment in every way except one: It isn’t true. Professor Jonathan Riley-Smith, author of A Short History of the Crusades and one of the world’s leading historians of the period, called the movie “rubbish,” explaining that “it’s not historically accurate at all” as it “depicts the Muslims as sophisticated and civilised, and the Crusaders are all brutes and barbarians. It has nothing to do with reality.” Oh, and “there was never a confraternity of Muslims, Jews and Christians. That is utter nonsense.
John Quincy Adams on Islam: “In the seventh century of the Christian era, a wandering Arab of the lineage of Hagar [i.e., Muhammad], the Egyptian, combining the powers of transcendent genius, with the preternatural energy of a fanatic, and the fraudulent spirit of an impostor, proclaimed himself as a messenger from Heaven, and spread desolation and delusion over an extensive portion of the earth. Adopting from the sublime conception of the Mosaic law, the doctrine of one omnipotent God; he connected indissolubly with it, the audacious falsehood, that he was himself his prophet and apostle. Adopting from the new Revelation of Jesus, the faith and hope of immortal life, and of future retribution, he humbled it to the dust by adapting all the rewards and sanctions of his religion to the gratification of the sexual passion. He poisoned the sources of human felicity at the fountain, by degrading the condition of the female sex, and the allowance of polygamy; and he declared undistinguishing and exterminating war, as a part of his religion, against all the rest of mankind. THE ESSENCE OF HIS DOCTRINE WAS VIOLENCE AND LUST: TO EXALT THE BRUTAL OVER THE SPIRITUAL PART OF HUMAN NATURE…. Between these two religions, thus contrasted in their characters, a war of twelve hundred years has already raged. The war is yet flagrant…While the merciless and dissolute dogmas of the false prophet shall furnish motives to human action, there can never be peace upon earth, and good will towards men.” (Emphasis in the original)
Wahhab set out to extinguish all Islamic practices that he considered not to have come from either source: thus Wahhabi mosques lack minarets—the towers that the caller to prayer, the muezzin, climbs in order to chant the azan, the call to prayer. Wahhab also rejected the veneration of Muslim saints and prayers at their shrines, a practice that had become widespread by the eighteenth century. Wahhab pointed to hadiths in which Muhammad himself condemned this practice, calling it shirk, the combination of idolatry and polytheism that is the worst sin of all in Islam: associating partners with Allah in worship. The Wahhabis were often just as brutal as the Islamic State is today. In an 1803 attack that could have come from today’s headlines about ISIS, the Wahhabis entered Ta’if, a city near Mecca, massacred all the men, and enslaved all the women and children.
But the worst came from the Mongol Tamerlane, a dedicated Muslim who conducted furious jihad campaigns against the Nestorians and devastated their cities and churches. It was full-blown war against the Assyrian Christians: Tamerlane offered them conversion to Islam, dhimmitude, or death. By 1400, the vast Nestorian domains were no more; Christianity had almost completely died out in Persia, Central Asia, and China.7 After this, virtually all Nestorians lived as dhimmis under Muslim rule. And like the Zoroastrians, their community dwindled down to a tiny remnant under the relentless weight of this institutionalized injustice. If the Christians in Europe had been subjected to the same fate, it is distinctly possible that the world might never have known the works of Dante Alighieri, or Michelangelo, or Leonardo da Vinci, or Mozart, or Bach. It is likely that there would never have been an El Greco, or a Giotto, or an Olivier Messaien. A community that must expend all its energy just to survive does not easily pursue art and music. The Crusades may have made the full flowering of European civilization possible.
Case study: The Zoroastrians Would it really have been so bad if the Muslims had conquered Europe? After all, the Christians would still have been able to practice their religion. They would just have had to put up with a little discrimination, right? Although “a little discrimination” is all that most Islamic apologists will acknowledge about dhimmitude, the long-term effects of the dhimma were much more damaging for non-Muslims. Even centuries after the Muslim conquest of Egypt, the Coptic Christians maintained an overwhelming majority there. Yet today the Copts amount to just 10 percent, or less, of the Egyptian population. It’s the same story with every non-Muslim group that has fallen completely under Islamic rule. The Zoroastrians, or Parsis, are followers of the Persian priest and prophet Zoroaster, or Zarathustra (628–551 B.C.). Before the advent of Islam, Zoroastrianism was for a long period the official religion of Persia (modern-day Iran), and was the dominant religion when the Persian Empire spanned from the Aegean Sea to the Indus River. Zoroastrians were commonly found from Persia to China. But after the Muslim conquest of Persia, Zoroastrians were given dhimmi status and subjected to cruel persecutions, which often included forced conversions. Many fled to India to escape Muslim rule, only to fall prey to the warriors of jihad again when the Muslims started to advance into India. The suffering of the Zoroastrians under Islam was strikingly similar to that of Christians and Jews under Islam farther to the West, and it continued well into modern times (even to this very day under the Iranian mullahocracy).
The Qur’an’s tolerant verses: “canceled” What’s more, the Qur’an’s last word on jihad is not defensive, but offensive. The suras of the Qur’an are not arranged chronologically, but according to length. However, Islamic theology divides the Qur’an into “Meccan” and “Medinan” suras. The Meccan ones come from the first segment of Muhammad’s career as a prophet, when he simply called the Meccans to Islam. Later, after he had fled to Medina, his positions hardened. The Medinan suras are less poetic and generally much longer than those from Mecca; they’re also filled with matters of law and ritual—and exhortations to jihad warfare against unbelievers. The relatively tolerant verses quoted above and others like them generally date from the Meccan period, while those with a more violent and intolerant edge are mostly from Medina. Why does this distinction matter? Because of the Islamic doctrine of abrogation (naskh). This is the idea that Allah can change or cancel what he tells Muslims: “None of Our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar: knowest thou not that Allah Hath power over all things?” (Qur’an 2:106). According to this idea, the violent verses of the ninth sura, including the Verse of the Sword (9:5), abrogate the peaceful verses, because they were revealed later in Muhammad’s prophetic career: In fact, most Muslim authorities agree that the ninth sura was the very last section of the Qur’an to be revealed.
Islamophobia” as a weapon of jihad The charge of “Islamophobia” is routinely used to shift attention away from jihad terrorists. After a rise in jihadist militancy and the arrest of eight people in Switzerland on suspicion of aiding suicide bombers in Saudi Arabia, some Muslims in Switzerland were in no mood to clean house: “As far as we’re concerned,” said Nadia Karmous, leader of a Muslim women’s group in Switzerland, “there is no rise in Islamism, but rather an increase in Islamophobia.”5 This pattern has recurred in recent years all over the world as “Islamophobia” has passed into the larger lexicon and become a self-perpetuating industry. In Western countries, “Islamophobia” has taken a place beside “racism,” “sexism,” and “homophobia.” The absurdity of all this was well illustrated by a recent incident in Britain: While a crew was filming the harassment of a Muslim for a movie about “Islamophobia,” two passing Brits, who didn’t realize the cameras were rolling, stopped to defend the person being assaulted. Yet neither the filmmakers nor the reporters covering these events seemed to realize that this was evidence that the British were not as violent and xenophobic as the film they were creating suggested.6 Historian Victor Davis Hanson has ably explained the dangerous shift of focus that “Islamophobia” entails: There really isn’t a phenomenon like “Islamophobia”—at least no more than there was a “Germanophobia” in hating Hitler or “Russophobia” in detesting Stalinism. Any unfairness or rudeness that accrues from the “security profiling” of Middle Eastern young males is dwarfed by efforts of Islamic fascists themselves—here in the U.S., in the UK, the Netherlands, France, Turkey, and Israel—to murder Westerners and blow up civilians. The real danger to thousands of innocents is not an occasional evangelical zealot or uncouth politician spouting off about Islam, but the deliberately orchestrated and very sick anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism that floods the airways worldwide, emanating from Iran, Lebanon, and Syria, to be sure, but also from our erstwhile “allies” in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar.7
In the past, the Bush administration has shown undue respect for U.S.-based stealth jihadist organizations, feting them, currying favor with them, and listening closely to their advice on Islam-related issues. One would have thought that President Bush’s embarrassment at posing for a photograph in 2000 with Sami Al-Arian, who cofounded the World Islamic Study Enterprise and other jihadist front organizations and was later imprisoned for his activities in support of the terror organization Palestinian Islamic Jihad, would have been enough to dissuade the administration from maintaining connections with such groups. If not that, surely federal prosecutors’ naming of CAIR, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), and the North American Islamic Trust as unindicted co-conspirators in a terrorism funding trial should have done the trick. But no, somehow CAIR and Co.’s advice keeps finding its way into official U.S. policies.
a Greek monk and theologian (today revered as a saint by the Orthodox Church) who was imprisoned for a time by the Turks, remarked trenchantly about Muslims: “These infamous people, hated by God and infamous, boast of having got the better of the Romans [i.e., Byzantines] by their love of God…They live by the bow, the sword, and debauchery, finding pleasure in taking slaves, devoting themselves to murder, pillage, spoil…and not only do they commit these crimes, but even—what an aberration—they believe that God approves of them.”18
Another pattern was set at Uhud that played out across the centuries: Muslims would see any aggression as a pretext for revenge, regardless of whether they provoked it. With a canny understanding of how to sway public opinion, jihadists and their PC allies on the American Left today use current events as pretexts to justify what they are doing: Time and again they portray themselves as merely reacting to grievous provocations from the enemies of Islam. By this they gain recruits and sway popular opinion. Conventional wisdom among a surprisingly broad political spectrum today holds that the global jihad movement is a response to some provocation or other: the invasion of Iraq, the establishment of Israel, the toppling of Iran’s Mossadegh—or a more generalized offense such as “American neo-colonialism” or “the lust for oil.” Those who are particularly forgetful of history blame it on newly minted epiphenomena such as the Abu Ghraib prison scandals, which cast a shadow over America’s presence in Iraq in 2004. But the jihadists were fighting long before Abu Ghraib, Iraq, Israel, or American independence. Indeed, they have been fighting and imitating their warrior Prophet ever since the seventh century, casting their actions as responses to the enormities of their enemies ever since Muhammad discovered his uncle’s mutilated body.
But Paradise would not be a bore for Muslims with different proclivities. Allah also promised his blessed that in Paradise, “round about them will serve, devoted to them, young male servants handsome as pearls well-guarded” (Qur’an 52:24), “youths of perpetual freshness” (Qur’an 56:17): “if thou seest them, thou wouldst think them scattered pearls” (Qur’an 76:19). But surely the Qur’an isn’t condoning homosexuality, is it? After all, it depicts Lot telling the people of Sodom: “For ye practise your lusts on men in preference to women: ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds” (7:81) and “of all the creatures in the world, will ye approach males, and leave those whom Allah has created for you to be your mates? Nay, ye are a people transgressing all limits!” (26:165). A hadith commands that “if a man who is not married is seized committing sodomy, he will be stoned to death.”6 Another hadith has Muhammad saying: “Kill the one who sodomizes and the one who lets it be done to him.”7 These strictures have worked their way into Islamic legal codes, such that two Saudis were so anxious to avoid a flogging or prison term that they murdered a Pakistani who witnessed their “shameful acts” by running over him with a car, smashing his head in with a rock, and setting him on fire.8 But the pearl-like youths of Paradise have given rise to a strange double-mindedness about homosexuality in Islam. The great poet Abu Nuwas openly glorified homosexuality in his notorious poem the Perfumed Garden: