Muslim Ottoman Empire
MUHAMMAD, THE PROPHET OF ISLAM, WAS BORN IN MECCA IN 570. AT AGE 40, HE BEGAN TO HAVE VISIONS AND REVELATIONS THAT HE WAS THE LAST PROPHET OF ALLAH IN A LINE THAT DESCENDED FROM ABRAHAM.
His claims to be a prophet were fiercely opposed in Mecca, and he was only able to gather about 150 followers. In 622, two Arab tribes in Medina asked him to come there to arbitrate their differences. There were also three Jewish tribes there. Muhammad quickly became the leader of the Arabs in Medina. He also became a caravan raider and war lord and was recognized as the final Prophet of Allah whose revelations should be believed and obeyed.
Muhammad’s revelations were later compiled into the Koran, the authoritative “Scripture” of Islam. His sayings and the events of his life were later remembered and recorded in the Hadith(s) and Sira (biography) and revered as sound and authoritative Islamic doctrine (Sunna).
During his early years in Medina, Muhammad was able to annihilate or drive out the Jewish tribes and conquer the Arabs in Mecca. Among his most renowned deeds recorded in the Sunna was having 800 Jewish prisoners of war beheaded in a single day. This was because they refused to embrace Islam. This became an important precedent in the doctrine of Jihad—Holy War against all non-Muslims.
People of the Book (Christians and Jews) were usually given three options: conversion, abject and humiliating semi-slavery, or death. Most were given only the choice of conversion or death. Before his death in 632, he told his followers that there should only be one religion in all of Arabia—Islam. He told his followers that Allah had appointed him to bring all nations and peoples under Allah and Islamic Law. All Muslims were obligated to participate in Jihad and the global Supremacy of Islam until the last unbeliever had been converted or killed. Shortly after Muhammad’s death, at the age of 62, all Arabia embraced the government and religion of Islam.
In the next 300 years, 60 percent of Christian lands were conquered by Muslim armies, and 50 percent of all the Christians in the world were wiped out. Prior to this, Christianity had been the predominant religion of the Middle East and North Africa.
Muslim armies were well on their way to conquering Europe until stopped by Frankish military leader Charles Martel (the “Hammer”) in 731 near Tours, France. After a Saracen army of 80,000 was badly mauled by the Frankish army of 30,000, the Muslims retreated across the Pyrenees into Spain. Had not the Franks defeated the Muslim army at Tours, all of Europe might have become Muslim. The last Moorish kingdom in Spain, Grenada, was not defeated until 1492 by Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon.
Charles Martel Stops Muslim Expansion at the Battle of Tours
In 1095, Pope Urban II, grieved by the loss of historic Christian lands in the Middle East and North Africa and the oppression of fellow Christians there, also realized the impending danger of new Muslim aggression threatening Europe. He therefore called for a military campaign to check Muslim expansion, free formerly Christian lands from their oppressive conquerors, and prevent future Muslim threats against Christian nations. The call to defend Christendom and restore these formerly Christian territories and their peoples to its fold met with a massive and enthusiastic response from knights in all of Christian Europe. This was the beginning of the Crusades from 1095 to 1291.
This puzzles many modern and highly secularized Christians. Perhaps we have been subtly indoctrinated to believe that religious truth is not important and therefore less worth defending than national boundaries and national pride. We have also been influenced in the name of multicultural tolerance and diversity to believe the heretical notion that all religions are equally true and to accept the irrational notion that all religions are equally benign. Perhaps we have become so concerned with our own personal peace, prosperity, and comfortable respectability that we are unable to hear our brethren who are suffering for their faith. In 1198, at the beginning of the Fourth Crusade, Innocent III, a successor to Urban II, wrote:
“How does a man love according to divine precept his neighbor as himself when, knowing that his Christian brothers in faith and in name are held by the perfidious Muslims in strict confinement and weighed down by the yoke of the heaviest servitude, he does not devote himself to the task of freeing them?”
Many people are surprised to learn that an Italian friar called Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) participated in the Fifth Crusade. He was a former soldier and had dreamed of participating in earlier crusades, but in 1219, now devoted to spreading the gospel, joined the Crusader army in Egypt with the ambitious goal of converting the Sultan of Egypt, Malik al-Kamil, to Christianity.
Francis and a companion friar, Illuminato, were captured while trying to reach the Sultan’s headquarters. They would have been killed immediately had not they been mistaken for deserters wanting to convert to Islam. They were taken to al-Kamil, who upon hearing that Francis had risked his life to share the Christian gospel with him, proclaimed that such courage deserved a hearing. The Sultan listened carefully and thoughtfully to Francis, but declined to accept Christianity. Although some of the Sultan’s lieutenants called for Francis to be beheaded, Al-Kamil insisted that such courage should not be punished.
Saint Francis of Assisi with the Sultan al-Kamil.15th century. By Benozzo Gozzoli.
Defying expectations, he commanded that the two friars be safely returned to the Crusader army. He even offered them gold, but they would only take a little food. Ten years later, al-Kamil, for unknown reasons conceded to the surrender of Jerusalem to Frederick II, the Holy Roman Emperor, and signed a ten-year peace treaty. Ironically, Frederick II was a boyhood friend of Francis, who was canonized by Pope Gregory IX in 1228. Francis of Assisi established the Franciscan Order of the Roman Catholic Church and is the Patron Saint of Italy. He is probably best known, however, for his example of kindness to both people and animals and his appreciation for nature.
The Muslim Ottoman Empire waged Jihad against the Austrian Empire from 1500 to 1683, twice besieging Vienna, in 1529 and 1683. They retreated after 1683, but still held much of Southeastern Europe until the defeat and breakup of the Ottoman Empire following their defeat in World War I by Britain, Italy, France, and Greece. According to Dr. Rudolph Rummel, Turkey, the heart of the Ottoman Empire, was responsible for the genocide of from 3.5 to 4.3 million Armenian, Greek, and Assyrian Christians from 1900 to 1923. Islamic Jihad continues around the world.
How can anyone outside of a madhouse consider Islam, with a 1400-year record of genocides, ethnic cleansings, and slaughter of non-Muslims, a religion of peace? Jihad against all unbelievers is deeply embedded in the Koran and the teachings and example of Muhammad.
Many of the Protestant Reformers of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries thought that the advances of Muslim armies in those centuries and perhaps in the future were foreshadowed by prophetic passages of Scripture in the books of Daniel, I John, and Revelation. In his comments on Daniel 7 11-37, John Calvin theorized that the Muslim Turks might be the “little horn” that will spring up from “the beast.”
In notes on I John, both Calvin and Martin Luther compared Muhammad’s teachings with the spirit of the antichrist. Comments on Revelation 9: 1-11 in the Dutch Reformed Dordt Bible of 1637 suggest that Muhammad is Appollyon (in Hebrew, Abaddon), which means” destroyer,” and the locusts and scorpions are the Saracen armies that wage Jihad in Muhammad’s name. Jonathan Edwards speculated that the “false prophet” of Revelation 16:13-14 might have some connection to Muhammad and Islam.
“And I saw, coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs. For they are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty.” (ESV)
“What you are in his [God’s] sight is what you are and nothing more.”—Francis of Assisi
* Mike Scruggs is a distinguished columnist for North Carolina’s The Tribune Papers.com, an Air Force Intelligence Officer and an Air Force Commando. He is a decorated combat veteran of the Vietnam War, DFC, PH. He was appointed by the Governor of North Carolina to the Board of Commissioners of North Carolina Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (2013 to present.) He is the author of two books: Lessons from the Vietnam War, 2009 and The Un-civil War: Shattering the Historical Myths, 2011.Mr. Scruggs is the author of over 459 articles on military and political history, current political and Middle East, MBA Stanford University, BS University of Georgia.