I’m at #2 on my countdown of the ridiculous things people probably believe about Islam. At #2 is the myth that Western cultures are far more humane than the bloodthirsty Muslim ones ever were.
It’s always been within the Western/Orientalist narrative that Islam is a violent religion.
Part of it has to do with how abruptly Islam was all up in everyone’s face.
For instance, while Hinduism took about 1,000 years to spread through India, and Christianity took about 400 years to go from persecuted cult to the state religion of the Roman Empire, Islam went from one guy’s epiphany to the dominant political and religious force in the Middle East and North Africa in about 100 years.
So a lot of people have reached the conclusion that the religion spread like holy wildfire for one reason: the sword.
The next logical leap from this viewpoint is that as a people, Muslims must be violent and barbaric conquerors. Even before 9/11, you saw this portrayal in popular culture all the time:
The Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) laid out some pretty progressive rules of warfare, and medieval Muslims out-niced the Christians in battle by a landslide. Especially since Muhammad (PBUH) personally issued “a distinct code of conduct among Islamic warriors” that included:
* No killing of women, children or innocents — these might include hermits, monks or other religious leaders who were deemed non-combatants;
* No wanton killing of livestock or other animals;
* No burning or destruction of trees and orchards; and
* No destruction of wells.
In short, Muhammad (PBUH) wanted his armies to fight like hippies….during the freaking Dark Ages with dignity that had never been seen on the battlefield….and they did.
The biggest territorial gains were made after Muhammad’s (PBUH) death.
Maybe that was when Islam earned its bloodthirsty reputation?
His successors codified the existing rules and made them the standard for the Muslim armies. Which probably explains why the Muslim army conquering Europe “exhibited a degree of toleration which puts many Christian nations to shame,” in the words of one expert.
So while Christian crusaders were beheading enemies and tossing their severed heads like oversized footballs, their Muslim counterparts had a whole honour code that led them to feed the armies of their defeated enemies.
Stay tuned as #1 will appear later today.