Caliph Umar fought alongside of Mohammed in nearly all his battles. Umar’s daughter Hafsa was one of Mohammed’s wives. Waging jihad, Umar conquered enormous areas, including:
- Eastern Roman Empire
- parts of Persia
- North Africa
Muslim pirates terrorized the Mediterranean, blockading trade. This caused an economic disaster in Roman Europe by diminishing products moving from North Africa and the Middle East to Rome.
An important item no longer shipped was papyrus – reeds from the Nile delta which were used for paper in Europe. The sudden shortage of paper resulted in a decline of writing, literacy, and fewer books being written. This was a key factor in the beginning of the Dark Ages.
The world’s largest and oldest library was in Alexandria, Egypt. Accounts were given by Persian traveler Abd-Al-Latif of Baghdad (1162-1231), Jamal Ad-din Al-Kufti (1169-1248), and Syrian prelate Bar Hebraeus (1226-1286) that when Caliph Omar was asked in 642 AD what to do with the books in the library, he told his commander Amr bin al-Ass: “Touching the books you mention, if what is written in them agrees with the Qur’an, they are not required; if it disagrees, they are not desired. Destroy them therefore.”
The account continued that the library books were burned to heat the city’s bath-houses for six months. Other libraries in Babylon, Syria and Greece met similar fates.
Current accounts, such as Breitbart News, April 13, 2016, reported this behavior continuing: “ISIS militants also raided the Central Library of Mosul to destroy all non-Islamic books. ‘These books promote infidelity and call for disobeying Allah,’ announced a militant to the residents. ‘So they will be burned.'”
In 711 A.D., Muslim jihad crusaders crossed the Strait of Gibraltar and conquered all of Spain. Pope Gregory III put out a plea for help and Charles Martel stopped the Islamic advance just outside of Paris at the Battle of Tours in 732 A.D., just 100 years after the death of Mohammed in 632 A.D.
Will and Ariel Durant wrote in “The Lessons of History” (1968): “The defeat of the Moslems at Tours (732) kept France and Spain from replacing the Bible with the Koran.”
“The Song of Roland,” the oldest surviving major work of French literature, commemorated the Muslim ambush and annihilation of part of Charlemagne’s army at the Battle of Roncevaux in 778 A.D.
This is similar to “The Song of El Cid,” the oldest preserved Castilian epic poem, which commemorated the Castilian hero El Cid’s Reconquista of Spain from the Muslim Moors in 1094.
In 832 A.D., Muslim Caliph Al-Ma’mun of the Abbasid Dynasty ordered raiders to seek out Pharaohs’ tombs for plundering. They broke into the Great Pyramid of Giza in search of treasure. The destruction of Egyptian history was so thorough that within a few generations, Egyptians had no memory of who built the Great Pyramids.
Fundamental Muslims also destroyed:
- City of Ani in Armenia
- Buddhist statues in Afghanistan
- Assyrian Museum
- Egyptian rioters trashing mummies
- Ancient Syrian and Chaldean churches dating back to the time of the Apostles
- Ayotollah Khomeini’s attempt to destroy Cyrus’ ancient Persian palace at Persepolis the graves of the Prophet Jonah and the Prophet Daniel in Nineveh (Mosul, Iraq) were blown up by ISIS militants on July 24, 2014
An Islamic Hadiths stated: “Abu’l-Hayyaj al-Asadi told that ‘Ali (b. Abu Talib) said to him. … Do not leave an image without obliterating it, or a high grave without leveling it. This hadith has been reported by Habib with the same chain of transmitters and he said: Do not leave a picture without obliterating it.” (Hadith Bk 4, No. 2115)
As the “rightly guided” Muslim Caliphs conquered North Africa and the Middle East, it further interrupted Mediterranean trade, economically devastating Rome and Byzantium.
In 846 A.D., just 46 years after Charlemagne was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in Rome’s old St. Peter’s basilica, 11,000 Muslim attacked. They sacked Rome, looted old St. Peter’s basilica and St. Paul Outside the Wall Church, desecrating the graves of both St. Peter and St. Paul. As a result, Pope Leo IV built a wall, 39 feet high, all around the Vatican to keep the Muslim invaders out. It took four years to complete the wall.
In 849 A.D., Muslims Saracen raiders set sail from Sardina with a fleet to invade Rome. Pope Leo rallied the cities of Amalfi, Gaeta and Naples to send ships to block the mouth of the Tiber River near Ostia. Muslims attacked. The fighting was fierce, when suddenly a violent storm arose, dividing the Christians fleet from the Muslim attackers in the Battle of Ostia. Christian ships were able to make it back to port and weather the storm, but the Muslim ships were severely damaged and scattered. When the storm subsided, the remaining Muslim ships were easily captured.
Calls for the First Crusade can be traced to 1009, when “Mad Caliph” Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah ordered the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem destroyed.
Pilgrims returning from the Holy Land shared reports of Muslim persecution and cruelty toward “dhimmi” Christians. In 1057, the Norman adventurer Robert Guiscard took control of Calabria in the “toe of Italy” and fought against the Muslims of Sicily.
In 1071, the Muslims delivered a major defeat to the Byzantine Christians at the Battle of Manzikert and took control of all but the coastlands of Asia Minor. In desperation, the Byzantine Emperor Alexius I Comnenus humbled himself and sent ambassadors to the Council of Piacenza in March of 1095, appealing for help from his religious rival, the Roman Catholic Pope.
With Spain exuberant after driving the Muslims from Toledo and Leon by 1085, Pope Urban II gave an impassioned plea at the Council of Clermont in 1095 for Western leaders to help their Byzantine Christians brethren, whom Muslims “compel to extend their necks and then, attacking them with naked swords, attempt to cut through the neck with a single blow.” (Robert the Monk, Medieval Sourcebook, Fordham University.)
The First Crusade began in 1097. In the next two centuries there were a total of nine major Crusades to return the Holy Land to its pre-Islamic inhabitants.
After the Crusades ended in the 1300s, the Muslim jihad conqueror Tamerlane killed 17 million across central Asia, annihilating Christianity and leaving pyramids of skulls in Delhi, India.
In 1400s, as Muslims invaded Byzantium. When the Ottoman Muslims sacked Constantinople in 1453, it ended the land trade routes from Europe to India and China which led Columbus to looking for a sea route, beginning the Age of Discovery.
As Ottoman Muslims invaded Greece Byzantine Empire, they destroyed churches, libraries, museums, artwork, and graves of the Christian saints.
Greek scholars fled west to Florence, Italy, reintroducing their Greek art, architecture and philosophy to western Europe. This led to a flood of Greek treasures, art and literature hurriedly carried to Florence, Italy. This re-interest in Greek culture is called the Renaissance.
President Obama referred to this while giving a speech in Egypt, June 4, 2009: “It was Islam … paving the way for Europe’s Renaissance.”
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), considered the Father of the French Revolution, owned a dog named “Sultan.” Rousseau wrote in “Discourse on the Arts and Sciences” (1750, translated by Ian Johnston): “Europe had fallen back into the barbarity. … A revolution was necessary to bring men back to common sense, and it finally came from a quarter where one would least expect it. It was the stupid Muslim, the eternal blight on learning, who brought about its rebirth among us. The collapse of the throne of Constantine carried into Italy the debris of ancient Greece. France, in its turn, was enriched by these precious remnants. The sciences soon followed letters. To the art of writing was joined the art of thinking.”
In retrospect, Islam was instrumental in bringing about “The Dark Ages” when they conquered Egypt, cut off trade across the Mediterranean and held back the ships of papyrus; and Islam was instrumental in “The Renaissance” when they invaded Greece and destroyed Greek culture, causing scholars to flee to Italy. In fact, the very concepts of “Europe” and “Christendom” took shape in response to the Islamic invasion, as previously Europe viewed itself as innumerable independent kingdoms.
This was similar to the 13 American colonies having to work together against the king of England, giving birth to the concept of the “united” States.
As the wealth of Greek Byzantine Empire flowed into Florence, Italy, many were made rich, most notably the families of Medici and Borgia, who financed artists Michelangelo and Leonardo DaVinci.
Condemning the rising materialism and sensualism in Florence was the preacher Savonarola. He led a notable Christian revival till he was excommunicated, tortured and executed.
Greek scholars also fled west with their Greek New Testaments and ancient Biblical manuscripts. Soon, western European scholars, like Erasmus – a friend of Martin Luther – began translating the Bible not just from Latin, but from Greek. This interest in the original New Testament language of Greek contributed to the Reformation.
In 1517, Martin Luther began the Reformation by posting Ninety-Five Theses, or debate questions, on the Wittenberg Church door in Saxony, Germany. Different German kings became Lutheran or “Reformed Christian” and broke away from the Catholic Holy Roman Empire.
In 1529, 100,000 Ottoman Muslim warriors surrounded Vienna, Austria, under the command of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. He sent suicide bombers at the gates and had miners tunnel under the walls.
Miraculously, Vienna was saved by torrential freezing rain which fell for weeks, resulting in sickness among Suleiman’s troops. Suleiman abandoned the attack and left, but not before beheading 4,000 Christian hostages. He attempted to attack Vienna again in 1532, but was turned back, resulting in him turning his focus to conquering the Shi’a Muslims of Persia (Iran) in 1534. Suleiman annexed most of the Middle East and huge areas of North Africa, including the Barbary States of Tripoli, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco.
Catholic Spain used the gold from the New World to finance the defense of Europe against the Ottoman invasion. Holy Roman Emperor Charles V of Spain fought Suleiman’s ships which attacked the southern coasts of Europe. In 1535, Charles won a victory against the Muslims at Tunis. But like the West’s political disunity prior to the fall of the Byzantine Empire, France decided in 1536 to begin allying itself with Muslim Sultan Suleiman against Spain’s Charles V. As a result, Charles V was forced to sign a humiliating treaty with the Ottomans, allowing them to gain naval dominance on the Mediterranean Sea.
Later notable battles against the Ottomans include:
- Siege of Malta, Sept. 11, 1565
- Battle of Lepanto, Oct. 7, 1571
- Battle of Vienna, Sept. 11, 1683
- Battle of Zenta, Sept. 11, 1697
The following is an in-depth look at the 1,400 year Islamic conquest is in the book “What Every American Needs to Know about the Qur’an – A History of Islam & the United States.”
To fully understand how seriously Europe felt threatened, it is insightful to read quotes from notable leaders.
As recorded in “Luther’s Works – American Edition,” 55 volumes (Philadelphia: Fortress; St. Louis: Concordia, 1955-1986, vol. 46:170-171), Martin Luther stated: “The Turk is the rod of the wrath of the Lord our God. … If the Turk’s god, the devil, is not beaten first, there is reason to fear that the Turk will not be so easy to beat. … Christian weapons and power must do it. … (The fight against the Turks) must begin with repentance, and we must reform our lives, or we shall fight in vain. (The Church should) drive men to repentance by showing our great and numberless sins and our ingratitude, by which we have earned God’s wrath and disfavor, so that He justly gives us into the hands of the devil and the Turk.”
Luther wrote in “Preface to Book of Revelation” (1530): “2nd woe … the 6th [evil] angel, the shameful Mohammed with his companions, the Saracens, who inflicted great plagues on Christendom, with his doctrine and with the sword.”
In “On War Against the Turk” (1529), Luther wrote: “The Turk is the very devil incarnate. … The Turk fills heaven with Christians by murdering their bodies.”
In “Luther’s Works” (3:121-122), Luther wrote: “Yet it is more in accordance with the truth to say that the Turk is the Beast, because he is outside the church and openly persecutes Christ.”
Luther wrote (“Tischreden,” 1532, Weimer, ed., 1, 330): “The Turk is the flesh of Antichrist … (which) slaughters bodily by the sword.”
John Calvin wrote to Philip Melanchthon in 1543 (“Selected Works of John Calvin: Tracts & Letters,” I:373): “I hear of the sad condition of your Germany! … The Turk again prepares to wage war with a larger force. Who will stand up to oppose his marching throughout the length and breadth of the land, at his mere will and pleasure?”
Calvin wrote in “Commentary of 2nd Thessalonians”: “Since Mohammed was an apostate, he turned his followers, the Turks, from Christ. … The sect of Mohammed was like a raging overflow, which in its violence tore away about half of the Church.”
John Calvin wrote in “Commentary on Daniel”: “Turks have spread far and wide, and the world is filled with impious despisers of God.”
John Calvin wrote in “Sermons on Timothy & Titus”: “The Turks at this day, can allege and say for themselves: ‘We serve God from our ancestors!’ – It is a good while since Mahomet gave them the cup of his devilish dreams to drink, and they got drunk with them. It is about a thousand years since cursed hellhounds were made drunk with their follies – Let us be wise and discreet! – For otherwise, we shall be like the Turks and Heathen.”
John Calvin wrote in “Institutes of the Christian Religion” (Book II, Chapter VI): “For even if many men once boasted that they worshiped … the Maker of heaven and earth, yet because they had no Mediator it was not possible for them truly to taste God’s mercy, and thus be persuaded that he was their Father. … So today the Muslim Turks, although they proclaim at the top of their lungs that the Creator of heaven and earth is God, still, while repudiating Christ, substitute an idol in place of the true God.”
John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, wrote in “The Doctrine of Original Sin” (1817, p. 35; Works, 1841, ix. 205): “Let us now calmly and impartially consider what manner of men the Mahometans in general are. … Men who have but a moderate share of reason, cannot but observe in his Koran … the most gross and impious absurdities. … Who can swallow such absurdities as divinely revealed. Mahometans not only condemn all who cannot swallow them to everlasting fire; not only appropriate to themselves the title of … true believers: but even anathematise … all their brethren … who contend for a figurative interpretation.”
Wesley continued: “That these men then have no knowledge or love of God is undeniably manifest, not only from their gross, horrible notions of him, but from their not loving their brethren. … Mahometans will butcher each other by thousands. … Why is it that such numbers of Turks and Persians have stabbed one another in cool blood? Truly, because they differ in the manner of dressing their head. The Ottoman vehemently maintains … that a Mussulman should wear a round turban … whereas the Persian insists upon his liberty of conscience, and will wear it picked before. So, for this wonderful reason … they beat out each other’s brains from generation to generation.”
Wesley concluded: “Ever since the religion of Mahomet appeared in the world, the espousers of it, particularly those under the Turkish emperor, have been as wolves and tigers to all other nations; rending and tearing all that fell into their merciless paws, and grinding them with their iron teeth. … Numberless cities are razed from the foundation, and only their name remaining … Many countries which were once as the garden of God, are now a desolate wilderness. … Such was, and is at this day, the rage, the fury, the revenge, of these destroyers of humankind!”
Jonathan Edwards, first president of Princeton, wrote in “A History of the Work of Redemption” (1739): “Those mighty kingdoms of Antichrist and Mohammed … trampled the world under foot … Great works of the devil … swallowed up the Ancient Roman Empire … Satan’s Mohometan kingdom (swallowed) the Eastern Empire.”
Jonathan Edwards stated in “The Fall of Antichrist” (1829, NY: S. Converse pub., part vii, p. 395): “By the false prophet … here an eye seems to be had to Mahomet, whom his followers call the great prophet of God. Revelation 16:13”
Two centuries before the Reformation, in 1258, Thomas Aquinas wrote “Summa contra Gentiles” (translated by Anton C. Pegis, University of Notre Dame Press, 1975). He wrote in Book 1, Chapter 6: “Mohammed … seduced the people by promises of carnal pleasure to which the concupiscence of the flesh goads us … and he gave free reign to carnal pleasure. In all this, as is not unexpected, he was obeyed by carnal men. As for proofs of the truth of his doctrine, he brought forward only such as could be grasped by the natural ability of anyone with a very modest wisdom. Indeed, the truths that he taught he mingled with many fables and doctrines of the greatest falsity. He did not bring forth any signs produced in a supernatural way, which alone fittingly gives witness to divine inspiration. …
“On the contrary, Mohammed said that he was sent in the power of his arms – which are signs not lacking even to robbers and tyrants. … Those who believed in him were brutal men and desert wanderers, utterly ignorant of all divine teaching, through whose numbers Mohammed forced others to become his followers by the violence of his arms. … He perverts almost all the testimonies of the Old and New Testaments by making them into fabrications of his own, as can be seen by anyone who examines his law. It was, therefore, a shrewd decision on his part to forbid his followers to read the Old and New Testaments, lest these books convict him of falsity. … Those who place any faith in his words believe foolishly.”
Voltaire (1694-1778) wrote the play “Fanaticism, or Mahomet,” explaining to Pope Benedict XIV, Aug. 17, 1745: “Your holiness will pardon the liberty taken by … this performance written in opposition to the founder of a false and barbarous sect. To whom could I with more propriety inscribe a satire on the cruelty and errors of a false prophet.”
Voltaire wrote to Frederick II of Prussia, December 1740, referring to Muhammad: “But that a camel-merchant should stir up insurrection in his village; that in league with some miserable followers he persuades them that he talks with the angel Gabriel; that he boasts of having been carried to heaven, where he received in part this unintelligible book, each page of which makes common sense shudder; that, to pay homage to this book, he delivers his country to iron and flame; that he cuts the throats of fathers and kidnaps daughters; that he gives to the defeated the choice of his religion or death: this is assuredly nothing any man can excuse, at least if he was not born a Turk, or if superstition has not extinguished all natural light in him.”
Montesquieu wrote in “The Spirit of the Laws” (1748): “Moderate government is most agreeable to the Christian Religion, and a despotic government to the Mahometan. … While the Mahommedan princes incessantly give or receive death, the religion of the Christians renders their princes … less cruel. … It is the Christian religion that … has hindered despotic power. … From the characters of the Christian and Mahometan religions, we ought, without any further examination, to embrace the one and reject the other: The Mahometan Religion, which speaks only by the sword, acts still upon men with that destructive spirit with which it was founded.”
Scottish philosopher David Hume (1711-1776) wrote in “Of the Standard of Taste” (1760): “Followers of the Qur’an insist on the excellent moral precepts interspersed through that wild and absurd performance. It is to be supposed, that the Arabic words, which correspond to the English, equity, justice, temperance, meekness, charity … must always be taken in a good sense; and it would have argued the greatest ignorance, not of morals, but of language, to have mentioned them with any epithets, besides those of applause and approbation. But would we know, whether the pretended prophet had really attained a just sentiment of morals? Let us attend to his narration; and we shall soon find, that he bestows praise on such instances of treachery, inhumanity, cruelty, revenge, bigotry, as are utterly incompatible with civilized society. No steady rule of right seems there to be attended to; and every action is blamed or praised, so far only as it is beneficial or hurtful to the true believers.”
The Peace of Augsburg
The most powerful man in the Western World was Charles V of Spain. Being the Catholic Holy Roman Emperor, he exercised controlled over most of Europe, as well as areas in the Americas and the Philippines.
Charles V was faced with a double dilemma:
- Protestant Reformation on one hand
- Muslim invasion on the other hand
As the Turks rapidly advanced up the Danube River, Charles V of Spain decided to strike a deal with the Protestants. In 1532, an initial truce was negotiated in Nuremberg. Then in 1555, Charles V negotiated the monumental Peace of Augsburg.
Eric W. Gritisch wrote in “Martin – God’s Court Jester: Luther in Retrospect” (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1983, p. 69-70): “Afraid of losing the much-needed support of the German princes for the struggle against the Turkish threat from the south, Emperor Charles V agreed to a truce between Protestant and Catholic territories. … Thus the Lutheran movement was, for the first time, officially tolerated and could enjoy a place in the political sun of the Holy Roman Empire.”
The Peace of Augsburg in 1555, which was the first treaty to recognize Protestants, contained a little Latin phrase that had enormous repercussions across Europe: “curios regio eius religio,” which meant “whose is the reign his is the religion.”
In other words, the Treaty allowed each king to decide what would be believed in his kingdom if they agreed to work together to stop the Islamic invasion into Europe.
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