Islamic imperial rule started with the conquest of Spain in 711 and lasted until 1492 when European powers manned up and freed themselves from the chokehold of Islamic supremacy.
In July 711, 7000 Islamised Berber tribesmen stormed across the straits of Gibraltar and invaded Europe. They then began an incredible process of expansions. In just four years, they colonised almost the whole of Spain, made forays inland and were only halted in France by Charles Martel, at the battle of Tours in 732. Were it not for this defeat, Britain and all of Europe would have fallen to the Islamic rule of an army which thus far had successfully crossed two continents.
When the Islamised Berbers got to Spain, they named the new country that they came to, Al-Andalus, the land of the vandals, referring to the barbaric Germanic tribe who ruled Spain at the time – the Visigoths. Palermo fell in 831 and was renamed al-Madinah. It became the new Islamic capital. Arabic language also replaced Greek. The introduction of Islamic rule in Spain is thought to have been met with little resistance, as the Natives themselves were previously under a repressive government and viewed the invaders as liberators. Thus explains why the Islamic conquerors were able to build what remains touted today, as a Golden Age in Spain, one purported to have matched the civilisational heights of the Italian Renaissance and Roman Empire. To the Muslims’ credit, they built civilised and highly sophisticated cities, including one in Cordoba. It had medical centres and organised legal system and libraries full of academics and scientists working on ideas light years ahead of the rest of Europe. Many academics from across Europe travelled there to acquire learning.
It is a false view however, to assert that this Islamic Spain was tolerant by the standards of 21st century Britain or Europe. Perusing through historical facts, one finds that although Islamic Spain was liberal by Islamic standards, and was possibly the most liberal Islamic rule in all of Islam’s history; it was, nevertheless, a system of apartheid just like any Islamic rule. Jews and Christians were tolerated if they accepted Islamic power, acquiesced to notions of Muslim supremacy, paid jizya, avoided blasphemy and didn’t try to convert Muslims. They had to wear a special badge to identify them from Muslims and were not allowed to carry weapons even though Muslims were allowed to. They couldn’t receive an inheritance from a Muslim (nor could a Muslim receive inheritance from them), couldn’t own a Muslim slave, and couldn’t give an evidence in an Islamic court, even though they could be tried for offences against Muslims in such a court. However benevolent this rule may have considered itself, it was one that thrived on religious apartheid. A non-Muslim was a Dhimmi, a second class citizen, while the Muslim was a first class citizen. Citizenship status was awarded by virtue of what Allah taught in his Holy Book. Dhimmi Spaniards could work their way to prominent positions in government, but none could ever be the supreme authority over the state – a law that didn’t apply to Muslims. Further, a Dhimmi man couldn’t marry a Muslim woman, although the reverse was acceptable; and a Dhimmi got lower compensation than Muslims, for the same injury. There was a massacre of thousands of Jews in Grenada in 1066 as well, and the forced exile of many Christians in 1126. This stratification was ‘liberal’ Islamic Spain.
Reports coming out of Europe today, show that an overwhelming number of Muslims are not integrating into European society, rather it is the society that’s adapting to the demands of Islam. Many European Muslims are being indoctrinated to hate the very country they live in. Some call for a re-establishment of Khilafa, to revive the ‘lost glory’ of Islamic Spain and all other lands that were once under Islamic rule. Their sentiments echo those of many Muslims abroad, including Hamas MP who in a Friday Sermon called for an outright conquest of Europe and America. In equal preposterousness, protesters in Egypt too, have demanded an end to ‘Spanish Occupation of Spain’. There is a tendency for the Western Left to parrot the same overused rhetoric as Islamists: that Western presence in Muslim lands is the cause of anti Western sentiments among Muslims. This assertion couldn’t be any more fallacious. The fact of the matter is that Western presence in Muslim lands began with the neutering of the Ottoman Empire and the Ottoman Empire had to be neutered for democracy to emerge! Democracy is a system of government for all peoples. Islamic rule is a system of government serving Muslim supremacy at the expense of all other peoples.
The European colonial era did not begin until the West successfully began rolling back the Muslim empire off European lands. Western imperialism thus arose vividly as a reaction to, and in competition with Islamic jihad. Before the rise of the West, it was none other but Muslims who ran the world’s largest Empire.
There exists, a clash of values between the Islamic world and the West. It is these values, not Western occupation of Muslim lands, that are at the crux of the animosity between European Muslims and Europe. The active desire to implement these values is a crucial agency for Islamic imperialism. Another agency for Islamic imperialism in Europe is multiculturalism. Under the pretext of multiculturalism, certain Islamic values incompatible with Western values are permitted, rather than curbed. Christianity, Atheism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, all integrate, fundamental Islam doesn’t. Multiculturalism therefore aids Islam at the expense of all other philosophies, in a multicultural society.
Assimilation polls show that many European Muslims either abhor, feel alienated from or reject British societal values as a whole. It is not about British wars abroad, but a clash of values at home. Here are a few cited polls.
Policy Exchange Poll: 51% of British Muslims believe a woman cannot marry a non-Muslim.
Policy Exchange Poll: Up to 52% of British Muslims believe a Muslim man is entitled to up to four wives.
Only half (51%) of British Muslims believe a Muslim woman may marry without a guardian’s consent.
Multiculturalism Research: Pakistani Muslims in the UK are three times more likely to be unemployed than Hindus.
Multiculturalism Research: Indian Muslims are twice as likely to be unemployed as Indian Hindus.
Pew Poll: Only 7% of British Muslims think of themselves as British first (81% say ‘Muslim’ rather than ‘Briton’).
Policy Exchange Poll: 31% Muslims in Britain identify more with Muslims in other countries than with non-Muslim Brits.
The more the schism in values and identity widens between European Muslims and non-Muslims, the more alienated European Muslims will feel and the greater chances Islamic imperialism will have of materialising in Europe. The ‘lost glory’ of Islamic Spain that many at home and abroad are nostalgic for will finally come into possession of a chance to be re-birthed!
The excerpt below is from chapter V of the book Islamic Jihad: A Legacy of Imperialism, Forced Conversion and Slavery, where M. A. Khan discusses the devastating effects of Islamic conquests in Europe and their eventual ousting.
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The Beginning of Islamic Imperialism in Europe.
In Europe, Islamic imperial rule started with the conquest of Spain in 711 and lasted until 1492. From Spain, they penetrated deep into Europe, reaching the heart of France, where they were defeated at Tours in 732 by Charles Martel. This defeat restricted the Muslim expansion in Europe from the Iberian front at the French border ever after; Muslims ruled Spain for nearly eight centuries before they were completely ousted from power in 1492. This was a temporary but crucial blow to the raging expansion of Islam in Europe. In summarizing the general sentiment regarding this battle, notes Nehru: ‘‘On the plains of Tours,’ a historian has said, ‘the Arabs lost the empire of the world when almost in their grasp. There can be no doubt that if the Arabs had won at Tours, European history would have been tremendously changed. There was no one else to stop them… Instead of Christianity, Islam would have then become the religion of Europe, and all manners of other changes might have taken place.’349 If not for this victory of Martel, wrote Edward Gibbon, ‘‘perhaps the interpretation of the Quran would now be taught in the schools of Oxford and her pulpit might demonstrate to a circumcised people the sanctity and truth of the revelation of Mahomet.’’350
However, the Jihadi zeal of Muslims to conquer the globe for establishing a global Islamic suzerainty, as commanded by Allah, could hardly be extinguished. In attempts to consolidate their conquest of Europe, they intensified their attacks on the Mediterranean coastal cities and islands off Italy in the early ninth century. In 813, they devastated and occupied Centumcellae, Ischia and Lampedusa. In the same year, they attacked the Sardinia and Corsica Islands. Centumcellae was devastated again in 829.
In 840, the Arabs made an incursion deep into Italy and devastated the monastery of Subiaco. In 840, they conquered the coastal towns off Benevento; Carolingian Emperor Ludovico II succeeded in ousting them in 871. In 845, they penetrated deep inland capturing Capo Miseno (Naples) and Ponza near Rome, making it their base for attacking Rome. In 846, they ransacked Brindisi and conquered Taranto near the Southwest tip of Italy; Byzantine Emperor Basil I succeeded in freeing Taranto in 880.
On 28 August 846, a Muslim fleet arrived at the mouth of river Tiber and sailed to attack Rome. Meanwhile, a Muslim army from Civitavecchia and another from Portus and Ostia marched on-land to join the attack. They failed to penetrate the enclosing walls, solidly defended by the Romans. The Arabs vandalized and plundered the churches of St. Peter and St. Paul. The Saxons, Longobards, Frisians and Franks staunchly defended St. Peter, perishing to the last man. Muslims destroyed all the churches of the district of Suburb. Pope Leo IV briefly fled Rome and appealed for help from neighboring kingdoms. Responding to his plea, Marquis Guy of Spoleto counterattacked and defeated the Arabs. While fleeing partly toward Civitavecchia and partly toward Fondi, Muslims indulged in ruin and devastation of the country. At Gaeta, the Longobard army clashed with them again. Guy of Spoleto found himself in serious difficulty, but the Byzantine troops of Cesarius from Naples arrived in time to rescue him. This attack prompted Pope Leo IV to undertake the construction of the Civitas Leonina in 848 to protect the Vatican Hill.
In 848, they sacked Ancona. The next year, a huge Muslim naval fleet set off to attack Rome and met an Italian naval fleet at the mouth of the river Tiber near Ostia. In the battle, the Arabs were routed. In 856, they attacked and destroyed the Cathedral of Canosa in Puglia. In 861, they assaulted Ascoli and, after slaughtering the children, carried away the inhabitants as slaves. In 872, they attacked and besieged Salerno for six months. In 876, they attacked Latium and Umbria slaughtering the inhabitants, enslaving them and sacking the villages before marching toward Rome; they turned the Roman country into an unhealthy desert. Pope John VIII (872–82) defeated the Arabs at Circeo and freed 600 enslaved Christians from eighteen Muslim vessels. He attempted to expel the Arabs after the depredations, but with little help from European kings forthcoming, he failed and was forced to pay tribute.
Muslims continued their devastation of Latium both on the coast and inland, consolidating their conquest of the Roman country: they went on to capture Tivoli (Saracinesco), Sabina (Ciciliano), Narni, Nepi, Orte, Tiburtino countries, Sacco valley, Tuscia and Argentario Mountain. Their depredations continued through the 880s and 890s. In the early tenth century, Muslims were planning to establish an Emirate in Southern Italy. In 916, Marquis Adalbertus of Tusca, Marquis Albericus of Spoleto, Prince Landulf of Capua and Benevento, Prince Gaimar of Salerno, the dukes of Gaeta and Naples and Byzantine Emperor Constantine entered into an anti-Arab alliance, with Pope John X personally heading the land troops. The Arabs were totally defeated and mainland Italy was freed from the Muslim invaders.
The Mediterranean island of Sicily, where Muslims had founded a long-lasting Emirate, suffered the first Jihad raid, involving pillage and plunder, in 652; it was repeated in 669, 703, 728, 729, 730, 731, 733, 734, 740 and 752. The early Muslim incursions (652–752) in Sicily failed to gain a foothold for Islam. The conquest of Sicily began in real earnest when an Aghlabid Arab army from Tunis landed in Mazara del Vallo in 827. This started a long series of battles: Palermo fell in 831, Pantelleria in 835 and Messina in 843. Cefalù and Enna resisted the Muslim conquest for years before being conquered and burned down in 858 and 859, respectively. Syracuse offered strong resistance for long; the Arabs overran it in 878, massacring the entire population. Sicily was lost. Palermo, renamed al-Madinah, became the new Islamic capital; Arabic language replaced Greek. A native counterattack against the Muslim occupation of Sicily had started in 827. But a Norman conquest, begun in 1061, eventually expelled Muslims in 1091.
On another front, Muslims eventually overran entire Eastern Christendom, centered in Constantinople. In the famous conquest of Constantinople in 1453, the Ottoman holy warriors slaughtered the inhabitants for three days and the rest were enslaved. The Ottoman Jihadis, bypassing Constantinople, had already crossed over to Europe in the 1350s. After a couple of decades of see-saw battles, the Ottomans gained extensive victories capturing Bulgaria and the Balkans in the 1380s and went on to attack Venice in 1423. The capture of Constantinople in 1453 further facilitated the Ottoman conquest of Europe. They captured the entire Balkan Peninsula, moved toward Russia capturing Crimea, and laid unsuccessful siege twice on Vienna, the heart of Western Europe and the Holy Roman Empire, in 1529 and 1683. Muslims at some point ruled the whole of Spain, Portugal, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Albania, Greece, Bulgaria and Romania. They ruled parts of France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Poland, Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union. By the sixteenth century, extensive Ottoman conquest had reduced Europe into a truncated, cornered Christian landmass, desperately resisting an inescapable takeover by the Ottoman Islamic army. Busbecq, the ambassador of the Holy Roman Empire to Istanbul (1554–62), resonated this desperate sentiment as he went on to say, it was only the threat from Safavid Persia to the Turkish Empire that saved the imminent Ottoman conquest of Europe.351
The second defeat of the Ottoman invaders in Vienna (1683) decisively proved the supremacy of European powers over their age-old tormentors; the fortune of the perennial Islam-Europe conflict dramatically changed in Europe’s favor. This not only marked the end of Islamic expansion, but also the beginning of its decline. The Ottomans were progressively expelled, eventually from all parts of Western Europe. They continued ruling some Balkan regions until the early twentieth century. Muslims were not only expelled from Europe, starting in mid-eighteenth century, Britain, Holland, France, Italy and Spain eventually captured most of the Islamic lands. Russia took large parts of Central Asian and Eastern European regions, while China, Burma and Thailand also recaptured lands, previously conquered by Muslims.
349. Nehru J (1989) Glimpses of World History, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, p. 146
350. Pipes (1983), p. 86
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