Islam — Spread by the Sword? You Bet

by Alyssa A. Lappen
HumanEvents.com | Posted Aug 25, 2005

In Islam, pigs are not Halal. For that reason, some might assume that the little pig on the cover of Robert Spencer’s bestselling new Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) is meant to insult the faith.

They would be wrong. In fact, the publishing house of Regnery (a Human Events sister company) has trademarked the term Politically Incorrect Guide, along with the little pig, and has posted this insignia on two other books, Thomas Woods’ Politically Incorrect Guide to American History and Tom Bethell’s Politically Incorrect Guide to Science, the latter to be published this fall. Moreover, Regnery is working on several other titles in the series, all to be decorated by a pig.

Apparently the series does intend to be humorous, however. Also on the cover is quotation from an Islamic chat room. A poster wrote of Spencer: “May Allah rip out his spine from his back and split his brains in two, and then put them both back, and then do it over and over again. Amen.â€? Not funny, but he jovially tags this “–‘praise’ for the author on RevivingIslam.com.â€?

These lighthearted touches, before one even opens a book on a deadly serious subject, foreshadow many more quips inside. A few examples:

• After Muhayissa murdered K’ab, he was rebuked for the deed by his brother Huwayissa, who was not yet a Muslim. Muhayissa, unrepentant, told his brother, “Had the one who ordered me to kill him ordered me to kill you I would have cut off your head.â€? Huwayissa replied, “By God, a religion which can bring you to this is marvelous!â€? And he became Muslim. “The world is still witnessing such miracles today.â€?

• “Polygamy…is moving westward with Islam. In late 2004, polygamy had become so common among Muslims in Britain that the British were considering recognizing it for tax purposes.â€?

• “Lying: It’s wrong—except when it isn’t.â€?

Other funny tidbits are the small boxes in each chapter entitled “A book you’re not supposed to read.â€? These recommendations include such scholarly works as An Introduction to Islamic Law by Joseph Schacht; The Decline of Eastern Christianity: From Jihad to Dhimmitude by Bat Ye’or; and Islamikaze: Manifestations of Islamic Martyrology by Raphael Israeli; as well as ancient and modern Islamic texts like the Qur’an, Umdat al-Salik, or Reliance of the Traveller: A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law, translated by Noah Ha Min Keller and Milestones by Sayyid Qutb.

But for all the humor, the 231-page text is in fact a somber discussion of Islam for the layman, and the scholarship at its base is impressive. The book includes 21 pages of footnotes, the vast majority of which cite Muslim sources themselves.

Spencer attacks the notion, head on, that the Qur’an teaches tolerance and peace, for example, by citing the Qur’an itself.

The closest the Qur’an comes actually to counseling tolerance or peaceful coexistence is to counsel believers to leave unbelievers alone in their errors: “Say: O disbelievers! I worship not that which ye worship; nor worship ye that which I worship. And I shall not worship that which ye worship. Nor will ye worship that which I worship. Unto you your religion and unto me my religionâ€? (Qur’an 109:1-6). Of course, they are to be left alone so that Allah can deal with them: “And have patience with what they say, and leave them with noble dignity. And leave Me alone to deal with those in possession of the good things of life, who yet deny the Truth; and bear with them for a little while.â€? (Qur’an 73:10-11).

This would be well and good, Spencer adds, if this were all the Qur’an had to say on tolerance. But the holy book does not stop there. While Muslims are instructed that there is no compulsion in religion—and to “begin not hostilities. Lo! Allah loveth not aggressors.â€?—once hostilities have begun,

Muslims should wage them furiously: “And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution is worse than slaughter. And fight not with them at the Inviolable Place of Worship until they first attack you there, but if they attack you there then slay them. Such is the reward of disbelievers. But if they desist, then lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.”

It is not a fair assumption, either, that Spencer takes anything out of context. Very often, he adds context to quotations often seen in the public media. Take the often-quoted Qur’an 5:32: “Whosoever killeth a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and those who saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind.â€? This, writes Spencer, is not what it might seem. It is addressed to the “Children of Israel,â€? for starters, not to Muslims, and it is in the past tense. It is actually a warning to Jews not to make war against Mohammed:

We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person—unless if be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land—it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people. Then although there came to them Our messengers with clear signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land. The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter. (Qur’an 5:31-33)

The three-part book is divided into eighteen chapters, part one dealing with Islam and its early spread by the sword, part two covering the Crusades and the various current myths surrounding this history, and part three reporting on the current global jihad war. It is not intended to be a general introduction to the Islamic religion or a comprehensive survey of the Crusades, according to Spencer, but “an examination of certain highly tendentious assertions about both Islam and the Crusades that have entered the popular discourse.�

Concerning the Crusades in particular, the book comes to some remarkable conclusions. The Crusades were not called, according to Spencer, to rape pillage and burn, but on the contrary to defend the Christian world. “The conquest of Jerusalem in 638,� he writes, “stood at the beginning of centuries of Muslim aggression, and Christians in the Holy Land faced an escalating spiral of persecution.�

Early in the 8th century, 60 Christian pilgrims from Amorium were crucified; in the same era Caesarea’s Muslim governor seized some Iconium pilgrims and executed them all as spies—excepting the small handful that converted to Islam. Christians were forbidden to teach religion to others—including their own children. In the 9th century Christians fled Holy Land persecutions in large numbers. Churches were destroyed, monks slaughtered and so on. The year 1004 began a decade long persecution in which 30,000 churches were destroyed and Jews were similarly accosted. Thus in 1095 Pope Urban II called the First Crusade to regain lands that had previously been Christian.

Furthermore, Spencer contends that the Crusades were actually successful. Although the last Crusader cities fell to Muslims in 1291, and the Crusades in the 14th century were to defend Eastern Europe and territory much closer to home, but “the level of Islamic adventurism in Europe dropped off significantly during the era of the Crusades.� The Crusades, in short, “bought Europe time—time that might have meant the difference between her demise and dhimmitude and her rise and return to glory.�

As for today, Spencer warns us in no uncertain terms that the jihad of the seventh century is still alive and well. One proof is the similarity of the quotations of an 11th century jihadist compared with that of a contemporary today. Another is in the longing for a revival of the caliphate—in Britain and the U.S. Another is the presence of loyal Khomeinists in Dearborn, Michigan, and Dallas, Texas. Another is the inability to criticize Islam without being attacked. In response, “moderate� Muslims have invented “Islamophobia,� a word that did not exist a few years ago—because the phenomenon does not exist.

No question, this book has the power to enrage radical Muslims and their apologists, not least because it relies so heavily on legitimate Muslim scholars and works. That is but one reason that everyone should read it.

Alyssa A. Lappen, a former editor for Forbes, Corporate Finance, Working Woman and Institutional Investor, writes for many print and online journals, including Human Events, Revue Politique, Midstream, FrontPageMagazine and American Thinker.


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Alyssa A. Lappen is a U.S.-based investigative journalist. She is currently Managing Editor at the Leeb Group. A former Senior Fellow of the American Center for Democracy (2005-2008); she is also a former Senior Editor of Institutional Investor (1993-1999), Working Woman (1991-1993) and Corporate Finance (1991).

She served six of her 12 years at Forbes (1978-1990) as an Associate Editor. Ms. Lappen was also a staff reporter at The New Haven Register (1975-1977).

During a decade as a freelance, her work appeared in Big Peace, Pajamas Media, Front Page Magazine, American Thinker, Right Side News, Family Security Matters, the Washington Times and many other Internet and print journals. Ms. Lappen also contributed to the Terror Finance Blog, among others.

She supports the right of journalists worldwide to write without fear or restriction on politics, governments, international affairs, terrorism, terror financing and religious support for terrorism, among other subjects.

Ms. Lappen is also an accomplished poet. Her first full-length collection, The Minstrel’s Song, was published by Cross-Cultural Communications in April 2015. Her poems have been published in the 2nd 2007 edition of Blood to Remember: American Poets on the Holocaust and both 2007 issues of Wales‘ award-winning Seventh Quarry: Swansea Poetry Magazine.

Dozens of her poems have appeared in print and online literary journals and books. She won the 2000 annual Ruah: A Journal of Spiritual Poetry chapbook award and has received a Harvard Summer Poetry Prize and several honorable mentions.

Alyssa A. Lappen can be reached at alyssaalappen@alyssaalappen.org

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