History falsified and misused 2

Islam must be defeated by exposure and argument, and so – eventually, with luck – by the sort of generalized revulsion that irredeemably condemns Nazism, Stalinism, and Maoism. (Individuals who believe in it, or have simply had the misfortune to be born into it, should not of course be harmed – unless they have committed a crime in Islam’s name, and then by the law, not by their neighbors.)

In connection with the Ground Zero Mosque controversy, and generally whether the enemy is Islam or only a “tiny radical element within Islam”, there are two arguments that liberals and Christians of the left constantly bring up  to show what nice tolerant people they are. One is the myth of a wonderfully tolerant, diversely populated, creative,  advanced civilization the Moors established in Spain; the other is the claim by Christians that “Christians have killed far more people in America than Muslims have”.

As to the first: our reader and commenter, Bornagainpagan, has drawn our attention to an article by Professor Bruce Thornton in which he accurately writes:

Andalusian Spain has particularly been evoked as an example of an interfaith tolerance unknown to Christians, as President Obama claimed in his June 2009 speech delivered in Cairo, when he extolled Islam’s “proud tradition of tolerance”.

As many historians have shown, the historical facts of Islamic rule in Spain and elsewhere belie these claims. The “proud tradition” would have surprised the several thousand Jews massacred in Grenada in 1066, or the 300 Christians crucified, per Koranic injunction, in 818 during a three-day rampage of killing and pillaging in Cordoba, or the 700 Christians slaughtered in Toledo in 806. These are just a few examples of numerous Muslim massacres of Christians and Jews in Spain, whose lives were circumscribed by prohibitions on everything from the sorts of animals they rode to the height of their houses.

As to the second, the massacres carried out by Christians, they cite the killing of Indians during the early wars of conquest. True many Indians were killed. True, the people who killed them were mostly Christians and some saw themselves as having a mission to spread Christianity. (Of course the Indians did their share of killing too, but they were “only defending themselves and their land”, comes the retort.)

What puzzles us is this: how can the fact that Christians killed Indians in wars fought hundreds of years ago mean that Americans today, of many faiths and none, have thereby lost the moral right to protest the insult of a triumphalist monument at a place of a mass slaughter committed in the name of Islam?

Verily, these liberals and lefty Christians are as muddle-headed as they’re self-righteous!

Europeans may indulge themselves in mea-culpa multiculturalism in penance  for a colonialist past, and though it’s hard to see what benefit the policy brings to anyone, one can understand their argument. But for Americans, imitatively, to put their necks on a block and ask for their heads to be cut off because their ancestors fought wars of conquest is irrational to the point of being ridiculous – and seriously dangerous for the health of the nation.

Afterthought: Strange that conservatives should find themselves having to defend America in argument with fellow Americans; stranger still atheists defending Christians in argument with Christians!

The myth of Islamic enlightenment 5

A Wall Street Journal editorialist in a grossly distorted encomium to Muslim Spain, mentioned the “pan-confessional humanism”  of Andalusian Islam, and even asserted: “one could argue that the oft-bewailed missing ‘reformation’ of Islam was under way there until it was aborted by the Inquisition.”

Maria Rosa Menocal, Yale Professor of Spanish and Portuguese, in her 2002 hagiography of Muslim Spain, The Ornament of the World, has further maintained that “the new Islamic polity not only allowed Jews and Christians to survive, but following Quranic mandate, by and large protected them.”

These quotations are from an essay by Bat Ye’or and Andrew G. Bostom at Jihad Watch. The authors go on to explain that the commonly held view that Andalusian Islam was enlightened and tolerant is a myth:

We believe that reiterating these ahistorical, roseate claims about Muslim Spain abets the contemporary Islamist agenda …

Iberia (Spain) was conquered in 710-716 AD by Arab tribes originating from northern, central and southern Arabia. Massive Berber and Arab immigration, and the colonization of the Iberian peninsula, followed the conquest. Most churches were converted into mosques. Although the conquest had been planned and conducted jointly with a strong faction of royal Iberian Christian dissidents, including a bishop, it proceeded as a classical jihad with massive pillages, enslavement, deportations and killings.

Toledo, which had first submitted to the Arabs in 711 or 712, revolted in 713. The town was punished by pillage and all the notables had their throats cut. In 730, the Cerdagne (in Septimania, near Barcelona) was ravaged and a bishop burned alive. In the regions under stable Islamic control, Jews and Christians were tolerated as dhimmis – like elsewhere in other Islamic lands – and could not build new churches or synagogues nor restore the old ones. Segregated in special quarters, they had to wear discriminatory clothing. Subjected to heavy taxes, the Christian peasantry formed a servile class attached to the Arab domains; many abandoned their land and fled to the towns. Harsh reprisals with mutilations and crucifixions would sanction the Mozarab (Christian dhimmis) calls for help from the Christian kings. Moreover, if one dhimmi harmed a Muslim, the whole community would lose its status of protection, leaving it open to pillage, enslavement and arbitrary killing.

By the end of the eighth century, the rulers of North Africa and of Andalusia had introduced Malikism, one of the most rigorous schools of Islamic jurisprudence, and subsequently repressed the other Muslim schools of law. Three quarters of a century ago, at a time when political correctness was not dominating historical publication and discourse, Evariste Levi-Provencal, the pre-eminent scholar of Andalusia, wrote: “The Muslim Andalusian state thus appears from its earliest origins as the defender and champion of a jealous orthodoxy, more and more ossified in a blind respect for a rigid doctrine, suspecting and condemning in advance the least effort of rational speculation.”

The humiliating status imposed on the dhimmis and the confiscation of their land provoked many revolts, punished by massacres, as in Toledo (761, 784-86, 797). After another Toledan revolt in 806, seven hundred inhabitants were executed. Insurrections erupted in Saragossa from 781 to 881, Cordova (805), Merida (805-813, 828 and the following year, and later in 868), and yet again in Toledo (811-819); the insurgents were crucified, as prescribed in Quran 5:33.

The revolt in Cordova of 818 was crushed by three days of massacres and pillage, with 300 notables crucified and 20,000 families expelled. Feuding was endemic in the Andalusian cities between the different sectors of the population: Arab and Berber colonizers, Iberian Muslim converts (Muwalladun) and Christian dhimmis (Mozarabs). There were rarely periods of peace in the Amirate of Cordova (756-912), nor later.

Al-Andalus represented the land of jihad par excellence. Every year, sometimes twice a year, raiding expeditions were sent to ravage the Christian Spanish kingdoms to the north, the Basque regions, or France and the Rhone valley, bringing back booty and slaves. Andalusian corsairs attacked and invaded along the Sicilian and Italian coasts, even as far as the Aegean Islands, looting and burning as they went. Thousands of people were deported to slavery in Andalusia, where the caliph kept a militia of tens of thousand of Christian slaves brought from all parts of Christian Europe (the Saqaliba), and a harem filled with captured Christian women. Society was sharply divided along ethnic and religious lines, with the Arab tribes at the top of the hierarchy, followed by the Berbers who were never recognized as equals, despite their Islamization; lower in the scale came the mullawadun converts and, at the very bottom, the dhimmi Christians and Jews.

The Andalusian Maliki jurist Ibn Abdun (d. 1134) offered these telling legal opinions regarding Jews and Christians in Seville around 1100 C.E.: “No Jew or Christian may be allowed to wear the dress of an aristocrat, nor of a jurist, nor of a wealthy individual; on the contrary they must be detested and avoided. It is forbidden to [greet] them with the [expression] “Peace be upon you”… “A distinctive sign must be imposed upon them in order that they may be recognized and this will be for them a form of disgrace.”

Ibn Abdun also forbade the selling of scientific books to dhimmis, under the pretext that they translated them and attributed them to their co-religionists and bishops. In fact, plagiarism is difficult to prove since whole Jewish and Christian libraries were looted and destroyed

In Granada, the Jewish viziers Samuel Ibn Naghrela and his son Joseph, who protected the Jewish community, were both assassinated between 1056 to 1066, followed by the annihilation of the Jewish population by the local Muslims. It is estimated that up to five thousand Jews perished in the pogrom by Muslims that accompanied the 1066 assassination. This figure equals or exceeds the number of Jews reportedly killed by the Crusaders during their pillage of the Rhineland, some thirty years later, at the outset of the First Crusade…

The Muslim Berber Almohads in Spain and North Africa (1130-1232) wreaked enormous destruction on both the Jewish and Christian populations…  massacre, captivity, and forced conversion… Maimonides, the renowned philosopher and physician, experienced the Almohad persecutions, and had to flee Cordoba with his entire family in 1148

Although Maimonides is frequently referred to as a paragon of Jewish achievement facilitated by the enlightened rule of Andalusia, his own words debunk this utopian view of the Islamic treatment of Jews: “..the Arabs have persecuted us severely, and passed baneful and discriminatory legislation against us… Never did a nation molest, degrade, debase, and hate us as much as they..”

A valid summary assessment of interfaith relationships in Muslim Spain, and the contemporary currents responsible for obfuscating that history, can be found in Richard Fletcher’s engaging Moorish Spain. Mr. Fletcher offers these sobering, unassailable observations:

“The witness of those who lived through the horrors of the Berber conquest, of the Andalusian fitnah in the early eleventh century, of the Almoravid invasion- to mention only a few disruptive episodes- must give it [i.e., the roseate view of Muslim Spain] the lie. The simple and verifiable historical truth is that Moorish Spain was more often a land of turmoil than it was of tranquility…Tolerance? Ask the Jews of Granada who were massacred in 1066, or the Christians who were deported by the Almoravids to Morocco in 1126 (like the Moriscos five centuries later). In the second half of the twentieth century a new agent of obfuscation makes its appearance: the guilt of the liberal conscience, which sees the evils of colonialism – assumed rather than demonstrated – foreshadowed in the Christian conquest of al-Andalus and the persecution of the Moriscos (but not, oddly, in the Moorish conquest and colonization). Stir the mix well together and issue it free to credulous academics and media persons throughout the western world. Then pour it generously over the truth… [But] Moorish Spain was not a tolerant and enlightened society even in its most cultivated epoch.”