Anestos Canelides returns with a brief survey of the early conquests of Islam, which resemble all too well the modern depredations of the Islamic State.
ISIS: The Modern Islamic Scourge
History Repeats Itself
by Anestos Canelides
In the shallow words of our Commander-in-Chief Barack Hussein Obama, the Islamic State (or ISIL, or ISIS) is not Islamic, and Islam does not condone the killing of innocents.
These statements are historically false. Regardless of whether there are peaceful Muslims, today’s ISIS is a repeat of Islamic violence beginning with its early conquests of the infidel world. Either Obama is in denial or he is living in a fantasy land. He is simply placating Muslims and his delusional so-called liberal base, which believes criticism of Islam equals “racism” and “hate speech”. The horrible atrocities ISIS is committing against innocent Christians, Muslims and other religious groups are well-known from news reports. These atrocities include: murder, rape, destruction of churches, forced conversion, and slavery.
Ecclesiastes proclaims there is nothing new under the sun. This is all too apparent with the violent atrocities being committed by these savages today.
In The Legacy of Jihad, Andrew Bostom has complied sources that provide accounts of the barbaric cruelty brought upon the Christians of the Middle East during the Arab Islamic Invasion of that region during the 7th century. About thirty years after Mohammad’s death Islam underwent a tremendous expansion into the former Byzantine Empire (Roman). Islam had rapidly conquered all of what is now Saudi Arabia and territory that had been in Roman-Greco hands since the conquests of Alexander the Great.
The events described in “Greek Christian and other accounts of the Muslim Conquest of the Near East” by Demetrios Constantelos provide examples, through eyewitness accounts, that the 7th-century Islamic invasion of Syria and Egypt was no less savage than the atrocities ISIS commits today. ISIS is indeed acting according to the laws of Islamic war.
The author of Ecclesiastes is correct: nothing is new under the sun.
The conquest of Christian lands was often associated with eschatological or “end of days” events, as indicated in the accounts of Muslim invaders. They were described as “wild and untamed beasts”, “bloodthirsty” “beastly” and “barbaric”. (The Greeks often used the term barbarian for their enemies or non-Christians, and pre-Islamic Arab raids were written about in 5th- and 6th-century manuscripts.)
It is recorded in the narrations of St. Nilos that these Arab tribes were not known for trade or agriculture, but were nomadic, and pursued “robbery and warfare” in a “beastly and bloodthirsty” manner.
The Islamic jihads against Christians lands in the Middle East were not just economic and political, but also a holy war against Christianity itself. The Greek writers condemned the Arabs, who had not only destroyed Greek cities but brought upon them a new form of tyranny known as Islam. The Arabs were especially cruel to Christians who were in communion with Constantinople. “The Greek sources indicate that the Arabs enjoyed a very poor reputation amongst the Greeks.”
A sermon by the patriarch Sophronios delivered in 634 AD clearly describes the barbarity of these Islamic invaders: “the sword of the Saracens” is “beastly and barbarous……filled with every diabolic savagery.”
The Arab conquest of that region between 632 to 637 appears to have been very barbaric, according to the testimony of Sophronios delivered in a sermon in the Church of the Theotokos in Jerusalem in 637 AD, in which he describes the wanton destruction brought by these invaders. They were “villainous and God-hating Saracens,” who run through places and capture cities, who reap and destroy the crops of the field, who burn down towns and set churches on fire.
The pseudo-apocalypse further demonstrates that the fierce barbaric acts by Arabs in the 7th century were no different from what ISIS is doing today:
The barbarians who conquered brutally and governed tyrannically were not human but sons of the desert, corrupted, bringing dissolution, personifying hate. They had no respect for old age, orphans, the poor, pregnant women or priests, whose holy altars they defiled.
“Other such horrors are described in the apocalypse.”
The question the author asks for of their rapacious and barbarous acts: Why has God allowed this calamity to fall on the Christians? He answers himself by saying that not all who call themselves Christians are truly Christian. He implies that God allows such evil in order that the true Christians would be separated from the unbelievers — many of whom would convert to Islam. Another author, Antonios, testifies that the invaders put several monks to death.
St. Maximos the Confessor describes the Arab Muslims as barbarous people who overran the land as if it was their own. He says, “They have the form of men, but they behave like wild and untamed beasts.”
John of Nikiu talks about invasions of Egypt as being merciless and brutal. Some submitted to the Arabs and paid the tribute called the jizyah, or so-called protection tax. Many Coptic Christians beseeched God for deliverance, regarding the yoke of Islam as a tremendous burden. A number of Greeks and Copts refused to surrender and fought the Arabs. They saw the yoke of Islam as being heavier than the yoke the children of Israel had to bear.
The Arabs were particularly brutal towards towns and forts that had resisted them. Caesarea in Palestine was captured after a seven-year siege, and 7,000 Greeks were subsequently slaughtered. It is recorded that after returning from an invasion of the District of Isauria, the Arabs came back to Damascus with 5,000 slaves.
Over time the persecution of Christians would vary according to which Sultan was in power. The slaughter of Christians, Jews, and others spread as the Muslims conquered more lands.
History shows all too clearly that Islam has not changed, and that ISIS has acted in accordance with the same ideology that their Arab forbears adhered to. The fruit does not fall far from the tree.
Conclusion: Islam is not a “religion of peace”.
Other related topics:
- Bostom, Andrew The Legacy of Jihad: Greek Christian and other accounts of the Muslim Conquests of the Near East. New York, Prometheus Books, 2005, 390
Legacy of Jihad, related chapters:
Jihad in the cause of God by Sayyid Qutb
The Law of War by Clement Huart
Jihad: An Introduction by Rudolph Peters
For previous essays by Anestos Canelides, see the Anestos Canelides Archives.