Will the Third Rome Fall to Islam?

The Fjordman Report

The noted blogger Fjordman is filing this report via Gates of Vienna.
For a complete Fjordman blogography, see The Fjordman Files. There is also a multi-index listing here.

The Reformation by Owen ChadwickI recently read the book The Reformation by Owen Chadwick, about the Protestant Reformation and the situation in 15th and 16th century Europe. It is fascinating to read about Western Europe during a period when it was genuinely dynamic, not the anemic and self-loathing continent it is now. But still, I was also struck by how many similarities there are between the situation then and now. This was also during a period of Muslim aggression, as the Turks made inroads into the Balkans and Central Europe, eventually threatening even Western Europe.

Ironically, this period was also when the Greco-Roman heritage was rediscovered in the West. The classical heritage had been preserved in the East for a thousand years after the Western half of the Roman Empire collapsed, and with the pressures from Muslims, many Greek Byzantine scholars brought their texts with them to northern Italian cities such as Venice, thus fuelling the Renaissance.

However, the overall picture was one of Western division. Spain, which was probably the strongest nation in Europe during the 16th century, after expelling Muslims from their own peninsula in 1492, was more interested in looking westwards to the Americas rather than eastwards to the expanding Ottoman Empire.

The French even allied with the Muslims for their own short-term gains. According to Chadwick, “the French king had not hesitated to attempt alliance with the Turks when it suited his political need, and once allowed a Turkish admiral to celebrate the fast of Ramadan in the streets of Toulon.” In general, “the European powers were more frightened of each other than of the Turk.”

The fall of ConstantinopleThis was during the Second Jihad against the West. Now similar divisions are occurring during the Third Jihad. Not necessarily between countries, but between various cultural and ideological groups within the West.

It is especially interesting to see how the fall of Constantinople in 1453 affected the other Eastern churches, in particular in the rising Russian state which viewed itself as the successor of the Roman and Byzantine Empires. According to Chadwick, page 360-61:
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The Russians always looked to Constantinople, received their faith from the south, felt themselves to participate in Christendom by means of their Slavonic Orthodoxy. By 1505 Russia had been created by Ivan III the Great out of the little principalities of the great plains. He married Sophia, the niece of the last Roman Emperor of Constantinople, and looked upon himself as the heir to the Christian heritage of East Rome. He took for the Russian arms the double-headed eagle of the Byzantines. These notions were powerful in the formation of Russian tradition and autocracy. We find a monk named Philotheos writing to the Tsar between 1505 and 1533: ‘Two Romes have now fallen, and the third one, our Moscow, yet standeth; and a fourth one there shall never be…..In all the world thou alone art the Christian Tsar.’

Russian Orthodox iconThis relationship can be detected clearly in art. Russian religious icons, as well as those in other Orthodox countries such as Bulgaria, have been strongly influenced by Byzantine art. Muslims in Russia are very much aware of this historic connection, which is why a group of top Muslim clerics in 2005 demanded that Orthodox Christian symbols should be removed from the Russian coat of arms.

People from Russia, a country which was once under the Tatar Yoke, should understand the Islamic threat. So why are the Russians helping The Islamic Republic of Iran with missile and nuclear technology that will eventually be used to intimidate non-Muslim countries?

In early 2007, during a meeting with the Russian foreign minister in Tehran, Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei was reported as calling for a cooperation between the two countries to halt US ambitions in the region. In 2005, President Vladimir Putin stated that Russia is the Islamic world’s most reliable partner.

Are the Russians so naive that they believe this beast won’t eventually come back to bite them, too? Iran has been secretly training Chechen Muslim rebels in sophisticated terror techniques to enable them to carry out more effective attacks against Russian forces, the Sunday Telegraph has revealed.

Russia’s relationship with the West has always been complicated. As writer Alexander Boot, himself a Russian by birth, states, Russia is only partially Western and has never gone through some of the determining periods of the modern West, the Renaissance, the Reformation and the Enlightenment. The country’s culture is a complex mix of Western, non-Western and a few anti-Western impulses. According to Boot, author Fyodor Dostoyevsky “sensed that Russia was irreconcilable with the Catholic West, which is why he believed that destroying the West was the holy mission of Russian Orthodoxy.”

BeslanSome of the Russian skepticism towards the West is understandable. As long as Western nations pander to Muslims, why shouldn’t the Russians do so, too? The reaction of European Union officials to the grotesque Islamic Beslan massacre of Russian school children — all but blaming it on the Russian security forces instead of the Islamic terrorists — rightly upset many Russians.

As Jihad Watch Board Vice President Hugh Fitzgerald notes, the American bombing of the Orthodox Serbs to aid Muslim Albanians was seen as an attack on a historic ally of Russia. He thinks the West should be proving to the Russian public that we are on the side of the Serbs, not the Muslims. We should ask them to do the same with Iran: “Russians want a task equal to their putative power, and what they see as their rightful place in the world. Helping the Old World come to its senses about Islam is such a worthy task. They might just consider it.”

Perhaps the Russians should study more closely what happened to the Byzantines. In his book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), Robert Spencer discusses the sad case of the Byzantine Emperor John VI Cantacuzenes, who invited the Ottoman Turks into Europe to help him win a dynastic dispute. His invited guests overthrew his Empire about 100 years later, and have stayed in Europe to this day.

Islam was controlled in the Soviet Union but has had a renaissance since its downfall in 1991, helped by oil money from the Middle East. This re-Islamization of Central Asia should worry the Russians. They are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a border security project, partly to avoid being demographically overwhelmed by Muslims. But Russia, too, has a large and growing Muslim population, and a non-Muslim population in marked decline. It is not impossible, if current trends continue, that Russia could either disintegrate completely or be majority Muslim within this century. Russia’s non-Muslim population is declining, but numbers are rising in Muslim regions. Will the country called Russia still exist in the future? And if so, will it be the Russia of Pushkin or of Abdullah?

It is understandable that the Russians have Great Power ambitions of their own. However, one would hope that they will wake up, remember their history and realize that there are worse threats out there than American power.

Notre Dame de l’IslamSome of them do. Elena Chudinova, the author of the dystopian novel The Mosque of Notre Dame de Paris, says that if the Muslims were to succeed in establishing their own rule in Moscow, then Russian culture, Russians as a people and Russia itself would cease to exist. And because that danger is not unthinkable, she is calling for a struggle against the Islamic threat to the Christian world.

After Constantinople, the Second Rome and the last remaining vestige of the Roman Empire, was overrun by Muslims in the 15th century, Moscow became the Third Rome. Will the Third Rome fall to Muslims in the 21st century, just as the Second Rome did in the 15th? Or will the Russian people rise to the occasion and defeat the threat, as they have done in the past?

13 thoughts on “Will the Third Rome Fall to Islam?

  1. If talking Russia, then we are talking demographics. Veteran Russia analyst Paul Goble believes that Russia will have a muslim majority in 30 years.

    Unless of course, the alarming growth of illegal immigrants from China offsets that. Heh.

  2. I have little faith in Russia. Given the condition of the Society as a whole- the declining birthrate, the alcoholism, the disease- I think that Russia is suffering from the same collapse of confidence as the rest of Europe.

    Like so much of Europe though (at least the large states), if the people do wake up to the menace, then I wouldn’t want to be a Muslim there. An angry Russian state is about as charming as an angry German one.

  3. Russia isn’t the only power that’s in denial and short-sighted. Yes, they support Iran but we give Pakistan F-15s which could be used against India. We’ve been over-critical of Russia concerning Chechnya and as Fjordman’s points out took the Muslim side in the Balkans. This isn’t to say that Russia is pristine in Chechnya and the Serb dictator wasn’t a fascist tyrant shaming his nation. However, our ignorance means we blunder into a situation even though our intensions are honorable. We tend to be short-sighted as well.

    As usual Fjordman helps the discussion by giving us the historical big-picture. The problem of Christian Orthodoxy is interesting. Who can forget the story of the Tsar, Peter the Great, shocked by his travels to the West and his efforts to modernize Russia? The ritualistic and dogmatic nature of Orthodoxy (which hasn’t had a major ecumenical council in over 1000 years) is exemplified by major sectarian disputes over whether one uses two or three fingers when making the sign of the cross!

    The ritualistic and ossified nature of Orthodoxy reminds me of Islam circa 1900. Indeed, the ease in which the Communists brushed aside Orthodoxy reminds me of the ease in which Ataturk pushed aside Islam. And where was the most vibrant opposition to Communism? Catholic Poland! Anecdotally, of my 20 cousins, only 1 remains in the Orthodox faith. (My father enjoyed the radio sermons of Norman Vincent Peale and never attended Church once I refused to go.)

    No doubt Trifkovic would disagree with everything above. Still, I worry about Russia. But I worry about our denial also.

  4. Well, we’ll find out over the course of the next 5-10 years which way this thing is going to turn out. Either the Russkies enact a plan to ensure their survival or they begin the unraveling of their society in earnest as the forces aligned against them gain strength in numbers.

  5. Russia’s position re: the West is somewhat easier to understand when you consider demography and recent geopolitics. Russia’s male life expectancy is declining rapidly, as is its population. Its economy would be a basket case but for oil prices, which can head down just as rapidly as up. Its Islamic and Chinese neighbors are beginning to stretch their wings, and Russia can’t help but be nervous.

    And the obsession with expanding NATO clear to the edge of Russia cannot help but give them pause. People in DC sometimes talk with a straight face of Ukraine or Georgia becoming members. Can you imagine? The military of the U.S. being treaty-bound to defend Georgia?

    President Putin is all the bad things the Western press says he is. He is an autocratic thug, and it may or may not be true that the Russians get masochistic comfort from the strong man. But he is in a very tough geopolitical/demographic position right now, and it is hard to see how he could’ve played his (oil prices aside) very weak hand any better.

  6. As far as the Russian x Muslim problem is concerned, I think there are a few things that the West needs to know.

    First, the high percentage of “Muslim” population in Russia is not in reality as scary as it looks like. Three generations of communist rule have pushed religiosity out of the minds of the people, except for remote and unaccessible regions like the Caucasus. The most populous “Muslim” nationalities of Russia, like the Tatars, are, by and large, “cultural” Muslims who do not eat pork, but who visit the mosque at best twice a year. Actually, a lot of Russian “Muslims” are as alcoholic as their Russian neighbours. There is a shortage of raving salafists and jihadis, and even of observant Muslims per se, in Russia, except for some of the (less numerous) North Caucasus nations.

    Of course, the Imams will inflate the numbers so that they look important, but the reality is that most of Russian “Muslims” are rather apostates who do not care a fig’s leaf about what the clerics say. We shouldn’t take the bait of the Imam propaganda; their words are stronger than their position, as always.

    Second, the Russians are not Western people really. Their worldview is grim and fatalistic, and their everyday life is mixed with some violence. Extreme nationalist groups like the “Cossacks” regularly intimidate foreign-looking people, especially Islamic-looking ones; the intensity of the violence depends on region, but is widespread anyway. (I am not aware of the recent developments. The situation that I describe is cca 2003). Also, a general disdain for an individual’s life is a rigid part of Russian culture (“Nas mnogo” = “We are numerous”).

    In the 90s, the Russians were depressed and in low spirits, because they waited for a new tsar. Now they found, in the person of Putin. I do not think that Putin will allow Islam to take any significant place in Russian society; he will probably play the Islamic card in dealing with foreign nations like Iran or the EU, but he likes to be the single person in power in Russia, and no autocrat of Putins type would tolerate a fifth-column-like ideology to take some important foothold in the society that he rules.

    And as for Russian attitude: if the s*** really hits the fan, the Muslims, both fundamentalist and secular, will have hard time surviving the pogroms. The Russian mob is ruthless, and the local politicians will enrage the mob further to gain some political scores.

  7. Spaniards didnt exulsed muslins from their peninsula!!!Because spain doesnt have any sort of property right on Iberian Peninsula!!!They just ocupied A PART OF THAT PENINSULA!If I didnt forget my history lessons, Portugal´s kingdom expulsed muslins(conquer of Algarve-south of Portugal) almost TWO HUNDRED YEARS BEFORE SPAIN!The most ferocius Kingdom in Iberian Peninsula, was the portuguese.Dont forget that Portugal was the first country to conquer musmim land: tHE INVASION OF MORROCO NORDERN CITIES, LIKE CEUTA THAT IS TODAY UNDER SAPANISH AUTORITHY.
    So, what you wanted to say was: When the unified kngdom of Castille and Navarra conquered southeastern iberan peninsula.
    Iberian Peninsula is a little bit more than Spain…


    Learn the History, and not the propaganda.

    Don´t be stupid!
    In Roman times, the so called Hispania was a single region divided into 2 administrative parts and surprise! there wasn´t Portugal.

    The Moors of the land now known as Portugal were expelled by Galicia and Castilla kings.

    Portugal is nothing but the son (maybe a bastard one) of Galicia.
    They didn´t exist in the early Middle Age.
    The Reconquista was from the North to the South, and think about where is the North of Portugal.
    Even the Portuguese language is very very similar to Galician language.

    Remember, Portugal is independent only from 1640, and because they attacked while Philip IV (if I´m not wrong) was busy withmany wars in Europe and in Spain too.

    Remember the Orange’s war too.

  9. Baron, are you calling for Christian aggression against Muslims? That’s exactly Western/Protestant understanding of Christianity… Orthodox Christianity and Russian National Idea is opposite. To help the weak and oppose aggression

  10. AndreyAA —

    First of all, look at the top of this post and notice that it was written by Fjordman, not me.

    Secondly, I don’t advocate any kind of aggression. I advocate a complete cessation of mass Third World immigration, an enforcement of the borders, and a vigorous and unapologetic defense of our own culture and its values.

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