The Big Lie as propaganda device has a long and dishonorable history, gulling onto complacency those who prefer to avoid unpleasant worries. The Nazi propagandist Goebbels was its most notable practitioner, but for sheer numbers and historical roots, no other group can match the efforts of jihadist Muslims, with their religiously-sanctioned practice of deceiving infidels to protect the faith.
Al-Jazeera aired on March 24, 2006, a rather chilling, one-sided “dialogue” between representatives of Arab and Danish student organizations who met in Damascus, ostensibly to discuss the violent worldwide Muslim reactions following publication of the Muhammad cartoons by the Danish paper Jyllands-Posten. Video clips and a written transcript of this event are available through the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
Ahmad Al-Shater, Chairman of the Arab Students Union, and his Sudanese Student Union colleague “Muhammad,” were unremittingly truculent in their presentations, which melded classic taquiyya (sanctioned dissimulation of Islamic doctrine to “protect” the faithful), or sheer ignorance, Muslim Jew-hatred, and a Goebbels-like distortion of contemporary events, including the requisite conspiratorial Judenhass (Jew-hatred).
Al-Shater began by stating that it was the nefarious “Zionists” and “imperialists” who had deliberately misrepresented Islam by wrongfully associating the religion with terrorism. He asserted categorically:
According to the Islamic religion, even in times of war, it is forbidden to uproot a tree, it is forbidden to kill a woman, it is forbidden to kill a child, it is forbidden to destroy wells… It is forbidden to fill wells with earth… Water wells… It is forbidden to harm human life, it is forbidden to destroy a church, it is forbidden to attack a religious belief…
Classical Islamic doctrines on jihad war, and more importantly the actual practice of jihad campaigns in accord with this theory, put the lie to Al-Shater’s uninformed or deliberately taquiyya-laden assertions. Al-Shater’s basic contention that “it is forbidden to attack a religious belief” is patently absurd—the archetypal proto-jihad campaigns of Muhammad himself imposed Islam and Islamic suzerainty upon the pagans, Jews, and Christians of ancient Arabia, and continue to provide the rationale for aggressive jihad imperialism to this day.
For example, Muhammad, according to a summary of sacralized Muslim sources,
..waited for some act of aggression on the part of the Jews of Khaybar, whose fertile lands and villages he had destined for his followers…to furnish an excuse for an attack. But, no such opportunity offering, he resolved in the autumn of this year [i.e., 628], on a sudden and unprovoked invasion of their territory.
Ali (later, the fourth “Rightly Guided Caliph”, and especially revered by Shi’ite Muslims) asked Muhammad why the Jews of Khaybar were being attacked, since they were peaceful farmers, tending their oasis, and was told by Muhammad he must compel them to submit to Islamic Law. The renowned early 20th century scholar of Islam, David Margoliouth, observed aptly:
Now the fact that a community was idolatrous, or Jewish, or anything but Mohammedan, warranted a murderous attack upon it.
Moreover, this canonical hadith (from Sahih Muslim Book 019, Number 4324), which further incorporates a Koranic verse (K 59:5), states clearly that Muhammad also sanctioned the destruction of the trees (i.e., date palms) of infidel foes:
It is narrated on the authority of ‘Abdullah that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) ordered the date-palms of Banu Nadir to be burnt and cut. These palms were at Buwaira. Qutaibah and Ibn Rumh in their versions of the tradition have added: So Allah, the Glorious and Exalted, revealed the verse (K59:5): “Whatever palm-tree you cut down or leave standing upon its roots, It is by Allah’s command, and that He may abase the transgressors”
And with only minor points of internal disagreement, the consensus amongst all four major schools of classical Sunni Islamic jurisprudence contradicts each claim made by Al-Shater. The Hanafi jurists Abu Yusuf (d. 798), Shaybani (d. 803/805), and Shaikh Burhanuddin Ali of Marghinan (d. 1196), state:
[Abu Yusuf]—It seems that the most satisfactory suggestion we have heard in this connection is that there is no objection to the use of any kind of arms against the polytheists, smothering and burning their homes, cutting down their trees and date groves, and using catapults.
[Shaybani]—The army may launch the attack [on the enemy] by night or by day and it is permissible to burn [the enemy] fortifications with fire or to inundate them with water.
[Shaikh Burhanuddin Ali of Marghinan]—in the Traditions…the Prophet plundered and despoiled the tribe of al-Mustaliq by surprise, and he also agreed with Asamah to make a predatory attack upon Qubna at an early hour, and to set it on fire, and such attacks are not preceded by a call…If the infidels, upon receiving the call [to Islam], neither consent to it nor agree to pay capitation tax, it is then incumbent on the Muslims to call upon God for assistance, and to make war upon them, because God is the assistant of those who serve Him, and the destroyer of His enemies, the infidels, and it is necessary to implore His aid upon every occasion; the Prophet, moreover, commands us so to do. And having so done, the Muslims must then with God’s assistance attack the infidels with all manner of warlike engines (as the Prophet did by the people of Ta’if), and must also set fire to their habitations (in the same manner as the Prophet fired Baweera), and must inundate them with water and tear up their plantations and tread down their grain because by these means they will become weakened, and their resolution will fail and their force be broken; these means are, therefore, all sanctified by the law.
The Hanbali jurist, Ibn Qudama (d. 1223) concurs, and both he and Ibn Taymiyya (d. 1328), also a Hanbali, elaborate on the issue of when killing women and children may in fact be allowed:
[Ibn Qudama]—It is permitted to surprise the infidels under cover of night, to bombard them with mangonels [an engine that hurls missiles] and to attack them without declaring battle (du‘a’). The Prophet attacked the Banu Mustaliq unexpectedly, while their animals were still at the watering-place; he killed the men who had fought against him and carried off the children into captivity. It is forbidden to kill children, madmen, women, priests, impotent old men, the infirm, the blind, the weak-minded, unless they have taken part in the combat.
[Ibn Taymiyya]—As for those who cannot offer resistance or cannot fight, such as women, children, monks, old people, the blind, handicapped, and their likes, they shall not be killed, unless they actually fight with words [e.g. by propaganda] and acts [e.g. by spying or otherwise assisting in the warfare]. Some [ jurists] are of the opinion that all of them may be killed, on the mere ground that they are unbelievers, but they make an exception for women and children since they constitute property for Muslims.
Averroes (d. 1198), the renowned philosopher and scholar of the natural sciences, who was also an important Maliki jurist, outlines some of the (rather trivial) points of controversy:
Opinions vary as to the damage that may be inflicted on their property, such as buildings, cattle, and crops. Mālik allowed the felling of trees, the picking of fruits and the demolishing of buildings, but not the slaughter of cattle and the burning of date-palms…According to Shāfiī, dwellings and trees may be burnt as long as the enemy have the disposal of fortresses.
The Shafi’i jurist Al-Mawardi’s (d. 1058) opinion confirms the prevailing consensus views:
The amir [leader] of the army may use ballistas and catapults when besieging the enemy, for the Messenger of Allah…set up a catapult against the inhabitants of Ta’if. He may also destroy their homes, make night raids against them and cause fire. If, moreover, he reckons that by cutting their date-palms and their trees down it will serve to weaken them, such that they are overcome by force or are compelled to make a peace agreement, then he should do so; he should not, however, act in this way if he does not see any such benefit in it…. It is also permitted to block off the supply of water to them, or to prevent them from using it, even if there are women and children amongst them, as it is one of he most potent means of weakening them and gaining victory over the, either by forcer or through a treaty. If a thirsty person amongst them requests a drink, the amir may either give him to drink or refuse him, just as he has the option of killing him or letting him live.
Even the writings of the much lionized paragon of mystical Sufism and Shafi’i jurist al-Ghazali (d. 1111)—who, as noted by the esteemed scholar W.M. Watt, has been “…acclaimed in both the East and West as the greatest Muslim after Muhammad…”—underscore how these practices were normative:
one must go on jihad (i.e., warlike razzias or raids) at least once a year…one may use a catapult against them [non-Muslims] when they are in a fortress, even if among them are women and children. One may set fire to them and/or drown them…One may cut down their trees…One must destroy their useless books. Jihadists may take as booty whatever they decide..
Ibn Hudayl, a 14th century Granadan author of an important treatise on jihad, explained how these allowable methods facilitated the violent, chaotic jihad conquest of the Iberian peninsula, and other parts of Europe:
It is permissible to set fire to the lands of the enemy, his stores of grain, his beasts of burden – if it is not possible for the Muslims to take possession of them – as well as to cut down his trees, to raze his cities, in a word, to do everything that might ruin and discourage him…[being] suited to hastening the Islamization of that enemy or to weakening him. Indeed, all this contributes to a military triumph over him or to forcing him to capitulate.
And these repeated attacks, indistinguishable in motivation from modern acts of jihad terrorism, like the horrific 9/11/01 attacks in New York and Washington, DC, and the Madrid bombings on 3/11/04, or those in London on 7/7/05, were in fact designed to sow terror. The 17th century Muslim historian al-Maqqari, explained that the panic created by the Arab horsemen and sailors, at the time of the Muslim expansion in the regions subjected to those raids and landings, facilitated their later conquest:
Allah thus instilled such fear among the infidels that they did not dare to go and fight the conquerors; they only approached them as suppliants, to beg for peace.
The essential pattern of the jihad war is captured in the classical Muslim historian al-Tabari’ s recording of the recommendation given by Umar b. al-Khattab (the second “Rightly Guided Caliph”) to the commander of the troops he sent to al-Basrah (636 C.E.), during the conquest of Iraq. Umar reportedly said:
Summon the people to God; those who respond to your call, accept it from them, but those who refuse must pay the poll tax out of humiliation and lowliness. (Koran 9:29) If they refuse this, it is the sword without leniency. Fear God with regard to what you have been entrusted.
By the time of al-Tabari’s death in 923, jihad wars had expanded the Muslim empire from Portugal to the Indian subcontinent. Subsequent Muslim conquests continued in Asia, as well as Eastern Europe. Under the banner of jihad, the Christian kingdoms of Armenia, Byzantium, Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Croatia, and Albania, in addition to parts of Poland and Hungary, were also conquered and Islamized by waves of Seljuk, or later Ottoman Turks, as well as Tatars. Arab Muslim invaders engaged, additionally, in continuous jihad raids that ravaged and enslaved Sub-Saharan African animist populations, extending to the southern Sudan. When the Ottoman Muslim armies were stopped at the gates of Vienna in 1683, over a millennium of jihad had transpired.
These tremendous military successes spawned a triumphalist jihad literature. Muslim historians recorded in detail the number of infidels slaughtered, or enslaved and deported, the cities, villages, and infidel religious sites which were sacked and pillaged, and the lands, treasure, and movable goods seized.
And once again, despite Mr. Al-Shater’s ignorance or disingenuous denial, this sanctioned but wanton destruction, resulted in: the merciless slaughter of non-combatants, including women and children; massive destruction of non-Muslim houses of worship and religious shrines—Christian churches, Jewish synagogues, and Zoroastrian, Hindu, and Buddhist temples and idols; and the burning of harvest crops and massive uprooting of agricultural production systems, leading to famine. Christian (Coptic, Armenian, Jacobite, Greek, Slav, etc.), as well as Hebrew sources, and even the scant Zoroastrian, Hindu and Buddhist writings which survived the ravages of the Muslim conquests, independently validate this narrative, and complement the Muslim perspective by providing testimonies of the suffering of the non-Muslim victims of jihad wars.
Al-Shater also spewed forth this lying invective—180 degrees divorced from reality—which included a frank “burning of the Reichstag” reference to mosque destruction considering the recent bombing of the revered Shi’ite “Golden Mosque” in Samarra—a striking contemporary event, but also just another manifestation of over a millennium of Muslim sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shi’a:
Those who try to pin the blame for terrorism on the Muslims, headed by the leader of international terrorism, America, and by Zionism and imperialism, are killing our children in Palestine and Iraq on a daily basis, as you can see. They are destroying schools. They are destroying churches and mosques. They violate our honor. They rape women and slit open the stomachs of pregnant women.
The bitter irony is that in stark contrast to Al-Shater’s mendacious slurs against American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, or Israeli forces in Gaza, Judea or Samaria, it is modern jihad campaigns which have been fraught with the atrocities he enumerates. A few prominent examples include: the Ottoman massacres of the Bulgarians in 1876 and larger genocidal slaughters of the Armenians at the close of the 19th century, through the end of World War I; the Moplah jihad against the hapless Hindus of South India in 1921; the massacres of Assyrian Christians by Arab and Kurdish Muslims near Mosul in 1933; and the recent genocidal jihad waged against Southern Sudanese Christians and Animists by the Arab Muslim Khartoum government, primarily during the last decade of the 20th century.
American correspondent Januarius A. MacGahan recorded these observations from Batak, July-August, 1876 during his investigation of the Bulgarian massacres:
The number of children killed in these massacres is something enormous. They were often spitted on bayonets, and we have several stories from eye-witnesses who saw little babes carried about the streets, both here and at Otluk-kui, on the point of bayonets. The reason is simple. When a Mahometan has killed a certain number of infidels, he is sure of Paradise, no matter what his sins may be…the ordinary Mussulman takes the precept in broader acceptation, and counts women and children as well. Here in Batak the Bashi-Bazouks, in order to swell the count, ripped open pregnant women, and killed the unborn infants. As we approached the middle of the town, bones, skeletons, and skulls became more numerous. There was not a house beneath the ruins of which we did not perceive human remains, and the street besides were strewn with them.
Lord Kinross described the slaughter of the Armenian community of Urfa in December, 1895, one of a series of brutal massacres committed by the Ottoman Turks between 1894 and 1896, as follows:
Cruelest and most ruinous of all were the massacres at Urfa, where the Armenian Christians numbered a third of the total population. Here in December 1895, after a two-months siege of their quarter, the leading Armenians assembled in their cathedral, where they drew up a statement requesting Turkish official protection. Promising this, the Turkish officer in charge surrounded the cathedral with troops. Then a large body of them, with a mob in their wake, rushed through the Armenian quarter, where they plundered all houses and slaughtered all adult males above a certain age. When a large group of young Armenians were brought before a sheikh, he had them thrown down on their backs and held by their hands and feet. Then, in the words of an observer, he recited verses of the Koran and “cut their throats after the Mecca rite of sacrificing sheep.”
When the bugle blast ended the day’s operations some three thousand refugees poured into the cathedral, hoping for sanctuary. But the next morning – a Sunday – a fanatical mob swarmed into the church in an orgy of slaughter, rifling its shrines will cries of “Call upon Christ to prove Himself a greater prophet than Mohammed.” Then they amassed a large pile of straw matting, which they spread over the litter of the corpses and set alight with thirty cans of petroleum. The woodwork of the gallery where a crowd of women and children crouched, wailing in terror, caught fire, and all perished in the flames. Punctiliously, at three-thirty in the afternoon the bugle blew once more, and the Moslem officials proceeded around the Armenian quarter to proclaim that the massacres were over. They had wiped out 126 complete families, without a woman or a baby surviving, and the total casualties in the town, including those slaughtered in the cathedral, amounted to eight thousand dead.
Vahakn Dadrian recounted the harrowing details of the slaughter of 6400 Armenian children, young girls, and women from Yozgad, described in Reverend K. Balakian’s eyewitness narrative of the World War I period (1914-1920), Hai Koghota (The Armenian Golgotha). The victims were left by their Turkish captors at a promontory some distance from the city. Then,
To save shell and powder, the gendarmerie commander in charge of this large convoy had gathered 10,000-12,000 Turkish peasants and other villagers, and armed with “hatchets, meat cleavers, saddler’s knives, cudgels, axes, pickaxes, shovels”, the latter attacked and for some 4-5 hours mercilessly butchered the victims while crying “Oh God, Oh God” (Allah, Allah). In a moment of rare candor, this gendarmerie commander confided to the priest-author, whom he did not expect to survive the mass murder, that after each massacre episode, he spread his little prayer rug and performed the namaz, the ritual of worship, centered on prayer, with a great sense of redemption in the service of Almighty God.
J. J. Banninga, an American graduate of the Western Theological Seminary, spent forty-two years in India, serving for 25 years as head of the Union Theological Seminary at Pasumalai in South India. His analysis of the 1921 Moplah (i.e., Muslims of Arabic and Hindu descent living in the Malabar district of South India) jihad—one of many periodic outbreaks of Moplah fanaticism—included these harrowing descriptions:
…the Hindu population fell easy prey to their (i.,e., the Moplah) rage and the atrocities committed defy description…The tale of atrocities committed makes sad reading indeed. A memorial submitted by women of Malabar to Her Excellency the Countess of Reading mentions such crimes as wells filled with mutilated bodies, pregnant women cut to pieces, children torn from mother’s arms and killed, husbands and fathers tortured, flayed, and burned alive before the eyes of their wives and daughters; women forcibly carried off and outraged; homes destroyed; temples desecrated…not less than 100 Hindu temples were destroyed or desecrated; cattle slaughtered in temples and their entrails placed around the necks of the idols in place of garlands of flowers; and wholesale looting. No fiendish act seems to have been too vile for them to perpetrate.
…There were, during the rebellion, many cases of forced conversion from Hinduism to Mohammedanism. There was a double difficulty about restoring these people to their old faith. In the first place there is a severe penalty resting on any Mohammedan that perverts…and in the second place there is really no door save birth into Hinduism.
On August 11, 1933, less than a year after British withdrawal from the region, the “new” Iraqi armed forces, aided by local Arab and Kurdish tribesmen, began the wholesale massacre of Assyrians in the Mosul area (Simel, Dohuk). Before the end of August, 1933, 3000 Assyrians were murdered, and thousands more displaced. An example typical of the carnage was described in a contemporary chronicle believed to have been written by Mar Eshai Shimun XXIII, a Cambridge University graduate and Patriarch of the Church of the East:
The inoffensive population was indiscriminately massacred, men, women and children alike, with rifle, revolver and machine gun fire. In one room alone, eighty-one men from the Baz tribe, who had taken shelter… were barbarously massacred. Priests were tortured and their bodies mutilated. Those who showed their Iraqi nationality papers were the first to be shot. Girls were raped and women violated and made to march naked before the Arab army commander. Holy books were used as fuel for burning girls. Children were run over by military cars. Pregnant women were bayoneted. Children were flung in the air and pierced on to the points of bayonets. Those who survived in the other villages were now exposed day and night to constant raids and acts of violence. Forced conversion to Islam of men and women was the next process. Refusal was met with death. Sixty five out of ninety five Assyrian villages and settlements were either sacked, destroyed or burnt to the ground. Even the settlements which existed from the year 1921 and who had no connection in any way with the trouble were wrecked and all property looted by Iraq army and tribesmen.
The intrepid Dr. John Eibner made 20 visits to the Sudan during decade of the 1990s, reporting on the recrudescence of jihad slavery. The Arab Muslim dominated Khartoum government established an overtly jihadist Popular Defense Force, which further incorporated local Arab militias. Their jihad depredations targeting the Christian and Animist tribes (principally the Dinkas of northern Bahr al-Ghazal, together with the black African Nuba tribes of southern Kordofan) slaughtered, displaced, and enslaved tens, sometimes hundreds of thousands at a time. During the spring of 1998 alone, more than 300,000 persons were displaced, while the total number killed and enslaved remained unknown. These Dinka victims—women and children—shared the fate of the Nuba, as described by Eibner:
Some Nuba captives end up as chattel slaves but the overwhelming majority are deported to concentration camps elsewhere in Sudan, where they serve in slave-like conditions. The children are sent to militant Qur’anic schools, while the women are sent out to work without pay as day laborers on farms and in private homes. Sexual abuse is rife.
Al-Shater’s conspiracy mongering (the publication of the Danish cartoons was yet another act of the “cabal”), and gross distortions of Islamic doctrines and history were complemented by his lionization of Holocaust deniers Roger Garaudy and David Irving (whose name he could not recall—“He relies on documents. I cannot recall his name, but he is a great English intellectual, a university professor, who refuted the Holocaust.”), as well as the viscerally anti-American and Antisemitic British politicians George Galloway and Ken Livingston.
The briefer presentation of Al-Shater’s colleague, Sudanese Student Union Chairman “Muhammad” included raw Muslim Judenhass, threats to Danish soldiers, and equally mendacious assertions of U.S. murderousness in Iraq—compared, with earnestness, to the putatively “light casualties” inflicted on the Iraqis during Saddam’s 30-year reign of domestic terror.
I’d like to tell you that harming the Prophet is not a new thing. One thousand four hundred years ago, the Jews tried to kill him in Al-Madina. In our religion, harming the Prophet is where we draw the line. We are prepared to die to prevent this……As you know, Bush killed 110,000 people in Iraq, while Saddam did not kill even one third of this figure. Saddam did not kill even 30,000 people throughout his rule. I would like to welcome you on this visit, because the image of Denmark and the Danish people has become very negative in the Arab and Islamic world. In conclusion, I would like to say that tomorrow America will pass a resolution in the U.N. Security Council calling for international military intervention in Sudan. Among these forces, obviously, there will be Danish forces. I would like to inform you that because the Sudanese people are so angry over this affront, they will kill the Danish soldiers before they kill the others.
He may be invoking an oral tradition, preserved in the hadith, for this uniquely Islamic motif of Jew hatred (Bukhari- Volume 3, Book 47, Number 786), which maintains that the perfidious Jews caused Muhammad’s protracted, excruciating death from poisoning.
Narrated Anas b. Malik: A Jewess brought a poisoned (cooked) sheep for the Prophet who ate from it. I continued to see the effect of the poison on the palate of the mouth of Allah’s Apostle
The rest of Sudanese Student Union Chairman “Muhammad” statements speak for themselves.
And what were the responses of the Danish Student Delegation Head to his Muslim interlocutors, the Chairmen of the Arab Students and Sudanese Student Unions?
…as a representative of the Danish youth and not a representative of the government, I cannot explain to you why the Danish government has not apologized…And another important question, in your last very concrete questions about… could a Danish newspaper have made drawings of the Holocaust or denying the Holocaust. And the answer to that question is yes. There’s no law in Denmark preventing a Danish newspaper from making drawings of the Holocaust.
These muted, largely non-sequitur responses by the Head of the Danish Student Delegation are a tangible product of the “Eurabian ethos”, which Bat Ye’or warned, pervades Western European academic and political institutions. The very “cartoon dialogue” itself was but a microcosm of the larger Euro-Arab Dialogue process and a distressing illustration of the most craven dhimmitude that parent institution has engendered, threatening, as Bat Ye’or notes, the very foundations of Western society:
This Eurabian ethos operates at all levels of European society. Its countless functionaries, like the Christian janissary slave-soldiers of past Islamic regimes, advance a jihadist world strategy. Eurabia cannot change direction; it can only use deception to mask its emergence, its bias and its inevitable trajectory. Eurabia’s destiny was sealed when it decided, willingly, to become a covert partner with the Arab global jihad against America and Israel. Americans must discuss the tragic development of Eurabia, and its profound implications for the United States, particularly in terms of its resultant foreign policy realities. Americans should consider the despair and confusion of many Europeans, prisoners of a Eurabian totalitarianism that foments a culture of deadly lies about Western civilization. Americans should know that this self-destructive calamity did not just happen, rather it was the result of deliberate policies, executed and monitored by ostensibly responsible people. Finally, Americans should understand that Eurabia’s contemporary anti-Zionism and anti-Americanism are the spiritual heirs of 1930s Nazism and anti-Semitism, triumphally resurgent.
Andrew G. Bostom is the author of The Legacy of Jihad.