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Is It Too Controversial To Discuss Islamic History?

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As I've said before, I'm here to understand Islam better and to do my part to further the goal of world peace.

 

I've been around here for several months, and I'd like to say that I've been impressed with the degree to which you've all been tolerant of my questions and discussions - thanks!

 

I'd like to discuss Islamic history but I don't want to lose my privileges. I suspect that some of these discussions could be too controversial to discuss objectively here.

 

What would you suggest? Should we try, or should I back off?

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PropellerAds

Actually you're insulting us by that approach.

You can speak that way elsewhere, when, for example, you ask Americans if its OK to discuss the history of the USA, or ask an Australian if its OK to discuss the history of Australia, or whether it would be too embarrassing, considering the genocides of whole nations on the hands of their ancestors or the criminal background and such.

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Fair enough dot, I have one warning, I'd rather respect that...

 

In a separate thread (concerning the support of terrorists), I heard over and over again that the West needs to take a lot of responsibility for what's happening in the world today when it comes to terrorism. Several posters mentioned how bombs from the West kill innocent Muslim bystanders (of course this is absolutely true!) So the message I got was that the West is to blame for terrorism (more or less). Of course I also hear over and over again that Islam is a religion of peace - correct?

 

So now let's look at some history...

 

My understanding is that in the first 400 years or so of Islam's existence, Muslims spread Islam to the west, all through northern Africa, to the north through the middle east, and to the east into Persia. From what I understand the spread of Islam in this period was not at all peaceful. In fact it was almost always violent conquest. Is this correct so far?

 

Then, for about 200 years the Catholic church launched the Crusades. While I have not heard anyone on this forum discuss the Crusades, I have heard many Muslims talk about how bad the Catholic church was to start these Crusades. How the Catholics were attacking the Muslims. My understanding of the Crusades is that the church was trying to take back small pieces of land that the Muslims had previously taken away from the Christians.

 

While the Crusades were occurring, the forces of Islam continued to wage war and conquest to spread Islam.

 

The Crusades have been over now for 800 years. Since that time Islamic forces have continued - more or less nonstop - to conquer foreign countries to spread Islam. Throughout these 1400 years, Islamic conquests have usually been characterized as quite violent - not at all peaceful.

 

As recently as the 20th century, Islamic forces in Turkey killed about one million Christian Armenians (and deported several million more) in order to take full control of Turkey.

 

Now to be fair, other religions have also perpetrated horrible deeds over the centuries. Let's take the horrible Spanish Inquisition for example. So by no means am I saying that only Islam is culpable,  I think many religions are! And discussing the culpability of other religions might be a good thread to start.

 

But back to the main point... Given 1400 years of mostly non-stop, bloody conquest continuing into the 20th century, and then adding on 20,000 Muslims initiated terrorist attacks in the last 12 years, where is the evidence that Islam is a religion of peace?

 

I think that given this long, long history it would be hard to say that "the West" is to blame.

 

So, I admit I've told one side of the story. I'd like to understand if I have the wrong impression of history or not? I don't want to make up facts, I want to understand what's true. 

 

So, is my summary mostly correct, or did I make some big mistakes? (And BTW, keep in mind that this is a *summary* - I'm sure there are a few details I got wrong, I'm hoping to gain an understanding of the big picture.)

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I thank you for seeking the truth, but you've got it all wrong about Islam. Perhaps you've been under the influence of anti-Islamic sources, which always try to spread lies and hate towards Islam. To seek the truth, read unbiased credible resources.
Its true that Muslims had a strong army, but they never massacred people or wipe out nations like the crusades did in Palestine, or the western imperialism did to the rest of the world.
Most Islamic east conquests were preceded by good impression and word of mouth, gained from contacting Arab traders. Islamic army leaders were always commanded, upon entering any territory, to not harm any civilian, or cause damage to any cattle, building or plants. For the most part, the peoples of those nations welcomed the Muslim army, specially the oppressed and poor. Islamic governors made sure they spread fairness and equality. They spread education and science, in a time when dark ages sorcery was the norm. People lived with prosperity under the Islamic times. These are all documented. Look it up. See for example Islam in Spain. Check out how the minorities, like Jews, were treated before Islam, then how they lived happily under the Islamic ruling, and then how they were massacred once Muslims were driven out of Spain.
The one single massacre that the west tries to frame the Muslims for, through the entire Islamic history, Armenia, is highly controversial.
As for terrorists, they are just that: terrorists. Islam prohibits any act of terror against civilians, anywhere in the world. Those individuals who commit acts of terrorism do not by any way represent Islam. There are crazy extremists in all religions and non-religion. There are even those who kill just for the fun of it (like many US army personnel admitted they did). Don't blame a great religion by how some maniacs behave, just because they say they're Muslims.

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Islamic rule was spread by force. However, Muslims didn't force the conquered peoples to convert. A lot of areas remained Christian, Zoroastrian, etc. 

 

But you are right, Islam is not a religion of peace or war per se. It's the religion of Allah. However, Islam encourages peace. For example, before undertaking any conquest, the Islamic ruler has to first the other nation to embrace Islam. If that fails, he should propose that the nation becomes a tributary. If that fails, conquest is viable option. A peace treaty is a viable option as well.

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dot - it seems we might need to agree on sources. I'm open to the idea that my sources might not be objective. But, for instance, could I use Islamic scripture as credible sources of the history of Islamic conquests?

 

As far as Armenia is concerned, I cited that not as my only example, just as a fairly recent one. And, can you say more about the controversy around that episode? I didn't know that there was controversy.

 

Younes - Would it be fair to say that a central idea in Islam is conquest? As I read your post (which seems consistent with other things I've read), it seems that you're saying there is a sort of formula:

 

1 - Islam wants to spread to a new country or region or area.

2 - Ask the people if they want to embrace Islam.

3 - If no, ask the people if they would be willing to be dhimmi. (you didn't use that word, but i'm guessing that's what you meant?)

4 - If no, then it's ok to wage warfare to convert the area.

5 - optionally a peace treaty is possible

 

As that a correct interpretation of what you said Younes?

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Oh, another thought...

 

I don't want to give the impression that I'm singling out Islam in general. I think that the questions I'm asking here are just as valid for Christians and their history. For example, it was largely Christians to conquered the Americas, and their conquests in the Americas were consistently violent and brutal.

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No, I don't think that conquest is a central in Islam - ruling by Allah's Law is -, but you are right about the formula when it comes spreading Islamic governance. 

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Spreading of Islam is through word and people converting, primarily.  Was violence involved yes.  Usually when violence is involved it is because the other party decides to attack Islam specifically as a religion and as such Muslims rose up, united and won.  Islam condemns the murder of unarmed civilians, women or anyone worshiping. As for the terrorists thing we all know that the west is responsible for these groups in one way or another.  The very idea of car bombs goes back to the IRA and the KKK.  Who funded these groups that were simply idealogical radicals before?  C.I.A. during the Cold War era.  They praised nuts like Bin Laden as heroes.  With that said it should be noted that more Muslims are killed by the hands of Al Qaeda and Taliban than westerners or even soldiers.

 

If the U.S. and its allies were really interested in defusing the terrorists then why not promote the education of Islam and letting the general populace see Islam for what it truly believes in?  Why the continued propaganda?  Because all they want is a reason to be over there to continue to expand the empire that Lincoln started and spread its military force by establishing more bases around the world.

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Hi abdullahfath -

 

As stated earlier in this thread, we're discussing the last 1400 years of Islamic history, not just the last several decades. 

 

Also, as stated earlier "education of Islam" is *exactly* why I started this thread! Hooray, we have the same goal.

 

I'm trying to do just what you asked "see Islam for what it truly believes in". It seems fair to look at 1400 years of history to get a sense of "what Islam believes in". Does that seem reasonable?

 

Based on 1400 years of history it seems that Islam has almost always been a religion of conquest. I hear Muslims argue that before taking over a country Muslims offer the disbelievers a chance to either convert or become dhimmi. I think Younes has confirmed that my understanding is correct. If those offers are refused, then Muslims engage in warfare to spread Islam.

 

What I've discovered so far in my research is that, for the last 1400 years, Muslims have spread Islam *primarily* through conquest and warfare. I suppose we can go into detailed and long-winded historical analysis, and I'm sure that warfare wasn't always used, but so far it seems safe to summarize Islam's actions as follows:

 

** For the last 1400 years, Muslims have spread Islam primarily through warfare. **

 

As I said earlier, if anyone here thinks that that statement is incorrect, please tell me where you have read differently. My interest is in understanding the truth!

 

Thanks!

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From what I have watched and seen that is inaccurate.  Most countries that were conquered were done so after war had been declared, it was through conquest but Islam was not the initiate of the violence.  The Qur'an teaches that Allah (swt) does not love the starter of war.  Most of the time over the past 1400 years it has been the population that has reverted to Islam, voluntarily.  Only when the leader of the country came after Islam was war declared.  I can give examples to show what I mean.  The primary way to learn what Islam really teaches is to look at the Qur'an itself.  And then from there look at the actions and words of the prophet.  The rest is controversial.

 

as far as the Byzantine and the Crusades it was Byzantine Christianity that came after Islam and Muslims responded defensively and when an enemy is that large the best approach is to keep going until the threat is no longer there but in effort to show the respect for Christianity itself the crescent moon of the Byzantines was kept.

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I am no expert on Islamic history, it is only something I have started to learn about in the past year so i am not going to provide you with many answers I just want to say one thing which I have learnt. 

 

The Islamic empire may have carried out policies that did not agree with Islam and it is important to not go down the line that because an Islamic empire carried out some policy that it reflects Islam. For example in the very early years of the Islamic empire such as during the Ummayad period, there were policies that discriminated against non Arabs (in relation to tax) even though they had converted to Islam. This eventually changed but the point is, discriminating against race is not something that Islam itself supports. 

 

Secondly, the Armenian genocide is a topic that I have studied about this year and it is very controversial. People shouldn't throw around the word genocide lightly. The Armenians had lived in the Ottoman Empire for years and practiced their religion and were not killed because of their religion in all these years. Nobody denies that Armenians were killed from 1915 as they died from starvation as they were deported but the numbers are disputed and whether it was a planned event is also disputed. For most of its history the policy of the Ottoman Empire was to remove any group that was threatening rule and place them in a city where there were supporters of the rule. This included Muslim groups as well as non Muslims. 

So I have a problem when people say that what happened to the Armenians proves that non Muslims can't live under Islamic rule peacefully because Armenians lived peacefully for years under the Ottoman Empire. And those same people often forget the state the Ottoman Empire was in during 1915 - can we really call it Islamic rule?? Britain, France and Russia had been controlling many things for years. They had changed many economic policies which were totally un Islamic. 

The sultan himself barely had any power as the turkish nationalist group (the young turks) were starting to gain more and more support and they opposed the rule of the sultan and wanted a nationalist secular government. Even Muslim kurds were killed during these years. So I am not trying to say Armenians weren't killed but I am trying to say be weary of those who use this episode in history as being a religiously motivated one. I would be against those who put this in the category of 'Islamic history'.

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** For the last 1400 years, Muslims have spread Islam primarily through warfare. **

 

This quote is entirely true if it refers to Islamic rule. However, the faith did not spread through warfare. People weren't made to convert on the point of the sword generally speaking. A lot of areas remained non-Muslim for a long time, i.e. the people remained non-Muslim although Muslims had conquered and ruled the area. People converted to Islam later. But to be precise, obviously the spreading of the Islamic faith is not completely independent of Islamic conquests.  

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** For the last 1400 years, Muslims have spread Islam primarily through warfare. **

 

This quote is entirely true if it refers to Islamic rule. However, the faith did not spread through warfare. People weren't made to convert on the point of the sword generally speaking. A lot of areas remained non-Muslim for a long time, i.e. the people remained non-Muslim although Muslims had conquered and ruled the area. People converted to Islam later. But to be precise, obviously the spreading of the Islamic faith is not completely independent of Islamic conquests.  

 

Kind of like the spread of the secularist religion today ;)

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Many topics to keep discussing, but as a start consider that less than 100 years ago 20% of Turks were Christian, and today over 99% of Turks are Muslims. It's hard to imagine that that's just random chance or luck.

 

 

The Qur'an teaches that Allah (swt) does not love the starter of war.  Most of the time over the past 1400 years it has been the population that has reverted to Islam, voluntarily.  Only when the leader of the country came after Islam was war declared.  I can give examples to show what I mean.  The primary way to learn what Islam really teaches is to look at the Qur'an itself.  And then from there look at the actions and words of the prophet. 

 

Is it true to say that the part of the Quran created in Mecca teaches peace but that the later, Medinan part of the Quran abrogates the earlier part and commands Muslims to spread Sharia - by force if necessary? I thought that was all in the Quran? And if we read Islamic scripture about the actions and words of the prophet, won't the scripture show us that once he left Mecca and came to Medina he used warfare to spread Islam?

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No he did not use warfare to spread Islam, in fact the war that ensued he tried to avoid.  What occurred, militarily was a response to the pagan Arabs who were coming after Islam.  He even tried to get a peace treaty with them.  They then tried to forge alliances with certain factions in Medina of Jews.  The military action of Islam, during the time of the prophet, were that of defense not offense. 

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Many topics to keep discussing, but as a start consider that less than 100 years ago 20% of Turks were Christian, and today over 99% of Turks are Muslims. It's hard to imagine that that's just random chance or luck.

Lets not forget with the treaty between Greece and Turkey which exchanged their peoples i.e. Greek Christians in Turkey were allowed to move to Greece in exchange that Muslims living in Greek territory were also allowed to move to Turkey. Lets not forget that with the creation of the state of Armenia this also influenced how many Christians moved out of Turkey. 

With the creation of the state of Turkey a forced policy of Turkish nationalism was carried out by the new government which also effected minorities who weren't Turkish, it wasn't necessarily related to religion as Kurds also suffered from the effects of this policy. This effected the movement of people too. 

I think you should take these things into consideration before you jump to the conclusion that people were forced to become Muslim. And also it just proves how little you know about Turkish history because the government that came to power upon the creation of Turkish independence was very far from being religious, they enforced secular law, forced women to remove their veils, and were totally opposed to Sharia law. 

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Hey Paradise,

 

I hope you can see by my posts that I'm not jumping to conclusions - I'm asking questions! 

 

A couple of times now you've put words into my mouth. For example I never said "genocide" - you did, and I never said "forced to become Muslim" - you did.

 

But I do appreciate your responses, because I am getting a clearer understanding!

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Hey Paradise,

 

I hope you can see by my posts that I'm not jumping to conclusions - I'm asking questions! 

 

A couple of times now you've put words into my mouth. For example I never said "genocide" - you did, and I never said "forced to become Muslim" - you did.

 

But I do appreciate your responses, because I am getting a clearer understanding!

I know you didn't say it was genocide but I said it isn't good to throw that word around ( I was referring to in general people use this word lightly).

 

And you didn't say they were forced to become Muslim but you have a way of putting your questions that you imply that as you said it was hard to imagine it was by chance or luck. It makes it seem you already have an idea of what happened before you ask the question.

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First the Arabs people were scattered as a small tribes fought each other and even fought for other tow big empires (Byzantine) and (Persian). The Ghassanids (Arab tribes) were the allies of the Byzantine Empire in which they maintained their rule as the guardian of trade routes and Muntherids (Arab tribes) were the allies of  Persian were acting similarly.


The religion of Islam unifies these Arabic tribes and before them Banu Khazraj with Banu Aws who settled the city Yathrib (called Madina today) as there were fighting each other for nearly 40 years. After, these tribes were unified the wars were established against ancient empires Byzantine) and (Persian) because they were having the intention to invade and attack the Madina city. Muslims were fighting the Persians and the Romans

at once and they win the battles.


I will present some examples that the Muslims were not forcing Islam as a religion


Najran Christian tribe was in South Saudi Arabia, there have not embrace Islam at that time and instead they signed a peace agreement with our prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him)

 

Abu Bakr, the first caliph of Islam orders his armies with the following instruction


“Stop, O people, that I may give you ten rules for your guidance in the battlefield. Do not commit treachery or deviate from the right path. You must not mutilate dead bodies. Neither kill a child, nor a woman, nor an aged man. Bring no harm to the trees, nor burn them with fire,

especially those which are fruitful. Slay not any of the enemy’s flock, save for your food. You are likely to pass by people who have devoted their lives to monastic services; leave them alone.”¹


Samarkand

 

When Muslim enter the land of Samarkand without inviting them to Islam first owing to the reason that they might prepare to fight them if they give then such invitation, the Priests of that city sent their messenger to the caliph of Islam Omar bin Abdul Aziz who assign a judge to see the case. The judge listens to both parties and therefore orders the Muslims troops to get out from the city. When people of Samarkand saw such justice most of them embrace Islam.


 

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Hi ParadiseLost -

 

I'm not trying to be misleading at all. I absolutely have some information before I ask a question. BUT! I really want to understand both sides of any important issue, and in the end, I'll decide based on evidence, not on emotion.

 

Everyone -

 

Earlier in this thread Younes confirmed the formula I proposed for the spread of Islam. It's clear to me that the culture described by Islam is very different than Western culture. 

 

Just to clarify, in the West, the formula we discussed would not considered a formula of "Peace". So when Westerners hear the phrase "Islam is a religion of Peace", if they understand "the formula" of spreading Islam, they will say that Islam is NOT a religion of Peace.

 

I will tell you that from my experience, having discussions on this forum has shown me how different our views of the world are. So if someone asks me "icehorse, is Islam a religion of peace?" I would say, "not the way someone from the West would define 'peace' ".

 

This thread started by asking about history. My summary of the history of the Americas is that about 500 years ago Europeans started a violent conquest of the Americas. Over the course of hundreds of years Europeans committed genocide on tens of millions of Native American people of various tribes. From my perspective, sometimes the church was used as the reason for this conquest, but mostly it seems it was just stronger armies wanting the lands occupied by weaker people. The conquest of the Americas was NOT peaceful.

 

From what I understand, for the last 1400 hundred years, Muslims have conquered many countries themselves. I *think* (I'm not sure), that on most of those cases the conquerers said that the reason they were conquering countries was to spread Islam. Basically that these wars were in the name of Islam.

 

If we look at the history of Asia we will see similar wars. So it seems that, throughout history, strong armies always try to conquer weak armies.

 

From my perspective, that has to stop. If we care about our children, and our grand-children and our great-grand-children, we ALL have to stop making war with each other. We've ALL done it in the past - we ALL have to stop now.

 

Please understand that trying to spread Sharia to other cultures is war. It's not peace.

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I guess that brother Younes said that the Arab Empire spread by military force and by apply the rule of Islam in the conquest
lands which was base on justice, people accept Islam voluntary.  


I would also refer to Indonesia which contains the largest Muslim population in the world and Islam enters to this country by Arab

Muslim traders and not by force.  

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The message I'm trying to explain here is that now, in the 21st century, the West will not "accept Sharia". 

 

Muslims must stop trying to bring Sharia to the West. That simply cannot be a part of a peaceful solution.

 

As long as Muslims are trying to bring Sharia to the West, there will be conflict, there will be intolerance, it will be bad for all of us.

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Muslims can bring sharia to the west. They already have. In the UK for example sharia courts have been set up for Muslims for certain issues. Even if the legal system is not put in place by the government there are muslim communities who carry it out themselves from issues such as divorce to circumcision. 

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Hi ParadiseLost,

 

I agree with you that this has started to happen. All I'm saying is that it cannot continue to happen. In general, the West will not be tolerant of Sharia in their countries. 

 

I think that even the small amounts of Sharia in the UK are already causing a lot of trouble, and that is only going to get worse.

 

Since I've been here I've heard many times that Muslims feel the non-Islamic world is not tolerant. What I'm saying is this: If Muslims want to come to non-Islamic countries AND bring their own legal system - that will absolutely cause trouble.

 

In non-Islamic cultures religion is NOT the same as the legal system. 

 

For example, in the US many religions are allowed, but Mormons are NOT allowed to practice polygamy in the US, even though their religion says it's okay. So Mormons CAN practice "parts" of their religion in the US, but they have to leave behind any parts of their religion that would break US law.

 

Law and religion DO NOT MIX in the West.

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