A review of British academic Prof. Hugh Kennedy's book, The Great Arab Conquest, another tool in the arsenal of truth, seeking to cast aside the decpetion that enables the continued spread of the Islamic faith...
When the Qur'an, Hadiths, and Sira are studied together, it is obvious and beyond credible dispute that far from being a religion of peace, Islam is a fundamentally and inherently violent religion because Islam, alone among the World's religions, commands believers to wage war against and subdue non-believers for mere disbelief. Nonetheless, Islamic apologists utilize a variety of deceitful arguments to try to deceive the gullible into ignoring Islamic doctrine that plainly reveals Islam's true character. Many books and essays, including several of my own essays, have set forth Islamic doctrine to debunk the arguments presented by Islamic apologists. For the sake of brevity, I see no need to repeat that material here. Instead, I want to take a new approach to resolving the controversy by focusing on and presenting what one can learn about Islam through early, independent historical records. Do those records support the arguments made by critics of Islam or do they support the arguments made by Islamic apologists? It is a fascinating question.
The undisputed evidence will show that the historical record clearly establishes that the arguments made by Islamic apologists constitute nothing more than deceitful rhetoric used to advance a deceptive portrayal of Islam.
The early historical record of Islam is well presented in a concisely written book titled "The Great Arab Conquests: How The Spread of Islam Changed The World We Live In" written by Hugh N. Kennedy, MA, PhD, a British historian and Professor of Arabic and History. Kennedy documents statements of early Muslim Jihadists that clearly reveal that Islam was a violent religion from its inception and a religion designed to and which did spread by force of arms.
An early eighth century Muslim Jihadist was documented making statements to a Sasanian King that reveal Islam's true nature. Keep in mind that this Sasanian King would have been a Zoroastrian and, therefore, subject to the treatment outlined in verse 9:29 of the Qur'an. If critics of Islam are correct in their understanding of real Islam, one would, therefore, expect the early eighth century Jihadist to present his case in line with what appears to be the clear dictate of the Qur'an's tribute verse (9:29) and that is exactly what history recorded. The Jihadist invited the Sasanian King to embrace Islam and warned him as follows:
"If you refuse, you must pay the tribute (jizya). This is bad thing but not as bad as the alternative; if you refuse to pay, it will be war. If you respond positively and embrace our religion, we will leave you with the Book of God [Qur'an]and teach you its contents. Provided that you govern according to the rules included in it, we shall leave your country and let you deal with its affairs as you please. If you protect yourself against us by paying the tribute, we will accept it from you and guarantee your safety. Otherwise we shall fight you." (Quoted by Hugh Kennedy, The Great Arab Conquests, p. 51, citing Al-Numan b. al-Muqarrin; Tabari, Ta'rikh, I:2240.)
Note how all of the arguments presented by Islamic apologists fall apart upon review of the foregoing quote. This early Muslim Jihadist spoke classical Arabic so there can be no claim that he misunderstood Islam because he was reading a "translation" of the Qur'an. At that time it is doubtful that many, if any, translations of the Qur'an existed. There can also be no question that verse 9:29 of the Qur'an does not refer to defensive warfare or the rules for ending a defensive war as the Muslim Jihadist makes it clear that war will begin if the conditions are not met and the context makes it clear that he is not addressing a situation wherein the Muslims have been attacked and are trying to settle an existing, defensive war. Besides, the universally accepted historical record is that the early Muslims attacked the Sasanian Empire without provocation. Finally, the Jihadist's bellicose statements makes it clear that nothing in Islamic doctrine modifies or softens the clear violent mandate of chapter nine of the Qur'an.
Since this is an early, eighth century event following relatively shortly after the death of Muhammad and the wars of apostacy, apologists who try to disingenuously claim that the Doctrine of Jihad as preached and practiced by terrorists worldwide stems from a response to the Crusades, Western Imperialism, or anything else other than, at least primarily, Islamic doctrine are patently proved wrong. As Mr. Kennedy accurately notes: "This was how Jihad was interpreted during the early eighth century, and probably before." (Kennedy , p. 51)
Based on such clear evidence of how the first gneration of Muslims understood Muhammad's message, it is no surprise that prior to the age of political correctness and the attempt to whitewash Islamic doctrine for a gullible, Western audience, the dominant opinion of Islamic scholars was that the verses of the Qur'an advocating unrestricted warfare against non-Muslims was revealed later than the more moderate verses in the Qur'an and were clearly meant to supercede any prior contradictory verses. (Kennedy, p. 51; see also the Qur'an 16:101 - "When We substitute one revelation for another, - and God knows best what He reveals (in stages), - they say, "Thou art but a forger": but most of them understand not;" and Qur'an 2:106 - "None of Our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar: Knowest thou not that God Hath power over all things?")
In his Magnum Opus (great work), Kennedy, also uses early historical accounts to illustrate the religious motivation that drove the early Muslim expansion:
"The Muslims repeatedly stress that they are not interested in the affairs of this world; rather, it is the rewards of paradise that spur them on, as well as the belief that the Persian dead would not enjoy the same rewards: ?If you kill us, we will enter Paradise; if we kill you, you will enter the fire. Now we have come to you by the order of our Lord, fighting for his sake. We act upon his orders and seek the fulfillment of his promise.'" (Kennedy, p. 62, citing Tabari, Ta'rikh, I:2427-8.)
Another early Muslim Jihadist advised the Persian Court as follows:
"He [Allah] has sent us to bring His religion to all His creatures and to call them to Islam. Whoever accepts it from us will be safe and we shall leave him alone but whoever refuses we shall fight until we fulfill the promise of God."
When asked what the promise of God was, the early Muslim Jihadist replied: "Paradise for him who dies fighting those who have refused to embrace Islam and victory for him who survives." (Kennedy, p. 112.)
The next day another Muslim Jihadist was sent to the Persian Court and announced:
"If you embrace Islam, we will leave you alone, if you agree to pay the poll tax, we will protect you if you need our protection. Otherwise it is war." (Kennedy, p. 113.)
As can be seen by the early historical sources quoting the first generation of Muslims, the candy-coated version of Islam spun by Islamic apologists is not only ridiculous in light of overall Islamic doctrine as established by the Qur'an, Hadiths and Sira, but Islamic apologists' decpetive, fantasy interpretation of Islam also ignores the independent historical record documenting the frst Muslims' understanding of their religion. Nevertheless, many Islamic apologists get away with the most absurd and strained presentations of Islam that disingenuous minds can fabricate. Perhaps scholarly books such as Kennedy's "The Great Arab Conquests" can help shine some light on some of the more flagrant frauds perpetrated on the public by so-called "experts."
I highly recommend Kennedy's book. It contains a treasure trove of information that can be used to illustrate the absurdity of many Islamic apologists' arguments in support of Islam. I also found the book to be a pleasure to read. It was fascinating to see what a historian, who does not appear to be either a critic of Islam or an Islamic apologist, had to say about Islam's early years post Muhammad. While Kennedy probably never intended to draft a scholarly work critical of Islam, he has nonetheless ultimately drafted a book that supports what I and many other Islamic critics have written about Islam. As such, Kennedy's book is another tool in the arsenal of truth, seeking to cast aside the decpetion that enables the continued spread of the Islamic faith.