Ibrahim, Raymond published the book
Defenders of the West – The Christian Heroes Who Stood Against Islam.
“Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West documented the perennial conflict between the two civilizations; it showed how from its inception in the seventh century, Islam identified itself in contradistinction to Christianity—“God does not beget nor is he begotten!” the Koran thunders (112:3)2—and became the chief adversary of the West, then known as Christendom.” Between especially the seventh and seventeenth centuries, an array of Muslim peoples (beginning with Arabs and Berbers, ending with Turks and Tatars), waged one devastating jihad after another on Christians. As a result, three-quarters of the original Christian world, including the older, richer, and more developed regions—namely, the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia Minor (now “Turkey”)—were permanently conquered and Islamized. North Africa, Egypt, Syria, even Persian-ruled Iraq, had been Christian countries, in which Christianity was older and more deeply rooted than in most of Europe. Their loss was sorely felt and heightened the fear that a similar fate was in store for Europe…. It was this fear, more than any other single factor, which led to the beginning of Arabic scholarship in Europe [in keeping with the dictum, “know your enemy”].
In between the millennium separating Islam’s invasions of Spain and Vienna, from 711 to 1683, virtually every corner of Europe—as far as distant Iceland—was pummeled and savaged in the name of jihad with untold millions of Europeans slaughtered or, often worse, enslaved.
Few now can comprehend the traumatic impact this had on Europe’s development. As historian Franco Cardini puts it, “If we…ask ourselves how and when the modern notion of Europe and the European identity was born, we realize the extent to which Islam was a factor (albeit a negative one) in its creation. Repeated Muslim aggression against Europe [over the centuries]…was a ‘violent midwife’ to Europe.” Nor was the United States of America spared; its very first wars as a nation—the Barbary Wars (1801–1805; 1815)—were against Muslim slavers. Why did Muslims do what they did in those days, and why do they do barbaric atrocities today?
The one Koran verse most associated with jihad, 9:5: “Kill the idolaters [non-Muslims] wherever you find them—capture them, besiege them, and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush.” By 1922, the last standing and long moribund Islamic power—the Ottoman Empire, for centuries, the scourge of Europe—died, and Turkey became a secular republic. Even so, those few Europeans able to rise above the myopic triumphalism surrounding them continued to appreciate, not only the historic life and death struggle the West had experienced with Islam, but its existential and permanent nature. Writing around 1938—at the absolute peak of European power and nadir of Islamic power—European historian Hilaire Belloc (1870–1953) made the following prescient observation: Millions of modern people of the white civilization—that is, the civilization of Europe and America—have forgotten all about Islam. They have never come in contact with it. They take for granted that it is decaying, and that, anyway, it is just a foreign religion which will not concern them. It is, as a fact, the most formidable and persistent enemy which our civilization has had, and may at any moment become as large a menace in the future as it has been in the past…. In Islam there has been no dissolution of ancestral doctrine—or, at any rate, nothing corresponding to the universal break-up of religion in Europe. The whole spiritual strength of Islam is still present in the masses of Syria and Anatolia, of the East Asian mountains, of Arabia, Egypt and North Africa. The final fruit of this tenacity, the second period of Islamic power, may be delayed—but I doubt whether it can be permanently postponed.”
“While Belloc’s warnings were widely dismissed as hyperbolic—well into the 1970s, ivy league scholars were still convinced that Islam, like Western Christianity, had become obsolete, a mere outer trapping—today his words seem prophetic. After all, since Belloc penned them nearly a century ago, not only has the West “forgotten about Islam”; it has become sympathetic to this creed that for over a millennium terrorized and negatively impacted the West’s development. Conversely, not only does Islam continue to exhibit its historic hostility; it continues reasserting itself all around the world—including if not especially against the West:
The Taliban, an Islamic extremist group, which the U.S. spent much by way of blood and treasure to declare victory against twenty years ago, is back in power in Afghanistan (with billions of dollars’ worth of U.S. weapons to boot); Iran, which is driven by apocalyptic visions and eschatological dreams of the jihadist kind, is close to becoming a nuclear power; millions of Muslim “refugees” are flooding the West, especially Europe, where they overtly and especially covertly continue the work of their jihadist ancestors, either by engaging in bouts of thuggery, violence, and outright terrorism or, more commonly, by subverting the continent’s identity; and Christian minorities throughout the Islamic world are being oppressed and killed in ways reminiscent of the great era of Christian persecution under Rome—though the legacy media keeps all of these inconvenient facts suppressed.
Everywhere the threat is real, even as comatose West slumbers on. The words of British statesman, Winston Churchill (1874–1965)—who once likened religiosity in Muslims to rabies in dogs—seem pertinent here: “If you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.” Such words underscore the grand irony: Islamic advances and Western retreats are currently happening when the West’s might vis-à-vis Islam is at an all-time high. As one historian put it back in 2006, “At a time when the military superiority of the West—meaning chiefly the USA—over the Muslim world has never been greater, Western countries feel insecure in the face of the activities of Islamic terrorists…. In all the long centuries of Christian-Muslim conflict, never has the military imbalance between the two sides been greater, yet the dominant West can apparently derive no comfort from that fact.”
What explains this strange and ironic dichotomy? What did the West’s past possess that its present—which seems to be far superior in every conceivable way, including militarily—does not?
The answer is men who had something worth fighting for—from their faith and family, to their countries and cultures.
Right from Islam’s birth, Muslims and Christians became entangled in a perennial, nonstop war—punctuated only by the exigencies of realpolitik and other practical considerations that modern day academics inordinately emphasize and exploit to substantiate their pro-Islamic theses. The following history further demonstrates that premodern Christians understood—the educated classes explicitly, the masses implicitly or just instinctively—that, whatever their label, national designation, or temporal iteration, Islamic polities were inherently hostile. For starters, it must be understood that premodern Christianity was for at least the first three-quarters of its existence a muscular religion: not only does recorded history, including the forthcoming one, make this abundantly clear; vestiges of the “glories of Christendom” still surround us. Consider the impulse of faith that erected so many massive if not imposing cathedrals and churches all throughout Europe. Once thundering with the booming, masculine voices of confident worshippers, they are today the haunt of little old ladies lighting candles for their departed loved ones—that is, when such buildings are not actively being pawned off or donated (in the name of “Christian charity”) to Muslims who transform them into mosques. Much of this evolution revolves around the modern Christian penchant to “internalize” the faith and express it only in passive, never active, terms. From here, one begins to understand the modern Christian aversion to the seemingly oxymoronic notion of “Christian warriors”—an aversion that cries, “But Christians must always turn the other cheek!” In reality, many centuries before Islam burst onto the scene, Christian theologians had concluded that “the so called charity texts of the New Testament that preached passivism and forgiveness, not retaliation, were firmly defined as applying to the beliefs and behavior of the private person [and not the state],” to quote Crusades historian Christopher Tyerman. Christ himself—who called on his followers to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s (Matt. 22:21)—differentiated between the social and spiritual realms. In the only recorded instance of Jesus being slapped, he did not offer his other cheek but rather challenged his slapper to explain himself (John 18:22–23).
The Nazarene further praised a Roman centurion without calling on him to “repent” by resigning from one of the most brutal militaries in world history (Matt. 8: 5–13). Similarly, when a group of soldiers asked John the Baptist how they should repent, he advised them always to be content with their army wages (Luke 3:14)—and said nothing about their quitting the Roman army.
This is because “there was no intrinsic contradiction in a doctrine of personal, individual forgiveness condoning certain forms of necessary public violence to ensure the security in which, in St. Paul’s phrase, Christians ‘may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty’ (1 Tim. 2:2).” Or in the words of that chief articulator of “Just War” theory, Saint Augustine (354–430), “It is the injustice of the opposing side that lays on the wise man the duty to wage war. Not only were conquered territories and peoples to be liberated; so too were sacred sites. From here, one begins to appreciate why “Jerusalem and the Holy Land had a primacy of importance in medieval minds that is scarcely conceivable to moderns”—and hence why the Crusades were every bit as defensive as the wars of liberation in Spain and the Balkans were. Premodern Christians were also much more familiar with and moved by the logic of righteous warfare contained in the Jewish scriptures (the Christian “Old Testament”) than their modern counterparts. In short and from the start, mainstream Christian teaching has always supported violence and war for just causes—repulsing an enemy or reclaiming conquered territory or sacred spots from him. Violence itself was always seen as a neutral means to a desired—meaning, just—end. As the popular pseudo-historian Karen Armstrong once chided, “During the 12th Century, Christians were fighting brutal holy wars against Muslims, even though Jesus had told his followers to love their enemies, not to exterminate them.”
No word, of course, that it was Muslims who had initiated these “brutal holy wars” and first began to “exterminate” Christians or that the Crusaders were trying to protect their coreligionists. However, unlike most military histories—which no matter how fascinating are ultimately academic—this one offers timely correctives: it sets the much distorted historical record between the two civilizations straight and, in so doing, demonstrates once and for all that Muslim hostility for the West is not an aberration but a continuation of Islamic history.”