Saturday, December 17, 2005

These Pirates Didn't Sing Opera

I pray you, pardon me, ex-Pirate King!
Peers will be peers, and youth will have its fling.
The Pirates of Penzance

In an article appearing on National Review Online, Joshua E. London writes about the first case of an unprovoked attack on Americans by Muslim terrorists under the protection of Arab dictators--when Thomas Jefferson dealt with the Barbary pirates:

The Barbary states, modern-day Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya, are collectively known to the Arab world as the Maghrib (“Land of Sunset”), denoting Islam’s territorial holdings west of Egypt. With the advance of Mohammed’s armies into the Christian Levant in the seventh century, the Mediterranean was slowly transformed into the backwater frontier of the battles between crescent and cross. Battles raged on both land and sea, and religious piracy flourished.

The Maghrib served as a staging ground for Muslim piracy throughout the Mediterranean, and even parts of the Atlantic. America’s struggle with the terror of Muslim piracy from the Barbary states began soon after the 13 colonies declared their independence from Britain in 1776, and continued for roughly four decades, finally ending in 1815.

One of the key points London makes is to focus on the reason behind the ongoing conflict between these Moslems on the one hand and the US--which did not understand the reason for the attacks in the first place. The answer to that question was later explained at a meeting:
the 1786 meeting in London of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja, the Tripolitan ambassador to Britain. As American ambassadors to France and Britain respectively, Jefferson and Adams met with Ambassador Adja to negotiate a peace treaty and protect the United States from the threat of Barbary piracy.

These future United States presidents questioned the ambassador as to why his government was so hostile to the new American republic even though America had done nothing to provoke any such animosity. Ambassador Adja answered them, as they reported to the Continental Congress, “that it was founded on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as Prisoners, and that every Musselman who should be slain in Battle was sure to go to Paradise.” [emphasis added]

Based on this, Mr. London makes what should be a point well taken but one that will undoubtedly ignored anyway:
Note that America’s Barbary experience took place well before colonialism entered the lands of Islam, before there were any oil interests dragging the U.S. into the fray, and long before the founding of the state of Israel. [emphasis added]
True, Israel holds a special place in the hearts of Moslems, in part as the dhimmis that got away and are now the equals--and more--of the one-time Moslem empire.

After all, while Moslems are fond of pointing to "Palestine" as occupied territory, they tend to gloss over the history of the Moslem attempted expansion which started from the originally Christian areas of Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and North Africa, and invadedRussia, Belgrade, Spain, Budapest, and Vienna, France and Iceland--before the Moslem invaders were repulsed. (see Israeli Occupation? Moslems Are Just Being Modest) The Crusades were a reaction to Moslem imperialism, a piece of history that seems to get forgotten.

Daniel Johnson, a senior editor and columnist for the London Times and Daily Telegraph, and currently a columnist for the New York Sun writes in How To Think About The Crusades:
In that larger perspective, they take their place as a short-lived counteroffensive against another, much lengthier, and much more relentless holy war — namely, the Muslim jihad against Christendom. For the fact is that whereas the Crusades were a temporary phenomenon that flourished for some two centuries and had quite limited purposes, jihad is and has been a permanent and ubiquitous fact of Islamic life.

Jihad evolved into a doctrine of Islamic jurisprudence as a byproduct of the great Arab expansion after the death of the Prophet Muhammad, thus predating the First Crusade by more than four centuries. Muslim scholars were well aware of the uniqueness of this institution. Ibn Khaldun, the greatest of all Islamic historians and a key witness from the period just after the Crusades, compares Islam with Christianity and Judaism in this respect:

In the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the Muslim mission and the obligation to convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or force… . The other religious groups did not have a universal mission, and the holy war was not a religious duty to them, save only for purposes of defense.
But today, past history amounts to little. Quoting Santayana is droll. The Crusades were evil. The Moslems were victims--and don't even mention the 'C' word, lest you offend. Meanwhile, the Barbary pirates are forgotten. Moslems are not all evil, but without the viewpoint of history we are being led to the belief that the West, and Israel, is.

As long as millions of dollars are being offered to universities to offer even more courses on Islam, isn't it about time to finally have an honest presentation of Islam and Islamic history--warts and all--instead of babying those who claim that Islam and Moslems are just being misunderstood. It's time for Islamic studies not only to grow but also grow up.

Crossposted at Israpundit

Technorati Tags: and and .

No comments: