Jihad in the West:
Muslim Conquests from the 7th to the 21st Centuries
by Paul Fregosi
Amherst, New York, 1998
442 pp., $24.97
Gorge W. Bush once famously remarked that Islam was a “religion of peace.” It is astounding that a man with degrees from some of America’s leading educational institutions could express such profound and abysmal ignorance of history. An accurate record reveals that Islam waged aggressive warfare almost from its very beginnings in the deserts of Arabia. In less than a century after the death of Mohammed in 632, Islam’s conquering armies had surged westward, engulfing most of the Middle East and North Africa, Christian territories prior to their conquest.
In 711, armies of the peaceful faith prepared to assault Europe. They crossed the Strait of Gibraltar, engulfed most of Spain, and then pushed into France. There they met the forces of Charles Martel, who stopped their advance in 732 at the battle of Tours, a victory which may have saved all of Europe from Islamic subjugation.
But the struggle between Islam and Christian Europe was far from over. For the next 1,000 years Islamic forces besieged Europe. The Europeans gradually won back Spain while losing Greece and the Balkans. Throughout the struggle, Europeans suffered Islamic colonialism and slavery. Muslim Moors and Turks enslaved millions of white Christians, often subjecting them to death by overwork in galleys and quarries. The Islamic onslaught finally subsided at the beginning of the eighteenth century when Europe’s advancing technology gave the Europeans a military edge.
Today this history is either unknown or largely downplayed in Europe and the United States, a void of understanding which permits the “religion of peace” illusion. Anyone who would like to learn about this past would do well to begin with Paul Fregosi’s Jihad. Published in 1998, it chronicles in a very readable and lively fashion the beginnings of Islam and its Jihad, the Muslim name for holy war, against the West.
It begins with Fregosi’s less than reverent depiction of the life and character of the Prophet Mohammed. Though the account derives from Muslim sources (the Hadith writings), it paints a picture far different from the saintly image revered by Muslims today. It is one of cruelty, cunning, and power seeking. These revelations may have caused one publisher—who feared Muslim retaliation—to cancel the scheduled publication of the book.
Such timidity stands in stark contrast to the story revealed in Jihad as its chapters unfold. In some ways it is a sad tale of war waged century after century against the West. But most heartening is its chronicle of Western men, standing for faith and homeland, who time and again defy overwhelming odds to stem the Islamic onslaught. This pantheon of heroes, along with Martel, includes the names of El Cid, Jean Parisot de Valette, Don John of Austria, and King Sobieski of Poland. It is hard to read of their dedication and valor without reflecting on the cynicism, disillusionment, and materialism of the contemporary West—and how effete Westerners imagine that they are somehow better than their forebears.
Contributing to this malaise is the Western guilt cult, which holds that the West can never atone for its unpardonable history of colonialism and slavery. Thus the only decent thing it can do, according to this view, is to surrender to Islamic colonization—euphemistically described as immigration. But, as Fregosi so well points out, the sins of Europe are pale in comparison with the historic sins of Islam against Europe—and, one might add, against much of Africa and Asia as well. It’s time for the guilt cultists to face this reality.
Given the history of Islam, how can anyone possibly claim it is a “religion of peace?” One tactic used by defenders of the faith is to cite passages in the Koran extolling peace, harmony, and tolerance. They maintain that this is the real message of Islam. What they don’t reveal is that these teachings typically derive from the time when Mohammad was in Mecca. His position there was insecure, so he found it expedient to preach tolerance. Later he moved to Medina, where he secured full power. Then the message switched to warfare against the “infidels.” According to the Islamic doctrine of abrogation, the verses from Medina override the ones from Mecca.
Some Islamic apologists claim that “Islam” derives from the Arabic word al-Salaam, which means peace. Actually it comes from the Arabic word al-Slim, which means submission or surrender. Also significant is how Muslims divide the world. The part they control is called Dar al-Islam, the zone of Islam. The part they don’t yet control is called Dar al-Harb, the zone of war.
Some, nevertheless, will keep on claiming that Islam is a religion of peace. Most relevant for evaluating this claim are the words of Jesus Christ: “By their fruits you will know them.”