Posted by: Christine Johnson | September 26, 2006

The Myth of the Peaceful Rise of Islam

Have you read this yet?

How about a sampling to whet your appetite first?

The Catholic News Agency reports that José María Aznar, the former president of Spain, is tired of the “double standard in relations between Islam and the West”:

Speaking at a Washington think tank, Aznar asked why no Muslims have apologized for the 800 year Moorish invasion of his country.

Speaking at a weekend conference at the Hudson Institute, Aznar asked, “What is the reason … we, the West, always should be apologiz(ing) and they never should … apologize? It’s absurd! They occupied Spain for eight centuries!”

Aznar also said that the Western world is in serious trouble when it comes to relations with the Islamic world, and not just because of radical Islamic terrorists. The former president said that poor leadership in the West has led to a sense that Western values are indefensible. “I can put on the table the names of various Western leaders who don’t believe in the West,” he said.

Unfortunately, no table big enough could be found, so the names have not yet been revealed. But what of Aznar’s complaint that Muslims have never apologized for invading and conquering Spain? A recent statement by the Muslim American Society, given in response to Benedict XVI’s Regensburg lecture, “explains” why such apologies will probably never be made:

Islam does not, and never did, sanction spreading the faith by the sword. More than half of the Muslims today live in countries that were never militarily conquered by Muslims, such as Southeast Asia, sub-saharan Africa, Europe and the Americas. In lands that were conquered by early Muslim armies, no forced conversion ever occurred and there is no historical evidence indicating such. The perception of “spreading faith by the sword” was circulated by eighteenth and nineteenth century Eurocentric scholars, who in their analysis of the Muslim world relied on dogma more than objective observation and research. The Quran which is the first source of legislation in Islam states unequivocally: “…There is no compulsion in religion.” (Surah 2, verse 256)

But, in addition to being confused (if Islam was never spread by the sword, why were Muslims continually invading and conquering countries for so many centuries? For the fun of it?), this is false. An exhaustive resource (nearly 600 pages long) demonstrating otherwise is The Myth of Islamic Tolerance (Prometheus Books, 2005), edited by Robert Spencer. In the foreword, “The Genesis of a Myth,” former Muslim Ibn Warraq writes:

Those [Muslim] apologists who continue to perpetuate the myth of Islamic tolerance should contemplate the massacre and extermination of the Zoroastrians in Iran; the million Armenians in Turkey; the Buddhists and Hindus in India; the more than six thousand Jews in Fez, Morocco, in 1033; hundreds of Jews killed in Cordoba between 1010 and 1013; the entire Jewish community of four thousand in Granada in 1066; the Jews in Marrakesh in 1232; the Jews in Tetuan, Morocco in 1790; the Jews of Baghdad in 1828; and so on ad nauseam.

Head over to read the rest.


  1. Certainly, by using the references that you chose, you can make such a claim. I would like to see your claims put up my an actual scholar, and what I mean by that is someone who does more than bash a religion. You use Ibn Warraq and Robert Spencer but both HATE Islam, so are we to assume that the best people who can rationalize something are those that HATE it most??? Isn’t that like letting a NAZI explain to you the history of Judaism??? I understand that you are Catholic and I can see that you support the Pope but I think your defense of him should also be in tune with actual history and more in line with the Church’s opinion more so than the opinions of people who have made a career of taking things outs of context and than using those quotes to justify their argument. If you would like to learn about Islam from a non Orientalist view point, you many consider John Esposito or Karen Armstrong. Also, you can also read this article, written today by an Israeli peace activity and former parliament member.

  2. What I am defending is what the pope actually wrote, combined with actual history that shows that Mohammed spread his new religion with the sword. I’ll try to get to the article before next week (though my time is limited until then), but Karen Armstrong? Isn’t she the ex-nun? I’m not going to take her word on what the Church teaches when she doesn’t assent to the Church or any faith in particular. Okay…before I even hit “publish” I went to bookmark that article. Anyone who calls the president an “Emperor” loses me imediately. It’s not even worth going any further when it’s obviously not an article concerned with giving an unbiased look at the situation.Obviously, as a Catholic, I’m not completely without bias, but I’m at least attempting to use facts here. And the fact is, the Muslims conquered much of the Christian world, desecrated their churches, and forced people to either covert or die (or pay special taxes that ensure their poverty – what a great way to live!).

  3. Ah….the beta blogger.Okay, apparently I have two sets of comments running on this same thread. The other comments are here: least the first is.)When you pull up this post as a single page, my HaloScan comments don’t show up. I’ll have to see if I can fix that.Anyway, check out the other com boxes if you are coming in one page at a time. Access them (for now, until I figure out how to do otherwise) by accessing the main page of the blog.

  4. Okay, got the exact post that was talked about by DMinor in the thread linked above.


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