136 The Sword of the Prophet

Educated in England, receiving a PhD at the University of Southampton, and doing postdoctoral research at the Hoover Institute, Serge Trifkovic has worked as a broadcaster for BBC and a reporter in southeast Europe for U.S. News & World Report and The Washington Times.  In The Sword of the Prophet (Boston:  Regina Orthodox Pr3ss, Inc., 2002), he sets forth a “politically incorrect” perspective on Islam, its “history, theology, and impact on the world.”  He sees today’s conflicts as simply a recent manifestation of an ancient religious struggle. 

In his Foreword to the book, a former Canadian Ambassador to Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Albania, endorses Trifkovic’s position, noting that “something is wrong in the Muslim world” (p. 3).  It’s a poverty-stricken, dictator-dominated realm, and the recent resurgence of militant Islam poses “the greatest danger to ‘Western’ values since the end of the Cold War” (p. 4).  “This is a book,” Ambassador Bissett says, “that deals with what many consider to be the major issue of our time–the question of whether the Western and Muslim civilizations can live together in peace” (p. 5).  Sadly enough, he admits, it seems “that, just as the Western democracies refused to acknowledge the danger inherent in the rise of Nazi and Communist ideologies, our refusal to confront militant Islam may cost us dearly” (p. 5). 

Trifkovic begins his book with the assertion that the Muslim attack on the United States on September 11, 2001, demonstrated an antipathy against the Christian world deeply rooted in Islam.  That so many refer to Islam as a “religion of peace” shows that “the problem of collective historical ignorance–or even deliberately induced amnesia–is the main difficulty in addressing the history of Islam in today’s English speaking world, where claims about far-away lands and cultures are made on the basis of domestic multiculturalism assumptions rather than on evidence” (p. 8).  Just as pro-communist publicists long avoided condemning the evils of Stalinist Russia, pro-Muslim “experts” have skillfully spread skillful propaganda to gloss over the truth concerning Islam.  To set forth the facts–to counteract the propaganda–this book was written.

First, we learn much about Muhammad.  Born in Mecca in 570 A.D., early orphaned, he spent his early years working at utterly menial jobs, including shepherding sheep.  Then, fortuitously, he met a wealthy widow, Khadija, 15 years his senior, for whom he worked and ultimately married.  Freed from survival concerns, he began to spend time in the solitude, especially in some caves near Mecca, and, in A.D. 610, received a message from an angel designating him as “the Messenger of God.”  When he shared his message, he won as converts only his wife and a few kinsmen. Most of the folks in Mecca merely scoffed at the new zealot.  But his visions continued, and his wife and a politically powerful uncle protected him from persecution for a few years. 

In A.D. 622, however opposition in Mecca escalated to the point that Muhammed and 70 followers fled north to the more hospitable city of Medina.  This event–the hijrah–marks Islam’s true beginning point.  Here, importantly, Muhammad shifted his emphasis from religion to politics, from persuasion to coercion.  His followers became bands of brigands, and as they raided camel caravans they brought money to the “prophet” and his movement.  Small-scale scirmish victories brought admiration and acclaim from the warrior-minded Arabs, and a battle at Badr in 624 proved particularly momentous, for the principles of jihad came to the fore.  No mercy was extended to unbelievers or captives.  “The Kuran contains the accompanying revelation from on high:  ‘It is not for any Prophet to have captives until he hath made slaughter in the land.’  Fresh revelations described the unbelievers as ‘the worst animals.’  The Prophet was now the ‘enemy of infidels.’  Killing, or in the case of Jews and Christians, enslaving and robbing them, was not only divinely sanctioned but mandated” (p. 38).  Within a decade, at the head of a victorious army, swollen by warriors fattened by plunder and power, Muhammed conquered Mecca, dying there in A.D. 632.

Evaluating the prophet’s career, Trifkovic says:  “Muhammad’s practice and constant encouragement of bloodshed are unique in the history of religions.  Murder pillage, rape, and more murder are in the Kuran and in the Traditions ‘seem to have impressed his followers with a profound belief in the value of bloodshed as opening the gates of Paradise’ and prompted countless Muslim governors, caliphs, and viziers to refer to Muhammad’s example to justify their mass killings, looting, and destruction.  ‘Kill, kill the unbelievers wherever you find ‘them’ is an injunction both unambiguous and powerful” (p. 51). 

Here Alexis de Tocqueville’s appraisal seems remarkable:  “‘ I studied the Kuran a great deal. . . .  I came away from that study with the conviction that by and large there have been few religions in the world as deadly to men as that of Muhammad.  As far as I can see, it is the principal cause of the decadence so visible today in the Muslim world, and, though less absurd than the polytheism of old, its social and political tendencies are in my opinion infinitely more to be feared, and I therefore regard it as a form of decadence rather than a form of progress in relation to paganism itself'” (p. 208). 

Muhammad’s example and teachings led quickly, following his death, to “jihad without end.”  Trifkovic insists:  “The view of modern Islamic activists, that ‘Islam must rule the world and until Islam does rule the world we will continue to sacrifice our lives,’ is neither extreme nor even remarkable from the standpoint of traditional Islam” (p. 87).  The century following Muhammad’s death (A.D. 632-732) witnessed the success of Muslim armies, conquering much of the known world, creating “an Arab empire ruled by a small elite of Muslim warriors who lived entirely on the spoils of war, the poll and land taxes paid by the subjugated peoples” (p. 89).  Lush agricultural lands, under Muslim rule, slowly turned to deserts.  Thriving economies, subordinated to Muslim dictates, slowly sank into impoverishment.  “The periods of civilization under Islam, however brief, were predicated on the readiness of the conquerors to borrow from earlier cultures, to compile, translate, learn, and absorb.  Islam per se never encouraged science, meaning “disinterested inquiry,” because the only knowledge it accepts is religious knowledge” (p. 196). 

The primary victims of Muslim oppression were Christians, even in Spain, the alleged “jewel of supposed Islamic tolerance” (p. 108).   The oft-denigrated, and ultimately unsuccessful, Crusades were but “a belated military response of Christian Europe to over three centuries of Muslim aggression against Christian lands, the systematic mistreatment of the indigenous Christian population of those lands, and harassment of Christian pilgrims” (p. 97).  As a modern parallel, Trifkovic notes that the Crusades were designed as “a recon quest of something taken by force from its rightful owners, ‘no more offensive than was the American invasion of Normandy'” (p. 102).  Though less well-known in the West, the Muslim conquest of India led to what Will Durant called “probably the bloodiest story in history” (p. 111).  It was far worse than the Holocaust, worse than the killings of American Indians by the Spanish and Portuguese.  Muslims slaughtered Indians indiscriminately–killing 50,000 Hindus in a temple in Somnath, for example.  The Ottomans did the same in the Balkans, as did the Turks in Armenia.  In sum:  “Islam is and always has been a religion of intolerance, a jihad without an end” (p. 132).  Indeed, it resembles, in many ways, Bolshevism and National Socialism in the 20th century. 

Turning to the “fruits” of Islam, Trifkovic discusses such things as the absolute lack of religious liberty, the subjugation of women, the widespread practice of enslaving non-Muslims.  He also shows how deeply embedded is the hatred for Jews in the Muslim world.  For example, during WWII the Mufti of Jerusalem and former President of the Supreme Muslim Council of Palestine, Haj Mohammed Amin al-Husseini, urged Muslims to support Hitler.  In a radio broadcast from Berlin, he said:  “‘Arabs!  Rise as one and fight for your sacred rights.  Kill the Jews wherever you find them'” (p. 186).  He supported the extermination of European Jewry.

Trifkovic concludes his treatise with an examination of “Western Appeasement,” showing how in Bosnia and Kosovo, Indonesia and Africa, leaders in the West have been so subservient to the economic power of Mid-Eastern oil and so conflicted concerning their own cultural traditions that they failed to resist militant Muslims.  “The West,” he insists, “cannot wage ‘war on terror’ while maintaining its dependence on Arab oil, appeasing Islamist aggression around the world, turning a blind eye to the Islamic destruction of peoples who are animists, Hindus and Christians, and allowing mass immigration of Muslims into its own lands” (p. 260).  Added to his concern is “Jihad’s Fifth Column” alive and well in the U.S. and other Western nations. 

For those who find fiction a more palatable vehicle for historical and cultural information, Craig Winn and Ken Power’s Tea with Terrorists:  Who They Are; Why They Kill; What Will Stop Them  (CricketSong Books, c. 2003) provides an engrossing study of Islam’s threat to the world.  There’s adventure, romance, suspense–plus Christian apologetics, countless quotations from Islam’s primary texts, and an unrelenting warning that we Americans are just beginning a life-and-death struggle against an implacable foe.  The story centers upon a heroic Navy Seal, Thor Adams, who leads a disastrous expedition into Afghanistan, following which he launches an intellectual search to understand what motivated the Muslims he’d encountered.  The publicity he garnered granted him a podium, and he told the nation the truth he discovered about Islam.  That led to political acclaim and success.  (Since I don’t want to spoil the book for anyone who wants to read it, I’ll say no more about the adventure and romance, but it is engrossing enough to sustain interest for 600 pages!)

The more historical and philosophical sections of the book, however, deserve attention, for they stress many of the same points earlier discussed in Trifkovic’s The Sword of the Prophet.  World War III began, the Winn and Power make clear, on September 11, 2001.  The Muslims who steered the planes into American landmarks represented millions of Muhammad’s modern disciples who are deeply committed to jihad–the holy war that will end only when Islam rules the globe.  Terrorist acts, at the moment, are the strategies of choice, as they have been from the beginning, for “Muhammad was a terrorist” (p. 116).  Indeed a careful reading of Islam’s sacred texts reveals a disturbing celebration of death, a continual call to kill all “infidels,” a justification of any crime or enormity if it furthers the sacred cause.   “Islamic scriptures promote war, lying, thievery, rape, bigamy, genocide” (p. 434).  Just as Muhammad’s success followed his decision to shift from preaching a “religious” message to leading an armed band of brigands and killers that ultimately conquered Mecca, today’s Muslims resort to treachery and intimidation in their quest for pleasure and power.

Today’s Muslim terrorists are not, Winn and Power insist, abnormal.  Islam is not, and never has been, a “religion of peace.”  Peaceful Muslims, in the past, have often been coerced converts, not true believers, generally living in lands far from Arabia.  Lots of less-than-fervent faithful clearly crave normal routines, free from violence.  But devout Muslims, seeking to live out Muhammad’s precepts, have always embraced a violent agenda.  They reveal the fact that “Allah is as different from God as Muhammad is from Jesus” (p. 354).  Indeed, they simply carry on the most ancient Islamic agenda, and the cancers cells of el-Qaeda, Islamic Jihad, and Hamas are wildly metastasizing offshoots of “the cancer [that] is Islam itself” (p. 467). 

The authors argue that Islam is a “perverted religion” most nearly akin to dictatorial ideologies such as Communism and Nazism.    They even devote 10 pages to showing some amazing resemblances between the “Messenger” Muhammad and the “Leader” Adolph Hitler.  “Violence was the key to victory for both men” (p. 436).  Both gained and maintained political power through intimidation and manipulative rhetoric.  Both “became anti-Jew and anti-Christian” (p. 443).    Both led movements that led to the deaths of multiplied millions of innocent people.