Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Cruise Through History: Islam, the West and the Rest of the World

Disclosure: I am of the opinion that Christianity and Islam are two of the most violent religions that ever existed in human history and largely because whatever good they may have once represented has been utterly perverted by Koranic literalism, Biblical literalism, historical revisionism and the rabid politicization of God and religion.  Christianity and Islam do not serve the interests of the individual, just the state and its totalitarian anti-liberty goals.   Can we ever live together in peace, harmony, liberty and religious tolerance? The answer is a resounding NO until US foreign policy changes (America stops invading, occupying and bombing Muslim nations and murdering Muslims) and Islam itself experiences a profound enlightenment and renaissance similar to what the western world experienced. had an interesting article:

Soldier Who Taught ‘Total War’ Against Islam Threatens to Sue Top Military Officer 
The Army officer who once taught that the U.S. ought to consider “Hiroshima tactics” for a “total war” on Islam has put America’s top general on notice for a possible lawsuit. Lt. Col. Matthew Dooley is accusing the government of concealing “the truth about Islam” at a time when proponents of his view of an inevitable clash between Islam and the West have succeeded at fanning precisely those flames.

On Thursday, attorneys for Dooley told Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey that Dooley is considering “a potential civil action,” said Marine Col. David Lapan, a spokesman for Dempsey. The written notice does not indicate that they’ve actually filed a lawsuit against Dempsey.

But Dooley’s lawyers, who have defended one of the most prominent anti-Islam voices in the United States, aren’t just flirting with legal action against the chairman of the Joint Chiefs. They’re launching a PR strike as well. A press release announcing that Dooley has retained them accuses Dempsey of compromising “the final bastion of America’s defense against Islamic jihad and sharia, the Pentagon” to “the enemy.” And it’s language that comes as Americans worry about Islamic radicals targeting U.S. embassies in the Middle East.
Many Americans, especially of the Evangelical neocon variety who vote Republican, embrace the script that Islam is so dangerous that it poses a mortal threat to Christianity and, therefore, must be annihilated and eradicated.  Such folks have been sarcastically dubbed "Warvangelicals", although advocating for mass human genocide falls way outside the parameters of mere sarcasm.

There can be no question that Islam and Christianity have butted heads and locked horns throughout history, a history that indeed dramatically changed the course of human civilization.  Still, one would have to be utterly delusional to accept that Islam in any way poses a threat to America. Nevertheless, it's important to take a short cruise through Islamic history because Islam remains very much a paradox and for justifiable reasons.  Islam is a religion, a culture and a political entity all wrapped up into a very powerful theocracy that has experienced profound problems adapting to the modern world through embracing liberty.

As most Americans are learning, Islam is a difficult religion and culture to comprehend, a situation that is vastly complicated by the fact that most Americans have never bothered to research it, are frustrated by it and are inclined to relegate it to the same heap containing the rest of the world’s religions. Islam, however, is not a religion in the conventional sense, at least not in the context of the western understanding of human liberty, western civilization, classic liberalism and its own Judeo-Christian heritage.

Judaism, Christianity and Islam are all religions that were birthed in the Middle East by the same ancient Arab Bedouin people at different times - Judaism 4,000 years ago, Christianity 2,000 years ago and Islam 1,400 years ago.  Jesus was both a practicing Jew and an Arab.  But all three religions took on differing cultural, political, ideological and theological characteristics as they busted out of the Middle East and spread throughout the world including Africa, Europe, Asia and eventually America.  The Jews, unfortunately, spent many years escaping both Christian and Muslim persecution and pogroms, although it's well documented that the Christian persecution of Jews was far more intense, severe and ongoing than Muslim persecution of Jews.

It all goes back to Biblical Abraham, his wife Sarah and his mistress Hagar. The barren Sarah was distressed that she could not conceive and instructed her husband to mate with her handmaiden (slave) Hagar. Hagar conceived and birthed Ismael, Abraham's first born child and son. Eventually Sarah did conceive and produced Issac who found himself on a slab waiting to be ritually sacrificed to God by the hand of his own father until God intervened and stopped Abraham from plunging a dagger into the living body of his only legitimate son.

Herein lies a major rift between Jews/Christians and Islam. Muslims believe that they are the only legitimate heirs of Abraham because Ishmael was Abraham's first born son. Ishmael married and supposedly produced 12 sons who fathered the Ishmaelites that spawned the Arab race according to Muslim beliefs. The Old Testament heavily focuses on Issac who married Rebekah and had two sons, Esau and Jacob. It was Jacob who supposedly fathered 12 sons and tribes that became known as the Israelites or the 12 tribes of Israel, here.

The Old Testament Book of Genesis acknowledges the existence of Ishmael and that he had 12 sons whose names are mentioned in Genesis.

Difficult as it is to believe that the world is still exploding and waging wars over a man named Abraham who lived 4,000 years ago during the Bronze Age, it's true, at least from the purely religious perspective.  However, it's also true that all the religious strife on the planet cannot be attributed solely to theological factors and that history, empire and geo-politics continue to play a significant role in the unfolding drama.

In America, we have many different religions and while Christianity is dominant by a wide margin, we have so many brands of Christianity that Americans have actually heard one brand of Christianity accusing another brand of being pagan, not being a true Christian and even insults as vicious as the anti-Christ have been hurled at one sect by another sect. Some Evangelicals call the Pope the Whore of Babylon and the Harlot of the Seven Hills.  Welcome to America where hurling insults at another persons religion is practically a national sport.

Despite our constitutional guaranty of religious freedom, there are those who inhabit our shores who abhor such concepts but since no single religion is sufficient in numerical strength to take over the country, we remain begrudgingly tolerant. Most assuredly, one of the great things about America is its rich kaleidoscope of Christian religious diversity and our acquired acceptance of tolerance and respect for each others religions, be they Christian or non-Christian. A person’s religion is increasingly unimportant, as it should be. As we have graduated from the WASP concept as the sole and sacred religion of national respectability to voting a Roman Catholic (JFK) into the highest office in the land, we are increasingly evolving into a real versus theoretical model of religious tolerance. Although it’s had some historical bumps, like anti-Semitism and anti-Catholicism, our system works with a minimum of ugly hate inspired episodes.

Astoundingly but not shocking, no Muslims in America were even murdered or attacked after 9/11 and Americans tried mightily not to persecute or blame American Muslims for 9/11 because they understood that 9/11 was an act of terrorism that Americans Muslims were not a party to.  Contrast the American reaction to 9/11, where 3,000 folks died, to Muslims going on murderous rampages in reaction to a stupid film alleged to insult Islam or the Danish cartoon fiasco.  Clearly, somebody has a severe tolerance problem and it isn't tolerance obsessed westerners.  While many apologists for Islam blame poverty for the incendiary rise of Muslim violence and intolerance, this premise falls flat in light of fact that many human societies are severely impoverished and these folks don't embark on murderous rages.

Islam does not appear to be anywhere near as diverse as Christianity or Judaism with regard to the number of sects and divergent belief systems within the same religion.  Moreover, the acute and glaring religious intolerance of Muslims toward non-Muslims remains extremely problematic as well as historical.  It’s also important to note that most Christians and Jews today live in free and democratic societies throughout the world while most Muslims do not reside in free nations but dictatorships and theocracies. Such intellectual imprisonment does not promote or encourage freedom of thought, freedom from religion, freedom to challenge enforced state sponsored religion, freedom to nurture a splinter group that starts a more tolerant version of Islam or even the legal right to renounce Islam and switch religions or become an atheist. Even more horrifying is that Islam remains peculiarly intolerant as the death penalty has been known to be imposed for the crime of abandoning Islam as conversion to another religion is strictly forbidden if one happens to be a Muslim in a nation under Islamic law.

Muslim religious intolerance has been institutionalized. In Saudi Arabia, all religions except Islam are banned as is the Bible.  Yet, America allows the Saudis to fund the expansion of Islam and mosques on US soil.  In many ways, Islam is the only state sponsored religion in America.  Muslim nations continue to viciously persecute religious minorities. The Coptic Christians in Egypt have suffered profound Muslim persecution. But Muslim religious persecution isn't necessarily restricted to Muslim vs. non-Muslim. Sunni and Shiite Muslims have been historical enemies for a very long time and Iraq continues to explode with Sunni vs. Shiite violence in a nation where the Sunni's ruthlessly oppressed the Shiite majority (about 75% of the population) and minority Kurds until the idiotic US invasion transferred political power to the majority.  Ancient resentments run deep and possess a strong tribal pulse to exact vengeance to right a perceived historical wrong.

About 80% of the world's Muslims are Sunni, about 10-15% are Shiite and the remaining are either Sufi (a benign spiritual form of Islam) or a minor off brand of Islam such as Druze (mostly in Lebanon) or Alewite (mostly Syrian). Most of the Shiite population resides in Iran and Iraq although Shiite Muslims also reside in many other nations.  Some areas in America have strong Shiite populations as a result of the mass exodus of Iranian Shiites fleeing the violence of the Ayatollah Khomeini after Iran's Islamic Revolution that is attributable to the CIA.

Most Americans remain clueless when it comes to understanding the intensity of the Sunni-Shiite feud.  In fact, the Shiites fear their Sunni neighbors far more than they fear the crazy US and its insane foreign policy.  It's probably fair to say that the US has consistently sided with the Sunni Muslims at the expense of Shiite Muslims and for, literally, very oily reasons.  Neither Iranian nor Shiite fingerprints are on any acts of Islamist terror, and that honor resides exclusively with the Sunni Wahhabist strain of Islam, also known as the Salafists.  Major acts of Islamist terror include 9/11, the bombing of the USS Cole, the bombing of 2 US African Embassies, the Madrid bombings, the London bombings, the Bali bombings, the Mumbai bombings and much more.  These are all acts attributable to Wahhabist and/or Salafist strains of Islam and the ideology is theologically and intellectually concentrated on the Arabian Peninsula.

Islam hasn’t changed much over a 1400-year-old history insofar as the interpretation and application of its theology is concerned. Conversely, Christianity and Judaism have endured cataclysmic upheavals. If one could imagine the Roman Empire headquartered in Constantinople (where early Christianity expanded under the rule of Constantine) continuing to conquer lands and converting those inhabitants to the new religion of the empire, then one gets a much clearer vision of Islam. There would have been no major schisms (Western vs. Eastern Christianity), not to mention thousands of subsequent and more divisive schisms with the creation of Protestantism, and today everyone who was Christian would be Orthodox Christian and subservient to a theocratic Constantinople.  Yes, there is the Western Roman Catholic Church headquartered in Rome but until Protestantism arrived, Christians were either Eastern Orthodox or Roman Catholic and the differences between the two are largely east-west cultural modifications.  The Protestant Reformation is one of the great treasures of western civilization because it resulted in the rise of Humanism, human rights, natural rights, liberty and the decline of ecclesiastical absolutism.

Islam as a dominate global power has endured a horrific decline, particularly since the end of WW I that resulted in the demise of Islam's last great empire, the Ottoman Empire. Theologically, Islam divides the world into only two categories, Dar al-Islam (house of Islam) and Dar al-Harb (house of war). Since Islam considers itself the “one true religion”, all other religions are considered Satanic, deviant, infidel and/or corrupted.  Many critics of Islam believe that Islam is possessed with a theological mandate to conquer and Islamize the earth; however, this belief is not universally shared by all practicing Muslims. Still, the Islamic religious mandate to create a global state of “Dar al-Harb” or war until Islamization is achieved is a recurring theme that propels the religious motivations of radical Muslims, especially of the Salifist or Wahhabist variety.

However, it's critically important to note that Islam is not currently and has not been on a military mission to engage in Dar al-Harb in the modern era and for obvious reasons that include a lack of military superiority.  While there are many Muslims who are quite content residing in western nations and who have embraced western style liberty and tolerance, Muslims in predominantly Muslim nations generally just want America to butt out of their business and their nations.  It's a valid request that should be a moral imperative for America and American foreign policy.

Islam may have been born on the Arabian Peninsula but the spread of Islam was accomplished by conquering, primarily, Christian and Hindu lands. As Islam conquered Hindu India, Christian North Africa, the Christian Iberian Peninsula, Christian Syria, the Jewish/Christian Holy Land, Christian Greece, the Christian Balkans, Christian Sicily, Christian Cyprus, Christian Armenia, Christian Hungary and parts of Christian Poland, Christian Russia, Christian Austria, and many other Christian areas, Islam ruled over Christians, Jews and Hindus for a very long time.

Besides ruling over the peoples it conquered, plundered and subjugated, the religion of Islam spread as peoples converted to avoid persecution and the infidel tax. From the time Islam busted out of the Arabian Peninsula until the 17th century, an entire millennium, Islam militarily expanded and ruled most of the known civilized world. During the 16th and 17th centuries, Islamic power was finally challenged as Christian Europeans and various Orthodox Christian nations successfully fought the rising tide of Islam. In 732, the Battle of Tours halted Islamic expansion into France.  In 1571, Pope Pius V initiated the great sea Battle of Lepanto against Ottoman Muslim domination of the Mediterranean. The Holy League, consisting of Spain, Venice and Genoa, defeated the Ottoman navy. The victory did not noticeably weaken the Turkish Empire but it did succeed in limiting Muslim navel power in the Mediterranean and eventually many other revolts against Islam resulted in extricating many Christians from Muslim rule. The 1683 defeat of Ottoman armies at the gates of Vienna was a critical history altering event. The rubble of the collapsed Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I left Islam reeling, without a Caliphate, without an empire and and without power.

What caused the Christian western world to rise up against Islam?  Religious oppression was definitely a factor but the west was also in a state of cultural, political and religious change attributable to challenging absolute authoritarian power and the beginning of the fall of absolute monarchs and ecclesiastical powers.  Clearly, the Muslim world failed to take notice of the monumental changes and achievements that had been occurring throughout the Christian world. Islam has always considered itself the epitome of human civilization in comparison to the barbarian Christians. When Islam was forced to digest the bitter pill that it had been superseded by another civilization with the power and will to resist Islam, Islam itself was violently thrust into turmoil. For the first time in Islamic history, Muslims were the failures. Christians were the achievers.

Why? The European Renaissance and Enlightenment laid the foundation for human liberty by challenging medieval norms including theological, cultural and political institutions.  More specifically, westerners embraced the path of human rights and human liberty as the rise of the sovereign man directly challenged civil and religious authority.  The Protestant Reformation directly challenged Papal power and its long history of contemptible corruption.

Islam was faced with the unfathomable task of ascertaining the reasons for its agonizing decline and glaring failures. Today, the world’s Muslims wallow in misery, feel powerless, impotent, deficient, humiliated, and abused and, of course, Islam adamantly refuses to subject itself to much needed scrutiny and critical analysis that can only arise from various reformation movements. Instead, Islam has conveniently seized upon the ludicrous notion of blaming the West for its ills and problems. In keeping with its own destiny of denial, Islam has been stuck with nothing but the distant memories of its long gone but glorious days of its extraordinary militarily induced empires that commenced in the 7th century and engulfed and subjugated, primarily, the Christian and Hindu worlds.

As modern Islamic religious and political leaders bombard the already vulnerable and pliable minds of Muslims with the venomous theory that the West, America, Christianity and Judaism are the causes of their misery, it's a most convenient strategy that shifts blame away from Islam, Islamic institutions, interpretations of Islamic theology and Islamic governance. Yet, nearly modern day Islamic nation is a failed, tyrannical and intolerant nation state to varying degrees.  Moreover, as today’s Muslims come face to face with the modern world and have been forced to bear witness to their own very real failures and suffering, modern Islam has retreated to an ancient and unobtainable vision of past Islamic glory and conquest. The solutions to Islam's problems do not lie in opining for its past.   Westerners tend to live for the present and the future while Muslims live for a reincarnation of the past because it's their reference point and connection to history.

The single most significant deterrent to Islam’s place of honor and respect in the modern world as a religion, culture and  political/social entity is its inherent repugnance toward the separation of mosque and state, as well as a raging but violent intolerance of all things non-Islamic.  These are not conditions for peaceful co-existence with anybody, least of all non-Muslims.

Islamic law, also known as Shariah law, is hugely problematic in the modern world because it's based on the Koran and a system of justice prevalent in Middle East at the time Islam was born as a religion..  Islamic law more closely parallels Old Testament law.  Barbarous as Old Testament law is, most Christians and Jews reject it today as incompatible with the prevailing culture and modern values.  Among other things, Islamic law in some nations provides for the stoning to death of a women for adultery, the chopping off of limbs for theft (sometimes the right hand and the left foot or cross amputation), no legal rights for women, death for blasphemy (insulting Islam or changing religions) and a host of other savage and barbaric practices largely non-existent anywhere on the planet except within Islamic societies. Islam also leads the world in female circumcisions although the practice isn't even mandated by the Koran.

What precisely is a Muslim? The obvious answer is one who practices the religion of Islam. Islam came into being in the year 611 when Muhammad, the Prophet, claims to have received divine revelations from the Angel Gabriel. At that time, Christianity had been around about 600 years and Judaism about 2400 years, Christianity commencing with the birth of Jesus and Judaism commencing with Abraham, considered the father of monotheism. Since most people residing in the Arabian peninsula at that time were pagan and worshiped many, many gods, Christianity and Judaism were somewhat unique because they were monotheistic - belief in one God.  Still, the Arabian Peninsula was awash with religious tolerance.   The Arab residents of the pre-Islamic Arabian Peninsula were primarily pagans and referred to their monotheistic neighbors as people of the book because they had their very own sacred scriptures.

The origins of the Koran, Islam’s sacred scripture, are disputable. The Prophet was illiterate and many people simply memorized his sayings and utterances. It wasn’t until many years after his death that a Caliph attempted to codify the utterances of the Prophet into what is now known as the Koran. This information was derived from hearsay. Additionally, there were many early versions of the Koran and, like Jewish and Christian scriptures, very little of scriptural antiquities have survived.  If one is to allege that the origins of Islam and its scriptures are dubious, one would also have to assert the same premise relative to the validity of the sacred scriptures of Jews and Christians.

The Koran contains verses that are deemed violent and militaristic. It's also true such verses in the Koran are frequently cited by radical Islamists as a battle cry to raise the faithful to jihad.  But it's also true that the Bible  contains equally incendiary verses.

Should the Bible and Koran be banned for Incitement and Hate Speech?
"I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them" (Quran 8:12)

"And the Jews say: Ezra is the son of Allah; and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah destroy them; how they are turned away!" (Quran 9:30)

"If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them."(Leviticus 20:13 KJV)

"Anyone who is captured will be run through with a sword. Their little children will be dashed to death right before their eyes. Their homes will be sacked and their wives raped by the attacking hordes. For I will stir up the Medes against Babylon, and no amount of silver or gold will buy them off. The attacking armies will shoot down the young people with arrows. They will have no mercy on helpless babies and will show no compassion for the children." (Isaiah 13:15-18 NLT)
Frankly, there is no way to ascertain if the Prophet Mohammad ever said much of what has been attributed to him.  While believers of all religions like to believe that their religious text was indeed divinely delivered directly by God or his earthy representative, much of what constitutes any religious text is disputable.  To this day, Jewish, Christian and Muslim theologians continue to debate the meaning of their respective religious texts and with varying interpretations.  Furthermore, religion has been twisted and used to justify genocide, wars, empire and the geo-political aspiration of murderous tyrants.  No religion is exempt from the manifestations of its own inhumanity, intolerance and evil.

Since the Prophet was neither Jewish nor Christian, he sought to impose his own version of a monotheistic faith. During the early years of Islam, Muhammad had a very difficult time. He was kicked out of Mecca because his messages were apparently not welcomed and he then fled to Medina where he picked up more followers. The flight to Medina is a very significant event in Islamic history. Mecca was a place of worship for the pagans of Arabia even before Islam; they worshiped at the Kaaba which is a historically pagan shrine that evidently contains a black rock. Although the rock is believed to be a meteorite that crashed there, the Prophet evidently decided that the rock was gifted to Abraham by the Angel Gabriel. In any event, pre-Islamic pagan Arab people flocked to Mecca to worship their gods, all of them.

During the life of Muhammad, the Arabian Peninsula was a violent place, as were a lot of places on earth during the 7th century. Survival absolutely depended on strong tribal unity. As a strong tribal leader, the Prophet was a militant nation builder who successfully conquered and united Arabian tribes under the banner of Islam.

The word “Islam” translates to the word surrender. Some critics of Islam have argued that the Muslim prayer ritual of prostration on the knees with the forehead touching the ground repetitively actually represents a physical prostration and surrender to the Prophet as a successful conqueror and not a Prophet of God.  Still, Muslims who pray believe they are praying to Allah, Arabic for God.

By all accounts, the Prophet Mohammad was a progressive trailblazer for the times.  He abolished the appalling practice of female infanticide (burying baby girls alive) and strengthened property and inheritance rights for women during an epoch in history where rights for women were practically non-existent.  Unfortunately, the Prophet also led armies and murdered his enemies.

The most defining characteristic of Islam is that Islam claims to be not only the successor religion to Judaism and Christianity but that the Prophet Mohammad is the absolute last prophet sent by God. Supposedly, Jews and Christians botched the messages of their prophets and God sent Mohammad as the final authority. The fact that a religion considers itself superior to other religions isn't an issue so long as the adherents of such religions are respectful and tolerant of all others religions, as well as the rights and property of others. However, religious intolerance has always been a profoundly significant issue which manifests itself most harshly in Muslim societies.

Bedouin life on the Arabian Peninsula often involved tribal warfare as well as the raiding and robbing the caravans and property of other tribes. As the Prophet Mohammad unified the tribes and outlawed robbing each other, this raised a dilemma.  Karen Armstrong, an ex-Roman Catholic nun, wrote many books on Islam and Christianity.  Although Armstrong has been dubbed an apologist for Islam and even accused of being its advocate, my interpretation of her books is that while she may be protective of Islam as she struggles to understand all religions, Armstrong is quite blunt when it comes to the real reason Islam busted out of the Arabian Peninsula on a mission of conquest and plunder.  Armstrong does acknowledge that Islam was an Empire built by the sword, even though the Prophet Mohammad never left the Arabian Peninsula to wage wars against non-Muslims.   Armstrong succinctly sums up the plunder aspect of Islam after the Prophet's death.
There was nothing religious about these campaigns, and Umar [the Prophet’s successor and the second Caliph] did not believe that he had a divine mandate to conquer the world. The objective of Umar and his warriors was entirely pragmatic: they wanted plunder and a common activity that would preserve the unity of the ummah. For centuries, the Arabs had tried to raid richer settled lands beyond the peninsula.. ...Later, when the Muslims had established their great empire, Islamic law would give a religious interpretation of this conquest, dividing the world into the Dar al-Islam (the House of Islam), which was in perpetual conflict with the Dar al-Harb (the House of War).
The simple truth is that conquest for plunder is not unusual, history is indeed full of it and it's still going on these days.  Tragically, militant America and its psychopathic propensity for violence has a monopoly on militaristic power, something we Americans ignore and justify with false but fuzzy notions about spreading democracy at the point of a gun.  Moreover, conquest in the name of a deity is not unusual and is quite common throughout history.  What is unusual is how amazingly successful Islam was with its militant conquest plunder machine.  The Arab warriors steamrolled out of the Arabian Peninsula and rapidly conquered North Africa, including Egypt, most of the Middle East and then expanded by boat to Christian Spain, many Christians islands in the Mediterranean until Islam controlled damn near everything in the known world between Gibraltar and the Hindus River.  A chronology of Arab and Islamic conquests is here.

Islam also managed to pick up some extraordinary cities, cities that justifiably were worthy of the term that described the Middle East as the cradle of civilization.  It truly was.  Baghdad, Cairo, and many Persian and other Middle East cities were great centers of scholarship and learning.  The greatness of the cradle of civilization lied the diversity of the people that embraced the best of Roman, Greek and Persian advances in science, technology and culture.

In many ways, it could be argued that Islam definitely had a running start on human civilization and progress but simply blew it. As the Middle East was rising, Europe was a mess of feuding barbarians with no great cities or civilizations, except for the defunct Roman and Greek civilizations.  But the barbarian Christian world in Europe started to rapidly transform itself.  Meanwhile, the Turks who were descended from the Huns became a formidable military force that ruthlessly conquered everything in its path, here, in their westward expansion.

Eventually, the Turks converted to Islam and defeated the Arabs, hence the rise of the Ottoman Empire, here.  In 1453 the Turks conquered the great Christian city of Constantinople (now Istanbul) and ended the Christian Byzantine Empire that had existed for about 1,000 years, though it was in great decline.  The Ottomans continued their military conquests and expansions under the banner of Islam.  The Christian world was reeling as one Christian nation after another fell to Islam and the threats from invading Muslim armies were constant.

However, the situation started to reverse itself, largely because of the rise of Christian sea power.  While the Arabs had a great seafaring history, the Ottoman Turks were a land cavalry and never could command control of the seas all that well.  Christian sea power defeated the Ottoman Turks at the battle of Lepanto  in 1571, here.
In war, whether it has lasted for a few years or recurs over centuries, one battle can be the turning point. October 7th, 1571, the Battle of Lepanto, was a major turning point in the ongoing conflicts between Europe and the Ottoman Empire.

Prior to the Battle of Lepanto, confrontation between Europe and Islam had existed since the 7th century, and increased with the emergence of the Ottoman Empire, a powerful and well organized state system, at the end of the 13th century. The Ottoman Empire grew, and was able to conquer more countries, and even the once-impenetrable Constantinople. Over these centuries, Europe and England were largely focused on internal problems, such as the Hundred Years War, the Black Death, and the Protestant revolt and resulting schism. These problems and Europe’s preoccupation with them (and therefore somewhat halfhearted interest in the advances of the Ottoman Empire) left them open and vulnerable to attack. While individual countries and cities rose up to try to resist the Ottoman Empire when they arrived on their shores or at their walls, there was not a large, organized effort of all of Europe to match the scale of the ambitious Ottomans.

In the 1560s, the Ottomans began their assault on the Christian Mediterranean and quickly conquered most of the eastern islands. They threatened to next attack Venice and Rome, the result of which could have been the collapse of Christian Europe. Pope St. Pius V saw the impending danger and in 1570 called on the leaders of the West to unite against the force that was a threat to them all. But the request was in vain. Queen Elizabeth in England was too preoccupied with her rivalry with Spain, France was a sometime-ally of the Turks and was at the time under the reign of a sickly and instable Charles IX, and Phillip II of Spain was busy with his new American empire.

Phillip II did, however, respond to the papal summons by sending his half brother, Don Juan of Austria, and dozens of ships. With volunteers from Mediterranean countries, in 1571 Don Juan was able to gather together a fleet of about 208 ships – about 80 fewer than the Turkish fleet. The main contributors were the Papal States, Spain, Venice, and some other Italian states; these allies came to be known as the Holy League.
The inability of the Ottomans to command sea power was only part of the equation. While superior sea power did decisively defeat the Ottomans at the Battle of Lepanto, the Ottomans also engaged in other nasty things that literally accelerated the rise of Christian sea power. Christians and the East had been trading goods on the famous China Silk Road since the days of the Roman Empire - it was actually dubbed the China to Rome road.

The Muslims started raiding Silk Road caravans and demanding tribute. The Muslim system of tribute is quite common and they literally raid land and sea commerce and hold the traders and cargo as prisoners until the tribute money arrives. Of course, it's a system of theft, violence and extortion that dates all the way back to the days of the Prophet Mohammad who reportedly earned a living doing the same thing. The Muslim system of tribute also extended to non-Muslim individuals in territories conquered by Muslims. It was called the jizyah or the infidel tax.

Europeans started to think the unthinkable - figuring out how to sail to China and the far east and it was the Portuguese who first sailed the Cape of Good Hope (southern tip of Africa) in 1488.  They built the heavy duty sailing ships for these rugged ventures, something the Muslims lacked and never conceived that such ships would ultimately turn into formidable navel power.

Thomas Jefferson butted head with the Muslim in North Africa who held American ships for tribute.  Other European nations just paid the tribute but Jefferson was annoyed at the thought of paying these Muslim thieves and pirates.  Jefferson's Barbary Wars are now a famous component of American history.  In the post Revolutionary War period, American trading ships lost the protection of the British Navy and were particularly vulnerable to Muslim attack.  Jefferson and Adams were in London to meet with Tripoli's ambassador and told him that Muslim nations had no right whatsoever to seize American shipping and demand tribute.  Jefferson and Adams were stunned by his response, here:
“it was written in the Koran, that all Nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon whoever they could find and to make Slaves of all they could take as prisoners, and that every Mussulman who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.”
The US had actually been paying the Muslim tribute since 1784 and Congress was appropriating $80,000 a year but the cost of the tribute kept rising. When Jefferson became president in 1801, the tribute demand was $225,000 plus $25,000 annually. There were a series of Barbary Wars. Jefferson had reached a boiling point and wrote "From what I learn from the temper of my countrymen and their tenaciousness of their money, it will be more easy to raise ships and men to fight these pirates into reason, than money to bribe them.". Eventually the demands for Muslim tribute ended but not before military hostilities, here.

Islam's fatal flaw was its own perception of itself as being superior to all things non-Muslim, as well as its incredibly insane system of raising revenues through piracy and the taxation of non-Muslims with the infidel tax.  The extortion of tribute and the infidel tax combined with Islam's unwillingness to grant equal rights to non-Muslims.  However, the defining flaw of all empires is that they eventually go bankrupt.  Throughout history, empires invaded, murdered, conquered and plundered because plunder was always the goal.  Armies are very expensive and the bigger they get, the more money and plunder it requires to sustain them.  When armies start to lose their ability to successfully plunder, financial instability was the predictable outcome as well as the end of the empire.

The final turning point for Islam's advance into the Europe occurred at the Gates of Vienna where a consortium of Christians from many nations showed up to fight off the Turks, here
Ottoman Empire - The Ottoman Empire was the last of a series of Turkish Muslim empires. It spread from Asia minor beginning about 1300, eventually encompassing most of the Middle East, most of North Africa, and parts of Europe, including modern Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Rumania and Yugoslavia. In the Middle East, the Ottomans ruled Syria, Palestine, Egypt, parts of Arabia and Iraq. Only Persia (Iran) and the Eastern part of the Arabian peninsula remained free of Ottoman rule. The empire reached around the Black sea and into the Caucasus in Central Asia, including Aremenia. The Ottoman armies reached as far as the gates of Vienna, where they were repulsed for a second time in 1683, the height of their expansion on land.
Despite Islam's decline as an empire and military power, many military empires bit the bust and the people survived and prospered.  Indeed, the oil wealth of the Muslim world should have been a transforming event from backwardness to catapulting Islam into modernity along the lines of tolerance and peaceful co-existence.  However, considering America's grotesquely immoral foreign policy, it's not likely that positive improvement will occur in the Muslim world anytime soon.   Moreover, the rise of radical Islam, especially the Wahhabist Salafist Sunni variety, cannot be quelled.

At this juncture, it's important to elaborate further on the factions within Islam.

Schools of Thought in Islam
Islamic jurisprudence has developed over fourteen centuries....

In its most glorious period, from the seventh to the thirteenth centuries, Islam produced a legal system founded on scientific knowledge and nurtured by a faith that has endured the test of time. But during that period it was ijtihad (progressive reasoning by analogy) which produced the most far-reaching developments. Reformers like ibn Taymiyah (late 1200's) was one of many great jurist-philosophers who opened new horizons in the knowledge and understanding of Islam's application to the needs of society. But in the twelfth century, ijtihad was pronounced ended by some theologians of the time. They argued that all was to be known was known. Consequently, Islamic jurisprudence became somewhat stagnant...

The most important of all differences between Sunni and Shia relates to the interpretation of the Qur'an. The Sunni look more to the letter of the Qur'an; the Shia look more to its spirit.

The Sufi movement is a mystical strain in Islam which reflects the need of individuals to transcend formal religious practices in order to attain higher levels of spiritual fulfillment. The Sufis are represented in all schools of thought in Islam and found in all Muslim communities. Because of its mystical, spiritual character, Sufism appeals more to individuals and small groups. It does not constitute either a sect or a school of thought, but is rather a spiritual or transcendental practice which persists despite criticism from orthodox theologians. Sufis believe they follow the Prophet's mysticism, particularly during the Meccan period of the revelations. Thus, in their practices there is much meditation and solitary or group recitation of prayers and incantations of their own religious formulas. They seek a life of ascetic pietism, shunning worldly pleasures and seeking the inward purity of a relationship with God through love, patience, forgiveness, and other higher spiritual qualities.
Islam is more complicated than Sunni-Shiite differences and there are major factions of Islamic jurisprudence.

Schools of Islamic Law and their Differences
Sunni schools:

The Hanbali School is named after Ahmad Ibn Hanbal (d. 855)
The Hanafi School is named after Abu Hanifa (d. 767)
The Shafi'i is named after al-Shafi'I (d. 819)
The Maliki is named after Anas bin Malik (d. 795)

Shi'a schools:

The Zaydi School is named after Zayd Ibn Ali (d. 740)
The Ja'fari School is named after Ja'far al-Sadiq (d. 765)....

The Hanbali School

The Hanbali School was developed in Baghdad, although today the followers of the school are concentrated mainly in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
It is generally agreed that Hanbali Islamic jurisprudence is by far the least tolerant, here.
The Shaf'i school is considered the easiest school and the Hanbali is considered the hardest in terms of social and personal rules.

The government of Saudi Arabia vigorously enforces its prohibition against all forms of public religious expression other than that of those who follow the government's interpretation and presentation of the Hanbali school of Sunni Islam. This is despite the fact that there are large communities of non-Muslims and Muslims from a variety of doctrinal schools of Islam residing in Saudi Arabia. Under the Hanbali interpretation of Shari'a law, judges may discount the testimony of people who are not practicing Muslims or who do not have the correct faith. Legal sources report that testimony by Shi'a is often ignored in Saudi courts of law or is deemed to have less weight than testimony by Sunnis. The explanation of Saudi officials is that their Hanbali school of Islam religiously mandates that they deny other religions the right to function openly on the Arabian Peninsula - a right that is clearly protected in international law.
However, the rigid and intolerant Hanbali school of Islam also includes the Salifist and Wahhabist movements, two hardcore groups of violent jihadists. Some believe that they are/were separate movements and the Salafist movement is believed to have originated in Egypt while Wahhabist Islam originated on the Arabian Peninsula when its founder, Ibn Abd al-Wahhab, allied with the House of Saud to impose a severely strict and intolerant interpretation of Islam, here.  In any event, both the Wahhabists and Salafists are ideological twins as both embrace the delusion that the West successfully rose against Islam because Muslims were not sufficiently pious and that if Muslims embraced radical Islamist theology then Islam would rise again and defeat the infidels, Christians and all their other perceived enemies.

The west, including America, has always known that the Wahhabists/Salafists are extremely dangerous whackjobs that spew hatred and advocate for violence and Islamic dominance.  Yet, the west invited them, their firebrand of Islam, their radical preachers and their hatred of all things non-Islamic into western nations.  It's why we get rallies like this on western soil.

Is it any wonder that westerners are freaking out and questioning whether or not their own natural tolerance has gone so far that it's now become a destructive force that threatens their liberty and even western civilization?  While Islam can no longer militarily conquer, are they migrating to infidel nations to procreate for the sole purpose of eventual numerical supremacy?    Many have speculated on this issue and the consensus is that in America, Muslims are far more integrated into our culture and that America generally has better educated Muslims who tend to be professionals that can easily assimilate. But in Britain and other European nations, there's a crisis brewing with its Muslims.

The Islamic Republic of England 
In 2009, we learned the FBI had ignored warning signs that Major Nidal Hasan was going to shoot up Fort Hood because they didn’t want to appear racist. Here in New York, areas such as Astoria in Queens look more like Islamabad than they do Archie Bunker’s hometown. But we still arrest Muslim bad guys. Britain does the opposite. The children of Pakistani immigrants in Queens wear skinny jeans and listen to dubstep while their cousins in London stand on street corners preaching the joys of sharia law. Where we have faults, they have fault lines.

Melanie Phillips, author of Londonistan, says capitulation is the root of England’s imminent demise. At a talk earlier this year she said, “What Britain and all the other faint hearts fail to grasp is that the greatest single driver of terrorism is terrorism—or to be more precise, the demoralized reaction to it.”
Because Muslims demand that their daughters remain virgins until they are married, sexual repression in Islamic society runs deep, so deep that Muslim men rape non-Muslim women in Europe and other western nations.  In France, the gang rape is called  'tournante' or take your turn and there was a nasty case where 11 Muslim men gang raped a 14 year old French girl. However, the gang rape of European and western women by Muslim men is becoming hugely problematic. Sydney, the pack leader of a group of Lebanese Muslim gang-rapists was sentenced to 55 years in jail. I suppose I ought to say "Lebanese-Australian" Muslim gang-rapists, since the accused were Australian citizens. But, identity-wise, the rambunctious young lads considered themselves heavy on the Lebanese, light on the Australian. During their gang rapes, the lucky lady would be told she was about to be "f---ed Leb style" and that she deserved it because she was an "Australian pig."...

Five days before 9/11, the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet reported that 65% of the country's rapes were committed by "non-Western" immigrants -- a category which, in Norway, is almost wholly Muslim. A professor at the University of Oslo explained that one reason for the disproportionate Muslim share of the rape market was that in their native lands "rape is scarcely punished" because it is generally believed that "it is women who are responsible for rape."

Denmark? "Three quarters of rapes are carried out by non-Danes," says Peter Skaarup, chairman of the People's Party, a member of the governing coalition. Read the rest here.
Muslim rape wave in Sweden
Swedish girls Malin and Amanda were on their way to a party on New Year’s Eve when they were assaulted, raped and beaten half to death by four Somali immigrants....

A group of Swedish teenage girls has designed a belt that requires two hands to remove and which they hope will deter would-be rapists. “It’s like a reverse chastity belt,” one of the creators, 19-year-old Nadja Bj√∂rk, told AFP, meaning that the wearer is in control, instead of being controlled.....

There are even reports of Swedish girls being attacked and cut with knives on the dance floor. A 21-year-old man who came to Sweden a couple of years ago admits that he has a low opinion of Swedish females –or “whores” as he calls them.....

An Islamic Mufti in Copenhagen sparked a political outcry after publicly declaring that women who refuse to wear headscarves are “asking for rape.” Apparently, he’s not the only one thinking this way. “It is not as wrong raping a Swedish girl as raping an Arab girl,” says Hamid. “The Swedish girl gets a lot of help afterwards, and she had probably fucked before, anyway. But the Arab girl will get problems with her family. For her, being raped is a source of shame. It is important that she retains her virginity until she marries.”
Europeans need to 'grow a pair' and deport such Islamist firebrand clerics, shut down their mosques and also deport the folks who attend such mosques.  This isn't an issue of freedom of expression or even religious liberty.  It's a situation where Muslim clerics literally advocate for violence against westerners by invoking a deity to denigrate, degrade, rape and/or otherwise commit violence against non-Muslims.  Of course, if  European governments allowed its citizens to own firearms for their own protection, the situation would be resolved.  However, in Europe one is expected to submit to and become a victim of violence rather than defend oneself - the ultimate form of government imposed human degradation that grants the criminal the right to harm while criminalizing legitimate self-defense..

In America, some of the worst violence committed by Muslims involves the honor killing of their own daughters by their own parents/families and there have been numerous honor killing cases in America as well as in other western nations. Also, there are many cases involving forced marriages and female circumcision.

Honor killing" under growing scrutiny in the U.S.

A clash of civilizations?  You bet!  Who's idea was it to import radical Salafist Wahhabist Muslims into western nations?  Western governments of course.  Even worse, Europe has a hugely expensive welfare problem with its Muslims as so many of them are reproducing and availing themselves of western styled entitlement programs.  This has spawned a surge in anti-Islamic websites because these folks are not working and contributing economically, they are just parasitically sucking off the system at a time when economic misery is rampant and European nations are broke.

In Britain 75% of all Muslim women are unemployed while 50% of all Muslim men are unemployed. Muslims are also more on sick leave more than anyone else, with 24% of females and 21% of males claiming a disability. What exactly does this mean money-wise? It means that out of 5 million Muslims living in Britain, 4.25 million Muslims, or 85% are living off tax payers. If we average this out with the minimum benefit payment of £67 a week, it means at least £ 284,750,000 per month is spent from taxpayer money to feed and care for Muslims. And that doesn’t even include housing benefits, medical care and other rights utilized by the population. We can estimate that with housing, child subsidies and healthcare, Muslims costs the British government at least £ 500 million a month, or £ 6 billion a year. Makes you wonder why the British government is implementing excess austerities? Just reduce the 85% inactive Muslim population.
The purpose of immigration into western societies was to give foreign folks an opportunity to assimilate and achieve.  Obviously, it's a big fail when immigrants become entitlement dependent, refuse to assimilate and end up despising their host country, its people and culture.  Furthermore, many of the radical Muslim clerics on western soil are nothing more than paid agents of Wahhabist/Salafist governments and wealthy Islamists.

These are not good signs that competing cultures can peacefully co-exist on any level but the west created the nightmare. At the root of the problem is western funded dictatorships in the Arab Muslim world.  The west is directly responsible for propping up, funding and arming psychopaths and the west is guilty of raising some world class Muslim monsters, monsters who are in bed with western thieves and oligarchs.  It is indeed a profound tragedy that Muslims don't have the opportunity to succeed on their native turf.  A big part of the problem is the lack of secure property rights in Muslim nations.

Property Rights Equals Prosperity Equals Freedom
Prosperity is derived from only one source: secure property rights. Failed and impoverished nations suffer a severe deficit of secure property rights....

The entire Middle East and the Muslim world are deficient in secure property rights. Hence, it's got some of the poorest nations on the planet. However, the Muslim world just isn't deficient in secure property rights, it's massively deficient in political freedom and social issue tolerance.

The flow of capital, the lifeblood of economic prosperity, absolutely does flow to nations with political stability, liberty, tolerance and secure property right because these are all significant components in the equation to achieve prosperity.
The reality is that neither Muslim nations or the west have lifted so much as a finger to strengthen property rights in the Muslim world.  In fact, the bitter truth is that autocratic Muslim rulers are partners in crime with western corporatists, oligarchs and expropriators of resources.

The western model of economic liberty, strong property rights and capitalism is collapsing as power is once again ruthlessly concentrating and centralizing into the hands of fiat central banksters, the military industrial complex and fascist special interests.  This will deal a severe blow to western societies that increasingly are becoming impoverished.  It's probably true that we are about to bear witness to another major global paradigm shift.  As the Islamic Empire rose and fell, so too will western civilization and its failed British model of empire that is based on the welfare-warfare model of corporatism and mercantilism.  Something will rise in its place that undoubtedly will be Asia because these folks are smart, hardworking, tolerant and not strangled with the bankrupting cost of empire.

If the Muslim world really wants to be a part a rising model of prosperity and peaceful co-existence, all it needs is secure property rights and hard currency (gold/silver).  There is no greater inducement to peaceful and respectful co-existence among peoples than economic prosperity, something that has been proven time and again.  Even early America experimented with theocratic societies but wisely came to the conclusion prosperity and tolerance trumped theology.

When human societies consist of free peoples who voluntarily produce and trade with each other without government interference and intervention, that's a solid recipe for enduring peace and prosperity everywhere simply because free and prospering folks have no incentive to wage wars or indulge in hateful intolerance.  It's also a system of mutual cooperation that also requires sound hard currency and strong property rights, something that control freak totalitarian governments are reluctant to bestow upon their people.

Many reform oriented Muslim observers  believe that Muslims are so fed up with their western selected dictators and western interventions that they will opt, at least temporarily, for Islamist governments but that the Muslim world will eventually seek to accomplish that which will facilitate trade, tolerance, peaceful co-existence and prosperity.  Some nations like Afghanistan may choose to remain in the 7th century for all eternity and that's certainly their absolute right as a people.

However, the far greater danger is that the west has now jumped in bed with the radical Islamists and are arming and funding folks far more dangerous than those named Saddam Hussein, Qadaffi, Assad and others. America has a very long history of funding and arming radical Islamists and we've been intervening in Muslim nations at least since the days of Jimmy Carter who funded and armed the Islamist Afghan Mujuhadeen (now the Taliban).  Moreover, we are becoming their business partners in foreign aid subsidized projects that includes tribute for the Islamists as well as massive military aid that will be used to terrorize its citizens, squash resistance and promote fear.

America has a severe deficit of journalists and experts who actually understand the Muslims world, with the exception of a few knowledgeable folks like Michael Scheuer.  Most American couldn't tell you much about Islam or Muslims and the cerebrally challenged, perpetually dumbed down US media is a pathetic source of information on any issue requiring depth of knowledge.    However, many foreign journalists do comprehend the situation.

History’s Unforgiving Toll
Obama’s United States is paying for the deep resentment that the Arab world has held since the years of George W. Bush....

Let no one be deceived: Resentment toward the United States in the Arab and Muslim world runs very deep. It was cut considerably deeper during the years of George W. Bush. There was the invasion of Iraq, the atrocities at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo and a brutal style of fighting jihad that, among other things, was supported by the Arab authoritarian states. They even subcontracted these states to detain and torture their suspects. Even in Tunisia, the most open, tolerant and liberal country in the good-old sense of the word of the Maghreb? Yes, even in Tunisia. Its inhabitants — secularists, piously peaceful followers of Islam and militant fundamentalists — have not forgotten that Ben Ali was cited as an exemplary Arab leader by both Washington and its local financial institutions, such as World Bank and the IMF.

That said, it is plainly apparent that the United States is not responsible for the Muhammad-defaming movie snafu that was posted on the Internet by a little-known person. It is even more apparent that the reactions of the angry Salafist mobs that we are seeing these days in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Sudan and Tunisia only speak badly of their participants by confirming their own barbaric ideology, political totalitarianism and violent methodology. Salafism, sadly, is a metastasizing tumor. Its primitive, fundamentalist and exclusionary interpretation of Islam has been cultivated in recent decades using petrodollars from the United States’ ally, Saudi Arabia. What a surprise.
Surprise, surprise!  America and Britain are definitely behind the rise of Salafism and Wahhabism.  If America and the west actually did some soul searching and historical fact checking, they'd know and understand that the west is primarily the culprit for the rise of radical Islam.  Heck, the Brits funded and raised the hideously vile House of Saud and its firebrand of Wahhabist radical Islam.

So long as we continue to invade, bomb and occupy Muslim nations, there will be blowback that will definitely includes terrorism.  However, terrorism is the weapon of the weak and constitutes their only weapon to strike a blow at those who are militarily ravishing Muslim nations while forcing Muslims to live under oppressive and tyrannical regimes.   Any informed and astute geo-political analyst understands that they are striking us "over here' precisely because we are 'over there'.

While it's true that Islam needs to find its soul and place in a world they perceive as incomprehensible and even alien, it's also true that Islam needs a change of attitude.  Moreover, while Muslims complain incessantly about western imperialism, they also need to be reminded that wrongful and immoral as it is, western imperialism has affected the Muslim world on a large scale for about 100-150 years at most while Muslim imperialism of the Christian world lasted hundreds of years - Spain 800 years, Portugal 600 years, Greece 500 years, Sicily 300 years, Serbia 400 years, Bulgaria 500 years, Romania 400 years and Hungary 150 years, according to historian Paul Fregosi in his book  Jihad.

Still, Islam poses no military threat to the world.  The greatest threat to the world and its peoples at this juncture is the evil US Empire.

The British Empire aka the American Empire Needs to Finally Die

The US needs to stop militarily steamrolling all over the planet in search of plunder for its corporations, a model of empire that America adopted directly  from the British, along with its evil central banking system that has plundered the middle class everywhere. One of the great tragedies of America is that we abandoned all that once made us a great nation, a prosperous nation, a free nation and a nation loved and respected by folks all over the world.  Our destiny will be to join the trash heap of history's graveyard of empires if we fail to just kill the evil American Empire.

As for Islam, just leave the Muslims alone to solve their own problems.  It's not as though they've even had a chance in recent history.  

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