Monday, March 27, 2006

Islamic imperialism and the dream of a global Islamic empire inspiring every Muslim jihadist...

Islamic Imperialism: A History
by Efraim Karsh

From Human Events Book Service:
The upsurge of Islamic jihad around the world has inspired two diametrically opposed -- yet equally false -- interpretations regarding its "root causes," writes Middle East expert Efraim Karsh in Islamic Imperialism. In one view, modern jihad represents a backlash by a deeply frustrated civilization reluctant to come to terms with its long-standing decline. In the other, it is a response to America's arrogant foreign policy by fringe extremists whose violent interpretation of Islam has little to do with the religion's actual spirit or teachings. But, as Professor Karsh demonstrates conclusively in this myth-busting book, the real "root cause" of Islamic jihad is the teachings and traditions of Islam itself.

"From the first Arab-Islamic empire of the mid-seventh century to the Ottomans, the last great Muslim empire," writes Karsh, "the story of Islam has been the story of the rise and fall of universal empires and, no less important, of imperialist dreams." With brilliant scholarship, Karsh shows how this dream of a global Islamic empire has inspired every Muslim jihadist, including:

Muhammad:"I was ordered to fight all men until they say 'There is no god but Allah'"

Saladin, the 12th-century conqueror:"I shall cross the sea to their islands to pursue them until there remains no one on the face of the earth who does not acknowledge Allah"

Iran's Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini:"We will export our revolution throughout the world . . . until the calls 'There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah' are echoed all over the world"

Osama bin Laden:"I was ordered to fight the people until they say there is no god but Allah and his prophet Muhammad"

In "Islamic Imperialism", Karsh demonstrates that September 11 must be seen as simply the latest expression of this dream, and such attacks have little to do with U.S. international behavior or policy in the Middle East.

  • How Islam envisages a global political order in which all humankind will live under Muslim rule as either believers or subject communities (dhimmis)

  • How, in order to achieve this goal, it is incumbent on all free, male, adult Muslims to carry out an uncompromising struggle (jihad) "in the path of Allah"

  • Why this, in turn, makes all those parts of the world that have not yet been conquered by the House of Islam an abode of permanent conflict (Dar al-Harb, the House of War) which will only end with Islam's eventual triumph

  • Why, in the meantime, there can be no peace between Islam and the rest of the world -- only the temporary suspension of hostilities to allow Islam to regain the advantage

  • How even Islam's earliest conquests were imperial in nature, aimed not at ridding itself of foreign occupiers (as often maintained) but at establishing universal Islamic rule

  • How, unlike Christianity, Islam made no distinction between temporal and religious powers, which were combined in the person of Muhammad -- allowing him to cloak his political ambitions with a religious aura

  • The watershed event in Islamic history that transformed Muhammad from a private preacher into a political and military leader -- and Islam from a persecuted cult into a major religion with imperialist ambitions

  • How Muhammad pioneered the "fusion of the sacred and the profitable" - amassing astounding wealth for himself and his followers -- which was endorsed by future generations of Islamic leaders

  • Muhammad's massacre of the Medina Jews, who refused to acknowledge his revelations: how it set the pattern for Muslim Jew-hatred down to the present day

  • Slaves: the primary trade commodity in the Islamic empire

  • The crusades: how, unlike the early Islamic conquests, they were not a drive for world mastery but a limited endeavor geared toward stemming the tide of Muslim aggression and liberating the Christian holy places

  • How contemporary scholars falsely idealize the Ottoman empire as a shining example of tolerance, in contrast with their scathing indictment of Western colonialism

  • How Osama bin Laden and other modern jihadists model themselves on Islam's early conquerors -- and aspire to nothing less than the substitution of Allah's universal empire for the existing international system

  • Alarming signs -- cultural, demographic and political -- that Europe may come under Islamic domination by the end of the twenty-first century
  • Efraim Karsh is professor and head of the Mediterranean Studies Programme, King’s College, University of London. He has published extensively and often served as a consultant on Middle Eastern affairs, Soviet foreign policy, and European neutrality.

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